STEM Careers

STEM Career of the Month -

Recruitment and Public Engagement Coordinator

My name is Daniella and I work as the recruitment and public engagement coordinator for the SHARE (The Scottish Health Research Register) initiative based in the School of Medicine, University of Dundee.

I attended Monifieth High School between 2004 and 2010. During my school years I enjoyed science and mathematics – both of which I continued throughout school. When looking for University courses I explored the options of both science and mathematics. However, as my favourite subject was biology, I opted to study Neuroscience at the University of Dundee.

During my Neuroscience degree I covered a range of biomedical science topics including Molecular Biology, Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience. Despite not knowing too much about Neuroscience prior to selecting my degree choice I enjoyed these modules the most and therefore continued with the Neuroscience degree. In June 2014 I graduated with a first class BSc (Hons) degree in Neuroscience.

Following my undergraduate degree I undertook a PhD in the field of diabetes medicine based at the School of Medicine in Ninewells Hospital. This project was a 4-year studentship funded by the Medical Research Council. During my PhD I investigated how an Alzheimer’s disease associated protein, known as BACE1, may play an important role in the development of both obesity and its associated metabolic disorders. Throughout my PhD, I had a keen interest in public engagement in science participating in numerous events and activities through the STEM ambassador network and the University itself.

Most recently I have been working with an initiative called SHARE (The Scottish Health Research Register), for more details visit . My current role within this team is Recruitment and Public Engagement Coordinator. The recruitment aspect of the job involves daily supervision of the recruitment team to facilitate growing the register as well report writing and regular updates to the project manager. My public engagement role involves increasing awareness of the initiative via events and the SHARE website and social media. I also support the SHARE studies coordinator to help with recruitment into research studies.

STEM Career of the Month - Research Associate

My name is Felicity and I work as a Research Associate at the University of Strathclyde

I went to Blairgowrie High school between 2000 – 2006. I enjoyed sciences and learning new languages so I took english, maths, biology, chemistry and Spanish at Higher level in fifth year, and Advanced Higher Biology and Spanish and higher French in sixth year. When I left school I still didn’t know what career I wanted to do but as Biology had been my favourite subject I applied to Biomedical Sciences at a few universities and was offered a place at Glasgow University. However, I decided to defer my entry for a year and went travelling to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji first.

At Glasgow University you study general biology and 2 other subjects in first year so I choose chemistry and psychology. In second year, you pick the modules you want to study but you can still do a wide range of subjects within biology so you don’t have to decide your final degree subject until third year. When I started uni I was very interested in drug discovery and pharmacology so I picked subjects in that area, and also some in immunology, microbiology and parasitology. During second year I found pharmacology really boring and immunology and parasites really interesting so I changed my final degree choice to be Parasitology.

After graduating from university I still didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career but I still loved biology, particularly parasites, and I really liked our practical laboratory classes so I decided to apply for a PhD. I was offered a place at the University of Strathclyde working in an immunology and parasitology lab. We study a parasitic worm called Acanthocheilonema viteae (or A.vit for short). This worm infects gerbils, and to protect itself from being killed by the gerbil’s immune system, it produces an anti-inflammatory product called ES-62. ES-62 tricks the gerbil’s immune system into not attacking the worm, allowing it to live happily in the gerbil for many years. In our lab we are very interested in how ES-62 can change the immune response and are investigating whether we can use ES-62 to change the immune response in diseases where the immune system is too active, such as asthma and arthritis. I finished my PhD in 2015 and I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but I still loved working in the laboratory so I took another project with my PhD supervisor; this time as a Research Associate rather than a student. In this project I am investigating whether ES-62 can make a difference to how long we can live, and whether it can make us healthier as we get older.

In addition to this project I have just started working as a biology tutor for the International Study group. Here I teach first year university biology to international students so they can go on to study here in the UK. It is a very challenging new job but I am really enjoying the mix of my research job and my new teaching role.

STEM Career of the Month - PhD Student

My name is Ben and I’m currently a PhD Student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I have always been interested in science, especially in the biological and medical field. This was the reason I started studying biomedical sciences when I was 15 years old at a community college, back in my home country, the Netherlands.

