In the first of a series looking at the work of IChemE’s volunteers, we profile the Young Members Forums
CHEMICAL engineering education has enjoyed much success over the last decade or so, to the point where we have a healthy supply of new recruits to the industry. New recruits who will form the basis of the next generation of leaders in chemical and biochemical engineering industry and research activities. It’s important then that we support our young engineers.
As such, IChemE’s young members forums aim to facilitate and encourage an active network of young professionals and students by delivering activities that create networking opportunities. Alongside that, they provide support for young professionals on their journey to getting Chartered by connecting them with mentors and others who can give help and advice.
How did I get involved? Outside of university, I thought about how I could further use my knowledge and skills to benefit others whilst developing myself professionally as an engineer. I’d been completing STEM activities at work for some time but since starting my industrial placement year, I decided to become more involved with independent outreach activities. Last year I spoke at an event aimed at inspiring and motivating the local youth from which I then got in contact with a woman who brought up IChemE’s London & South East Young Members Forum (L&SE YMF). I expressed my interest in encouraging engineering engagement and was then put in contact with a committee member to join the group.
Founded in 2011, we are a group of students and early-career professionals in the London and South East region, either studying IChemE-accredited courses or looking to get involved with IChemE activities. Some of our members are graduates from London universities, some are returning students from other regions, and others are professionals working in the area. Collectively, we are a community of people providing support.
We want to encourage an active network of young professionals and students, and create networking opportunities. Particularly, we want to support those getting Chartered by connecting them with mentors and others who can give help and advice.
We recognise the value of continuous professional development, so we want to encourage this amongst young members by presenting them with the opportunity to volunteer and gain skills they may not have access to in their day job, for example planning events. We also encourage members to become chemical engineering and STEM ambassadors because we believe we have a role to play in inspiring the next generation of engineers.
Our members work with and support projects run by the London Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, because we believe this is important.
2017 was an eventful year for us. We saw members join us for a range of events, many of which were hosted and organised by our committee members. In June, we held our International Women in Engineering Day event.
The event presented the opportunity for professionals across the industry to share and focus on the achievements of women in engineering. Our committee helped represent IChemE as we joined forces with IMechE, ICE, CIWEM, and Intelligent Transport Systems to bring about a spectacular night at the London Transport Museum. The likes of former transport minister Steve Norris and Baroness Brown of Cambridge were present to address the hundreds of guests about the importance of diversity within engineering and STEM.
There were many industrial partners present, with exhibitions and discussions on the different avenues and roles of successful women engineers. It was a great occasion focussed on a prevalent topic throughout STEM.
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