Ovivo’s Women for Water presents: Claire Thornton
Inspiring a Future Generation
Imagine an employee so passionate about working as a mechanical engineer that she volunteers to be a Stemazing Ambassador to inspire a diverse and inclusive future generation. But that’s not all, imagine that the company she works for proudly supports employees’ initiatives and offers to sponsor her workshops!
That’s exactly what happened in our Ovivo UK office. Claire Thornton has given six STEM sessions virtually to school groups earlier this year and Ovivo provided the funds to supply those schools with activity packs for the workshops.
What is STEM and STEMAZING?
STEM is a unique approach to teaching four disciplines all at once: Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics. Stemazing is a non-profit organisation based in the UK that was created to promote STEM and inspire young people to become our next generation of innovators and problem solvers.
Claire recalls being fortunate that the careers advisors at her school guided her towards engineering when it came time to choose her future studies. She didn’t quite have a specific plan at the time but had always enjoyed mathematics and sciences and wanted to study a practical subject. At that moment she felt that studying in engineering would enable her to do something that would help people.
Throughout her studies, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to focus on. It was her first job as a civil engineer where she discovered water treatment applications. She was fascinated to see how the changing climate was having more of an impact on our water systems and how to deal with these changes. That is what got her hooked and steered her towards Ovivo as a mechanical engineer.
Mentoring a New Generation for the Water Industry
Claire got involved with mentoring kids to pay it forward. She realises how lucky she was to be surrounded by people who guided her to a career in STEM. Perhaps it was because she went to an all-girl school that she never doubted she could be an engineer. There were no stereotypes, no one ever mentioned that engineering or STEM subjects weren’t for girls.
At first, she mentored for 2 to 3 years through her Institute of Mechanical Engineers. She did a STEM workshop aimed for boys and girls aged 10 to 11 with the objective to promote women and diversity. The workshops ended due to COVID and that’s when she began her work with Stemazing. She developed a STEM activity where boys and girls aged 7 to 9 had to build a straw rocket blaster which allowed to see many aspects of science and engineering.
Her Career in Water
Claire is a member of both the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers) and CIWEM (Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management). She has been at Ovivo for 9 years and is currently a mechanical engineer, focusing on water treatment systems in the energy division which deals with municipal and industrial applications.
During COVID she took a different position as a technical author, writing operational and maintenance manuals on our systems for specific projects. This helped her develop her skills and understand the other aspects of engineering such as process and electrical applications. Having been able to see the bigger picture has given her a better perspective of future possible positions at Ovivo.
There’s no doubt Claire remains as passionate about water as she is about being a Stemazing Ambassador. Providing water treatment solutions for drinking water is an essential service. She loves to work in developing new concepts that are energy efficient and using renewable energy sources. Finding more environmentally friendly and sustainable designs are her ultimate goals.