Hi, I’m Lorna. I grew up in a small village called Chapelton, South Lanarkshire. When I was a young girl, I loved designing and building things and helping my dad with DIY around the house. At school, I enjoyed a range of subjects – mainly art and design and the sciences. I didn’t know how to combine all my interests into one career until I went to a university open day and discovered Product Design Engineering between the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art. The combined Honours course was run across the School of Art and the School of Engineering, which gave me the best of both worlds!
I knew I wanted to make a difference and help people with my career. This stemmed from growing up in a village that often experienced power cuts – the longest the electricity was out for one winter was nearly two weeks! I became nearly obsessed with the idea of self-sustainability and being able to fix problems myself.
I now work as a Project Engineer for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. One of my key responsibilities is managing projects around ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine (LDT), which is the world’s most advanced, open-access offshore wind turbine dedicated to research and development. It’s an exciting job, as you are making a difference to a range of different groups of people who are looking for validation demonstrations for their technologies in offshore wind – everyone from students and start-ups, to well-established companies, use our
turbine to test their technology and gather data.
One of my favourite parts of my job is training new interns and showing them the ropes. Seeing someone achieve something they’ve been working on, or helping them learn something new is such a rewarding experience. It’s great to be involved in that.
I’ve been lucky to work with an experienced and wide range of professionals in my career so far. Being involved with the Women’s Engineering Society, Equate Scotland, International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists and Powerful Women are fantastic as it has opened me up to a network of people with different backgrounds and expertise and provides a supportive group for me to learn from and share ideas with.
As a keen STEM ambassador with a passion for sustainability, I’m hoping to continue to inspire the next generation of people looking to get involved in the energy sector. There’s a huge focus on STEM subjects at school now and platforms like My Energy Future are great sources of information for people to get started on their own career path.
When I tell people I work in the energy industry, they’re often surprised to hear that my job is office based and not out in a field somewhere or offshore! There are now so many different kinds of roles within the sector, based in a range of locations, that I’m sure this misconception will soon be gone.
I believe in the next 10 years or so, the offshore renewables sector, specifically wind, will grow massively. In order to hit government targets, the UK industry will have to triple in size by 2030. This means the workforce will need to double – creating great career opportunities for a new wave of talented people. There’s also a diversity target that a third of workers in the offshore wind sector will be women by 2030, so it’s vital we continue to encourage women into STEM. The renewable energy industry has grown at an accelerated rate over the last few years – so much so that 40% of the UK’s energy last year came from renewable sources. Even more impressive, 97% of Scotland’s energy stemmed from renewable energy.
The most important piece of advice I’d give any young person looking to start their career in the energy sector would be to just do it! In my role as an Energy Influencer, I hope to spark new conversations and inspire new ideas. There are so many options to think about when you’re choosing what to study to begin your journey into the world of work, and I hope to inform and guide people like you in this process.