Aoífe Kelly

I had never thought of getting into engineering until around third year. I started to have an interest in engineering and my technology teacher encouraged me to take it up for one of my GCSEs.  This was something I did not regret and my interest in engineering only grew from here, when my teacher told our class about the Arkwright scholarship. After looking through their website and seeing how many great opportunities there were, I decided to apply.

I gained a lot of confidence through the Arkwright scholarship, it made me more willing to do things that I wouldn’t have in the past, for example, I was approached to do a video for Tomorrow’s Engineers. The video was a great opportunity for both me and my school, I went to a very small primary school and there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for exposure to the STEM subjects, especially for the girls. This really helped promote women in engineering.

I remember at the awards ceremony that we were encouraged to try and use the funding in a way that would inspire the next generation. I thought back on when I was in primary school and how much I enjoyed the STEM activities. After the ceremony I spent the next few months planning out activities that would cover all the STEM subjects, and the different types of engineering that would also be accessible to all the children at my old school.

In 2018 I volunteered at my local youth club, using my funding I again carried out engineering based activities with the kids to help get them interested in it. One of the stand out moments had to be when I returned to my primary school to do my second STEM week with them in 2019, all of the children had remembered all of the experiments from the previous year and were so excited. A lot of the children were asking questions about the different types of engineering and what they did which I thought was great. When I was younger, I had no idea how many branches of engineering there were let alone what they did. There were also a lot more girls coming up to me and asking about the things that you could do with STEM subjects, which I thought was brilliant. Since the second STEM week went so well, I was asked by the school if I would be open to making this an annual event. 

I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Queens University Belfast, I am in my first year and enjoying it thoroughly. My course has a placement year, so I am hoping that this will be able to give me insight into which sector I would like to focus my career on. As the University term finishes earlier than the school term I plan on continuing the STEM weeks in my old primary school for as long as possible and possibly in the future bring it to other local primary schools.

The advice I would give to current scholars is to try and make the most of all the opportunities and attend as many of the Arkwright connect days as you can. If your sponsor is from a sector of engineering that you are interested in use this to your advantage.

There is so many opportunities to gain from this scholarship. Even if you aren’t certain on what engineering discipline you would be interested in, I would still urge you to apply as there are so many life changing opportunities.


Arkwright Scholar 2017 - 2019

Ulster University: School of the Built Environment

Maths, Physics and Technology & Design

Mechanical Engineering, Queens University Belfast

Mechanical Engineering Student