International Women in Engineering Day
Now in its seventh year, the International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign that raises the profile of women in engineering.
This year’s theme is #ShapetheWorld. Women (and men) all over the globe are helping to raise the profile of women engineers, with the aim to encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all.
In recognition of this international event, we spoke to Superstructures employee Elena Baciu. As the only female structural engineer currently in the company, we talked to her about her experiences getting into the industry.
How did you get into Structural Engineering?
In Romania, higher education is free if your grades are good enough. Most reputable universities have a minimum requirement grade 7 to 8 to benefit from free education so I studied hard to hit these grades.
One subject that helped me with analytical and logical thinking was Maths. During my first year of university, I took geometry and algebra courses. I followed these with a structural analysis courses: material resistance, statics, and numerical methods. These 3 subjects explained the properties of different materials; how to calculate them, how an element behaves, what their strengths and weaknesses are. I really enjoyed these classes.
When did you decide you wanted to be a Structural Engineer?
As a kindergarten child, I used to love playing with wood or plastic blocks and building different structures. I also loved solving puzzles (and still do!).
Even at a young age, I have always enjoyed understanding how things are built. This curiosity and thirst to understand led me to structural engineering.
What were other people’s reactions at your career choice?
Some people were a little surprised when I first started studying to become a Structural Engineer. I think that is because it is still a profession that isn’t really associated with females. However institutions like the IStructE or companies like Superstructures help individuals, regardless of gender, with potential to become great structural engineers.
Do you come across many other females in the industry?
During conferences and courses, I see other females but in comparison with the male participants, we are outnumbered. But as I look back at my university now, I see more and more females enrolling and studying to become structural engineers which is great! I am confident that it will not be much longer until the ratio will be 50/50.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of a career as a structural engineer?
I guess the simplest advice will be YOU CAN DO THIS. It might sound corny, but it is the truth. If you like Maths, solving problems, finding solutions, it is a great career choice.
Get in contact with people in the industry, either local companies, institutions or universities. There are people and companies out there like Superstructures that take the time to talk to college students, with some offering work experience that will help you to get the feel of the industry and the professional requirements. Some organisations even offer paid internships or apprenticeships.
My overall advice is quite simple; “If I can do this, and come this far, so can you”.