After graduation, I decided to continue studying, also biomedical sciences, to gain more knowledge of my interested areas. In the first 2 years I’ve had the opportunity to explore the different subjects within the biomedical field, such as microbiology, genetics, immunology, biochemistry and so on. The theoretical subjects were mostly connected to experiments that were conducted in the lab, which makes it easier to understand the theoretical aspects.

During my final year, where I’ve had to do an internship for 10 months, I had to opportunity to travel abroad! I managed to get an internship position at the University of Strathclyde, at the Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. Here I conducted research with platelets and living cells to investigate the role of a novel protein and its role in platelet activation. Beside learning many skills in the lab, I definitely enjoyed the experience of being in a different country, which was a real eye-opener. Through the Erasmus programme I have managed to meet many international friends to socialise with.

After 8 years of studying and gaining my bachelor degree, I started working in a clinical virology laboratory in the University Medical Centre Groningen, the Netherlands. I worked here for 2 years until the opportunity arised to travel back to Glasgow to start a PhD on the invitation of my former supervisor during my internship. The project will involve the heart function and the role of drug induced toxicity.

STEM Career of the Month- Geologist

My name is Lyall and I attended Montrose Academy from 1982 – 1988. From the age of 7, I was interested in collecting rocks and minerals from the beaches near Montrose. At school, I enjoyed the chance to learn more about Science, but the timetable back then meant that I could only take two science subjects at Standard Grade and then Higher. I was advised to take Chemistry and Physics to help me in my career plans to become a Geologist. Later in 6th year, I went back and took Standard Grade Biology to help complete my school science studies. The local Montrose Museum staff also encouraged me in this pathway.

I enrolled at the University of Aberdeen and in my first year took Geology, Geography, Chemistry and Physics. In my second year, I narrowed it down to Geology & amp; Petroleum Geology and Chemistry. Years 3 and 4 of my degree were purely Geology. After graduating from Aberdeen, I started a Ph. D research studentship at the University of Manchester. This was specifically in palaeontology – the study of dead fossilised animals. After completing that, I returned to Aberdeen and worked on a post-doctoral research project looking at the Rhynie Chert. This 400 million-year-old hot spring deposit in the North east of Scotland preserved in exquisite 3D detail some of the World’s earliest land plants and animals.

The next stage in my STEM career was the chance to look after the Scottish National fossil collection in the National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh. I worked there in a dream job for 7 years before leaving to do something different. Working in museums had exposed me to the History of Science and exploring the stories of the scientists who had made the collections or worked on the fossils to reveal scientific knowledge. So the chance of working on the famous scientist Charles Darwin, and his rock and fossil collection held at the University of Cambridge was unmissable! I worked as a researcher at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and helped develop permanent museum displays showcasing Darwin’s work in geology.

In 2010, I lost my sight due to MS, but using adaptive technology, I was still able to work in the Museum’s Archives helping to sort out the paper archives including letters, notebooks and photographs. This provided new stories for other museum staff to develop into exhibitions and displays. I learned to read and type braille and this led me to volunteer at a local Secondary school in West Yorkshire. I worked in the ARC for visually impaired pupils which then led on to me going back to College and doing a PGCE in Secondary Science teaching majoring in Biology. At present I am looking into personal tutoring perhaps using online resources.

STEM Career of the Month- Research Fellow

Hi, my name is Sharon and I work as a Research Fellow at the University of StAndrews.

At high school I enjoyed many subjects, but I particularly enjoyed human biology,physical education, art & design, and mathematics. However, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a job. I originally started applying for University places to study architecture but decided instead to study Physiology and was accepted to study at the University of Glasgow. Whilst studying at the University I was provided the opportunity to tailor my degree by studying physiology with sports science and nutrition, so I relished the opportunity to build in my love of sport and health into my studies. I loved studying this combination, but to be honest I was still unsure of what I wanted as a career after I completed my course.

I worked in some retail and customer services jobs when I first graduated and then saw an advert for a Teaching Assistant in Physiology position at the University of Abertay Dundee. I was unsure of whether I should apply – I wasn’t a lecturer! I decided to give it a go and I was lucky enough to get an interview. I was surprised and overjoyed when they offered me the job - a job in academia, something that I had never considered or thought I would ever be able to do. My role involved me preparing and giving lectures, tutorials and practical classes, marking exams and coursework for undergraduate students in the field of physiology. The department was growing with new courses on offer to students and my employers remembered my degree had incorporated nutrition, a subject they were developing into further courses. I thoroughly enjoyed lecturing in physiology and nutrition, and I wanted to make other students enthusiastic and interested in health and how the body worked. Beside my scientific knowledge, my maths and computing skills were being utilised in this role and in particular, my communication, organisational and problem-solving skills were drawn on and developed on a daily basis.

