ASPIRING female engineering students were treated to an insightful day at Dyson’s headquarters last week as the firm took part in Women in Engineering Day, an international campaign that encourages more women to consider a career in engineering.

Girls from nearby schools were invited to tour the Dyson campus in Malmesbury before hearing inspiring talks from female engineers and getting hands on by designing and building a prototype product.

They got to visit James Dyson’s office before taking part in a workshop where they were given the task of inventing a brand new product to solve common household problems that uses Dyson’s typical blowing/suction technology.

Some of the ideas included a system for heating up or cooling down shoes that also deodorizes them and a dish dryer that blows air up from underneath the rack.

Becky Penfold, a design engineer who has worked at Dyson for three years, said: “When I was at school it wasn’t that female focused, it was more guys go into engineering and girls go into art.

“But engineering is really interesting, it’s really varied and I think girls don’t quite understand that it is not purely mathematics, it can be really creative.

Becky talked about her career with the students, she said: “I work in product innovation which is right at the beginning stage of a product, it could be something completely brand new or it could be the next iteration of a product.

“I design from the concept stage to technology, how it will look like, how it will function.

“One day I could be designing and sketching, the next day I could be testing and developing and making sure it actually works as intended and is better than the product that other people sell.

“I love being a design engineer, I did physics and maths and I also did design which gives you the opportunity to use all that maths for a really varied role.”

Emma Morris, who joined Dyson after graduating from university with a degree in product design and technology, also encouraged more women to think about careers in engineering. She said: “We look at things in a different way and from a fresh perspective than guys.

“It’s always good to have a balance of men and women in design teams.”

Maya, a student who is interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects after her GCSEs, said: “I like to create things and help people as well.

“My experiences today have definitely inspired me to study STEM subjects further.

“It made me think I shouldn’t just choose them because I enjoy them, I should chose them because I have a reason to carry on with what I enjoy.

During the workshop, Maya’s team came up with the idea of a mop that also dried the floor using an inbuilt fan. She also thought it was important to get more women interested in engineering: “I go to a mixed school but there’s only about 12 girls out of everyone who is doing design technology”, she said.

“We’re not told it but we think that boys are the people that make everything happen but they’re not, we can be just as good as boys at it too.”