From the age of just 18 years old Kirsty Smith from the Ayrshire Roads Alliance has been blazing a trail for women wishing to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Kirsty, who is a full time technical officer/ Engineer, initially studied for an HND and through a lot of hard work, earned a place on the University of the West of Scotland’s Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) in Civil Engineering. Kirsty is now working towards a BEng Honours degree, combining academic learning with practical experience in the workplace. She is awarded academic credit for gaining industry relevant skills and can put any learning into professional practice straight away.
A GA in Civil Engineering provides a broad knowledge of Civil Engineering subject areas including structural, geotechnical, water engineering, materials and hydraulics and also latest in digital technology within construction.
Kirsty’s GA in Civil Engineering is a work-based learning degree, meaning she is a key member of the Design Section and is involved with all aspects of the management of our bridges, an essential part of the Alliance’s work across East and South Ayrshire.
Kevin Braidwood, Interim Head of Roads: Ayrshire Roads Alliance said: “Kirsty is a credit to the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and has become a key member of the Design Team. The GA in Civil Engineering is designed by industry. This is beneficial for Kirsty because she can work full time while studying essential skills to succeed in her chosen career and beneficial to the Alliance because we are retaining an employee with critical skills that we need to deliver efficient services to the people of East and South Ayrshire.
“Until quite recently, a career in Civil Engineering tended to attract more men than women, but this is changing and young women like Kirsty are inspiring others to study STEM subjects. Last year we held an event at Gauchalland Depot for all secondary schools in East and South Ayrshire. Young people attended the event to learn more about a career within the Alliance. Kirsty took time to speak to the young people about her career path and her aspirations. It was great for them to see that our young apprentices have been encouraged to achieve by their managers and colleagues.
“In the Alliance, we understand the importance of developing our workforce and ensuring that we have highly qualified employees in place to deliver the services our communities expect and deserve.”
Kirsty Smith said: “The University of the West of Scotland’s Graduate Apprenticeship links directly to my day-to-day work and the knowledge I am gaining at university is allowing me to take on more complex and challenging projects at work.
“I would recommend GAs to anyone. It is hard work and takes commitment but the mix of work based and classroom learning is perfect. I can apply what I am learning straight away at work.
“I feel lucky to work for the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and to pursue a career in my chosen field of Civil Engineering. I am, and always have been, encouraged to succeed at work and I know that my line manager and colleagues are proud of my achievements.”