Women in Engineering – INWED 2019

The Women’s Engineering Society (WES) was founded shortly after World War I by a small committee to campaign for the pioneering women who worked in engineering and technical roles during the War in order for them to retain these roles when the war ended.

100 years on and WES are still campaigning to inspire and support diversity in Engineering. In 2014, to celebrate its 95th anniversary they launched ‘National Women in Engineering Day’.  3 years later, in 2017, International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) was born to allow the celebration of women in engineering to become global.

Whilst there is an increase in the percentage of women entering the Engineering field, the statistics are still low with the Engineering UK 2018 report stating that currently only 12.37% of all engineers working in the UK are women.

Here at Scotch Partners, 26% of our Engineers are women. To celebrate this and International Women in Engineering Day we took some time this week to speak to them about how they got into engineering, what they think the future holds and what advice would they give their 16 yr old self:

Adriana Lisowska

Public Health Engineer

Why did you get into Engineering?

As most teenagers I struggled to know what I wanted to do with my life at the end of Secondary school – it was actually my brother who said that I should follow an education and career in Engineering so this is what I did.

What do you think the future challenges in Engineering are?

As many people are moving to cities, there are more high riser buildings. This could have an impact on the life style of people, but also on the technologies that we can use to provide services, especially as we have to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity!

What advice you would give your 16 year old self?

Nowadays there’s a lot of pressure on teenagers from the society (schools, social media, parents and friends), so my advice would just be to believe in yourself, be happy, and try to achieve your dreams!

Dimitra Paraskevopoulou

Electrical Engineer

Why did you get into Engineering?

I’ve always loved Maths and Physics. So, when at my 17 I had to decide what to study I went for what was (in my country) the best thing to do when you’re good enough to enter the school! Working in engineering I see how my complex thought, analysis and problem solving skills are in full use and can make real difference. This is both challenging and motivating. It is nice to be amongst the people that will shape the world of tomorrow!

What do you think the future challenges in Engineering are?

I believe there are 2 big groups of challenge we’re facing:

The first one refers to all the measures and changes happening in building services strategies to avoid burdening further the environment. Electrically this gets reflected by a big shift in electrically powered devices being a challenge both for building design and for the utility’s infrastructure.

The second one is how all the advance in technology can be applied in the engineering design. Not only in demonstrating the handmade design (software like Revit or BIM are already well in place) but in applying machine learning techniques to automate the design. Building engineering needs to catch up and make use of what’s being applied at other disciplines. Knowing how complex the engineering job can sometimes be I know that such an application will take time & careful consideration to develop.

What advice you would give your 16 year old self?

Set specific targets and engage early on the job focus and career goals.

Inge Oosthuizen

Mechanical & Energy Engineer

Why did you get into Engineering?

I loved solving puzzles and problems and this extended into enjoying maths at school. When it came to choosing a degree, engineering just seemed to tick all the boxes. It offered variety, was challenging, and opened up a range of career options, in the end it armed me with some valuable skills that I apply not only at work but in all facets of life. Using this problem solving skillset to help reducing our impact on the planet keeps me motivated to an extent where I can say I really love the work I do.

What do you think the future challenges in Engineering are?

Engineering exists because there are challenges and the future, I’m certain, will keep us employed! I believe the main engineering challenge in our immediate future is a step change in engineering solutions towards ‘cradle to cradle.’ Engineering science in essence takes a problem and breaks it down into smaller and smaller chunks to the point where it becomes easy to solve each chunk. We then add all the chunks back up again until our specific problem is solved. With increased urgency we need to address our impact on the planet, extending from waste and pollution to cost and efficiency. This means that each chunk has more and more factors to consider and when we re-assemble, we need to keep zooming out further.  Problems that may previously have been relatively easy to solve become a bit more complex and therefore requires more time and resource.

What advice you would give your 16 year old self?

Spend a bit less time worrying and a bit more time being curious. Work hard but have fun too, sometimes we learn more from having fun and giving our minds time to think. Finally, just don’t worry about what others think, do what feels right to you.

Monika Hricova

Mechanical Engineer

Why did you get into Engineering?

I have always had a very logical & analytical mind and so for me Engineering was an obvious choice.

What do you think the future challenges in Engineering are?

Working at Scotch I feel I am treated as an equal, however this is not representative of the industry as a whole. Engineering has been a male dominated field for a very long time and whilst I can see that there is a shift to making things more equal I feel there is still a long way to go.

What advice you would give your 16 year old self?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just make sure you learn from them.

Rossella Perniola

Mechanical Engineer

Why did you get into Engineering?

I wanted to be helpful to the planet somehow, and I was fascinated by renewables. Being kind to the environment is something that I’ve learnt both from my parents and at school since a young age. During high school I was lucky enough to participate to a trip in Germany focused on renewables, and that’s where I saw for the first time a wind turbine: I clearly remember that I was astonished by its size and I just thought “this is so beautiful!” Luckily, the region where I’m from in southern Italy, Puglia, has now plenty of wind turbines and it’s currently the leading region in wind farms for my country. When I fly back to the UK, I always watch out from the plane for the off-shore wind farm between England and France.

Funny fact: As wind turbines rotate to face the wind, my father usually looks at them to check the wind direction, to understand if there’s going to be a good weather for his plants!

What do you think the future challenges in Engineering are?

Time. We have no time to waste to tackle climate crisis. And also money. We need huge investments in the electric network to support what is the current trend of having all-electric solutions. We also need to make decisions based on what’s the solution with less environmental impact rather than what’s the cheapest option, bearing in mind to follow a holistic approach. But time is money, so this counts as one answer!

What advice you would give your 16 year old self?

Keep staying hungry and foolish!