The Welding Institute’s Younger Members’ Committee (YMC) has a new chair elect, Catherine Leahy AWeldI. Catherine’s official appointment is set to be finalised in October 2020 by the Institute’s Professional Board.
The Younger Members’ Committee has a diverse remit. The committee looks to engage young professional engineers who are Members of the Institute to encourage and assist their professional and career development. However, the Committee also undertakes a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach activities, such as delivering the Institute’s ‘welding with chocolate’ activity and, for the third year running, hosting a robotic inspection-based ‘defect detectives’ workshop in March 2020, in collaboration with Cambridge Launchpad.
Catherine succeeds Matthew Haslett, who is stepping down from the role in October 2020 after serving as chair since 2013. Reflecting on his time as chair of the Younger Members’ Committee, Matt offered the following statement:
“Over the past seven years, it has been a privilege to chair the Younger Members’ Committee. Not only have I been able to help support younger Members of The Welding Institute with career development, but it has also allowed me to promote welding, joining and its associated technologies to children and young people across the UK. This continues to be a real passion of mine and the importance of enthusing and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists cannot be underestimated. The role of YMC chair has been crucial is letting me ‘give something back’ to the profession that I work in. I wish Catherine the best of luck with taking up this new role and am confident that she will continue to be a great ambassador for The Welding Institute.”
Catherine is currently a corrosion technician at TWI Ltd and, having previously completed an advanced level apprenticeship in mechanical engineering within the Materials and Structural Integrity group, she is now studying towards her BEng degree in applied engineering with the University of Warwick as a higher degree apprentice.
She started her advanced (level 3) apprenticeship and role at TWI Ltd in 2017 after completing her A-levels in physics, maths and chemistry, going on to her higher degree (levels 4 and above) apprenticeship in 2019. When talking about why she chose to take an engineering apprenticeship, Catherine explained that, after studying her A-levels, “the idea of committing to a full time degree and everything that comes with it was very daunting. Only too often I hear tales of students finishing degrees with huge amounts of debt and are unable to get a job due to lack of experience. I felt that an engineering apprenticeship would be an excellent way for me to gain valuable experience in a real working environment, whilst also gaining the knowledge and education from both my advanced apprenticeship and now my degree apprenticeship.” She also further highlighted that she was the only female in her class during her advanced apprenticeship.
Catherine also reflected on the journey from completing her A-levels to going into full-time employment as an advanced apprentice, saying that, “coming straight from school to a full time job/apprenticeship was a big change. Adjusting to the world of work can be quite challenging at times, especially at such a young age, but overall the whole experience has been extremely rewarding.”
When discussing the reasons behind her choice to get involved with the Younger Members’ Committee, Catherine explained that, “the outreach programme with both TWI and The Welding Institute’s Younger Members’ Committee is something that I have been heavily involved with since beginning my role at TWI. During my first few months of volunteering, I mainly took part in events organised by colleagues to introduce myself to the outreach programme – this is where my interest in becoming a STEM ambassador began. Since then, I have worked to officially become a STEM Ambassador and work alongside the chair of YMC to plan and co-ordinate outreach events.”
She continued, “As a young female engineering apprentice, inspiring other young people, specifically young women, into a STEM career is something that I am extremely passionate about. I feel that young people can bring such bright new ideas into any workplace, especially through the route of an apprenticeship. I feel that the YMC chair position will enable me to continue my outreach work and bring inspiration to many more students.”
Catherine’s work as a STEM ambassador has also been noticed by not only The Welding Institute, with her winning the Armourers and Brasiers’ STEM Ambassador Award 2020, but also by the Women’s Engineering Society, where she was awarded the Women’s Engineering Society’s Top 50 Women in Engineering Award in 2019.
It is through the work and opportunities that the YMC facilitate, that our existing younger Members and other young aspiring engineers can see a place within the engineering industry for themselves. The Welding Institute would like to thank Matt for all of the work and support that he has given to the role of chair, and The Welding Institute is also proud to be able to support and welcome Catherine as the Younger Members’ Committee chair as she takes over the role.
Check out our Younger Members’ Committee page to see how you can get involved, whether it’s supporting your local Branch or volunteering to join the Younger Members’ Committee itself.