Women in Engineering – Blessing Nwachukwu, Systems Engineer
As this is women in engineering week, we are looking at the stories of women currently working in engineering to explore their route into the profession and why they think engineering is a good career.
In today’s post, we talk to Blessing Nwachukwu, a Systems Engineer at SL Controls. Blessing is originally from Nigeria and made her way to her current role via an engineering degree in Romania. However, her passion for engineering pre-dates her time at university.
Blessing said: “From the age of six, I can remember I was always fixing things with my dad, passing him the tools he needed and doing what I could to help. He was a very industrious man and did most of the repairs in our house himself.
“At secondary school, I enjoyed chemistry and physics, but my favourite subject was maths. I did consider going into medicine, but I decided engineering was what I really wanted to do. So, I took an exam and won a scholarship to attend a university in Romania.
“I wanted to become an engineer, but it was difficult to get onto the Electro Mechanical degree programme as they thought that course wasn’t suitable for women. Another lady and I fought for our places, and we got onto the course.”
Already breaking down barriers, Blessing decided to take a slight change in direction.
“In the third year of my degree, I became more aware of the advances that were being made in the field of automation. I quickly realised that automation was going to be an area of engineering that was going to be in demand for years to come, unlike some other fields.
“So, I started looking into courses, and I got a scholarship in Ireland at the University of Limerick to study Mechatronics. It was quite a change from what I had been doing, and there was a steep learning curve at the start. But I took it upon myself to learn what I needed, giving myself three months to get ready.”
Blessing’s determination worked, as she obtained her qualification before being offered a job at SL Controls.
“From my experience,” Blessing said, “you will meet barriers even after you’ve made your mind up about what you want to do. I definitely met barriers in Romania. When this happens, you need to stand your ground. It helps if you know for sure this is what you want to do, engineering. If it is, the sky should be your starting point, not your limit.
“You don’t need to act like a man, but you shouldn’t hold back from expressing yourself and ensuring what you offer, what you bring to the table, is substantial.
“You also need to have passion. You need to have a purpose. Engineering is my passion and purpose, and I am thankful I am an engineer. It is very rewarding.”
SL Controls Supports Pride Month and Ensuring Engineering is an Inclusive Career for Everyone
Diversity in engineering is a big topic in Ireland and around the world. The equation is simple – we need more people, regardless of who they are, to become engineers, both to meet demand and to ensure we have equality in the workforce. However, solutions to the problem can be challenging. At the very least, we need more open dialogue and honesty in the engineering profession, and we need to do more.
Often discussions about diversity in engineering centre on women. Of course, that is an important topic as women are grossly under-represented in the profession. Gender isn’t the only diversity issue facing engineering, however.
As it is Pride Month, the representation of the LGBTQ community in engineering comes into focus. In addition, the experience of LGBTQ engineers is also important to discuss.
What do we know? We know that LGBTQ STEM students are more likely to drop out before finishing their degrees than their peers. We know a large percentage of LGBTQ people in STEM careers haven’t come out to their colleagues – more than 40 percent. We know one-in-three physicists in the US are told to stay in the closet. We know that LGBTQ STEM professionals are more open about their sexuality when they work in fields with a higher-than-average representation of women.
Keith Moran, CEO of SL Controls, said: “More research on the representation of the LGBTQ community in STEM, and in engineering more specifically, would shed further light on this issue. It would also help to have further research on the experiences of LGBTQ engineers. My hunch, however, is the research we have is only scratching the surface.
“At SL Controls, we are acutely aware of the need to bring more people into engineering. We work to address this in a range of different ways, including building close relationships with educational institutions in Ireland. We are also a founder of the Equipment Systems Engineering Academy, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes a new and increasingly important field of engineering that is central to the services we deliver to clients.
“Our perspective is that we want everyone, regardless of who they are, to consider pursuing a career in engineering. It is also important to acknowledge that the industry we are a part of and that I am so passionate about has not done enough for several sectors in society, including the LGBTQ community.
“We are committed at SL Controls to ensuring we have an open and inclusive workplace where engineers and others can develop and move forward in their careers in a supportive environment, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, or cultural background.”
Our New Website Goes Live!
The new SL Controls website went live today. It features who we are, what we do, and the industries that we serve. You will also find information on Industry 4.0 and systems integration for manufacturers in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and technology industries, as well as details of our latest vacancies.
Check out our new website now at slcontrols.com.
Escaping The Office In A Whole New Way In Our Latest Social Event
Working remotely and living under lockdown restrictions has made it difficult to arrange social events in the workplace. Like many other companies, we have turned to virtual events here at SL Controls. We call these events Celebrating Wins Together, and the latest one was held at the weekend. It involved escaping the office.
The theme was based on the popular escape rooms concept but adapted for virtual participation. So, we all got comfy on our sofas with our devices to take part. The concept involved being summoned to an office only to find you can’t get out and are being framed for an art heist. The goal was to work in teams to escape the room before the police arrive so you can clear your name.
Shauna Ryan, HR Manager at SL Controls, said: “We had a great turnout at this virtual social event on Friday, plus this one was really different with the escape rooms’ theme. I don’t think any of us could have imagined taking part in events like this 18 months ago, but it was fun and entertaining and full of creativity. It is also great to spend time with colleagues outside the work environment, even if we’re not in the same room together.”
Members Of The SL Controls Team Take Part In Darkness Into Light 2021
As with so many things so far this year, 2021’s Darkness Into Light fundraising and awareness event had to be very different because of rules on travel and social distancing. That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of members of the SL Controls team who took part on Saturday morning.
In normal years, people would gather at sunrise to walk 5km together. This year, everyone involved headed out on their own or with people in their household to walk, bike, run, or swim while the sun rose on 8 May.
