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Inspired to be an engineer by her grandfather

Institution News Team

Catherine Smith
Catherine Smith

Today is International Women’s Day and we recently spoke to Catherine Smith EngTech MIMechE about her career.

Catherine, who is a manufacturing engineer at Huddersfield-based Reliance Precision Limited, began her career as an apprentice. Her success was underlined when she completed the End Point Assessment of her apprenticeship through IMechE last year.

Who inspired you to become an engineer?

I was inspired to be an engineer by my Grandad. He worked from being an apprentice to eventually owning an engineering company. From a young age, he would supply me with different Lego sets which helped to inspire my creativity and expand my knowledge on how gears and different features fit together to make an assembly function effectively.

How did you prepare for your End Point Assessment?

To prepare for my EPA, I made sure I was knowledgeable about my job reports as well as the processes and methods we follow at Reliance. I also made sure to remain calm and not stress too much as I knew that the assessor was not there to ‘trip me up’ – they were only there to make sure I knew what I had been writing about.

Chris Atkins, End Point Assessment Partnership Manager at IMechE, helped me understand the level of detail required for my forms to ensure my best chance of success. He also made it clear that I needed to use ‘non-industry specific’ terminology to ensure my assessors understood my work clearly. IMechE is a recognised End Point Assessment Organisation and supports engineering apprentices by undertaking an impartial assessment of whether the skills, knowledge, and behaviours they have gained meet the apprenticeship standards.

Any tips for EPA applicants?

My tip for anyone going through the EPA process is to not stress – there are plenty of people available that are more than willing to help, you just need to reach out to them.

My EPA viva was relatively straight forward (other than leaving my ID in the car!). I had a professional discussion with an assessor from IMechE over a video call in which I answered a series of questions. If I didn’t know the answer, I was able to ask it to be rephrased to allow me to further understand what the assessor was looking for.

What are your career plans?

I plan to finish my BEng at the AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) training centre in July 2024 which will then allow me to begin my application process to become registered as an incorporated engineer with IMechE. I hope that one of Chris’s colleagues will help me with this when I reach that stage.

And your greatest achievement to date?

My greatest achievement in my career so far has been passing my first year of my degree course which is allowing me to further develop both my knowledge and understanding of different engineering principles so that I can apply them at my work.

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