I worked alongside some very supportive and knowledgeable colleagues and it was this team environment that helped encourage me to go on to study for a PhD in my interested field of nutrition – something I had never considered I would ever do. I had been a B-grade student, I didn’t think I could do a PhD! So, I returned to University, this time at the University of Aberdeen to study for my PhD in human nutrition. Whilst finishing my PhD I applied for a Research position at the University of St Andrews, where I could further my interest in how to improve the population’s health and use my newly developed skills in conducting research.

For me, my love of human biology at school is where I believe my career journey began. Science is at the core of a vast number of career paths and opportunities -some that you may not even know you wish to pursue yet!

STEM Career of the Month - Business Development Manager

My name is Jamie and I work as Business Development Manager for MacIntyre Chocolate Systems, who are based in Arbroath. I started with the company in August 2018, my role is one of a hybrid one. I manage the internal research and development in relation to our machines which are mainly used for the chocolate industry. I look after sales in parts of Africa and South Africa along with communicating with clients on a day to day basis for advice, guidance and support for our machines. I also undertake clients’ trials which are often performed prior to a client purchasing a machine.

Prior to joining MacIntyre I was running my own chocolate company for 10 years in Aberdeen which I started at the age of 17 in 2008. We produced luxury handmade chocolates as well as hosting chocolate experiences. The business is now being run by members of my family and produces chocolates for clients around the UK and exports to certain countries worldwide.

Running my own company was great! I decided I wanted to validate my career. So, having never been to university before I undertook a master of science in Food and Drink innovation at Abertay University in Dundee. I was delighted to graduate in November 2018 with a merit.

I left school in 2006, where although I wasn’t the most academic person I excelled in creative subjects. I have been fortunate enough to already, in my short career, have a fulfilling experience especially within the Food & Drink Sector and also business.

There is a world of opportunity for careers and I believe that Science has a huge part to play within this. Now, from running a business and undertaking a postgraduate degree this has given me valuable experience and also gives you a different positive viewpoint on situations. I also sit on the board for IFST Scotland Branch and also the Scottish Chocolatier Network which helps in my development as a person and also my career.

STEM Career of the Month - Business Development Manager

I’m Graham, a Business Development Manager with DSL based Aberdeen. We’re an engineering company that supports oil and gas operations in the North Sea and worldwide. My job consists of meeting with clients and helping to work out the most cost effective and efficient way to plan and carry out projects. I also spend a good deal of time making sure our customers are kept informed about our capabilities and new products.

First and foremost, I have always been interested in Science and Engineering, how things are made and how they work. A good understanding (and an interest) in maths and physics helped me significantly. I left school (Arbroath High) at 16 and began a Mechanical Technician apprenticeship in a precision engineering firm and attended college on day-release. On completion of my apprenticeship I obtained an HNC in Mechanical Engineering and quickly transferred to equipment design. I was lucky to be selected for a position in a design department in an oil and gas equipment company and I specialised in equipment for the seabed and offshore platforms.

I made a significant change and joined the Sales team, transferring from engineering to Business Development over 15 years ago. I find the most important skill for my job is communication, I need to understand what the customer requires, I need to convey the requirements to our engineering teams, I need to offer a proposal to my customer and negotiate fine details. My engineering background ensures I can keep up with the technical elements but I am also responsible for making sure the project is feasible for the agreed cost. I like to think I can “speak” both sales and engineering.

Alongside my day-job I volunteer in a number of capacities. I am the Chair of the Continuing Education Committee within the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) in Aberdeen, we organise around 10 technical conferences throughout the year. I get a chance to share my skills and understanding but also to keep up with the latest developments in technology. I am also part of the eMentoring program with the SPE, and I mentor two S6 pupils in a school in Aberdeen. I am a trained STEM ambassador and frequently help out with schools and universities. I also sit on a number of Technical workgroups and offer input where I can.

