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WOMEN’S WEDNESDAYS: meet Sophie Barwick!

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Women’s Wednesdays are back with a new inspiring interview from a second-year General Engineering student Sophie Barwick! Sophie is a member of the Sheffield Eco Motorsport team and shares her experience with us while working there as well as how she has decided to go into STEM.

Enjoy and get inspired while reading Sophie’s story!

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Sophie Barwick

How is your experience so far?

I have really enjoyed being part of Sheffield Eco Motorsport team since starting university. It has been a great way to form connections and learn skills from many different types of engineers, which is invaluable for me as a general engineer. Since it is a relatively new team, it has been a lot of fun to produce a brand new car and to see the team grow. As I have been part of the team for a full year already, I have been given more responsibility this year; although this has added pressure, it’s very rewarding.

What challenges have you faced so far and how did you overcome them?

When I started in the first year, I felt I had less technical knowledge to give than those in the years above me, however, I found that this didn’t hold me back and I was still able to get involved and contribute ideas that others were then able to develop more technically.

Since I study a general engineering degree, I have found it difficult to give specialist input into the design. On the other hand, I have already worked in an interdisciplinary team; this helped me to understand and communicate with many of the different subteams, and draw ideas together later on in the process.

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Sophie driving over the finish line as Greenpower International Champion in 2016, which was a turning point for her deciding to pursue a career in engineering

What has been your favourite memory while you’ve been in the team?

I really enjoyed the manufacturing of the car which we did last summer. We were able to get hands-on experience with carbon fibre layup as well as other manufacturing processes. Since carbon fibre is a material I have worked with before, I enjoyed having the opportunity to develop this skill further. It was also a lot of fun to meet other team members while we all worked together to create the car body.

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How did you get into STEM? Who inspired you to get into it?

I’ve always had a passion for mathematics and finding out the answers to problems. When I started secondary school, I was invited to join CAUC, our school Greenpower team (another single-seat electric car competition). As part of the competition, we were able to design, build and race the cars, much like the process we go through in SEM, while being helped by staff and industry experts.

It was here that I saw the applications of my knowledge of the first time and also how diverse the field of engineering was.

Having this help and support, and being given more freedom as we developed both technically and personally, was a great introduction to engineering and was the turning point in me deciding to do an engineering degree. The team really inspired me to find new ways to apply the theory I learnt in the classroom to solve real-world problems. I also made a lot of good friends, who gave me the support and motivation I needed to carry on when I faced more technically challenging problems.

What would you say to inspire young girls in order to get them into STEM studies?

Don’t let anyone hold you back if you want to pursue a career or a hobby further, do it!

Also, make the most of every chance you get to speak to new people. Whether it be to further your own knowledge or inspire the next generation, you never know where your next opportunity might come along.

Thank you, Sophie, for an interview and good luck!

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