Securing The Future of STEM Empowerment: This is Techwuman

One of my biggest excitements when we created the SOLIDWORKS Champions Program was that we’d be able to open previously locked doors to closer engagement with some of our most fascinating, skilled, certified, and involved users in industry from all around the world.

When it comes to Melissa Ahmed and Greg Beddoe from Techwuman, they are the embodiments of exactly what we’d hoped for!

Here at SOLIDWORKS, we continue to look for ways to make strides in making STEM education available for wider and wider audiences of students and learners. Part of this is building relationships with Champions in our community who go above and beyond in this area.

If you’ve followed along with us over the years, one person that may come to mind is Danielle Boyer. Danielle’s career and work continues to boom through this day, and I’m fully confident that her work within STEAM Connection will continue to pave the way for future designers and engineers of all background who will – all hyperbole aside – build the worlds of tomorrow.

Techwuman is a design engineering consultancy in the U.K. which was created to both provide engineering services while promoting gender equality in the engineering industry so that men and women get more opportunities to work together. They also work hard to promote STEM to younger generations, with a primary goal of inspiring them generation to take up roles in this industry to meet the demand for more engineers.

Like most organizations with a strong STEM enablement focus, its founders have backstories closely linked to their aspirations in this area. When I asked Mel about her background and how she got into the world of design and engineering, she told me:

“Since I was a child, I have had an interest in science, mathematics and art. I was very creative and spent hours trying to understand how things worked. When it was time for me to choose my degree subjects and specialize in one industry, I struggled to identify my ‘perfect job’. “

She continued: “I have always believed that influences in our lives guide us, give us purpose, and impact our career choices. Growing up, I was inspired by seeing my father in aviation. He spent over 24 years working in the airline industry with roles as a Station Manager in the Maldives and an Aircraft Dispatcher for various types of aircraft, including the Airbus A380 for Emirates in the UK. I was also inspired by my grandfather, who is a Mechanical Engineer. I loved watching him tweak gadgets and fix things as I was growing up.”

But on the path to becoming a founder and STEM advocate herself, Mel identified areas that needed improvement along the way.

“There is evidence to show that girls lose interest in STEM subjects as they get older and I have experienced that first hand,” Mel recounts. “Looking back, I have seen fewer females as I have advanced through the different stages of my education and career.”

Only 13% of engineers in the U.K. are female. We need to do more to improve gender equality in all of the STEM industries. Including all genders in a team provides different perspectives, and improves the thought process which, in turn, leads to a better end-product.”

One of the ways Mel, Greg, and the rest of the team at Techwuman does this is simply by serving as an example of these concepts in everyday practice. In addition to a variety of STEM initiatives hosted by Techwuman (which we’ll get to shortly), Mel and Greg continue to work together on industry projects for their production clients, bringing to their design engineering work years of experience in a variety of industries – most prominently, the security industry.

As Greg described it to me: “As a company, we provide a range of engineering services to UK manufacturers by drafting and modeling in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, validating our designs using SOLIDWORKS Simulation and automating them with DriveWorks. We are proud to specialize in design engineering for the physical security of critical national infrastructure including LPCB LPS 1175 security products.”

In this way, Mel and Greg lead a team that represents the way things ‘should be’ – with balanced representation, as they continue to do high quality industry work while working towards greater changes.

Mel added: “I have made it my mission to be a female leader in engineering, to be the female engineering role model I never had when I was at the start of my career.”

In terms of ‘how’ Greg and Mel accomplish these goals at Techwuman, there’s a lot to uncover. When I asked them to describe the types of STEM empowerment activities they engage students in, they told me the following:

“At Techwuman, we hold STEM Activity Days, where we go into local schools and provide students the opportunity to meet Techwuman STEM Ambassadors in different roles from STEM industries, undergo practical activities to understand the associated STEM concepts and most of all, have fun!”

They continued: “The Techwuman STEM Ambassador program is designed to train people from the STEM industry on how they can ‘give back’ to the industry by being role models and allowing them to share their career pathways and knowledge. So far, Techwuman has successfully delivered STEM Activity Days to over 1,300 students across the UK and this is just the start.”

Mel continued on, saying: “Seeing how much fun the students have during the day and hearing girls announce that they want to be an engineer like me at the end of our STEM Activity Day fills me with pride. It also makes me think that if I had the opportunity to attend a STEM Activity Day when I was younger, it might have made my decision to choose engineering earlier.”

If you’d like to learn more about how to become a Techwuman STEM Ambassador, click here! You can also follow Techwuman on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to keep up to speed on all the awesome things they’re up to.

Sean O'Neill

Sean O'Neill

I'm a Community & User Advocacy Manager here at SOLIDWORKS. As a longtime SOLIDWORKS user myself, I love meeting with users and hearing about all the interesting things they're doing in the SOLIDWORKS community!