To celebrate Women in Engineering Day, Dr Min Pan, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, shares her experiences of studying and working in engineering:
How will you be spending Women in Engineering Day?
I think I will spend the morning in the office doing some research and then go to the lab in the afternoon to carry out experimental work just like any other normal day. To me, women are always 'in engineering'.
What are the most rewarding parts of your role?
I enjoy doing my research work and supervising students’ projects. I get a great sense of satisfaction when I see my ideas work and my students make progress.
What have you learnt from your career so far?
Find something you enjoy and find role models who inspire you. I have found something I really enjoy and it’s such a privilege being able to make a living doing something you love. I also think it is very important to be creative and confident when you are doing research.
Why did you choose to study engineering?
My father is a Civil Engineer and he was a big influence on me. Growing up I was very proud to tell people that he designed bridges and buildings. He taught me basic maths and physics when I was young, which I then excelled at in school. However, when I came to apply for university I insisted that computer science was the right choice for me. I enjoyed using programmes to analyse practical problems, to design smart controllers and find solutions, not just for fun and solving puzzles! I then applied for an MSc programme in Mechanical Engineering followed by a PhD, which was in the same area.
What is the future like for women in engineering?
I believe there is a rosy future for women in engineering. More and more female students are starting to consider engineering courses, and universities generally have very good support groups/systems to help women build confidence and develop skills. Industry also now offers more opportunities to women in different sectors. If you are creative, engineering is something you should consider.
I think the key influencers of young people are their parents and teachers. We need to present engineering as enjoyable; there is still some work to do and improve, but the future is definitely bright!