RNLI hosts event to inspire next generation of engineers

Lifeboats News Release

On Friday (21 June), the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) celebrated International Women in Engineering Day by inviting girls from eight local schools to a day of science, technology, engineering and maths-related activities and demonstrations.

Pupils take on the challenge to build a bridge out of lollipop sticks and clothes pegs

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Pupils take on the challenge to build a bridge out of lollipop sticks and clothes pegs

The pupils had a chance to meet RNLI people who work in engineering, and got involved in various demonstrations and activities – from a hands-on demonstration of impact testing on lifeboat materials, to learning about 3D printing, and building a bridge using a combination of lollipop sticks and clothes pegs.

Susie Webber, RNLI Senior Naval Architect said, ‘It was great to welcome the girls to the RNLI. They were all really engaged in the different events and activities, and hopefully they have been inspired to consider a career in engineering in the future.’

The role of engineering at the charity is vital – the RNLI’s lifeboats must cope with the varied and demanding conditions of the UK and Ireland’s coastline, and protect the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews from some of the most challenging conditions.

Among the women engineers at the RNLI are Principal Naval Architect Dr Holly Phillips MBE, Senior Naval Architect Susie Webber, and Helen Bunce who joined the RNLI as a Mechanical Engineer earlier this year.

Helen Bunce said, ‘It’s really fulfilling knowing the equipment I’m working on will help save lives at sea. The RNLI is a really nice place to work – everyone is really friendly and always really happy to help.’

Helen started her career with the RNLI as a lifeguard on Boscombe Beach in Dorset in 2012, before rejoining the charity earlier this year as a Mechanical Engineer. She graduated from a degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics engineering three years ago, and, so far, her engineering career has seen her work with planes, cars and now lifeboats.

During her 17-year career with the RNLI, Dr Holly Phillips has been instrumental in the design of the E-Class water-jet propelled lifeboats which are based on the Thames. Senior Naval Architect Susie Webber has worked for the RNLI for over five and a half years in total, and was involved in re-designing aspects of the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat.

Engineering at the RNLI

· The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea, and has a team of engineers who are constantly developing and improving the charity’s lifeboats.

· The RNLI’s newest lifeboat, the all-weather Shannon-class lifeboat, was designed in-house by the charity’s team of engineers, and is built in-house at the RNLI’s All-Weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset.

· The All-Weather Lifeboat Centre was opened in 2015 and builds six Shannon class lifeboats a year, as well as repairing and maintaining other all-weather lifeboats.

Notes to editors

· Schools involved in the event were: Poole High School, Avonbourne College, Lytchett Minster School, Oak Academy, Twynham School, Bourne Academy, St Michael’s Middle School and St Peter’s Park School

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Jennifer Clough, RNLI Press Officer on Jennifer_Clough@RNLI.org.uk or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

A pupil takes on the 'bottle buoy' challenge, learning about rescue equipment and calculating buoyancy.
Helen Bunce, RNLI Mechanical Engineer

RNLI/Jennifer Clough

Helen Bunce, RNLI Mechanical Engineer
Pupils attend the International Women in Engineering event at the RNLI

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Pupils attend the International Women in Engineering event at the RNLI
Pupils learn about 3D printing

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Pupils learn about 3D printing

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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