Emily Richardson, 18, is set to go to university after Uni Connect helped her explore which path suited her best to achieve her dream of becoming an engineer.

Emily Richardson, 18, is studying engineering at North Kent College. She initially gained a Level 3 Engineering Diploma with Merit last year. She is now studying the extended certificate, which she is also expected to complete with Merit.

Emily has had her sights set on a future in engineering from a young age. She says, “I always knew I wanted to go into this field. Formula One is a passion of mine. I grew up watching it with my dad, and I’ve always been fascinated by the engineering aspects.”

Emily is one of just two girls in her class, but she says she thinks being a woman in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is getting easier than it used to be. She says, “It’s not really such a massive deal anymore because we can see more women in those industries. Getting into careers in STEM is becoming more manageable for women, and it’s definitely not restrictive.”

Although engineering has always been the goal for Emily, she didn’t know whether to study at university or look for an apprenticeship. Cheryl, a Uni Connect Project Officer, talked her through the options available and helped Emily connect with people in the same industry. She also arranged for people to visit the college to talk about their routes into similar roles.

Emily said the people who came in had helped her to come to the decision that university was the best route for her. She says, “All aspects have been covered through Cheryl, which has been really helpful. I spoke to one person from an engineering firm who talked about his job, and everyone in the class was mesmerised. We also heard from a student who came in to talk about university life, student life and what to expect. I decided I prefer the idea of university over an apprenticeship. The lifestyle of uni appeals, as it means gaining more independence.”

She also found the Brightside mentoring programme really helpful, which she was advised was available to her due to where she lives, as not many people go to university from that area. The scheme, which is funded by the University of Greenwich, connects young people with mentors who can support them in their decision-making for their future.

Emily has been accepted into two different universities. Oxford Brookes is her preferred choice as the BEng Engineering includes mechanical and motorsport elements.

Emily is already looking forward to her future. She says, “After uni, I’d love to find a role within Formula One with any of the British Formula One racing teams.  I’d like to find a career placement within their engineering teams and then progress and become the best engineer I can be.”

The Kent and Medway Progression Federation (KMPF) is a collaborative partnership of higher education providers, colleges, schools and community organisations working to make sure young people from all backgrounds can see and reach their potential. We are proud to work with 49 schools and 3 colleges to deliver outreach activities across Kent and Medway as part of the Office for Students (OfS) Uni Connect Programme.

Lucy King

16 Jun 2023

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