Collins Aerospace encourages girls to join STEM fields with ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering'

Some of the female workforce, including engineering managers, quality managers and a logistics director, who introduced the girls to engineering to the female students from Kilkeel, Newcastle and Newry in an effort to inspire them to pursue STEM fields.. Karen Higgins is second from left

COLLINS Aerospace opened its doors to female students from its south Down catchment area in an effort to inspire them to pursue fields in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects,

Its Kilkeel facility, which employees more than 1,000 people, has many women in key engineering roles including engineering managers and quality managers.

The ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering' event was part of a global initiative by Collins Aerospace and was an opportunity for the young women to learn more about the manufacturing of aircraft seating and for the Collins team to inspire those through their own stories of studying engineering and how they've progressed in and pursued their own careers.

Karen Higgins from Belfast, who studied mechanical and manufacturing engineering at the Queen's University, has spent more than 12 years with Collins (, working in various departments.

As a manager in charge of 13 engineers, she says her love of engineering grew from watching Formula One.

She said: “When I was a young teenager I would watch F1 with my dad, but I wanted to know how it all worked.

“When I went to university to study engineering, I was then able to build, as part of a project, our own single seat racing car and even compete at one of the world's most famous racetrack, Silverstone, so, you can just imagine, I was in my element.

“My time with Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel has allowed me to hone my skills. I've delivered some major projects and, along with my team, we are making a real impact on the aerospace industry. So, come on girls. get in to engineering!”

Schools visiting the Kilkeel facility included Sacred Heart Grammar, Kilkeel High, St Louis Grammar and Shimna Integrated College.

The day included a tour of the factory, several presentations, STEM activities which included building a car, as well as understanding how virtual and augmented reality can assist.

Patricia McClelland, head of business economics and LLW at Sacred Heart, said: “Our students thoroughly enjoyed the day, from the tour of the facility to the STEM exercises as well as the invaluable opportunity to chat to other women about their journeys as well as the roles they now have in Collins Aerospace.

“I have no doubt we have five very inspired young women who will not forget this well organised, engaging and fascinating day with female engineers who freely gave of their time. Thank you Collins Aerospace.”

Stuart McKee, managing director of Collins, added: “We were only too delighted to invite young women from Newcastle to Newry to see how they can forge their own careers in engineering.

“The aerospace sector is one which has great opportunities for all, and being able to take time out to share what we can offer and inspire young women was what I call a good day.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access