Taylor named UKESF Scholar of the Year

2 mins read

Joanna Taylor from the University of Bristol is the first female student to win the UKESF’s Scholar of the Year Award, which was presented at the annual NMI awards and gala dinner. The award celebrates scholars who have made a significant contribution during their work placement and who have actively promoted electronics to young people.

Asked what brought her into electronics engineering, Taylor answered that it was a ‘no-brainer’.

“Both my parents’ backgrounds are in electronics engineering, but I didn’t realise it was what I wanted to do until I started looking at universities,” she laughed. “I realised I didn’t actually want to do a ‘normal’ degree; they weren’t applied enough. Engineering for me is the perfect applied version of my two favourite subjects: maths and physics.”

Now in her fourth year of a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Taylor discovered the UKESF programme when researching funding possibilities. She applied for and received a scholarship from Imagination Technologies for whom she has worked for the past three summers.

“The nice thing about my summers with Imagination was that everything I was doing could potentially be used; it wasn’t some little side projects just for the interns to do,” she said.

Taylor worked on power savings in one device; on a congestion analysis tool, which she tested and integrated into Imagination’s flow; and on test benches which needed porting to a new generation core.

“Last summer, there were some engineers that had just transferred from another department and I happened to be in the office, so instead of looking at the documentation, they asked me to pop over and show them how to use the congestion analysis tool,” Taylor enthused. She said she felt like a professional – not just a student.

As well as excelling at her summer work at Imagination, Taylor has been working hard to encourage young people into electronics. During the past year, she has been the outreach and volunteering officer for the Women in Engineering Society at the University of Bristol.

Taylor explained her role: “There are roughly 120 members and I organise all of their outreach events. I arranged for four other university students and myself to go to a local primary school, where we spent the afternoon doing two workshops with two different classes making little light up LED hats.”

She has also organised and encouraged other students to do presentations and workshops in nearby schools and participates in Digimakers events in Bristol, running workshops aimed at young children. According to Taylor, many schools would like to have more external people coming in and talking to them about different subjects – especially less well known topics such as engineering.

“I tend to target primary schools because there’s quite a lot of stuff already targeted at secondary schools and by that point a lot of children have already made up their minds about what they like and what they don’t like. When they’re younger, they’re a bit more receptive.”

Taylor thinks people just don’t understand what engineering is.

“Even though there is a move now towards understanding technology and understanding all the cool stuff we have in our phones, people still see the guy in a hard hat on a construction site, when actually a lot of them are sitting in an office doing simulations or testing things in a lab,” she argued. “There’s so much to being an engineer and there are so many different types of engineer.”

Taylor is hopeful the award will help her in her future job applications but, most importantly of all, she hopes it’ll encourage more people and more diversity in engineering.

“I walked into the wrong lecture the other day and I knew immediately it was the wrong one because most of the people in the room were female,” she lamented. “My course is so small as well, there aren’t many people and there are so many more jobs available for engineering than other degrees so we need to try to bring some of those people over to engineering. We could if we targeted women a bit more.”