The following is a Q&A with Louise Edward (Civil Engineering, 1999) who currently works as a Bridge Engineer with Arup.
What sparked your interest in engineering? Is it the same thing that inspires today?
I have always had an interest in how things worked and the application of maths/physics to tangible things. My dad is an Electronic Engineer and he would encourage me and educate me about engineering, but larger structures (particularly bridges) always fascinated me.
I enjoy being able to see structural engineering in practice and the benefit it provides to society in bridges, hospitals, schools and homes and know that I’m contributing to these in my field of work.
Tell us a bit about your career since leaving University; what have you enjoyed and what have you found challenging?
I graduated in June 2015 and started working for Jacobs in their Oil and Gas sector at the Grangemouth Petrochemical Plant. I spent three and a half years working in the site office doing a mixture of design, management and site visits.
In March 2019, I changed to bridge engineering with Arup in Edinburgh to give myself more varied experience in the early stages of my career.
I have really enjoyed the softer aspects of engineering such as multidisciplinary working, communications and also the commercial and schedule aspects. I love working with other people and working with them to deliver solutions to clients.
I have found some aspects of the job challenging, particularly during my first graduate job where I would have to instruct older and more experienced colleagues and didn’t feel confident in my own ability to do so. But I found this always gets easier with time and increasing confidence in the role.
What advice do you have for the next generation of women interested in getting into engineering?
If you are interested in a career in engineering, you should absolutely go for it!
Although it can be demanding it can be a hugely rewarding career for anyone – male or female.
And ultimately if engineering turns out not to be for you, it is still a fantastic and versatile degree for future career opportunities.