Sue Hawkes, CAD Technician at Berryrange, ICE Kent and East Sussex Branch Chair, and Technician Champion, wants to raise awareness and challenge our perceptions of people with impairments and disabilities, such as autism.
One day at a STEM careers fair, a young boy absolutely blew me away with his ability to create a huge bridge.
His attention to detail and ability to make the bridge stand up despite its size led me to think he was an engineer in the making. When talking with his mother, it was revealed he had autism.
This got me thinking; how many engineers and technicians within the engineering community have a physical, mental and emotional impairment? And how are we reaching young people with the same position to promote STEM careers?
This is why I am hosting a series of presentations throughout 2021 by engineers and technicians who live with impairments and disabilities who've carved out successful careers in engineering.
The series will explore the way we view disabilities and impairments, and show that, in fact, such impairments are not an issue to the individual, just one of the many facets of their characters, and add an extra dimension to their journey to success.
The presentations will happen on a monthly basis, with the first three available for booking:
Wednesday 20 January 2021 - How to nurture neurodiversity at work and why it matters
Wednesday 24th February - Living and working with a physical impairment, whose problem is it?
Wednesday 24 March 2021 - Living with an atypical brain
Each one will be recorded with the view of creating a video which can then be shared with both mainstream schools and those dedicated to children with disabilities.
Share your story
My aim is to bridge the gap between education and industry by showing students from different backgrounds and abilities that engineering is a rewarding career, which provides opportunities to make a difference to the world we live in.
To this end I'm looking for more engineers and technicians who have physical, mental or emotional impairments to share their story.
We want to celebrate their contributions and show a broad spectrum of career paths that can be achieved with an open mind and adaptations to the working environment.
Please email me if you are interested in getting involved.
What should civil engineers be doing to support people with autism? Ayo provides some tips
Read this helpful online safety guide for people on the autism spectrum.