Apprentice Profile: Heat Engineer Sophie Jenkins

Apprentice Profile: Heat Engineer Sophie Jenkins

Award winner Sophie Jenkins is paving the way for women in the sustainable energy industry.

At the Geberit Awards, 25-year old Sophie Jenkins won the Young Apprentice of the Year Award for her work as apprentice Heat Engineer at Dunster Biomass Heating. Geberit’s Victoria Wills said at the occasion “we were really impressed by Sophie’s hard work, determination and eagerness to learn new things.” Of course, Sophie herself was also delighted: “It felt amazing to receive such a prestigious award! Engineering and construction is always seen as a ‘man’s world’, so it was great to break the mould and be recognised for my hard work.”

According to the Women’s Engineering Society, only 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female, which is below the rest of Europe. So Sophie’s reference to a ‘man’s world’ is more than justified. But her passion is not just about getting girls into the industry, as she explains: “I’ve been a Somerset girl all my life, and I would love to see more awareness about sustainable energy in my area. I am glad that I can give a bit back to the community, one biomass boiler at a time!”

Sophie’s role involves observing central heating systems and installing biomass boilers. Biomass is a renewable source of fuel derived from wood, which can generate energy and heat with almost zero carbon emission.

Where it all started

Sophie’s devotion to sustainable energy started while she was still at school, proving it’s never too early to think about the future. It was a trip to Africa, to take part in a project raising awareness about renewable and sustainable energies, that sparked the interest.

Sophie attributes her success to thorough training by seniors at Dunster Biomass Heating: “I was always closely monitored by the lead engineers, who gave me the time of day. They gave me more supportive than I have ever could have imagined, but at the same time, they didn’t wrap me in cotton wool.”

The Future

The government has recently withdrawn funding for many of the schemes set up to implement zero carbon initiatives in the UK, and according to research conducted in 2014, renewable energy only accounted for 7 percent of final energy consumption, despite being cost effective and environmentally friendly. All this is not going to stop Sophie any time soon, “I love waking up and going to work every day, knowing that my actions are having a positive effect on my community. Look out for me in my Dunster van!”

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