Students meet engineering group president elect

Carolyn Griffiths, president elect IMechE mar17
Mechanical engineering student Handsome Banda talks to Carolyn Griffiths

7 April 2017

  • Engineering and biomedical students showcase their research
  • Visit reinforces important links between university and industry
  • Students advised to be flexible and learn interdisciplinary skills

One of the country’s leading railway engineers, Carolyn Griffiths, has met with engineering students and academics at Aston University in her capacity as President Elect of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

She spent a day on campus finding out about research being undertaken by mechanical engineering and biomedical students and the work of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.   

Her advice to Aston University’s engineering students and graduates seeking gainful employment is to have a flexible approach and gain as many interdisciplinary skills as possible, in addition to a solid technical base.

“Technology is moving really quickly and if a student or graduate goes into a small or medium sized company they will have to cater for all sorts of demands on them,” said Carolyn. “Being able to adapt, knowing your limits of competence, when and how to engage others and being able to work in multi-disciplinary teams are also important skills as without them graduates will struggle no matter how academically qualified they are. 

“Once in employment, it is vital to continue your professional development and the Institution can be a great support in this; being a member has helped me throughout my career.”

Dr Gareth Thomson, head of the Mechanical Engineering and Design subject group in Aston University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, said: “We are delighted the Institution’s president elect came along to see what we do here at Aston.

“We have a very strong commitment to being at the forefront of engineering education and aim, through our proactive approach to learning, to develop competent, confident and well-rounded engineering graduates who are not only immediately employable but passionate about growing and developing as engineers as technology and society evolves over their working lives.

“Working with the Institution through its accreditation scheme, local networks and professional membership is a big part in helping us making this happen.”

Carolyn founded the Institution’s publicly available rail engineering training based on the training she established for her independent organisation Rail Accident Investigation which investigates accidents on the UK’s mainline railway, Channel Tunnel, metros, trams and the London Underground.

As its former Chief Inspector she reported to the Secretary of State for Transport on wide-ranging engineering issues, operations, organisations, human behaviour and national and international standards and policies.

In her role with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Carolyn is firmly committed to furthering its effectiveness in supporting engineers and the broader engineering community it serves.

Carolyn said: “My advice to a young person choosing a degree in mechanical engineering is don’t try to rush ahead just for the salary. The skill set that you learn, or gain, at the beginning of your career will last a lifetime so I think to build a very broad base, trying to learn as much as you can and pick up all sorts of interdisciplinary skills at the early stage when people are more sympathetic to your wanting and needing to learn is very, very important.”

She praised the active learning approach to employment offered at the university, commenting: “This approach is not just important, it’s essential for when you go out into the workplace. There’s a lot of talk about being ‘employment ready’. No graduate will be fully ‘employment ready’ but with the active learning approach you are learning and gaining the skills you need, working as a project team member, working across disciplines, understanding time pressures and budget pressures, and if you have all of these under your belt when you go into your first employment, it’s a real coup and you will be more ‘employment ready’ than you would otherwise be.” 


Notes to the editor

  • ·Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.
  • ·Established in 1847, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has some of the world’s greatest engineers in its history books. It is one of the fastest growing professional engineering institutions. Based in London, it has operations across the world and over 115,000 members in over 140 countries working at the heart of the most important and dynamic industries including automotive, rail, aerospace, medical, power and construction.
  • ·Carolyn Griffiths will shortly become president ofthe Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Her role with the Institution has included founding the periodic International Rail Accident Investigation Conference, attended by international delegates. She is a member of the trustee board, former chairman and member of the Railway Division Board and former chairman of the International Strategy Board. In addition, she is a board member of Engineering Council and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, has served as a governor of Imperial College, and has an honorary degree from Cranfield University for her work in the railway industry. She is currently a non-executive director for Irish Rail.

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