Newcastle Festival to Bring More Diverse Workforce to Engineering Sector

Newcastle Festival to Bring More Diverse Workforce to Engineering Sector

A new, three-day festival focusing on increasing diversity in the engineering sector will take place in Newcastle city centre this spring.

The Face of Engineering Festival, which runs from Thursday 7 April until Saturday 9 April at The Common Room on Westgate Road in Newcastle, will spotlight women working in engineering today and invite the next generation of engineers to meet female role models and find out about the range of careers on offer to them. The festival offers a variety of free events aimed at everyone from industry professionals and students, to families. 

Speakers and facilitators will include electronics design engineer Shrouk El-Attar, who was chosen by the BBC in 2018 as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the World and was selected by the Institution of Engineering and Technology as a 2021 Young Woman Engineer of the Year.  

“According to a recent report* by Engineering UK, only 14.5% of engineers are female. We want to help increase that figure and make the industry more accessible to women, women of colour, and female school pupils and students who will be the next generation of innovators and engineers. And to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ people too,” Liz Mayes, Chief Executive of The Common Room, explained. 

Day one of the Newcastle Festival, on Thursday 7 April, will be an industry conference taking place at The Common Room, featuring workshops, and panel discussions hosted by BBC radio presenter Ngunan Adamu. Panellists will include engineer Shrouk El-Attar, who was born in Egypt and has been living in the UK as a refugee since 2007; engineer and Head of Strategy at NA College, Margherita Pasquariello; and Regional Director for the Institution of Civil Engineers North East and Yorkshire and Humber, Steena Nasapen-Watson.

Day two of the event will see North East secondary school pupils invited to take part in interactive engineering workshops and meet diverse female engineers including workshops delivered by engineers from local companies such as Unipres (UK) Ltd and Turner & Townsend.

And on Saturday 9 April, The Common Room will open its doors to visitors of all ages for a day of hands-on events and activities, including virtual reality challenges, hosted by North East businesses.

“The Common Room was built 150 years ago as a headquarters for The Mining Institute and, when you look at the portraits on our walls of former Presidents of the Institute, men vastly outnumber women, with recent past President Catherine Miller of FWS Consultants, being the only female,” Liz Mayes added.

“To improve representation, women and girls from all backgrounds need to be able to imagine themselves in engineering. That’s why we launched The Face of Engineering podcast series during lockdown with BBC radio presenter, Ngunan Adamu. Now we’re looking forward to welcoming some of the brilliant engineers we featured, plus many more, to The Common Room in April, and to continuing our work to help redress the balance of people we see in engineering now and in the future.”

Tickets for the industry conference and family day of The Face of Engineering Festival are free and can be booked online now at 

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