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So what should an engineer look like?

Sanna Shabir | 07 Aug 2015 | Comments

The #ilooklikeanengineer campaign is currently trending online, across the world. As a female, I’m always encouraged to see positive news stories like this and want to get involved where I can. At work, I’m encouraged to promote gender balance and challenge perceptions regarding the engineering profession. Since joining Atkins I have become a STEM Ambassador as well as an Apprentice Professional Ambassador in order to promote both engineering and apprenticeships across the UK. These roles have allowed me to visit schools and give students an insight into what engineering is about as well as the benefits of taking on an apprenticeship and inspiring them to improve the built environment. Since working with schools I have come to appreciate the general lack of knowledge some students have when being asked about their understanding of engineering. I think this demonstrates the need for a sustained focus on younger generations as it is important to increase the profile of engineering to both female and male audiences at an early enough stage in their careers.

My experience so far working for a global design, engineering and project management consultancy has been thoroughly enjoyable. Being a student fresh out of school, the idea of working for an international consultancy seemed very exciting, but also daunting as working in an office environment was something very new to me. Despite this, my time here at Atkins has been brilliant as those working around me have offered support and guidance from day one. When starting my apprenticeship here, I began to gain a real insight into the day-to-day work and management involved in complex engineering projects. Being around an experienced team and learning from them inspired me to follow a career in engineering.

As an apprentice I have been working on a variety of different projects ranging from aviation, infrastructure, Crossrail, residential, London Underground stations, London 2012 Olympic redevelopment and the education sector. My day-to-day duties typically consist of using different design software (both 2D and 3D) in order to produce structural drawings. And right now, I have finished my first year of college, studying BTEC Level 3 in Construction in Civil Engineering and I am now able to combine my college education with real life situations during work in the office. Working on national infrastructure projects and pursuing a rewarding career in engineering is a choice I’ve made, and one I’m keen to share with others.

The #ilooklikeanengineer campaign has captured the imagination of so many people around the world, and I think it’s a great way to showcase and raise awareness of the career options available to women. I think that although this campaign will encourage more women to explore a career in the engineering sector, as well as other STEM related professions, it’s a shame that we still need campaigns like this to get the message across. Unless we continue to promote engineering as career option for everyone, then young boys and girls will continue to have the wrong impression of what engineers do. These campaigns challenge perceptions of what an engineer should look like as well as promoting opportunities relating to career choices that will interest and inspire young individuals.