STEM Career of the Month - Team Leader in Roads Operations

My name is Kevin and I work as a Team Leader in Roads Operations for Angus Council.

I assist in leading a team of technical staff who look after all aspects involved in the maintenance and managing of the public road network within the Angus Council authority area. The importance of this is that public roads are used by everyone who wishes to travel from A-B. Without this vital maintenance action, roads would become unsafe and in some cases unusable for our road users. Access to basic facilities and services and even our homes could become difficult or impossible. This maintenance also concerns the drainage of water from roads so involves flooding and also concerns footways, so it can affect safe pedestrian movements too.

The team I work in helps deal with emerging pothole problems, something most people can relate to or have an opinion on. We also help look after Angus Council’s winter maintenance regime. This means we are also tasked with keeping our road network safe during the cold, icy and snowy conditions we regularly face over the winter period.

We have over 1800km of road in Angus and around 1300km of footpaths associated with them. Helping manage these long distances with reduced budgets in these times of financial cuts is a difficult challenge for the team.

On a daily basis I have to use analytical, mathematical and engineering based skills to problem solve emerging situations in many scenarios – including for sites involving live projects. I have to be able to help assist other technical members of staff in our team with any problems they may have. Civil engineering problems are always different – no two situations are ever exactly the same. This can lead to a very varied and unpredictable day to day job. My grounding in science and maths subjects from right back to my early school days have always stood me in good stead.

I enjoyed sciences and technology subjects at school (at Carnoustie High) and was good at Maths and English – and communicating – which helped me gain entry to and obtain my degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Dundee. I worked for my first 7 years, after graduating in 2001, with a local construction company, Torith Ltd, working mainly on site and outdoors. I then moved to spend the next 10 years with Fife Council – working firstly in Roads Design before moving to a role in Network Management. I moved this year to my current post in Angus to continue my career in very local circles. I became a Chartered Engineer in 2014 after undertaking a professional review with the Institution of Civil Engineers – whom I have volunteered for since. I enjoy undertaking STEM based activities wherever and whenever I can, trying to inspire the next generation of engineers.

STEM Career of the Month -Senior Research Associate

My name is Sarah and I work as a scientist at the University of Dundee. I manage a facility in the university that other scientists can use to do their research. One of the most important parts of doing an experiment is to make sure you are going to get meaningful results. I help scientists to do this. We discuss their ideas including what they are trying to find out by doing these experiments. I help them to use these ideas to ensure that their experiments are properly designed, standardised and coordinated to get the best results. A lot of the research I assist with is to understand how the immune system (the body uses this to fight infection) works in order to find new ways to treat diseases. Examples of diseases when the immune system does not work properly are cancer and asthma.

Working in a lab is very varied; you are constantly learning new experimental techniques and gaining knowledge which means that it an exciting career choice. You get to work with, and speak to many people from all over the world, all with very different scientific backgrounds. It is a very active job where you are not stuck at a desk all day doing paperwork. You also get great opportunities to travel the world, and to share your new scientific findings at conferences.

On a daily basis I use scientific knowledge, maths and computing skills. There is also a great need to have excellent problem solving, communication and organisational skills.

I really enjoyed biology at school and I continued my interest through studying for a pharmacology degree at the University of Glasgow. After graduation I worked for a pharmaceutical company in England where I gained several years of lab experience. I left industry to return to university where I studied for a PhD at Imperial College, London. I then returned to Scotland to continue my career in Dundee.

STEM Career of the Month - Clinical Embryologist

Hi, my name is Siriol and I’m a Clinical Embryologist. I work in the laboratory in Aberdeen Fertility Centre, helping infertile patients get pregnant and have the families they desperately want. My job includes collecting the eggs from the female patient, preparing sperm from the male patient, mixing the two to create embryos and looking after the embryos until they’re ready to be transferred into the female patient’s womb. Most of my job is in the lab working at microscopes – my work is very precise and most procedures have to be done within 3 minutes, as the embryos can’t be out of the incubators any longer than that! My lab is involved in a research trial at the moment which is exciting, as it could change how in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment is delivered across the world. I also get the chance to go to conferences and training courses across Europe.

