National Grid site tour: the student perspective on what makes a great event
Aliyah Olawale, a London STEM student, recently went on a sire tour to National Grid’s London Power Tunnel (LPT) New Cross site. Aliyah shares her thoughts on the trip: what she’s learnt from it and what’s surprised her.
National Grid’s LPT schools project, delivered by Connectr, was set up to support the local communities in the 7 London boroughs along the LPT route. Our ambition is to open students up to what a career in the energy sector could look like for them – and build the careers skills they need to get there.
Why did you decide to take part? I’m quite interested in physics and the practical applications of theory in energy and sustainability, which inspired me to take part! I knew of National Grid’s role in the energy industry and wanted to understand how the company is working towards net zero.
What was the highlight? The highlight of my experience with National Grid was the speed networking session with employees at their LPT2 New Cross site. I got insight into different roles, how their knowledge contributes to sustainable practices and how I could achieve a better future for myself and wider society by pursuing a green job.
What was the best learning or piece of advice you received? “Think about your future self.” I learned that it’s quite important to think ahead and try lay out all your options. Its fine to not always have a clear plan, but vaguely understanding where my decisions will lead me has helped figure out what I want to study and how I want to contribute to the world.
Has it changed your perceptions of women working in the sector? It was great seeing women having leading roles in a project so massive. I was never under the illusion that this wasn’t possible but it was quite nice to see a somewhat equal amount of men and women in higher roles despite engineering being quite predominantly male.
Did you learn anything about National Grid or the energy sector that surprised you? I was a bit surprised to learn about the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork! I met people who majored in geography, chemistry, engineering, finance and more. This gave me the confidence to stick with my decision to specialise in physics and contribute to environmental and energy research. I also realised that practical experience is worth a million times more than sitting down, learning theory. Project supervisors spoke about how they’re able to guide their team, even when abroad, due to their prior experience as site engineers!
If you could work in the sector, what would your dream job be? I would love to be an environmental physicist or engineer who utilises principles of physics to understand the environment and help research new sustainable methods of energy production and waste management to reduce our impact on the planet. I’m also interested in astrophysics and how its theories can be used to create advanced energy generation like space based solar satellites that could wirelessly transmit energy back to Earth! Concepts like these excite me and fill me with hope for clean energy solutions.