To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day we're sharing individual stories of women engineers from across UKCRIC member institutions.
Tell us about your role and what you find most exciting about it.
I am a Lecturer in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester. I am a geological and geotechnical engineer by education and an experimentalist, specialised in fluid flow and mechanics of soil, rock and cementitious materials. My research focuses on developing engineering solutions to tackle the environmental problems associated with energy. I teach various subjects including building information modelling (BIM) and surveying to undergraduate civil engineering students. I am the leader of civil engineering employability, supporting our students in finding their graduate jobs and placement opportunities.
I find my research the most exciting part of my career. With my research team, we work on developing affordable and safe containment systems for sustainable management of harmful gases emitting from contaminated sites. The immediate beneficiaries of our research activities will be local communities living in proximity to extractive industrial sites with continuous exposure to hazardous emissions from contaminated lands, and being able to make a difference in people’s lives through my research is the most satisfying aspect of my work.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
My science teacher! She was perhaps one of my very first engineering role models who inspired me to pursue my education and future career in the field of engineering. She always encouraged us as young girls to believe in ourselves, build our confidence and not to be daunted by the male dominated industry. Besides, I have been always curious about technical aspects of the things around me and found satisfaction in understanding them.
How do you balance your professional and personal lives?
I have two very young kids and cannot deny that at times balancing work and personal life can be challenging. I have tried to improve my skills for time management and the ability to prioritise tasks and they are key in creating a good work-life balance creating balance. Also, benefiting from flexible working scheme that my university offers, has enabled me to tailor my working hours around my parenting and caring responsibilities.
In your opinion is there more that can be done to encourage a greater diversity of people into engineering careers?
It is true that diversity is still a problem in the field of engineering, and in my view education plays an important role in encouraging young girls and boys to become engineers. For instance, outreach activities delivered by diverse groups of student ambassadors could be inspiring. Visits to local engineering companies can be another encouraging thing to do.
What advice would you give for anyone interested in pursuing an engineering career?
If you are a kind of person who is not afraid of challenges and see yourself as a creative thinker and problem solver, then engineering is the right career for you. If you are interested in engineering but still unsure about it, then I would suggest seeking mentorship especially from those of female engineers or ethnic minorities who have leading positions in the industry. I believe this can be highly inspirational and also your mentor can provide you with valuable advice and much needed reassurance.
Finally, I would like to add that engineering is not all about maths and calculations. The evolving concept of contemporary engineering can deal with grand challenges that we are facing in 21st century, such as climate change and environmental issues. In addition, if you are interested in both science and engineering, then there are many emerging interdisciplinary themes that might be the perfect job for you, for instance bioengineering.
Dr. Mojgan Hadi Mosleh is a Lecturer in Infrastructure and Resilience at the University of Manchester.