Girls in Energy team up to tackle sustainability challenges at annual conference

Source: press release, 29 November 2022

Simon Roddy, senior vice-president upstream at Shell UK, the 2022 Girls in Energy winning team, Mairi McKay, social investment and social performance advisor at Shell
Simon Roddy, senior vice-president upstream at Shell UK, the 2022 Girls in Energy winning team, Mairi McKay, social investment and social performance advisor at Shell (photo: Girls in Energy)

Girls from across the North-east and Fife were tasked with finding innovative solutions to food, water or energy related challenges as part of the annual Girls in Energy conference.

The winning team presented ideas for energy efficient food production and sustainable farming.

Girls in Energy is a year-long engineering course for 14 to 16-year-olds, sponsored by Shell and delivered in partnership by North East Scotland College (NESCol) and Fife College.

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 global energy sector as it transitions towards net zero.

The conference, which was hosted by Shell Woodbank in Aberdeen on Friday, was attended by around 170 girls from across the city, Aberdeenshire and Fife.

The day used learnings from NXplorers, Shell’s global community of educators, experts and students, which encourages fresh ways of thinking by framing a problem differently.

Throughout the day the girls worked in small teams to brainstorm ideas and potential solutions to sustainability challenges.

Amy Robertson from Aberdeen Grammar School shared her experience of attending the event: “It’s a great opportunity to meet new people because you’re put in a group with complete strangers. You also hear from different people working in the energy sector which gives you a glimpse into different careers and you get to see what’s possible.”

“What we are doing today is trying to solve a real problem that can improve our world and collaborating with other girls who are interested in engineering and the energy industry. In the future I’m considering a career as a chemical engineer but I’m not entirely sure yet,” Robertson added.

Each team was supported by mentors, including volunteers from Shell, NESCol and Scottish Power, as well as footballer Loren Campbell, captain of the Aberdeen FC Women team.

Following presentations, four teams were chosen to go forward to a Dragon’s Den style competition, pitching their ideas to a panel of judges.

The winning team, dubbed “The Five Musketeers”, investigated energy efficient food production and accessibility to locally grown and produced food. Their solution aimed to encourage sustainable farming practices from an early age and to promote green spaces in homes and urban areas.

The panel included Maggie McGinlay, chief executive of ETZ Ltd, Dr Anita Singh, senior lecturer and academic team lead at Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University, and Denise Neill, deputy project director of Shell’s Floating Offshore Wind joint ventures.

The judges commented on the creativity and accessibility of the solution.

Prizes were presented by Simon Roddy, senior vice-president upstream at Shell UK, who said, “Skills development and the creation of jobs which reflect advancements in science, technology and the energy transition are key parts of Shell’s ambitions to 2030, which aim to help accelerate the UK’s path to net zero and ensure security of energy supply.”

“We are working with partners across the UK and investing in new skills to match the demands needed for the energy transition so projects like Girls in Energy provide a valuable insight into the industry and will hopefully encourage more young women to choose this exciting career path. I am looking forward to hearing the teams’ new ideas and solutions at the conference,” Roddy added.

Duncan Abernethy, NESCol’s Director of Business Development, said, “The Shell Girls in Energy Programme continues to go from strength to strength, providing a fantastic pathway for participants who are keen to embrace opportunities in education and employment. It is an incredibly successful industry partnership and one we’re very proud of.”

“The energy sector is evolving at pace to provide solutions to global challenges and will rely on the expertise, energy and ingenuity of the next generation. Through the focus on diversity and sustainability, Girls in Energy has a crucial role to play in driving positive change,” continued Abernethy.

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.

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, over 170 pupils from schools across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Fife are taking part in the programme.

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 which support Shell’s upstream business.

Shell plans to invest GBP 20 to GBP 25 billion in the UK energy system over the next 10 years, with more than 75% going to low and zero-carbon products and services, including offshore wind, hydrogen and electric mobility, subject to Board approval and a stable investment climate.

It has also committed to supporting 15,000 people into jobs, with a particular focus on the energy transition.