The Great British Bake Off finalist Andrew Smyth is convinced his engineering skills helped him enormously during the hit BBC cookery show.

“It demonstrated transferable skills such as planning, creativity and getting the basics right first and building from there,” says the 25 year old aerospace engineer.

Smyth reached the final in 2016 and will be remembered for creating actual mechanised clockwork pies in the shape of cogs during his time on the show. The Northern Irish Cambridge University graduate believes he did well on Bake Off because like most engineers he has a curious mind. He remembers how at school he would keep asking the teachers why something was true or how something worked.

“A young person who has a fascination with everything around them would make a great engineer”

He believes youngsters should fuel their curiosity by reading books that explain science in simple terms and by joining STEM-related clubs held after school or in local museums.

“I wanted to be a pilot so I joined the air cadets but I soon discovered I was more interested in how the planes worked.”

A career in engineering is exciting because engineers create and develop the everyday products we all take for granted, from smartphones to toasters.

“I work with jet engines which are amazing but for me one of the best things about being in engineering is the people you get to work with,” says Smyth. “I am still fascinated by how inquisitive and passionate my colleagues are about their jobs and the diverse interests they have at home. One colleague toured the world as a flamenco dancer while my supervisor was a roboteer on the TV programme Robot Wars. I have turned my hand to musical theatre on occasions as well as baking of course.”

As an engineer Smyth specialises in aerospace and aerothermal engineering and is aiming for chartered engineer status. His enthusiasm for engineering is obvious but he accepts there are serious challenges for the industry, including how to plug the skill gap and attract more women.

“More needs to be done to change the perception of engineering and get young people interested early because people make assumptions about different careers at a young age”

“The industry is doing a lot of work to change opinions and recruit more girls but the benefits of these efforts might not be seen for another decade,” says Andrew.

Smyth welcomes the investment that engineering firms are making in diversity and inclusion. He is also kept busy in his role as a STEM Ambassador.

He has been visiting primary schools and supporting the BBC’s Make It Digital Roadshow. This event travelled around the UK boosting young people’s knowledge of the digital world and coding.

“It is important to have different people promoting engineering and acting as role models to help break the mould of what a traditional engineer looks like and inspire the next generation.”