Synthotech was lucky enough to attend the 13th London Showcase Event and Lions’ Lair last week organised by The Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers and the Pipeline Industries Guild.
The London Showcase and Lions’ Lair presents an excellent opportunity to network with members across the industry and to hear about the latest innovations. The event, titled “Women in Engineering”, featured a fantastic keynote speech from Hilary Buxton, Director of Engineering at Cadent, discussing diversity in engineering to coincide with International Day of Women and Girls in Science on the 11th of February.
Meriel East, Graduate Project Engineer for SynoVate, the research and development division of Synthotech, attended the event. We caught up with Meriel to get her thoughts on the exciting evening:
“After starting my new role at SynoVate, the IGEM Showcase was a great introduction to the wider gas industry. It was refreshing and useful to gain some perspective, coming from the R&D department where the focus is on technical design. It was a good opportunity to network with like-minded engineers and meet suppliers.
The Lions’ Lair pitches showcased progress in technology and positive change within pipeline engineering. Keynote speaker Hilary Buxton (Director of Engineering, Cadent Gas) gave a frank discussion on the challenges facing the industry in the vital transition to hydrogen. The main message was that we need to bring together our expertise from creating a natural gas network to facilitate the crucial shift away from fossil fuels. “It is only us … (but) we’ve done it before”. The conversion to a natural gas supply from a predominantly coal-powered society was new ground at the time; as recent history tells us, this is doable. She raised an interesting question; how do we get around the competitive nature of trade, to achieve the common goal of net-zero? Once we are putting hydrogen into the network from a 20% blend, up to 100%, there will be a changeover period where the network will be patchy. That’s great for a company making cutting-edge hydrogen boilers, but for most homes, we’ll need solutions that are affordable and easy to install.
It was remarkable to hear first-hand from women who paved the way. The legacy of the first female engineers working in this industry, who made the route into engineering far easier than we realise, is a great one – and I’m proud to be part of that. But like the tasks ahead of us in responding to the climate crisis, the task of diversifying the workforce is far from complete. We have already come a long way, but for a societal shift, we need to harness the gaining momentum and keep looking at the bigger picture. Hydrogen is within our reach; we just need to provide the technology.”
Synthotech would like to thank Dave Goodall and the London Southern IGEM team for organising the event. It’s always exciting to hear about the latest developments and innovations within our industry.