I always enjoyed Biology at school, and went to the University of Edinburgh to study Biological Sciences. I found Reproductive Biology to be the most interesting subject so that’s what I chose for my Honours year. After graduating I wanted to use my degree in a practical way therefore getting a job in Embryology was the ideal choice for me and I got a training position in Aberdeen. That was 10 years ago and I’m now a qualified Clinical Embryologist.

I enjoy my work very much – I enjoy the practical work and I speak to patients every day which is one of my favourite things. Unfortunately IVF treatment only works in around a third of patients, so it can be difficult knowing that it doesn’t work for everyone despite our best efforts. However there’s a huge amount of job satisfaction knowing that I’m helping people to have babies and it’s great to have a job doing what I’m interested in. Pursuing a career in an area you like is the best advice I can give, as it means you’ll always be motivated!

STEM Career of the Month - Microbiologist

My name is Scott and I am a Microbiologist for a water company in Scotland. In my role I am responsible for protecting public health by monitoring various potable (drinking) and raw water samples from across all areas of Scotland. This involves using a variety of microbiological based techniques such as membrane filtration to isolate and enumerate various faecal indicator organisms, flow cytometry and ATP analysis to determine total cell counts, ELISA analysis for identification of toxins, microscopy analysis to identify algae populations in samples and taste and odour analysis to determine if any taints present in samples.

Aside from good laboratory skills and a passion for science, key skills to work in my role would include, ability to work both in a team and independently, meticulous attention to detail, excellent written and oral communication skills, the ability to work under pressure, time management skills, analytical and problem solving skills. Determination and perseverance also helps as not everything in science works first time.

I enjoy working in my role as not only do I get to work in an area that I am passionate about but I also get to play a role in protecting public health by ensuring the water they drink is of a safe quality. Every day is different and with a section rotation and high demand of samples received you are always kept busy. There are also plenty of additional training courses available to further develop skills.

Although I enjoyed science at school I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a career in science, however I was interested in forensic science and thought this was something I could do. I decided to enrol in a course at college where I met my microbiology lecturer and my passion for microbiology began. I was fascinated by how microorganisms that are invisible to the naked eye could be both helpful and deadly. I completed my HND and left to work as a microbiologist technician in several different roles before heading back to university and gaining my BSc Hons in Microbiology and Biotechnology. I enjoyed my course that much that I continued to study for postgraduate. Due to my working pattern and working a flexi time rota, I was lucky enough to study a full time MSc Biomedical course whilst working full time in my current job.

STEM Career of the Month: Compound Management Research Technician

My name is Kirsty and I am a Compound Management Research Technician in the Drug Discovery Unit at the University of Dundee…which is not a job anyone has ever heard of. Even after 3 years I’m still not 100% convinced my parents fully understand what I do! The simplest way of explaining it is that I am a custodian of lots of different chemical samples, or compounds which one day may be used to develop a new medicine. I use robots to dispense the chemicals for biological testing and the robots allow us to dispense lots of samples in a very short amount of time.

One of the things I enjoy about my job is that I get to spend most of my time working in the lab as opposed to sitting behind a desk all day. Although a lot of my work is considered quite routine, there’s enough variety to keep things from getting boring. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to international conferences. At one of these events I actually won the chance to present my work in Washington DC!

To work in the Drug Discovery Unit I have to have scientific knowledge, but that’s not all, I also need problem solving, computing, maths, and even engineering skills for when the robots break! As a team, we look after roughly 2 million different compounds and need to make sure the biologists receive the correct ones for testing. This means that we need to be very organised and have good attention to detail.

At school I enjoyed science subjects and when it came time to apply for University I was naturally drawn to courses which involved a mixture of biology and chemistry. I studied Drug Design and Mechanisms at the University of Dundee and went on to do a Masters in Cancer Biology.

Technologies are evolving incredibly fast in the scientific world. This means that job opportunities are changing all the time, the job I do now didn’t exist when I was at school, so I couldn’t predict that I would find myself working in this field.

If I was to give one piece of advice to anyone, it would be to choose subjects and courses that you enjoy. You will be more motivated to work hard and make it through difficult times in your career if you are interested in what you do.

STEM Career of the Month - Senior Research & Development Scientist

Hello, my name is Graeme and I work as a Senior Research and Development Scientist for a Scottish medical device company. My current job is to help design and develop tests which can be used by doctors, healthcare workers or for home use which allow patients to monitor their health and make treatment decisions if they are ill. As well as previously developing diagnostic tests for various serious medical diseases I have also worked on devices used to help treat animals and even tests for the military to use to detect chemical weapons.

