24th June 2024

INWED 2024 Shannon

Yesterday was International Women in Engineering Day and we are celebrating the outstanding contributions of women in the field.

This day raises awareness of their achievements and inspires future generations.

Join us in highlighting our team’s successes and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. We asked our women about their inspirations, passion for engineering, and day-to-day experiences.

Here is Shannon, our Geotechnical Engineer working for the Strata team, sharing her story.

Can you tell us about a key project you’ve worked on and its impact?

I’ve been fortunate to work on the Midlands Mainline Electrification projects from Route Section 1 to 6. Contributing to the government’s 2050 net zero targets and the line’s biggest improvements since 1870 is incredibly rewarding.

What innovations or enhancements have you introduced in your field?

Since joining the number of female engineers in our team has doubled. We’ve successfully implemented cost-effective sanitary bins in all welfare vans and cabins. Despite initial challenges due to sporadic use, our procurement team excelled in finding a solution, now in use across all sites and offices.

What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

My GCSE geology teacher inspired me with stories of his adventurous fieldwork. I wanted an outdoor, challenging, and non-repetitive career, and geotechnical engineering fit perfectly. I never expected to work on major UK infrastructure projects, but I’m thrilled with my path.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Being a woman in engineering is challenging, but I’ve been fortunate that my teams have been supportive. While my skills are sometimes overlooked due to my gender, and I feel I must work harder to prove myself, overcoming these doubts requires determination, building trust with clients and drillers, and having a supportive team both at work and home.

What excites you the most about engineering?

I love the fast pace of engineering, where jobs appear quickly and require immediate input. It’s rewarding to see how our work informs foundation design and contributes to broader construction phases. Working on impactful projects like the £390m National Highways NEAR scheme, which improves road safety with over 150 new emergency areas, is especially exciting.

What are your future goals in your engineering career?

I aim to work on projects with social and economic benefits, like mine remediation, water quality improvement, and Access for All schemes. I also want to mentor future engineers while pursuing my MSc in Civil Engineering and CGeol chartership.

How do you plan to continue enhancing your field?

Continuing to talk about how rewarding the industry is! Reminding women that they have a place in the industry and the industry is better for it. The more diverse and open the industry the more we can learn from others and continue to improve.

Can you describe a typical day in your life as an engineer?

Always start with a brew, whether from a coffee shop, a welfare van, or the office kettle. Then, my tasks vary from checking logs and supporting graduate engineers to ensuring consistency in project logs and preparing resources for upcoming work. On site, I manage subcontractors and ensure work progresses safely and efficiently.

Who has inspired you the most in your career?

I hope he doesn’t read this, but my current line manager, Jono is truly inspiring. His ability to calmly and kindly manage a team and always seem to make time for every engineer no matter how busy he can be is something I admire. No question is ever too small or silly. I aspire to be that knowledgeable and be able to help others in the same way.

How do you mentor the next generation of engineers?

Spending time logging and checking logs with engineers is crucial for skill development. Our experienced team covers diverse areas, and learning from them is invaluable for the next generation. Continuous professional development, learning new skills, and understanding the industry are vital for successful mentoring.