From education to employment

Rising engineering star bangs the drum for more ‘girl power’ in industry

Sophie Young

Attracting more females into engineering is the mission for a Black Country electrical engineer that has won a clutch of awards in the early part of her career.

Sophie Young, who works for PP Control & Automation in the West Midlands, is hoping that her own personal journey can act as an inspiration for hundreds of young girls and women looking to carve out a possible role in manufacturing.

The 19-year-old has already secured a major title at the Ladder for the Black Country Awards and recently added to this by being named as one of the Top 100 Manufacturing Professionals in the UK at a high-profile event at the NEC.

Praised as a ‘young pioneer’, she impressed judges with the way she delivered a £1m+ new product introduction process that has seen her work with the NPI team to eliminate faults and develop a product that now takes less than one hour to build and is being ramped up to 400 units this year.

Sophie was also recognised for her ambassadorial role, which sees her take part in live panel discussions, the Manufacturing Assembly Network’s MANifesto, a digital campaign organised by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Institute of Technology and numerous school talks where she explains to people about her role and the opportunities available to her.

“I’ve always been interested in STEM subjects so going into engineering seemed a natural decision and I’ve not looked back,” explained Sophie, who is on Apprenticeship pathway that will see her attain qualifications from a HNC through to her degree.

“PP Control & Automation has given me the opportunity to demonstrate what I’m learning on real live projects that involve machines and technology that is changing the way we all live.

“The things I’m doing and experiencing are way beyond what I would get from a textbook and my message to other young women considering what to do for a job is ‘give engineering’ a chance.”

She went on to add: “Roles are so versatile, and the work environments are ultra-modern in a lot of cases. I’ve only been at PP C&A for two years and I’ve already won two major awards and will be on the shortlist for the Rising Star at the Engineering & Manufacturing Awards in London.”

PP Control & Automation, which offers strategic manufacturing outsourcing services to 20 of the world’s largest machine builders, employs more than 150 women across its 230-strong workforce.

Developing people is a key priority for the Cheslyn Hay-based business, who give every member of staff access to 200 hours of development opportunities and training every year.

The firm also plays a crucial role in the Design & Make Challenge run by the Manufacturing Assembly Network. This competition, due to be held at WMG in July, gives up to 18 schools the opportunity to build a vehicle, test it and then race it against rival reams to win four main prizes.

In the history of the event, more than 400 pupils have benefitted so far, with a large proportion going on to pursue engineering at vocational level or at university.

Sophie continued: “To be named in The Top 100 really was a highlight. I never expected it in a million years, especially when you consider some of the people I’m sharing this honour with. I’m definitely going to use the title to inspire others to follow their industrial dreams.”

Malcom Condon, HR People Partner at PP C&A, concluded: “Sophie has set an inspiring example for aspiring engineers and women in engineering. The whole team would like to congratulate her on these well-deserved accolades and eagerly anticipate the continued impact she will make in her career and on the broader manufacturing community.”

For further information, please watch the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Institute of Technology video on Sophie or visit our site.

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