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Displaying items by tag: Careers for Women

In the UK shipyard of marine engineering services company Cammell Laird based in Birkenhead, young women had a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in engineering as part of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) 2019.

Ten girls from schools and colleges in Birkenhead and surrounding areas met female engineers and saw shipbuilding in progress during the event organised by the shipyard and the Engineering College.

The event aimed to encourage more women into engineering and highlight the opportunities available as Cammell Laird prepares to launch a recruitment drive for apprentices.

The girls even toured polar research vessel the Sir David Attenborough, described to them by Cammell Laird chief operating officer Tony Graham as “the ship that will save the planet”. And they heard first-hand how the build is progressing from Carrie Harris, second engineer with the British Antarctic Survey, who will be one of eight women out of the ship’s 28 crew once it launches.

Mr Graham addressed the group of young women with Cammell Laird managing director Paul Owen to explain why the day was so important.

He said: “Just increasing our workforce numbers isn’t good enough for me. We need increasing levels of diversity and the right kind of talent in the business, people with passion and loyalty, who are confident and willing to learn, who are going to go on our growth journey with us.

“I’ve always considered engineering to be the only true discipline that leaves people with life defining memories and there isn’t anybody working on the Sir David Attenborough now who won’t still be talking about it in ten years’ time. We create national monuments and we need to inspire the next generation of young women to get excited about engineering.”

Mr Owen said engineering had given him the opportunity to visit 130 countries during his career. “If you are driven by challenges then engineering is a great environment to be in, but don’t wait for other people to give you these opportunities,” he said.

The day began with a visit to the neighbouring Engineering College, where Cammell Laird apprentices train, where Olivia Weston, a degree apprentice in the marketing department and a mentor for The Girls’ Network, talked about how engineering can cover all walks of life. “We’ve trained engineers who go on to fix machinery in intensive care departments, work in heavy industry or provide the audio-visual equipment in a George Ezra concert – engineering really is in everything you can think of,” she said.

The group then moved over to Cammell Laird where the girls heard from assistant ship manager Claire Biggar and former mechanical fitting apprentice Kirsten Blood, who is now a quality inspector in the tooling department.

Kirsten told the group: “The shipyard is fast-paced and ever-changing and there’s always a huge sense of achievement in everything we do. It can be a bit disheartening that there aren’t more female chief engineers or captains of ships, so we want to see more girls coming through the yard.”

Claire, a former Royal Navy weapons engineer, is currently overseeing the painting of the Sir David Attenborough.

 

“Ship building, and engineering, amazes me every day and it can be whatever you want it to be and take you wherever you want to go,” she said.

Carrie Harris, who led a tour of the Sir David Attenborough, will oversee the running of the vessel, which she told the group could involve everything from whether the radar was working to whether the toilets were flushing.

She said: “If you’re looking at an apprenticeship there’s a lot of job stability in engineering. It was by accident that I got into engineering but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

The International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) event aims to encourage more women into engineering careers and was backed by businesses and organisations across the industry.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.

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