Discover the inspiring women engineers at 42T: meet the talented minds driving innovation
For International Women in Engineering Day this year, we made the decision to increase our engagement with a local sixth form college in order to encourage young and aspiring women engineers to pursue this rewarding career path.
Behind the decision is a group of talented women engineers who recognise a need to encourage young students into the profession by talking about their own motivations and personal journeys that led them into engineering.
What motivated the women engineers at 42T to pursue their profession?
There are so many exciting things that can be done in STEM but this can also often seem overwhelming to younger women. International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is a great opportunity to take a moment to share our collective experience at 42T and hopefully help highlight options to give others the confidence to see themselves moving forward in STEM careers.
Katie presenting at a local school's careers day
What led you to pursue a career at an engineering company?
Katie says, "I had always been curious about how the world works and was very lucky to be encouraged in all things STEM by my family. I went on to study Physics. My move into engineering really came about through having the opportunity to speak to people about their job roles. From my previous job this was via a careers fair and for my current role it came through a chance encounter with someone from 42T."
Jake adds, "I wanted to combine creativity and artistic design with logic and maths - but I wanted something more fun and dynamic than architecture! I was also encouraged to give input into my parents' product designs as they were inventors. A game growing up was looking at items around us and thinking about how they could be designed better. It is incredible how many bench designs actively collect puddles of water when it rains!"
Sarah in 42T's healthcare team says, "I've always enjoyed learning how things work and how they’re made. But at school, I never really knew what I wanted to do as a career, except I knew that I enjoyed maths and sciences. I thought about medicine, and when it came to work experience week I was lucky enough to get a placement in a large hospital, shadowing a vascular surgeon and some of his colleagues.
I realised quite quickly that the things that most fascinated me were the equipment and devices being used – from a neat kit for extracting and storing blood samples to anaesthetic machines delivering just the right mix of drugs to keep someone sedated during surgery. That prompted me to study biomedical engineering at university with a view to designing medical devices."
Jake at work on a project
Claire, also in the healthcare team, says, "I always enjoyed understanding how things work, and why the universe is the way it is. It led me to study physics and join a research group at university to do a PhD. I did fascinating fundamental research to better understand how atoms interact with light, and doing so, I used a lot of engineering methods.
I then decided I wanted my work to be used, and useful, in the short term, compared to the longer term goals of academic research, and started to develop medical devices in a start-up. Since then, I’ve been enjoying working for engineering companies and developing new technologies and products, mainly in the healthcare industry."
What does your role at 42T involve?
Sarah says, "I lead projects to invent new products or improve existing ones – making them work better or more reliably, or easier to manufacture. I specialise in medical devices and the life sciences. I’m also line manager to a group of engineers and physicists, which involves co-ordinating who is working on which projects, and supporting their development."
Katie adds, "At 42T I get to run a wide range of projects. As well as managing projects there is lots of opportunity to get into technical detail and help with problem solving. It is especially great working on projects which contribute to making our world a better place."
Francesca & Jake at work in a lab
Jake says, "I have just moved into a primarily technical lead role - I support project managers by pushing for the quality side of the management triangle. Identifying and prioritising technical risks on projects, who / what is needed to resolve or quantify those risks. I inevitably still get to be heavily involved in the technical problem-solving on projects, e.g. high-level physics calculations and quick indicative testing to setting up and monitoring large testing programs.
I am also heavily involved in innovative concept to CAD design work and fluid simulation work (CFD). As part of the 42T Sustainability Insights group, I am also creating and keeping up-to-date a material & materials-related legislation database. I'm also responsible for the maintenance & training of the laser cutter and the CAD software system. In addition, also a mental & physical health first aider and one of the fire wardens."
Claire says, "At 42T, I work closely with a variety of companies, from healthcare and life sciences to consumer, that want to develop new technological devices. This can be working on a new way to sample a tiny bit of your blood to painlessly check whether you have a disease or not or developing a new equipment to make sure medicines are prepared in the best possible way. I'm part of the whole development process, from forming the idea about how the device should work to testing it in the lab, and then finding ways to manufacture and assemble them."
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Claire continues, "I really enjoy creating new products that require a lot of thinking and careful design, as well as a very good team of colleagues with whom to bounce ideas off to find the best solution possible. I also enjoy the experimental work associated with the development, going into the lab or the workshop to understand how what we imagine would work, actually works in practice."
"Variety and creative, innovative problem-solving paired with design and practical testing," says Jake. "Collaborative teamwork at 42T is open and respectful of all project team members' input while also respecting the project management role structure. I think this is helped by the shifting project teams, so for instance, where you might be project managing one project while simultaneously working as a technical resource on another project being managed by someone else."
Marta & Sarah in the healthcare team
Katie says, "Without a doubt, what I enjoy most is getting to work with a great team of people that engineers are!"
Sarah in the healthcare team adds, "I still love learning about how things work and how they are made. I love thinking creatively to solve design problems. And it’s really satisfying seeing products that I have worked on being used in real life – a couple of them are even on sale in supermarkets!"
Why is INWED important to you?
Jake observes, "Engineering is a historically male-dominated industry. However, there is value in the different perspectives a diverse team brings, so it is important to encourage the trend of increasing women in engineering.
This is especially true in our niche of the engineering sector, where we are innovating and designing medical devices, consumer goods, and functional packaging that are generally used by all or sometimes more intended for use by specifically men or women (especially medical devices) but historically designed with a bias from male engineers' needs and experiences."
Claire adds, "Engineering, and sciences in general, are fascinating topics and I'm always delighted to see bright young women joining engineering teams. I hope INWED shows all aspiring women engineers who wonder if they could find their place in these jobs that they can, and that they will probably have a lot of fun if they do so! On top of that, having different points of view and diverse experiences in a team helps to develop better ideas!"
Ellie at work on an engineering project
Why women in engineering is important for us all
Sarah says, "Engineering is a career that I find incredibly rewarding and I think it’s so important that it’s open to everyone. When I was at an all-girls secondary school, I don’t think anyone even mentioned it as a career option – it was an extremely unusual choice. If it hadn’t been for my dad being an engineer, I don’t think I would even have considered it. But I’m so glad I did!"
Jake summarises, "Engineers are a core of modern society and the infrastructure that enables and shapes it. We need a diverse and representative population of humanity to build this infrastructure of our lives. Otherwise, some population groups will inherently find life harder as the system we live in will not be as well designed for them."
Just a few of the women engineers at 42T -
Shreeya, Ellie, Michaela, Katie, Jake, Claire and Sarah
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