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After an exciting recruitment process from which we got 24 engineers from a variety of backgrounds to help with our Back Then project the sessions are now well underway. The engineer volunteers are working with our professional artists to help five different groups of people from around Sheffield learn about the engineering heritage of the city. Here is what one of the engineers Alison Beck had to say about her involvement so far:

“The y6 children were very enthusiastic and many, many hands shot up in response to “who likes science and engineering?” The engineers chatted to the children and offered advice if they got stuck. By the end of the afternoon, everyone designed and produced a print reflecting imaginative engineering.

The Roman ridge sheltered housing group of elderly residents. The first comment was “give me a 15 pound lump hammer, that’s what I call engineering!” There were nostalgic discussions about the Sheffield steel works and how engineering has developed and broadened over the years. One lady told me about how her sister, who would have been 96, had operated a crane in a rolling mill. It was all men, they said “the last woman lasted an hour. Prove yourself.” She did and was accepted for the job. We talked about how women like that had begun paving the way for women in engineering.

Tinsley parents’ group were doing photography based activity and were all keen to learn new techniques. We chatted about the different routes into engineering such as apprenticeships and university and the advantages, pros and cons of each. They wondered what it was like for a woman in a male dominated work environment. They were interested in new initiatives to support women engineers that also benefit male engineers. One of the engineers had only come across 5 female engineers in his work (including back then project). We talked about many other aspects of engineering and it was an enjoyable and relaxing morning.”

Keep your eyes peeled for more stories from our Back Then project and some public celebration sessions which will be coming your way in 2016.

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