Earlier this week, we caught up with GAMA's two female engineers, Anria and Caroline. They shared with us what life is like as mechanical engineers, the biggest challenges they've faced and the one piece of advice they would give to a woman looking to start a career in engineering.
Everybody meet, Anria Brown. Based in GAMA's Research and Development centre in Halifax, Anria has recently transitioned from Mechanical Systems Engineer to managing the Capital NPD Engineering team. She is responsible for supporting her team to ensure the successful launch of new and innovative capital products at GAMA.
I guess there are two reasons really. I always loved taking things apart when I was little, trying to figure out how it works and seeing what I can do with the parts. As I grew up, I realised that engineering would be the best way to live the passion for building and creating new products as well as solving problems. The second reason came from a need to do something that will make a difference in other people’s lives, but using my own passions and skills to do it. I found my real passion in designing medical devices which combines the engineering aspect as well as the impact on people and society in the best way that I could.
I love being able to design something where I can see the direct positive impact on a person. Every challenge and problem make every day exciting and different, and the satisfaction from solving really complex problems makes me go home with a smile every day. Also seeing your product being used and liked, creates a great sense of satisfaction and makes a job, not just a job, but a passion.
Related article: GAMA's female scientists & the women who inspire them
Confidence and imposter syndrome. It took me quite some time to realise that I was capable and good at what I do. This is something that I still sometimes struggle with, but having a support network around me (family, friends and colleagues) that has encouraged and supported me, celebrated the wins and helped me get back up after the not-so-great days slowly helped me build my confidence.
Put your head down, work hard, and know why you want to do engineering in the first place and hold on to that. You will have difficult days, days where you ask yourself why you are doing this, but more often than not, you will have great days where you see what a massive difference you can have on society. You will enjoy what you do, and you will get up every day with a sense of purpose. Also, surround yourself with people that support you, seek out teachers that can help and guide you, and most importantly… coffee is your friend!
Introducing Caroline Breen, our Mechanical Systems Engineer, also based at our R&D centre. Caroline has been with GAMA for a year and is responsible for the design and development of our latest, cutting-edge products.
That's a hard one to answer!
To give you an idea, here are some things I've previously worked on: I've developed big (smelly!) diesel engines by making improvements to tank engines, developed diggers by doing my best to break them to see what failed and then improve the design. I've designed high precision hospital lab equipment for processing biopsy samples which involved designing cool mechatronics for moving very thin glass and centrifuging liquids to separate the DNA - as you can see, it's a very diverse job with lots of problem solving.
A great technology teacher at school and I’m curious about everything. I wanted to have a positive impact on the world (in my own small way!) and a secure job that paid reasonable wages. We need more engineers of all varieties!
I'm currently working on a top secret capital project that will help prevent infections in the clinical setting... so watch this space!
Confidence! It’s taken many years to gain confidence in my abilities. One of the main turning points was getting my Chartered Engineering status. Part of the process is to write down what you have learnt and how you have developed over time, plus show how your level of responsibility has changed during that time as well. It forced me to stop and look at where I was and how much I’d grown as an engineer.
Be curious – ask around – connect with other engineers on social media and just ask “what type of engineer are you?”, “what do you do day-to-day?”, or “what is it like being an engineer?”. Try and get some experience if you can – my personal experience is that working is more interesting than the degree. But my main advice is: Go for it!
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