At FIRST UK, our engine is industry. More specifically, the exceptional people who occupy industry roles today.
We’re fortunate to partner with some of the most pioneering and forward-thinking industry heads of the world, willing to donate their time, energy and talent simply because they too, see and believe in the value of investing in the STEM futures of young people. Critical to driving our mission of ensuring young people are equipped to make informed decisions about their future in STEM are interactions with these industry role models.
Last month, at our National Championship event in Cambridge, our young innovators got to hear from Rosie Lawrence, STEM Ambassador and Aircraft Fitter at one of our beloved partner organisations, Raytheon Technologies. As our guest speaker on International Women in Engineering Day, Rosie transported attendees to the forefront of her industry, sharing her incredible journey so far as she embodies the possibilities of STEM. We hope that this encounter has inspired the girls in the audience to see their STEM future is as achievable and as exciting as Rosie’s.
We caught up with Rosie again post-champs to dive further into her career journey and experience helping us build More Than Robots.
RTX is the world’s largest aerospace and defence company. Our global team of 180,000 employees pushes the limits of known science and redefines how we connect and protect our world. We are advancing aviation, building smarter defence systems, and creating innovations to take us deeper into space.
Raytheon UK is a landed company, part of the RTX organisation and sits within the Raytheon Intelligence and Space business. With facilities in Broughton, Waddington, Glenrothes, Harlow, Gloucester and Manchester, Raytheon UK is invested in the British workforce and the development of UK technology. Across the country, the company employs 1,700 people. As a prime contractor and major supplier to the UK Ministry of Defence, Raytheon UK continues to invest in research and development, supporting innovation and technological advances across the country.
In my role as an Aircraft Fitter, life can be quite varied. Typical tasks for me include major and minor aircraft modifications, phase inspection tasks, or pre-flight checks. I’m also a member of the STEM team, where I support events such as Cosford air show, RIAT, local careers, and science fairs as well as our flagship event the Quadcopter Challenge.
One thing that you may be surprised to know about me, is that away from work I enjoy motorsports, whether that be going to watch race meetings at my local track or taking my Honda Fireblade engined race car on track days.
As an apprentice, it can be quite daunting at first going into an engineering environment, especially as a female, but I could not have been made to feel more welcome by the guys and girls on the shop floor. A lot of what you learn is completely new to you, but you’re provided with a wealth of experience guiding you through every step of the way.
What drew me down the engineering path would have been my dad; he was an aircraft engineer and he actually completed his apprenticeship back in 1984 in the same building that I completed mine in 2021. My proudest moment so far would be going to the House of Lords to receive an award for ‘Outstanding STEM Ambassador’ for Wales.
If I’m honest, when I was younger the idea of what I wanted to do as a career changed daily! I spent my summers and half terms working part-time as an Admin Assistant at a pharmacy and never really investigated a career in engineering. It was only when I went to my local college’s open day with my dad (an Aircraft Engineer himself) who went to the engineering department to catch up with some of his old colleagues, that I even considered engineering, and even then it wasn’t until a couple of days after my GCSE results day when I was sat in the same college still unsure about what course I wanted to do that I thought I would give engineering a go!
My advice to anyone looking at going into a STEM career would be to go out and get some work experience during half terms and summer breaks! I honestly cannot stress how useful it was to me when I was looking to apply for apprenticeships. It helps you to make connections, experience the working world, find out things you like and more importantly find out what you don’t like doing.
The best thing about supporting young people through the FIRST Tech Challenge is seeing the creative journey that the students go on, from concept to creations.
“Inspiring them to follow their passions and seeing that choosing STEM subjects and clubs in school can lead to great careers in many different industries.”
The biggest skill I have been able to translate into my volunteering work is communication. It sounds quite silly to say but the ability to talk to people is one of the hardest skills you will come across.
To be completely honest, the idea of a 5-year plan stresses me out. As a young person, it is difficult for me to predict what will happen in the future so all I can do is take each day and each task as it comes and always work to be the best version of myself that I can be.
In industry, there has been a big realisation of the importance of STEM education. The skills gap is getting wider and we have been losing some of the best talents to other industries. In the six years I have been in the aircraft industry I have seen big changes in the way that we look towards education and STEM subjects. Our outreach programmes are multiplying and I am starting to see fresh talent coming into the organisation.
“My hope is that we continue to offer support to young people’s needs and help them make educated choices when deciding on future careers.”
Thank you Raytheon UK for deploying Rosie and others from your workforce as mentors and event volunteers to help us make STEM careers less intimidating, more diverse and inclusive. It shows the great impact that STEM education backed by industry heavyweights can achieve.