International Women in Engineering Day 2021: Jessica Carter

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I have always loved sailing dinghies, and enjoyed studying maths and physics at school. When I learnt about taking a naval architecture MENG course at university I was very excited, as it combined my interest with water and boats, with academic subjects. I was enthusiastic to learn more about the principles behind how ships work and loved the idea of a more practical career.

As part of the ships and dredging group, my role involves operating the ship simulator. I interact with clients and ship pilots from around the world undertaking studies for new port designs and pilot training.  I love the variety, and I get to travel - virtually - around the globe! It’s also really enjoyable working as part of a larger team, and learning what work the other groups at HR Wallingford do. I’m constantly learning new things, which is one of the things I love about engineering.

My own engineering heroes would probably include anyone who’s encouraged me to pursue my own career, but a special mention goes to my dad, who runs a small electrical engineering company. He showed me how varied an role in engineering can be, from doing manual tasks running machines, to producing CAD drawings for moulds, to writing software and interacting with clients. He also inspired my interest in sailing. I also was inspired reading the book Almost Astronauts, 13 Women Who Dared To Dream, by Tanya Lee Stone, which documents the struggle by an incredible group of women to be recognised in the 1960s, before women were even allowed into NASA’s space programme.

I would definitely encourage girls and young women to pursue engineering as a career. My advice is: be proactive. 

I do think female engineering role models are important in inspiring girls to pursue a career in engineering, because they help girls feel more confident in their choices, and less different from their male peers. I think initiatives such as INWED are also really important in inspiring the next generation of female engineers. It’s important to show young people from all backgrounds that taking STEM subjects at school can lead to interesting careers in engineering.

I would definitely encourage girls and young women to pursue engineering as a career. My advice is: be proactive. Get in contact with universities and companies to ask questions and perhaps gain some work experience. I’ve certainly found people in the engineering industry have been very supportive and happy to help.

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