17 June 2022
International Women In Engineering Day is about celebrating the achievements of women in engineering and encouraging young women and girls to join the engineering industry. According to INWED, as of June 2021 only 16.5% of engineers in the UK are women. We can help to positively impact this statistic by getting involved with STEM activities, something that we at MNP are very passionate about, and shining the spotlight on the women within our industry, giving them to chance to tell their stories. With this in mind, we interviewed two of our Project Engineers about Structural Engineering, why they became Engineers and how they imagine the future of Engineering to look.
We would love to introduce to you Jenna Sewell and Federica Toffoletto.
When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
Federica: When I was a child, I really enjoyed going to school and thought it would be nice to become a teacher in the future. Mathematics was my favourite subject and I was happy to help my classmates resolve various math problems.
Jenna: I actually wanted to be an Artist!
What or who inspired you to move into your current role?
Federica: In high school, alongside my passion for mathematics and physics, I also developed an interest in technical drawing by hand. I then started wondering whether I could find a way to combine my interests, and I realised I could do so at university by pursuing a degree in either architecture or engineering. Being able to apply maths and physics to practical things has always fascinated me.
Jenna: The opportunity to work on historic buildings. I’m really passionate about preserving and restoring historic buildings and I think there’s a lot to learn from them too.
Did you have any role models when you were younger?
Federica: None in particular
Jenna: My parents were the best role models, my mum from a creative point of view and my dad from engineering.
What do you love about working in the engineering industry?
Federica: What I like about Structural Engineering is that there is a different challenge every day, and that’s stimulating and motivates me to keep learning. One of the things I really like about my job is that it keeps my mind active. It’s also satisfying to be part of a team that tries to find the best way to build efficient, sustainable and safe buildings/structures.
Jenna: Structural Engineering allows me to develop creative ways to solve a problem – a perfect mix of art and science.
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
Federica: Before starting to work, I didn’t imagine how developed the use of modelling software was; it allows us to assemble the building in all its parts and details before it’s built on-site. When I first used Autodesk Revit to move around a building I was impressed by the level of coordination that can be achieved between the various disciplines (architecture, services, etc.) and how useful this tool could be.
Jenna: The volume of different ways to approach an engineering design, you may have the same issue but could solve it in more than one way and that’s really interesting.
What is the biggest impact your work will, or could, have in the future?
Federica: By designing green and sustainable buildings and, on a larger scale, cities, I believe that structural engineers have a key role to play in improving the lives of people.
Jenna: The Environmental impact. The materials and proposals I specify could limit the impact on the environment and I intend to aim for that on every project.
What do you think the future of Structural Engineering looks like?
Federica: More sophisticated and advanced computer programs will be developed in order to aid and speed up the design, this will leave more time to the engineers to develop other skills and collaborate with the other disciplines involved in a project. Also, since reducing carbon emissions and recycling as much as possible of the existing structures is one of the main goals these days, I expect a leap forward in the research and studies that aim to introduce new materials with better properties as well as a more sustainable impact.
Jenna: I hope that the environment will be the driving force for the construction industry, not just engineering and that we will see more refurbishments.
What’s your advice to a young female person considering a career in Structural Engineering?
Federica: Be always motivated and follow your passions. When joining a University course or starting a new job in a new company, don’t pay attention to the number of men and women forming the group but look at them simply as colleagues and fellow adventurers.
Jenna: Talk to qualified engineers, ask them questions and learn a bit about the industry from the source. Talking to industry professionals will give you an understanding that you won’t get in the classroom.