A young woman from Ballyclare has engineered herself a new career - in the field of aerospace engineering.
Teacher Rachel Horan is now part of a team of aerospace engineers and she is working with Ballygowan based engineering firm, McGreevy Engineering.
Rachel was teaching in England when she saw an opportunity to return to her love of making things and build upon her Technology and Design degree from Ulster University.
This was thanks to the pre-employment training with the Assured Skills Academy in association with Northern Regional College (NRC), supported by trade association ADS (Northern Ireland) and funded by the Department of the Economy.
McGreevy Engineering welcomed Rachel to the team after she successfully completed the nine-week Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Milling Academy which included a four-week placement within the company.
Rachel said: “The Academy assigned me to McGreevy Engineering for my placement. Putting everything I had learnt on my course into practice was the highlight for me, as I like to think I’m a very practical person.
“I enjoy a hands-on learning approach rather than in a classroom and this was a great opportunity to do just that.”
Every student was guaranteed a job interview following successful competition of the Academy.
Rachel said: “Getting the news that I had secured a full-time job with McGreevy Engineering, following my interview, was the best possible outcome for me.
“I am still learning every day - I am working on new machinery and make new parts, which will be part of an aircraft very soon.
“Making the decision to retrain and change career has definitely been the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Rachel.
However, did she come across any barriers beginning her journey in a traditionally male-dominated engineering industry?
Rachel said: “For me it’s about ability and capability, gender should not and has not been an issue for me.
“My experience of the engineering industry so far has been very positive, and I would encourage anyone considering their career options to step outside their comfort zone and explore the possibilities particularly see what engineering can offer.”
With regard to her future in the industry, the young Ballyclare woman said: “I plan to stay with McGreevy Engineering for the foreseeable future. There is so much more to learn. Maybe one day I can combine my newly acquired skills with my teaching background and help to train the next generation of engineers.”