Women in Engineering Day 2017

Today we celebrate International Women in Engineering day. To mark the occasion, we’ve asked our Development Team Leader Anna Preston – who recently achieved Chartered Engineer status, and was nominated at the 2017 Women in Construction Awards – to share her experiences of working in the industry for over 20 years.

When I chose to study Civil Engineering, people were quite shocked. There is often a misguided belief that engineering is a muddy and male-oriented business. But it’s far more diverse and creative than people expect. This is especially true given the rapid advancements in technology and digital engineering, which has unlocked a plethora of ground-breaking innovations.

The sector has come a long way since I started my career, but there is still a lot of work to do to change perceptions about our industry. Engineering requires creativity and problem-solving skills in abundance, yet this isn’t fully communicated at schools.

As part of our commitment to help tackle the skills gap, Mabey Hire has joined the STEM Ambassador scheme, a programme put in place to help inspire young people to progress careers in STEM. We’re already beginning to engage with local schools, using educational Lego sets to demonstrate classic engineering principles like problem solving & creativity. It’s been a fantastic process so far, and we hope to continue sharing the relevant skills and experience to encourage the next generation of young engineers.

Of course, I have found that as the nature of engineering has evolved, so has my role. Working in Mabey Hire’s development team, I am responsible for injecting a collaborative approach to our projects. As a funnel for 500 staff, I evaluate new ideas and innovations to see how we could potentially use them across our own products.

It’s all about anticipating the future needs of our customers to ensure we’re providing them with the best advice and the right solution. A customer-led approach is also how we came to develop the industry-first LIVEBIM; we realised our customers found it far easier to access and understand information in a pictorial way than on spreadsheets and graphs, so we made it possible for them to click into real-time sensor readings on the live visualisation of a structure.

This year, on International Women in Engineering day, we should celebrate the amazing achievements of female engineers, and remind people that this is a great career choice with amazing opportunities. The way technology is transforming the way we manage and deliver projects is something we stress through our apprenticeship programme, and in all our work in local schools and universities. The more we challenge the “muck and bullets” image, and talk about engineering as a 21st century digitally-focused career, the more diverse workforce we will build.

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