To work in Research and Development you need to have good problem-solving skills and need to be able to plan your work effectively to meet tight project deadlines. It is also very much a team effort working in science, so you need to be capable of working with people from a range of different backgrounds.

I enjoy my job because the devices that we make are having a positive impact on people’s lives and allowing people suffering from an illness to have access to better treatment for their condition. I also enjoy the fast-paced nature of working in a science company and being able to work with a range of people from across the world.

At school my favourite subjects by far were Biology and Chemistry and I knew that in the future I wanted a job helping people. After secondary school I studied Pharmacology at University before falling in to my first job working in a lab growing Stem Cells. After this a position in a company literally across the street from my old job became available and I started working in the medical device industry. From there I have progressed as I gained experience to where I am now, leading a team of scientists in the development of a diagnostic test to be used for treatment of HIV in developing world countries.

STEM Career of the Month - Rotating Machinery Engineer

My name is Natalie and ever since I was young, I have always had a love for maths, problem solving and getting creative. Initially Engineering didn’t cross my mind as a career option, but my love for these subjects led me here - I absolutely love it and wouldn’t change for the world! The fast pace, new technologies and wide variety of projects within engineering really appealed to me.

During my short time as an engineer I have worked on a broad range of projects; developing a new manually propelled vehicle for the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, learning to fly with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, designing and building model aircraft, and now being responsible for the performance of multi-million pound pieces of mechanical machinery that allow your homes to be supplied with gas.

In the Oil & Gas sector every day is different, whether it is flying offshore to solve a pump problem, travelling to a supplier to witness the commissioning of a new compressor or designing and sizing a gas turbine for a new platform. It is varied, interesting and always full of new challenges to keep me on my toes! I knew I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk all the time and this career provides me with the perfect balance of solving real problems, combined with hands-on work with offshore maintenance teams and equipment suppliers around the world.

I studied Aero-mechanical Engineering at Strathclyde which has prerequisites in Physics and Maths. Being in the Oil and Gas Industry presents many exciting challenges from upgrading equipment, to looking at innovative ways to monitor, protect and optimise the running of these machines. My background in maths and physics has given me a solid grounding and helped me in tackling these tasks.

I love engineering because it is one of the most diverse careers out there and can make a huge difference not only within the energy sector, but also society at large - I would encourage anyone who shares a love for maths and science to consider engineering as a future career.

STEM Career of the Month - Software Engineer with EA Sports

My name is Daniel and I am a Software Engineer at Electronic Arts Vancouver in Canada, and I work in the FIFA Soccer franchise on the console development team. My sub team is called Systems and we are responsible for performance, stability and most low level systems. Systems is frequently the team of last resort; when no one else can fix or even figure out what is wrong they come to us. This gives us a constant supply of problems to solve and new technology to learn.

I originally got into computers for the very simple reason of needing a spell-checker; this quickly evolved to include playing games and later programming in Secondary School. While I was still in Menzieshill High School in Dundee, I attended a week’s Chemical Engineering course at St Andrews University and was interested in learning more about this. Although, this was mainly due to the fact they had Silicon Graphics computers and other fancy technology.

Later I heard that Abertay University was putting together a BSc in 'Virtual Environment with Computer Games Technology' (later renamed to just 'Computer Games Technology') and out of curiosity I had an interview with the course director. The interview was meant to last half an hour but I think we talked for an hour or two and the rest is history. Being on the first year of the first BSc course in the UK about games was challenging at times with lots to learn including: programming, console hardware and Maths for Graphics, Audio and Physics.

I find programming interesting as in lots of ways what we can construct is limited only by how we think, although the speed is dictated by the hardware. This means that different programmers will build different solutions to the same problem which keeps things interesting. Plus, compared to humans computers are 100% logical e.g. they won’t do what you meant but what you said even if it has catastrophic consequences! This makes logic and mathematics very important for programmers.

So far programming has led me from Dundee, where I grew up and went to school, to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Stockholm, Seattle and Tokyo! I’ve worked on games ranging from Formula 1, Harry Potter, Medal of Honour, James Bond, FIFA, BattleField and Star Wars: Battlefront. My first job was the original Playstation and now I’m working on Playstation 4 Pro and Xbox One X.

