What do you do?
I’m a Principal Engineer in the Flood Management Group at HR Wallingford, so I manage and co-ordinate projects on river engineering, asset management and flood risk in the UK and many different countries around the world. My job includes a lot of contact with our clients, talking to them about proposals as well as presenting results. I’m currently working on a UK Space Agency funded project in Peru which is aiming to improve the safety of tailings dams. I also co-ordinate some research studies and train others. This autumn, I will be lecturing at Brunel University in London, helping to train future flood engineers.
What education and training do you have?
I have a degree in Civil Engineering and a PhD from Barcelona UPC. I enjoyed Maths and Physics at school, but also languages. Spanish is my first language and I use English a lot from day to day, as I work for a British-based company, but I think that even having a little knowledge of other languages is very useful when you’re working as part of an international project team.
What do you particularly enjoy about your job?
It’s very rewarding to work as part of an international team, exchanging information and then creating something as a result. I also enjoy the training side of my job, and knowing that I’m helping someone to understand something they didn’t know before, which they can then go on to use in their own role.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
I have been very inspired by my father who encouraged me, but who didn’t have the opportunity to become an engineer himself. Lots of engineering projects have the opportunity to improve people’s lives, and this was an important motivation for me to follow an engineering career.
Tell us about a project you have worked on
One of the first big international projects I worked on was the Tarbela Dam on the Indus River in Pakistan which is one of the biggest dams in the world, and an important supplier of energy for the country. I was responsible for sediment-related studies, ensuring that the reservoir continued to work at its best. Although I was the only woman in the project team, working with the other engineers was a fantastic experience. And not many people can say they have had the opportunity to go for a run along the top of the Tarbela Dam!
What are you particularly proud of?
This year, I volunteered with Médecins Sans Frontières and spent several months in Afghanistan. I was able to use my experience of working strategically to solve challenges to be part of a team supporting the design of a new trauma hospital.
What would you say to girls interested in becoming engineers?
I would say that for anyone, whether you’re a girl or a boy, who wants to be involved in projects that can improve people’s lives, engineering can provide a very rewarding career. Working on engineering projects can take you to many different countries and allow you to see the country from a different perspective to the one you usually have as a tourist.