Engineering student Claire Canning has had a passion for science since she was young and graduated from the University of St Andrews with a degree in Marine and Environmental Biology. She then worked for a Masters in Conservation and Biodiversity.
With this background, an engineering role may seem unexpected, but Claire's had an ongoing interest in offshore renewable energy technologies and how they interact with the marine environment, which led her to undertake more studies and a role with EDF Energy.
Claire uses her knowledge of chemistry and biology to study the effects of corrosion and marine growth on offshore wind turbines. Her work helps EDF Energy develop cleaner sources of energy for our future.
Q&A with Claire
We got to know Claire better with a little Q&A. Read on for tips, insights and inspiration about the world of engineering.
Q: How did you find studying science school / university?
A: Science at school is totally different to science at university. At school it was a very broad subject and it wasn’t until I got to uni that I specialised and could focus on my passions - marine biology and the environmental aspects. I enjoyed it and found it challenging.
Q: What made you decide to switch your career focus from science to engineering?
A: I decided to switch about three years ago, to broaden my career search. I realised that jobs doing research with marine mammals were hard to come by and I it was probably better to widen the net and learn a broader range of skills. I was always interested in offshore marine renewable energies and how they interact with environment so I combined my existing passion with something new - and here I am!
Q: Tell us about your passion for offshore energy and how this has shaped your career?
A: It stems from having a passion for the marine environment as a whole. The growing development of offshore marine technology is something we really need to be investing in. Cleaner and greener energy sources are so important and being a part of that is really exciting!
Q: Best piece of career advice you've been given?
A: Be proactive. Make your own opportunities and don’t let anything hold you back.
Q: What is your advice for girls considering whether STEM subjects are for them?
A: Keep your options open! When I was 12, I had no idea I would be working in engineering or doing this job but I am so glad that now I can!
"Keep your options open! When I was 12, I had no idea I would be working in engineering or doing this job but I am so glad that now I can!"
Claire's subject breakdown
Are you studying any of the same subjects? Perhaps there's something here you haven't heard of, or sounds interesting? Talk to your teachers about anything that excites you...
Standard Grades (GCSE equivalent):
Scottish Highers (A-level equivalent):
Modern Studies & Computing
Advanced Highers: Maths
Undergraduate: Marine and Environmental Biology
Masters: Conservation and Biodiversity
Pretty Curious for more?
Claire is a software developer at 27partners, where she develops products for the web. She studied engineering at University and taught herself to code via online courses. Alongside her day to day job, Claire runs regular, free workshops and boot camps especially for women looking to learn how to code.
Roma Agrawal pursued a career in structural engineering which combined her two biggest passions - science and design. She's worked on loads of of exciting projects in the last 11 years, including designing the 'Spire' for Westen Europe's tallest building, the Shard in London.