Several members of the SL Controls team took part, with SL Controls matching the registration fees paid by employees in a donation to Pieta.
Deirdre Loughlin, Quality and Marketing Executive at SL Controls, took part in this year’s event. She said: “SL Controls has been a strong supporter of Darkness Into Light for many years now, so we felt it was important to maintain that support, even though 2021 is a very different year. While we couldn’t come together to take part, it was still great to see so many colleagues getting involved, helping to raise awareness and much-needed funds for this very important issue.”
National Workplace Wellbeing Day 2021 At SL Controls
National Workplace Wellbeing Day takes place on Friday, 30 April, and to celebrate we have a week of activities and initiatives planned to promote health and wellbeing at SL Controls. Those activities and initiatives are part of our Live Well at SL and Think Well at SL programmes.
This Friday will be the seventh annual National Workplace Wellbeing Day. It’s an IBEC initiative that aims to focus on social, physical, and mental wellbeing in Irish workplaces.
At SL Controls, our employees can get involved in various ways:
- Digital gym – a digital gym glass schedule for the week has been made available to employees with both live and on-demand fitness classes. Employees take part in a range of classes including Combat Fitness, Pilates, HIIT, Mindfulness and Yoga. Classes take place morning, lunchtime & evening.
- Daily walks – employees are being encouraged to take morning, lunchtime, or after-work walks. Challenges are being set throughout the week for walks and other areas of wellbeing.
- Healthy eating – employees are being encouraged to eat fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables throughout the week.
- Laya events – employees have access to Laya events taking place on Friday, including a high-intensity interval training session as well as a session titled 5 Ways to Maximise Your Health & Potential.
- 5 tips a day – we’ll share five tips a day throughout the week on physical, mental, and social wellbeing.
- Virtual canteen – our virtual canteen will be open every day for employees to chat and have a cuppa with colleagues.
Norma Mulligan, HR Generalist at SL Controls, said: “Workplace physical and mental wellbeing are important priorities here at SL Controls. We also place significant importance on social wellbeing in the workplace, although that has been hard to achieve during the pandemic. We are working remotely, and all our social events for over a year now have been virtual, making Workplace Wellbeing Day 2021 even more significant.
“The activities and initiatives we have put together are designed to be fun but to also have that important message of looking after your mental, physical, and social health in the workplace.”
Easter Virtual Family Fun At SL Controls
At Easter, we normally run fun activities for our employees and their families to take part in. This year is a bit different as we are in lockdown, but we haven’t let that stop us. Instead, we made our Easter activities virtual!
We had a “How many Eggs in the Jar” competition. There were 294 eggs in the jar and Fergal Quinn got the closest with a brilliant guess of 289!
We also ran an Easter Art competition with three kid’s hampers as prizes. Our employee’s children, nieces, nephews, etc were all invited to take part. The entries were amazing, some of which you can see below.
We also gave details of Laya’s Supertroopers Easter Treasure Hunt with Ireland rugby player Johnny Sexton. It took place on Easter Sunday and many of our employees and their families got involved.
Press Release: SL Controls Announces Former PM Group CEO Pat McGrath As Its New Chairman
SL Controls Also Names John Scanlan As New Director Of Corporate Services
SL Controls, the specialist software integration firm, has announced former PM Group CEO Pat McGrath as a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of its Board.
It is also announcing the appointment of John Scanlan as its new Director of Corporate Services.
The announcement comes after SL Controls recently announced it would be creating 50 new highly-skilled jobs over the next 18 months.
SL Controls is an international provider of equipment system integrated solutions to a range of world-leading brands across a number of industries including MedTech, Pharma, Healthcare and Technology. Many of the new hires will be engineers.
As a Chartered Engineer himself and having worked for PM Group for 40 years, SL Controls Chairman Pat McGrath has extensive experience in the sectors covered by the company. He was CEO of PM Group for almost 12 years and remained as a Non-Executive Director for three further years, leaving in 2014.
Some of Pat’s specialities lie in the fields of Strategic Management, Corporate Governance, Engineering, Project Management and International Business Development. Pat is also a Chartered Director (IoD).
As Director of Corporate Services, John Scanlan will play a key role in SL Controls’ delivery of total solutions from equipment systems integration to data driven insights to help customers transform their operations.
John’s experience spans across a range of disciplines and industries and, over the past five years, he has specialised in service and market development strategy for cloud technology, artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0.
SL Controls Chairman Pat McGrath says:
“I am delighted to join the board of SL Controls and look forward to working with the company as it goes through this growth phase; it is exciting to be part of that journey with them. SL Controls has already put itself into a great position with an excellent team and strong systems and procedures across the organisation. Now, with a formal board and a robust development plan to bring us to 2023, the company is really ready to scale. The company has already exceeded all targets for 2020 and is working in a sector that is seeing unprecedented growth.
“I hope to bring good corporate governance at board level as well as applying my knowledge of international business development and the multinational sector. I am personally very passionate about CPD and am very pleased that SL Controls has a strong commitment to supporting its team to continuously upskill.”
SL Controls Director of Corporate Services John Scanlan says:
“SL Controls operates at the leading edge of manufacturing systems internationally. The company has also developed turnkey control to cloud solutions for intelligent manufacturing and provides a range of innovative services. I look forward to working with my colleagues to truly deliver the benefits of our total integration expertise and real value from data in the cloud to our customers.”
SL Controls CEO Keith Moran says:
“We are delighted to welcome both Pat and John to the SL Controls team. Both have extensive experience in strategy development and implementation and these will be key skills in assisting the company in its continued growth. I look forward to working with both Pat and John and am excited to see what we can all achieve together.”