To celebrate everything that International Women in Engineering Day is doing to raise the profile of women in engineering and inspire future engineers, we have been asking members of our team why they chose a career in engineering and what advice they would give others who are considering doing the same.
Let’s meet the engineers:
Dr Sara Roggia (SR) – Sara is a Senior Research Engineer at Motor Design Ltd (MDL), working as part of our expert motor design team. Sara completed a BSc and MSc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the Politecnico di Bari in Italy, followed by a Marie Curie funded PhD in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the National Institute of Aerospace Technology, University of Nottingham, UK.
Giulia Malinverno (GM) – Giulia is a Research Engineer at MDL, also working as part of our expert motor design team. Giulia completed a BSc in Industrial Engineering and MSc in Electrical Engineering at the University of Pavia, Italy.
Sarah Woodrow (SW) – Sarah is a Senior Application Engineer at MDL, working as part of our Motor-CAD software development team. Sarah completed a MSci in Physics at Imperial College London and received an MSc by Research in Atomic and Laser Physics from the University of Oxford.
Giulia Urgera (GU) – Giulia is an Erasmus student who works as part of our motor design team. Giulia completed a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cassino and the Southern Lazio, Italy.
SR: “I love maths and physics, but maths is quite abstract. I like how you can apply maths to modify the real world – that is what inspired me. I like the practical aspect of engineering: engineering is more related to our world, for example civil engineers transform infrastructure. You can actually see the things you have built and see the impact to other people or users.”
GM: “My interest in engineering started when I was in high school because I have always been interested in scientific subjects. Then when I started studying engineering, I realised that it would be my career path. I decided to specialise in electrical engineering because I discovered the big world of electrical motors, and I have always been interested in electronics and automation, and so on.”
SW: “It was mostly just what I was interested in and what I was good at. I did an engineering challenge during one summer, a science STEM project through school, and I ended up with a local marine engineering company – that’s one thing that triggered me down the path of engineering. Other than that, I was always good at maths.”
GU: “Engineering is so huge – every time you turn from one topic or subject to another, you find more and more ways to reach the same solutions, or more things to study. So, I think that is what made me love it: you are never finished studying it.”
How did your engineering career start out?
SR: “I did my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering in Italy, master’s in electrical engineering in Italy and electrical engineering PhD, which was applied to aerospace technologies, in the UK. After finishing my master’s degree, I knew I was going to go into some kind of academic research environment because I like exploring new topics and seeing what is new in the state of the art. I think doing a PhD is a good experience anyway – you can learn how to approach things in a very structured way, scientifically, and it is a good experience for your life.”
GM: “I studied in Pavia. I think it was a good university because if you chose to study engineering, you could choose your modules. I decided to specialise in electrical motors – I chose lots of modules about electrical drives, electrical motors, electrical measurements and so on.”
SW: “I studied physics at Imperial, and after I did that I was really interested in pure physics and the theoretical side of things. I started a PhD in experimental physics, but quickly realised I would rather work in the real world and do things that actually have an impact on people’s lives this year, rather than in fifty years’ time. In the sciences and academia, you can look at something and be like, ‘This is really abstract and it doesn’t affect anything’, whereas here I can see a car on the road and think, ‘MDL designed a motor for that car, I’m related to that.’ ”
GU: “I did a three-year bachelor’s degree at the University of Cassino. At the beginning, you do three years of industrial engineering and then you can choose the thing that you are going to study. I chose the electrical modules – electrical drives, electrical machines, electronics and converters, and so on. At the end, I decided to continue studying for my master’s degree, specialising in electrical engineering.”
A day in the life of an engineer is like…?
SR: “Every day is nice, because when you have a challenge, you start thinking about it and your mind never stops. You cannot stop being an engineer when you go home – you can get inspired by everything. If you start thinking and then go to work and make things happen, it’s good. When you see things actually realised and you see they are working, that is the best feeling ever. It’s great fun.”
GM: “What is most interesting for me now is learning how to manage all the projects I work on. For example, I have just finished one project about material testing in the motor and I have started another project which is completely different, so I can experience lots of new things and use new software to improve in another way.”
SW: “Working on new bits of development for our software, Motor-CAD. It’s got the physics side that I have always done and enjoyed in the past, but then it is applying it to how actual people are going to interact with the software, and thinking about the interface and how to make life easy for people when they are using it.”
GU: “It depends on the kind of work. What I’m seeing now is you have to find a different solution depending on the kind of problem that is in front of you. I think you have to be open-minded to see everything in that way.”
Any advice for young people who are considering a career in engineering?
SR: “I think the best advice is to be brave. It’s always a gamble – science is there but we are not sure that we have all the concepts in our minds. So be brave, try, and I am sure things will work anyway. It is not something you cannot fix or repair. That’s my advice.”
GM: “I remember when I was in the first year of university, lots of people were afraid of the mathematics and physics modules because they didn’t have knowledge of those subjects. Don’t be afraid about those kinds of things because you can learn lots during the lectures. Always be keen and give everything in your studies.”
SW: “Do it, it’s really fun. Just do whatever interests you and you’ll end up, hopefully, doing something that interests you in the long term. At every stage of decision-making, I went with my gut about what seemed fun and interesting, and it has ended up with me doing a job that I really enjoy, so I recommend that.”
GU: “The way that studies are organised, at least in Italy, is quite difficult because you have to do your best every time and there are a lot of things you have to know, so you have to be concentrated for a long period. At the end of the day, I think that if you love this kind of subject you can do everything with a little bit of effort and you’ll have everything back at the end.”
International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) takes place annually on the 23rd June and aims to raise the profile of women in engineering. To find out more, visit the INWED website.
About us: At Motor Design Ltd (MDL), we know how exciting and satisfying a career in engineering can be and we are keen to encourage more young people to choose it as their career path. To find out more about what we do, take a look around our website or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.