Lancashire BAE Systems woman wins new talent award for engineers

April Wiles from BAE Systems who has won an award
April Wiles from BAE Systems who has won an award
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A BAE Systems engineer, who said as a teenager she was easily distracted in school and bottom at maths, has just picked up the Emerging Talent Award at the annual Women in Defence Awards.

The national award recognises individuals who act as role models for engineering, and for this April Wiles was described as a shining example.

The nomination described April’s outstanding contribution to the company’s Challenger 2 tank “Black Night” upgrade vehicle programme.

In June this year, April, 26, moved across to the air sector in June and works as an aerodynamicist. The Southport resident works as part of a collaborative industry team known as Team Tempest exploring concepts and shapes for future combat aircraft design.

She said that to contribute and influence the early stages of an aircraft design programme, something she describes as a “once in a lifetime’ opportunity”.

April had never thought of a career in engineering and at admitted that the age of 14 was in the bottom set at maths in school.

She said: “Neither of my parents went to university it was never on my agenda. When I was at school we had a careers day and a woman from an engineering company, Rolls Royce, came in.

“She had a job where she simulated bird strikes into aero engines and then examined the damage afterwards... I could not believe that somebody got paid to do that. I wanted to be a part of something like that.”

She ended up doing a masters degree in aerospace engineering and then joined BAe Systems’ graduate scheme.

April said winning the award was “an out of body experience”.

She said she was humbled and shocked to be recognised by an external body and was keen to continue her work in inspiring more young people to think about a career in engineering.