Name: Rebecca Lobb
A Levels: Chemistry, Maths, Geography and Physics (AS)
Degree: Chemical Engineering (MEng); University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Starting at the beginning, it wasn’t a natural progression or expected that I would end up being an Engineer. From the beginning of school I loved reading, music and dance. I actually trained as a dance teacher during my A Levels and completed my GCSE music. My story to becoming an Engineer started with being good at Chemistry. Knowing the opportunities available to me as a scientist I thought I would pursue this to degree level until I attended a family wedding. At this family wedding I met friends of the couple who were Engineers. By talking to them about their Engineering jobs I was soon drawn in to the possibility of this as a career. After further research into my options I found Chemical Engineering which was a good mix of Chemistry, Maths and Engineering. Not only did it sound fascinating but the salary wasn’t half bad!
I decided to study at Newcastle University due to the whole city being set up for students. My course has fantastic female mentors and everyone in the course is so supportive. Going into my 5th year (after a year out in industry) I will be sad to leave Newcastle but can’t wait to start working again!
Throughout my degree I have completed a lot of experience in Engineering roles. My first experience in Engineering was working for a month during my first year of University at a Pharmaceutical Company. Although the site was smaller than some of the manufacturing sites, I have since worked at, it was a fascinating insight into the world of Engineering. It helped me to realise the scale of responsibility in the job.
After completing this summer I couldn’t wait to get back to work and decided to take a year out between my 2nd and 3rd year to go out into industry. For a lot of kids the dream is to work in a Chocolate factory and I lived that dream working for Mondelez International (formally Kraft Foods). This company owns major brands such as: Cadbury, Bassets, Maynards, Trebor and many more! I got to work in the factory and see the processes running. A lot of my role was working to improve sustainability of the process by reducing water and energy usage.
Completing the year in industry just wasn’t enough and I applied for another internship. This time I worked for AB-InBev which produces major brands such as: Stella Artois, Becks, Budweiser, Leffe and Boddingtons. Working here has been my most interesting challenge to date as I have been given the responsibility of two different projects. The most exciting project being around reducing water usage on site which could contribute significantly to the targets set for the company and reduce expenditure on site.
In addition to all of this I was also given the opportunity to spend a week in Paris with a company called Schlumberger. This was a very exciting opportunity where I learnt about Oil Drilling and working offshore on oil rigs. The amount of opportunity in this field is immense and extremely exciting! It would offer me the opportunity to see the world and work in places that most people aren’t able to.
In conclusion I am so happy that I chose Engineering! Not only is it the stable career I aimed for it is so much more! The possibilities are endless with Engineering – even if you decide it isn’t for you! Many employers look for Engineers and I have friends working in finance and management. It is hard work but worth it with many different perks! Being able to say I am an Engineer is something I am very proud of.
I also never gave up dancing or music as I still teach Ballet as my part time job whilst in University!
My advice for any students looking into Engineering as a career is to talk to Engineers and do your homework. I found websites such as whynotchemeng.com useful and researching the types of jobs available for your chosen branch of Engineering. I also completed work experience before going to University such as the Nuffield Science Bursary (www.nuffieldfoundation.org/information-applicants). I also attended public meetings about new projects by companies in the area and for me this was at a SSE power station. After meeting an Engineer at the site and talking about my interest in an Engineering career they were more than willing to help. I even was offered a reference at the end which was added to my personal statement for University. I cannot stress enough for future students and students who are studying now the importance of work experience/internships!
I am always willing to help other students with queries through many different channels. I work with future undergraduates looking at Newcastle University on open days and with the STEM ambassador programme. Any queries don’t hesitate to contact me and I will be more than willing to answer questions.