Student and staff member hopes to make an impact through engineering
Emily Stevens juggles her role as a school admin assistant at Leeds City College, while studying MEng Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Leeds.
We caught up with her to find out more about her passion in engineering.
What made you choose engineering?
I was always interested in science and maths and never really knew how to pursue the subjects. It wasn’t until I was in upper school where my engineering teachers opened up my eyes to be able to apply my skills to tackle real world problems. I then knew that if I went down this path, I would have the ability to improve the quality of life and produce work that I could be extremely proud of.
How did your interest in this area develop?
From a young age I have always been problem solving and questioning how things work so that I could figure out how to make it myself, or how to use certain physics behind it in a different situation.
My favourite task in school would be the projects, I loved applying what I could find in my house to them or going to car boot sales to refurbish or renovate what I could find. I constantly educated myself on current matters such as renewable energy and this sparked my interest. How I could harness energy created from common actions that everybody did on a daily basis really interested me.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My ambition for the future is to become a chartered engineer and to be able to contribute to the world’s infrastructure to ensure that when I retire, I can reflect on my career and be proud of what I have managed to achieve.
What is it like studying a subject that is predominantly male dominated?
I haven’t paid much attention to the fact that there’s a slim population of females in my profession in my most recent years, as I’m studying a subject that I feel passionate about.
I’m surrounded by people who strive for the same goals and idealism that I do.
However, I originally felt like I struggled to break down the stereotype during my time in upper school as I was the only girl studying the subject. But with the support and inspiration from my teachers, I was able to help start paving the way for the next generation of girls to start discovering and studying engineering.
What would you say to young females considering a career in engineering?
Forget the stereotype which you were brought up on. Engineering isn’t a male only profession. If you want to design and build skyscrapers, if you want to design F1 cars, if you want to design prosthetic limbs, or even kitchen gadgets; you do what you want to do.
Engineering is so broad and there are new areas popping up left right and centre. NASA have recently said that they want to send astronauts to live on the moon. You could be the one designing technology, making ground-breaking inventions up there.
I’ve had good and bad experiences trying to study in my field. I’ve been told by older generations that I’m just a ‘hairdresser’; but this just fuelled my self-drive to study harder and prove that I have every right as any man in this profession. And because of this, I have already been able to be a part of amazing projects such as working on London’s Flood Defence.
Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and cannot do. Pursue the career you want to do for the rest of your life.