Young women present solutions to energy challenges at annual conference

Source: press release, 26 April 2022

Girls in Energy participants working together to solve challenges
Girls in Energy participants working together to solve challenges (photo: Girls in Energy)

Girls from across the North-east presented their ideas and solutions to energy challenges at the annual Girls in Energy conference on Friday, 22 April 22.

Following a day of teamwork and brainstorming, Kya Duncan from Fraserburgh Academy, Iris Gauld from Turriff Academy and Ella Penny from Mintlaw Academy impressed the judging panel and were announced winners.

The school pupils worked together to identify a way to help reduce the cost of living and presented their solution, Musketeers Closet, a place where people can borrow items of clothing through a membership system. The idea aims to limit waste, costs and single use purchases.

The girls’ team was one of six who made it through the initial presentation round and went on to present to a Dragon’s Den style panel, made up of Gillian Martin MSP, Bethan Vasey, energy transition manager at Shell and Mandy Gloyer, new UK offshore sites manager renewables, at ScottishPower.

On the day, 20 teams of young women worked together to generate a solution to energy, food and water problems faced around the world, set for them by facilitators.

Delivered in partnership by North East Scotland College (NESCol) and Fife College and sponsored by Shell, Girls in Energy is a year-long engineering course for 14-17 year olds.

It has been specifically designed to encourage young women to engage in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths, and to consider a career in the vast energy sector as it transitions towards net zero.

It runs as part of the academic year and provides young women with real-life experience of working in the energy industry while also working towards an SQA National 5 qualification. This year, 140 pupils from schools across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Fife are taking part in the programme.

Simon Roddy, senior vice-president upstream at Shell UK says, “With our world advancing through myriad developments in science and technology, the ingenuity of our people is playing a vital role in those changes, for example in the transition to a low carbon economy. These qualities will be key to the UK’s economic success.”

“It is so encouraging to see people taking their first steps to a career in the energy industry – especially young women. By linking real life and learning experiences, we aim to nurture the next generation of problem-solvers, leaders and innovators, as well as grow the UK’s skills base and pipeline of scientists and engineers,” Roddy adds.

Duncan Abernethy, NESCol’s director of business development, says, “We are incredibly proud of the Shell Girls in Energy programme and the annual conference is an opportunity to showcase the knowledge, innovation and energy of participants from across the region.”

“It is also an excellent forum for the College and Shell to underline the commitment to diversity and sustainability that underpins our very successful partnership. Girls in Energy provides a well-established pathway to progression in education and employment for participants and the pupils taking part will be central to providing the solutions to future energy challenges that impact upon us all,” Abernethy continues.

The Girls in Energy programme was launched in 2010 and since then, more than 1,000 school pupils have taken part in the programme, with many of those going on to pursue STEM-related or energy sector careers.

The modules include an introduction to energy, domestic wind turbines and solar hot water systems, employability and careers, and oil and gas extraction.

Participants sign up to a mix of theory and workshop study as well as industry visits, with the opportunity to chat to women who are working in different roles in the oil and gas and renewables sectors.

Every year, following an interview and selection process, 20 students are offered a 2-week industry experience placement with Shell in Aberdeen, giving them the opportunity to hear at first-hand about the various roles and challenges which support Shell’s exploration, development and production activities.

Places are available for the next intake of pupils.

The North-east programme is open to school pupils from across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Schools interested in participating should email dduncan@nescol.ac.uk. For more information, visit https://www.shell.co.uk/sustainability/society/supporting-stem/stem-in-schools/girls-in-energy and https://www.nescol.ac.uk/courses/skills-for-work-national-5-girls-in-energy.