Spotlight on Mary Kate for International Women’s Day

Glasgow Kelvin College student, Mary Kate Cleugh, is completing her HND in Electrical Engineering and planning her next move, either into an apprenticeship or on to university.

19 year old Mary Kate first came to the College three years ago on the Engineering Scholarship programme which targeted senior phase pupils at local schools.  The programme blended school work, college study and one day a week work experience, providing learners with vocational, workplace and personal development skills while maintaining their school studies.

A good pupil at Kings Park Secondary, Mary Kate’s interest in engineering was piqued at an early age.

“I enjoyed maths and physics and was always interested to see how things work.  My Dad’s an engineer, like my Grandpa, and I loved to help them work on models and circuits in my spare time.  I would help out with electrical kits – building stuff and repairing stuff.  It was great experience and I knew then that I wanted to do something like this as a career,”

she says.

“So, when someone from the College contacted the school about the Scholarship programme I was excited as it really fitted my aspirations.  I came onto the programme and was still able to get my maths and physics highers.

My work placement was with Amey and I got a lot out of that – it confirmed for me that I was making the right decision in doing electrical engineering.”

Amey are a strong partner with Glasgow Kelvin College and were delighted to have Mary Kate working with them.  They were very impressed with her work and, importantly, her attitude and enthusiasm for learning her trade.

She continues,

“When I completed the Scholarship programme I didn’t go for an apprenticeship as I wanted to keep my options open – perhaps go on to university – so I was accepted at Kelvin for the HND in Electrical Engineering.

I’m now completing my time here at Glasgow Kelvin and have applied for a degree course at Glasgow Caledonian University in Electrical, Electronic and Energy studies which sounds really interesting.  We studied a unit on renewable energies as part of our HND and I really enjoyed it.  If I went to uni I would go straight into the third year of the course.

However I’m also looking at apprenticeship opportunities.  Ultimately I would like to work for a large well-known organisation, like Amey or Network Rail.  They keep up-to-date with new innovations and work practices which is important as they provide good training for their staff.  Hopefully, there would be opportunities to progress and end up in a management role – that would be great!”

On the topic of being a young woman studying for a traditionally male trade, Mary Kate is pragmatic.

“Although I was the only girl in my class, the tutors and my classmates were absolutely fine.  There were no real difficulties as everyone is treated exactly the same, learning the same skills in the same way.”

Glasgow Kelvin established its ‘Ada Lovelace Group’ more than a year ago which attracts female engineering, science and technology students from across the College and meets regularly to discuss issues in the industries.  Mary Kate is an enthusiastic member.

“It was great to meet other women in the College who were interested in similar things and the group has been an excellent support.  Our membership is growing – there are nineteen of us now –  and it’s been good to see other people keen on engineering in its variety of forms.”

Asked if she had any words of advice for young women who were considering a future in engineering, Mary Kate is vehement.

“I would say ‘Go For It’!

Some women are put off because engineering is seen a male-based thing.  It’s completely not!”

It’s a great opportunity and women have as much chance of being successful as any man.  If it’s what you want to do, pursue it.”

Mary Kate is pictured here with Anne Porter, Head of Faculty for Engineering, Construction and Science.  Anne’s background is also in engineering and she is delighted to have had Mary Kate as a student in her Faculty.