STEM Career of the Month - User Interface Designer at TAG Games

My name is Joanna and I am a UI designer, artist and passionate life drawer. Since graduating from Animation at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design I have been working in the games industry. This has proven an interesting and perhaps unexpected career path as I grew up in an environment where computing and technology were rarely aimed at girls. Back then it was only my brother who got to spend time on our Commodore 64 and Amiga. I remember many holidays when I’d watch him for hours playing games in local arcades, but I was never encouraged to participate.

Until University the thought of working in games never crossed my mind, but eventually it was my female gamer friends that got me interested in this world. It was around then I realised that technical understanding is a key to achieving success. I pushed myself to go technical, to study 3D and to learn modelling and rigging. I embraced the world of Maya and other 3D modelling software.

A few months after graduating, I landed my first job in games as an environment artist on a tower defence game called Alien Creeps. A year and a half later, I was leading a small team on Angry Birds Action! and became a company specialist in UI design. At that time I was the only female team leader. The next project that I worked on, Prison Architect, gave me a chance to lead and be full responsible for UI design.

My job is a fusion of technology, psychology, marketing, art and graphic design. I design human and computer interaction, to make it as simple, efficient and enjoyable as possible.

I work in the games industry but my skills go beyond and could be applied in a wide range of projects from computer systems, to cars, to commercial planes. I collaborate with programmers, game designers, analysts, artists and business oriented people.

I am one of the few females in the office and my company is not an exception. Females constitute 51% of world's population but we only represent a tiny percentage of the technology world. It is vital that girls learn how to code and are not afraid of technical subjects, so they can design a better future... and games for all of us.

STEM Career of the Month - Air Pilot

Laura Elliott, First Officer, Airbus A350

From a young age I wanted to be a professional of some description, perhaps a vet or a doctor. My favourite subject at school was by far Biology, it came easily to me as I found it very interesting - I was always full of questions. Then, aged 14, I went for a trial flying lesson and that was it, I knew my place was in the air. The thrill was addictive and it was all I wanted to do in life.

To be accepted to flight school I had to be competent in Maths, Physics and English. Maths problems were never something that came easily to me however Physics was something I enjoyed as I found it very logical. This put me in good shape for my Airline Transport Pilot Licence theory examinations; 14 subjects ranging from Principles of Flight (Physics) to Human Factors (Biology and Psychology).

All of this hard work was worth it, I get paid to do a job that I love and travel all over the world. Nowadays at "work" the only maths I have to use on a daily basis is quick mental arithmetic for fuel checks and speed / distance / time calculations.

Some people are drawn naturally to STEM subjects, for others more effort is required and it's more of a means to end. I can quite honestly say that it was worth all the hard work, the logical thinking that I developed put me in good stead for the daily challenges of life in the air.

STEM Career of the Month - Optical Design Engineer

I’m an optical design engineer, which I like to think is the coolest career that nobody has ever heard of! It’s my job to invent cameras, lenses and lasers for all sorts of people, purposes and environments. I currently design products for Thales here in Glasgow; you’ll find me creating thermal imaging cameras to be used on submarines or helicopters, or developing dinky wee handheld laser systems to measure distance very quickly and accurately. There are optical design engineers all over Scotland inventing the next generation of healthcare products, mobile phone cameras and astronomical instruments – we even invent cameras for filming movies with!

I absolutely loved science and art when I was in school and found it impossible to choose between the two, so I came to Glasgow to study physics & chemistry at university but kept my part-time job as a wedding & event photographer at the same time. I had no idea I could combine my two passions in to the job that I do now! I was always curious about how things worked and loved expressing my creative side – these are the personality traits I use most in my job now, where I spend most days researching, inventing, drawing and talking (lots and lots of talking!)

My career in STEM has taken me all over the world – I’ve been to Finland, Switzerland and America for conferences and courses, and I even lived in Amsterdam for a year working as a researcher in physics. Both in the Netherlands and in Scotland there’s a really vibrant and welcoming community of scientists, engineers, researchers and developers – it feels like the perfect fit for me. Glasgow especially has been a major player in STEM for literally hundreds of years and it’s up to our generation to keep on leading the way!