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Celebrating Women in Engineering

International Women’s Day in Engineering (INWED) is celebrating its 8th year this year and following the theme of #ChooseToChallenge we are choosing to celebrate the incredible work women do within the Engineering industry.

Despite growing numbers of women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in recent years, male employees still account for the vast majority of roles within these industries. UNESCO estimates that just 30% of STEM researchers across the world are women. By sharing the incredible work our female engineers do within the industry we are hoping to inspire future generations of engineers which will help close the gender gap and build a more balanced and inclusive world.

To celebrate IWED 2021 we asked the women of CFMS to tell their stories of getting into engineering, projects they have worked on and what led them to the career they are in.

From left to right: Robyn Bell, Janvi Anandpara, Anush Poghosyan and Charlotte Johns

Tell us about your role at CFMS

Robyn: I’m currently an intern in the Model Based Engineering team, which is running alongside my degree at the University of Bath. I undertook a placement year during the 2019/20 academic year which included work on projects ranging from orbital mechanics and radiation shielding to x-ray modelling. My current project involves developing this x-ray modelling further to utilise computing time more efficiently.

Janvi: I’m a Data Scientist Intern on my placement year as part of my MSc in Data Science at the University of Bath. My main responsibilities are working within the environment to learn, experiment, analyse and provide insights from large datasets with some amazing libraries within Python.

Charlotte: I’m a placement student in the Model Based Engineering team as part of my degree in Mathematics at the University of Bath. I am currently working on my year-long project in non-destructive testing.

Anush: I’m a Data Scientist at CFMS, embedding ML/AI techniques for CFMS Digital Engineering and Manufacturing projects.

Tell us how you got into data science, what inspired you

Anush: It was the positive impact that engineering can have that truly inspired me. After completing my PhD in Mathematics, I wanted to apply my expertise and skills to solve real-world problems. I moved on to working on multidisciplinary research projects in areas of the built environment, energy efficiency and clean transport.

Charlotte: I am studying mathematics at the University of Bath and enjoy problem solving and applying my knowledge to real world situations. This placement offers a great balance between industry experience and research.

Robyn: I initially studied Maths at University but after getting involved in some projects within the Mechanical Engineering department I realised that I was more interested in applying my mathematical knowledge to physical problems instead of abstract concepts.

Janvi: During my A-Levels, I figured out that I enjoyed playing with numbers and I made my decision to pursue a career in mathematics and statistics. I have an undergraduate degree in Applied Statistics and Analytics and it was during that course that I came across machine learning in my final year. I developed a great interest in it and it inspired me to get into data science and explore its further capabilities. Data is everywhere and rather than being just a ‘gut feeling’, data provides a solid foundation for decision making, something I really like!

Tell us about the skills and qualities it takes

Charlotte: A willingness to try new approaches to solve complex problems is vital in engineering, however, I believe that the most fundamental thing I’ve learnt this year is to understand what your underlying assumptions are. It might sound obvious but sometimes you may assume something which later holds you back. This year has also massively improved my ability to write and understand computer code.

Janvi: To be a Data Scientist, there are many skill sets and qualities that you need. You need to have the knowledge and a good practice/command over some programming languages to help structure the raw datasets and model them. One other important quality is a strong analytical thinking mindset. You must be able to have a clear picture to head the problem statement in the right steps.

Anush: Curiosity, creativity, attention to details, teamwork, problem solving and analytical skills. These are skills I believe you need to be a Data Scientist.

Robyn: An ability to problem solve is crucial to be an engineer. The ability to think outside the box and find solutions that may be outside the obvious scope, as well as the ability to be critical of your ideas to improve them.

Tell us about a project you have worked on – your favourite one!

Anush: I enjoyed working on the Zero Peak Energy Building Design for India (ZED-i) project in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath. The goals of the project are to decouple building energy use from economic growth in India through a new science of zero peak energy building design. Deliverables of the project would have an impact on global carbon emissions and also on the ability of countries such as India to achieve their developmental goals.

Robyn: I worked on creating Python code to simulate X-Ray CT modelling, this has its application in the simulation of non-destructive testing. This was an interesting project as it combined physics concepts with mathematical modelling, as well as producing some accurate final results!

Janvi: One of my favourite projects I worked on is High Altitude Wind Speed. The main objective was to forecast the speed of the wind in high altitudes for the next hour (single time step) to forecasting for the next day (multi-time step). To work on this was a new experience because I got the opportunity to learn and work on a large time-series dataset, exploring new libraries in python and went through a lot of research into finding ways to fulfil the objective.

Charlotte: My main project this year has been in determining the size of cracks in materials for non-destructive testing and estimating the uncertainty in this measurement. I am now working on determining how the uncertainty distribution develops over time as the crack grows.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to get into engineering?

Robyn: Do research into the various branches, figure out which aspects interest you. Ask for as much advice as you can, speak to people in any branches you are considering.

Janvi: From my wonderful experience of my internship, a piece of advice I would like to give myself and others out there is to have the willingness to learn every day as there is always something new coming out there with data, get a real experience within the industry by taking up projects and be good at programming.

Charlotte: Don’t be afraid to go down the wrong path because the things you learn from this might be very useful in the future.

Anush: This path can be challenging at times but it is also extremely rewarding so definitely worth time and commitment.

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