BAKE Off champ Rahul Mandal launched a campaign encouraging women into engineering at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
He addressed 60 schoolgirls from across the region at an opening event to publicise new social media venture #AMRCtribe.
And Rahul — a researcher at the Nuclear AMRC — said: “Put simply, there are not enough female engineers in the UK.
“The AMRC wants to help change that and I want to do everything I can to encourage young women to think about taking up engineering and encourage them towards STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).”
Rahul chatted with the girls about his job and, of course, his passion for the science of baking during the launch last Tuesday, during International Women in Engineering Week.
The girls were given a tour of the AMRC campus, seeing advanced technologies being developed like 3D printing and virtual reality.
A group activity saw the girls working in teams to build a wheel like the London Eye from paper, nuts and bolts, string and elastic bands.
The campaign is led by the AMRC’s training centre and outreach team and also involves female apprentices as part of the social media group, acting as mentors to the members.
Emma Pennington (14) from Silverdale School in Sheffield, said: “I think the tribe is a really good idea because people can connect with other people.
“I liked seeing the AMRC too, it’s a really cool place. There’s a lot of technology here that you don’t get to see at school.”
Jenny Cassy, director of learning for futures at Fir Vale School Academy Trust, added: “When our girls went on the tour of the AMRC, they all came away saying they want to come here.
“These are girls that live 15 minutes away from here and they had never thought about it before.”
AMRC STEM and outreach co-ordinator Ami Swales said only 11 per cent of the UK engineering workforce was female — much lower than elsewhere in Europe.
She added: “The campaign is about raising awareness of STEM in a way that is attractive to young women and overcoming the predominantly male stereotypes that dominate the sector.
“The goal for us is to get more women into STEM careers no matter the route they take to get there.
“We think this will open up a new world of opportunities for young women and provide the wider UK industrial base with the diverse and talented workforce it needs to grow and prosper in a sustainable way.”