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It’s International Women in Engineering Day and we’re celebrating virtually this year.
Here at Heathrow, we are raising the profile of female engineers and encouraging more people to consider engineering as a profession, no matter your gender.
As part of International Women in Engineering Day, we’re celebrating the good things our female engineers do. We’ve caught up with two of our colleagues to celebrate their passion and find out how they are helping #ShapeTheWorld.
Meet Amal Gafoor, Engineering Intern who is among our many colleagues celebrating International Women’s Day across the UK’s hub airport. Amal is helping #ShapeTheWorld through her drive for sustainability engineering and shares her experience with us.
Inventive, pragmatic and inspiring
My direct team is within Technical Services and I work with the Risk and Compliance team whose responsibilities involve incident management, audits and asset related safety. As an intern, I’ve been given the independence to support projects interchangeably based on my interests. For example, a project I worked on was with the Generation team who manage the biomass plant that provides T2 and T5 with energy. I really enjoyed this because my dissertation was on biomass so it was really interesting to apply my technical knowledge to the project.
Meeting so many different people that have a breadth of knowledge and experience. I have gained so much from speaking to different people about their experiences and understanding how they think. As cliché as it sounds – every day is truly different, I have worked on so many different projects and gained an appreciation for all the work that happens at Heathrow.
It is really important to raise the profile of women engineers and encourage more females to consider engineering as a profession. The figures for women in engineering are still far too low, so we need to promote the amazing opportunities available.
I combined my love for Maths, Chemistry and Physics to study Chemical Engineering at University which is what inspired me to join the engineering world. I like problem solving and would always ask questions and try come up with different ways of doing things.
Chemical engineering is very different to chemistry! Chemical engineers are involved in a range of sectors including, but not limited to, oil and gas, fast moving consumer goods and pharmaceuticals.
Do some research and find out companies that are specialists in the sector that you are interested in. Speak to engineers and be curious. Keep pushing yourself and step out of your comfort zone!
We also caught up with Louise Batts, Senior Civil Engineer who shares her story on what inspired her to seek a career in engineering and gives advice to help inspire the next generation of engineers.
Diverse, solution driven (I know that’s 2 words), and Camaraderie
The IMPACT. You get the opportunity to change the world and the infrastructure around us that makes an impact to every human on this planet. Every day is different, overcoming challenges, then standing back and realising you were part of something amazing. You will also find a lot of the people in engineering are like yourself, driven, passionate and always wanting to solve complex problems.
I’m proud to be an engineer and was lucky to be supported by my family when I was young. However, I didn’t have any female role models in my early career, so for me it’s all about being friendly, approachable and visible to all other engineers. I want to encourage, promote and champion more female engineers to continue to grow, challenge themselves and believe in their own abilities. It’s such a rewarding career, but many women are worried about the ‘builder’ perception, it’s not that at all!
Is Lego too cheesy? Haha! When I was younger, I enjoyed building things and solving problems. I wasn’t particularly good at science, but I liked the fact that maths was either right or wrong. I knew I could get 100% in maths, but I couldn’t achieve 100% ever in English. Whilst I was in year 11, I arranged to spend some time with a site engineer, and I loved it. My dad was a mechanical engineer and I enjoyed hearing about his time at work fixing things (he used to work at a chocolate factory, so it was a bonus!). Being an engineer, and a civil engineer allowed me to; challenge myself, solve problems, and build things!
Shaping the World locally in Hounslow - Previously I managed significant bridge projects including the replacement of two and the refurbishment of another which was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel himself!
For the project we had to make sure that we kept the historic value of the structure but I was able to make small changes to the design to reduce waste, wheelchair user access to new areas, and eliminate existing water contamination. It’s not always about making huge changes, small progress and incremental improvement is positive, with the occasional large jumps in progress.
If all engineers aim to make progress locally, then our combined effect can shape the world and make a larger positive impact on our environment.
Don’t compare yourself against others, you don’t need to change to be an engineer. You’ll find an aspect of engineering you love doing, you will do it with gusto, and you will excel in it. Speak to other women in engineering, ask them any questions you are worried about, the likelihood is they had the same concerns and questions as you!
Where do we start?
We aren’t builders, We are creative, We aren’t all white males, We are diverse, We are good at communicating, We don’t all love science, We didn’t all get A*’s in our exams, some of us didn’t do exams! We learn by doing, We’re ok making mistakes, that’s how we learn, We work with non-engineers, like scientists to solve problems, We are more than callout washing machine engineers, We have families, We care about nature and the environment, We don’t all get dirty and We don’t all wear hi-viz every day!
Read more about our Heathrow Engineers here.
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