International Women in Engineering Day 2019: Interview with third year mechanical engineer Maisie Edwards-Mowforth

Mechanical Engineering student Maisie Edwards-Mowforth took part in the following interview to mark International Women in Engineering Day 2019.

Maisie, who has just finished the third year of her degree, is Head of Static for HYPED, the University's Hyperloop Society and recent recipient of a Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership Scholarship in recognition of her potential as a future leader and role model in the field of engineering.

Is there anything in particular that first sparked your interest in engineering? Is it the same thing that inspires you today?

When it comes to choosing engineering I have the typical 'I played with Lego and a toy canal when I was a little girl' story; but truthfully my main motivation was that it fell neatly between maths and physics and fine art, which were the A-Levels that I took.

It was after beginning to study at Edinburgh that I fell in love with engineering. Mind you, having said that, I have always been fascinated by structures and anything do to with water: dams, weirs, sluice gates, tides; you name it. 

Nowadays, I have a passion for engineering because of how all-encompassing it is in nature. It revolves around making the world a better place - but ‘better’ is not a scientific category. We are informed by science and philosophy, yet strive not just to study the world, but have an impact on it through implementation.

A lot of engineering is done ‘for people by people’ which presents multifaceted problems to solve, with cultural and geographical dimensions as well covering many disciplines. 

In fact, what inspires me the most is the people that I have met while studying engineering; from fellow students to lecturers and staff. 

What have been the highlights and challenges of studying engineering at University so far?

I’ve noticed that often the highlights come directly as a result of the challenges!

Studying Mechanical Engineering at Edinburgh for three years has taken me to three different continents doing all sorts of activities; before that, I had only flown in a plane once!

Travelling internationally can be daunting, especially when you’re alone, but I’ve learned a great deal from exposure to different cultures and environments and have gained a sense of independence for which I am very grateful.

Student projects in the School of Engineering have offered the opportunity to take on responsibility within a team. Pursuing a leadership role has its many stresses, however, the enjoyment of sharing success as a team and the benefit of the skills developed massively outweigh these. 

Do you have particular career aspirations for the future? If so, could you provide detail?  

At the minute, I don’t have a specific long-term future goal in mind. As long as I can continue to do something I enjoy, where I am able to apply and develop skills in order to have some sort of impact, I will be happy!

I do have a tendency to enjoy studying a specific topic in depth, so I am considering the a path toward research. However, the project management side of engineering also appeals to me, so I’m keeping the options open.

Do you have any advice for the next generation of women thinking of studying engineering at University?

Embrace your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses, and take any opportunity to throw yourself into as many new and challenging situations as you are able to manage.

Experience doesn’t just improve your capabilities in a specific thing, it makes you more confident in your ability to overcome challenging circumstances in general – that is a very powerful skill to have, and brings with it a lot of freedom. 

Engineers bear a tremendous amount of responsibility in society, but that means the scope for personal and professional development within a career in engineering is immense. This, in my opinion, makes it a rewarding and endlessly interesting subject to study! 

Related information

Maisie Edwards-Mowforth, third year mechanical engineer and Head of Static for HYPED
Maisie Edwards-Mowforth, third year mechanical engineer and Head of Static for HYPED