March 7th 2016

“I never dreamt I could become an engineer”

Sapper Emma Urwin

Joining an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit was not something high on a former student’s wish list, until she realised she could train to be an engineer by joining the Army Reserve.

Sapper Emma Irwin, aged 31, studied modern languages at university so thought she could maybe put her linguistic skills to good use by joining the Reserve Forces, but after a bit of research found that she could join an engineering unit with no prior experience.

Originally joining 350 Field Squadron (EOD) in 2007, Emma now works full time as a HR Manager in her civilian career so enjoys putting on her uniform to learn some practical skills even more than ever.

Emma Irwin examining an Out Board Motor_editDescribing some of the skills she has developed Emma, who lives in Nottingham, explained: “I never dreamt I could become an engineer. I’ve taken so much out of my military training so far and proved to myself that I can push myself out of my comfort zone to learn new engineering techniques and use a variety of power equipment when I need to.

“I’ve been taught basic engineering techniques, how to search for improvised explosive devices, the principles behind building or demolishing bridges, how to safely operate power tools and how to lay hardstanding concrete when we are working on renovation projects or want to develop a new building. More than anything though my Army Reserve training has helped me to have a ‘can do’ attitude that can be applied in any aspect of my life.

“Considering I had no engineering experience, I was welcomed in to the unit and treated no differently to any other soldier. The unit have taught me everything I needed to know, and continually look at soldiers’ development opportunities.”

350 Field Squadron (EOD) also provides an active sports and adventure training programme for its reservists to get involved in if they want to. Emma explains this has been a highlight for her: “Having the chance to play sports in the military is fantastic as many of the players are of a high standard. I play hockey for the Corps of Royal Engineers and have been able to travel a number of destinations with the team, and hope to attend a forthcoming activity in Gibraltar.”

Joining an engineering unit has been a challenge for Emma but she described how the positives by far outweigh any apprehensions she had in the beginning: “I enjoy being faced with a challenge and working out how I can complete it. My civilian employer has seen the benefits of this too as my management and leadership skills are continuing to improve as I progress in my military training, as well as my resilience and positive attitude being noted as good qualities.”
350 Field Squadron (EOD) are recruiting now, to find out more about volunteering in your spare time email 33ENGR-350-WO-RRMT@MOD.UK or call 0115 946 4909 (ext.5217).

“I never dreamt I could become an engineer."