Denize Ivy Pilarta, an apprentice at BAE Systems completed her Ultrasonic Testing of pipes Level 2 training and examination at our training school at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, Sheffield.

Denize is currently one of six finalists in the running for the IET Young Women Engineer of the Year Award 2020 for her work and contribution in promoting STEM opportunities to young women. She has previously won the ‘MAKE UK Engineering Apprentice of the Year: Rising Star 2019 National Winner’ award and has been recognised as ‘Apprentice of the Month’ several times within BAE Systems.

Following the course, we caught up with Denize over Zoom to talk about her role at BAE, experience within the industry, and her role as a STEM ambassador.

Hello Denize, thank you for speaking to us today! Can you tell us a bit about your role at BAE Systems?

I am currently in my final year of an NDE apprenticeship at BAE Systems Submarines, which involves working with a team of multi-disciplined inspectors to ensure the structural integrity of submarines, by applying NDT inspection techniques such as Visual Inspection, Magnetic Testing, Penetrant Testing, Ultrasonic Testing, Phased Array and Time of Flight Diffraction.

I do a lot of on-the-job learning by supporting qualified inspectors on various jobs. For example, I have inspected welded seams of a boat using Magnetic Testing and assessed the welding on pipe systems using Dye Penetrant Testing. I have also used Time of Flight Diffraction to assess the soundness of components and Phased Array to test parts to ensure they are free from any defects.
I find it fascinating that you can use magnetic testing to see surface defects that the human eye cannot see or use TOFD to create an image of a defect that you cannot see in real life using sound waves. It is mind blowing when you think of it like that!

Sounds very interesting! What inspired you to choose a career in NDT?

At school my strengths and interests were my sciences, so when I finished school, I knew I wanted an apprenticeship that was hands on and science based. From an early age, it became apparent to me that females were underrepresented in STEM subjects, motivating me to pursue a career where I could challenge the norm and misconceptions often associated with women in STEM.

I had never heard of NDT before, but when I saw the NDE Engineering Technician apprenticeship advertised, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn on the job as well as gain valuable hands-on experience. It felt like the perfect fit for me.

Statistics show that less than 15% of women work in engineering professions, and this figure could be less for NDT. You are a young woman in a particularly male-dominated industry, do you have any thoughts about diversity in the industry?

I feel that women are majorly underrepresented within engineering, not just in the NDT industry, which is a real shame as it is a great industry to be a part of. Women are a whole group of individuals who can offer a completely different perspective, unique skillset, and new ideas. When we are making decisions about what new technologies to use, or how to do things, if we are making these decisions based on only one perspective, how do we know that it is the right choice?

That’s a good point Denize. Can you tell us a bit more about your role as a STEM ambassador?

I am passionate about changing perceptions of women in STEM by raising awareness of my own personal journey in NDE. My role as a STEM ambassador involves attending careers fairs, roadshows, and engineering conferences. I believe that there is nothing more powerful than strong role models to help young girls envision themselves as the future leaders of tomorrow.

I am also the chair of the BAE Systems Local Apprentice Council and it is great to know that some of my work as part of this council has directly resulted in the development of my self-confidence and leadership skills. My work to share my personal journey as an apprentice and a NDE person has directly led to an increase in female applicants applying to apprenticeship roles – this year four out of five of our new apprentices are females, which is amazing!!

That is great to hear Denize – keep up the good work! Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about a career in NDT?

I believe NDT really is a career open to everyone – it is so broad with endless opportunities for progression and to travel the world. One piece of advice I would say is to make sure you always keep learning to get the most out of your career!

Results for the IET Young Women Engineer of the Year Award 2020 will be announced early 2021.  We would like to wish Denize good luck both in the awards ceremony and in her career in NDT! Click here to find out more about the awards.

At Lavenders, we are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the non-destructive testing industry to inspire future generations and ensure the longevity of the industry.  We also support the BINDT in their aims to promote DEI and are a part of their Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group (DIAG).  For further information visit the BINDT website.

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