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Women in Engineering

Engineering is at the very heart of what we do at the RNLI. That’s why it’s crucial we inspire the next generation to consider careers within engineering. 

Considered a career in engineering?

As reported in March 2022 by Engineering UK, just 16.5% of engineers are women, compared to 10.5% reported in 2010. 

Every year on 23 June, International Women in Engineering Day raises awareness of the under-representation in this profession, celebrates the achievements of women in engineering, and encourages more young women and girls to consider engineering careers.

Inspiring future engineers

We want to help inspire and motivate the next generation of women in engineering. That’s why we hold a yearly event for local schoolgirls, aged 11-13, to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day. 

The events gives students the opportunity to undertake a range of STEM themed activities with local experts.

Following the success of the events, we have made activities available for home or classroom use. 

Women in Engineering activities

We want engineering to be available to students everywhere and have created a variety of activities for students to jump into. Whether you run these in the classroom or at home, these activities are designed to broaden the students’ understanding of what a career in engineering could mean for them. They cover everything from practical careers, such as the building of lifeboats, to design-based careers and IT engineering and technology.

The objective of this activity is to suspend an object (egg) using a shoelace for 30 seconds. Are you up to the challenge?

Your task is to help design the slipway from the station to the water, by looking at the forces acting on the boat and then calculating the best angle for the design so that the lifeboat enters the water at the right speed.

Remember that your crew are depending on you.

This session will introduce you to the international drowning problem and how design and engineering could be used to help. You'll be able to calculate, test and create concepts for a buoyancy device using plastic bottles. 

Want to give it a go? 

The RNLI uses very high specification technical clothing made by the clever clothing engineers and specialists at Helly Hansen. This clothing is designed to keep our Lifeboat Crews dry and warm when they are “out on a shout” and to protect our Lifeguards when they are helping people to stay safe on the beach and in the sea.

This challenge will give you the opportunity to learn more about it and hopefully come up with your own ideas on how to reduce any negative environmental impacts in future. You can also complete our practical challenge by upcycling an old t-shirt into something amazing, unique and new!

As technology advances and our world changes, it is important that the RNLI continue to innovate and build on the latest advances in science, technology and engineering.

The world’s first unsinkable lifeboat was designed in 1785 by Lionel Lukin, using the River Thames in England to test his various experiments. The simple boat was made with materials such as wood, cork and copper plates, a basic shell that would carry up to 20 people. Fast forward over 200 years and you don’t need to be on a super yacht to enjoy the high-tech advantages on today's marine vessels. RNLI lifeboats now feature chart plotters, autopilot and even self-righting technology in the case of capsizing!

Imagine another 20, 30 or even 50 years in the future, what new technology could lifeboats have onboard to help save even more lives at sea?

The RNLI has come to the rescue once again! If you’re a teacher, parent or guardian looking for ways to educate, entertain and engage your children, play our Water Safety video – perfect for primary school-aged children.

Your children can learn from these videos so that when they next visit beaches or open water, they'll be ready and stay safe.

For more water safety activities for primary and secondary children, check out our Youth Education Resources.

Lifeboat tours

Take a virtual tour round some of our lifeboats!


Here at the home of RNLI Training we deliver a wide variety of courses, from Seamanship to advanced command courses for volunteer crews across the UK and ROI. The video shows some of the activities the trainers train the crews here at the college. You'll see that the crew are given the best possible training to face the worse of conditions, operating our vessels in high-risk areas, all while keeping a calm and cool atmosphere while reassuring the casualties that everything is ok.

Training isn't how it used to be thanks to developments in technology. Crews spend a minimum of 2 days in our purpose-built survival tank, experiencing abandoning to a life raft and an ILB (Inshore Lifeboat) capsize, so if things do go wrong, we have prepared them to the best of their ability. It's like a simulator for lifeboats! 

Navigation and command courses are also run here in Poole. Crews are put through their paces, learning to navigate our lifeboats in high stress scenarios, while on the flipside our Helms, Coxswains and Commanders are given a week of intense training in Bridge Team Management. Our Helms, Coxswains and Commanders are trained to manage the crew, vessel and her equipment, maintaining an overall situational awareness while taking overall responsibility for the safety of the vessel and its crew. 

The RNLI college has been open since 2003 and in that time, have trained thousands upon thousands of crews, to be able to return home, after saving lives at sea.

Take a look at our monthly newsletter full of engineering news and case studies. 

Think you're interested in a career in engineering?

There are many options to get you started, like choosing  subjects at school and thinking about your options after school. Take a look at our useful links below to get inspired!

The RNLI has a wide range of careers within engineering. You could design, build or maintain our lifeboats and stations, or have a supporting role in finance, HR, planning or administration - and there’s lots more. To get your engineering career started with us, we have several different pathways for you to choose from: work experience, apprenticeships and university placements.

Watch the video to meet some of our engineering apprentices.

Useful links


Activities referred to in the Women in Engineering series can be physically challenging and carry risks of personal injury. Anyone under 18 years old carrying out any of the activities discussed here should be accompanied by an adult at all times.  

To help keep you safe: 

  • You should be accompanied by an adult.  
  • You should act responsibly and sensibly at all times.
  • You should not participate if you have injuries, are pregnant or under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs. 
  • You should follow any safety warnings or instructions displayed within the videos as well as those given to you by a teacher if you are doing it as part of the school activity.

RNLI cannot accept any liability for the activities as it has no control over them and as such, participation in these activities is entirely at your risk.

Discover more

International Women in Engineering Day Logo
Celebrating Women In Engineering
The national campaign run by Women’s Engineering Society.
Visit the official site
Young people learning about water safety from an RNLI education volunteer
Water Safety education resources

Free downloadable learning resources for water safety workshops and more.

Find an activity
Montage of RNLI Apprentices working in various roles throughout the charity
RNLI apprenticeship schemes
If you're 16 and over, consider an apprenticeship with the RNLI - earn a salary, gain recognised qualifications and acquire valuable workplace skills in your chosen career.
Learn more