NEWS March 8, 2023
International Women’s Day: Laura Collin
At Full Circle our people are key to our success and this International Women’s Day we are taking the opportunity to share the story of one of our own inspirational women, in her own words. Laura is an Engineer in our Control Room, which sees her managing and monitoring access to turbine sites remotely. We hope that by telling Laura’s story we can inspire the next generation of women and girls in STEM.
Tell us a bit about your role…
I’m responsible for monitoring and maintaining our fleet of turbines, working with a team to identify and respond to any faults. Our aim is to make sure that, if there is a fault, our turbines are back online and at maximum generating capacity, as soon as possible.
What does an average working day look like for you?
It looks pretty cool! As a control room operator each day is different, and it’s always exciting to log on and see what has happened. You never really know what the system is going to have picked up, and being able to have oversight of our global turbine network still amazes me every day.
In the morning, I’ll log on and review the potential faults flagged by our system and begin assigning tasks to the technicians, identifying which ones can be fixed from the control room and which turbines need in person maintenance.
What inspired you to follow this career path?
At school I always preferred subjects that were more practical, like engineering and electronics – the attention to detail and working with circuit boards. I knew I didn’t want to go to university, but I knew I wanted to continue electronic engineering and with the support of my GCSE electronics teacher I began to pursue this.
I secured a place at Barnsley College where I completed a BTEC in Electronic Engineering before moving on to an apprenticeship with Network Rail. My apprenticeship took me all around the country, starting in Gosport, then down to Portsmouth before finishing up in Retford. It was a great four years – I learnt how to keep the railways safe and efficient, and I met my future husband.
Why wind turbines?
After Network Rail, I knew I wanted to see what else was out there and I was looking forward to returning to the North of England and being settled with my family for a while. I moved into commissioning for Enercon, overseeing and making sure that the turbine is ready to produce energy. The job allowed me to grow my expertise in high voltage engineering and let me see a bit more of the world and the UK, away from the train tracks.
I moved into Servicing and then SQA (Servicing Quality Assurance), this was definitely a step up and involved a lot more oversight of quality assurance, health and safety and writing up guidelines for the teams, which I hadn’t had experience of before. It was daunting at first but taking each day at a time and being kinder to myself definitely helped, and I became much more confident in my job.
You spent some time away from wind energy – why did you go, and what brought you back?
After about eight years at Enercon, I decided to go into commercial engineering. I wanted exposure to all different types of technologies and was able to use my knowledge and expertise to make a real difference to my employer. This then led to me becoming a supervisor at a plastics manufacturer – I enjoyed the opportunity to take on a managerial role but ultimately, I found that I missed the wind industry. So, when a role at Full Circle opened up, I had to take it. In this job, every day is a new challenge – no two faults are the same, no two turbines are the same, each day required a new way of thinking and doing and because of that, I’m constantly learning.
How have you seen the wind industry change?
The technology has advanced considerably, and more manufacturers are using this to their advantage, bringing bigger and better turbines on to the market – for example, we now have turbines that are much larger and taller, able to withstand a lot more and that can generate a lot more electricity. With each new turbine design, an O&M provider like Full Circle needs to learn everything they can, which makes my job really fun, albeit challenging.
What is your one piece of advice for the next generation?
People will always have this idea of what you can or should do. The most important piece of advice I’ve ever received is something that my Grandad told me: find your own route and stick to your guns!
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