Sophie Dent, 24, is an engineering graduate at BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. After being nominated by her peers, Sophie has been recognised for her dedication to promoting engineering amongst young people. The Top 50 initiative is run jointly by The Daily Telegraph and the Women in Engineering Society (WES) and aims to increase the numbers of females taking up engineering roles by celebrating the achievements of role models across the sector.
Sophie said: "I am speechless. I never dreamt I'd be on the Top 50 list – especially as previous winners have been very senior and experienced. As a female engineer, I was in the minority throughout university, but I'm hopeful this won't be the case for girls in future. I am so passionate about engineering and if I can break down some barriers and change perceptions of the industry for just a few girls, I'll be very happy."
Sophie and her Higher Apprentice colleagues, Beth Howarth-Henry and Lauren Eastburn, worked together to develop the ground-breaking engineering challenge Clever Cogs – the first engineering challenge badge for GirlGuiding, designed for girls aged five to 25.
The idea for the badge was born after the team of three ran a successful Guides in Engineering day for South Cumbrian Guides, but found there was confusion about what engineering really was. Working hard to develop a strong relationship with the GirlGuiding organisation, the team went on to design an activity pack over the course of four months to offer Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and the Senior Section a flavour of different engineering disciplines – from materials engineering to astronautical engineering - via 13 fun challenges, such as egg parachutes and exploding volcanos. Since its launch in March this year, almost 2,000 girls across the UK have completed the Clever Cogs challenge badge.
BAE Systems is the prime contractor in the Astute class submarine programme and the industrial lead for the new Dreadnought submarine programme – two of the world's most complex engineering challenges.
Russ Watson, Engineering Director at BAE Systems Submarines, said: "It is fantastic that Sophie has been recognised on a national stage for her hard work. This accolade is well deserved - Sophie has gone above and beyond to promote engineering to young people and inspire girls to consider it as a career.
"Nothing is more complex than designing and building a nuclear-powered submarine and through the products we deliver, we hope to inspire others to follow in Sophie's footsteps."
Sophie has also been recognised for the work she does in her voluntary role as co-ordinator for Cumbria and Lancashire's Women in Engineering Society, as well as the work she does representing BAE Systems at various STEM events, running activities to get young women engaged in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Hundreds of BAE Systems Submarines employees volunteer as ambassadors, raising the profile of STEM in schools, colleges and community events.