To mark Women in Engineering Day, we sat down with Brenda: one of our Senior Engineers in Ireland. Brenda graduated in 2008 with a Degree in Environmental Engineering from National University of Ireland Galway and since then she has worked in the area of environment, waste and resource management.
When did you decide to become an engineer?
I always had a love for maths and science subjects in school and found the environment and issues like climate change particularly interesting and challenging. I also felt that engineering was a highly respected qualification that gives a lot of opportunity.
What’s the best thing about a career in engineering?
For me the best thing is watching each project grow from concept through to fruition. Over the last few years it has been very exciting working in a senior role on the EU Commission European Green Capital and European Green Leaf Secretariat. This project seeks to showcase cities with infrastructure which is resilient to climate change and innovative environmental protection across transport, air, water, energy and waste management.
You have been involved in communications aspects of some high profile projects during your career, how important do you feel these ‘softer skills’ are for engineers?
I think clients expect us, as scientists and engineers, to be able to communicate our projects to the public. The softer skills like communication in engineering are sometimes undervalued but often they are the elements of projects our clients can really relate to. On a broader level, skills like communication also help the public to understand the work that engineers do. This is also very important for inspiring our engineers of the future.
On the East Tip Remediation Project at Haulbowline Island, Cork a key part of our role has been the communication of the remediated park amenity. Most recently we captured VR images which will enable people to visit to the original site virtually and really appreciate the journey of the construction project to the final engineered solution – a beautiful park amenity located in the heart of Cork Harbour.
I think having a hunger for knowledge is important. There is always new technology and developments in each industry and as an engineer you need to keep learning and upskilling.
What skills do you think the engineers of the future will need?
Being flexible and adaptable is key. As an engineer, you are faced with new challenges on every project and you have to be able to deal with these. You are also working on a number of projects at the same time and being able to seamlessly transition between projects is critical.
What do you think about the gender balance in engineering?
In RPS we are extremely lucky. In my experience, there is a good gender balance and everyone is treated equally regardless of gender. When it comes to site, the gender balance is not as good. I think working on site, while demanding, can be really rewarding and an important opportunity for developing engineers. I know some great female Resident Engineers who are doing fantastic work and it would be great to see more.