International Women in Engineering Day takes place on 23 June and is an opportunity to raise the profile of female engineers, as well as highlighting the career prospects available in the field. This year’s campaign is particularly special as it also coincides with the centenary of the Women’s Engineering Society.
There are significant skills shortages in engineering, with statistics suggesting that in 2017 there was an annual shortfall of between 25,000 and 60,000 people. Despite the opportunities available, only 12% of engineers in the UK are women.
To highlight the contribution of women to engineering and the opportunities available to others, we are sharing some of the stories of our female engineers and the difference their research is making.
Assistive technology as a means of improving our mental health
Dr Roya Haratian is a Lecturer in Electronics in BU’s Department of Design and Engineering. Her research is multi-disciplinary in nature, covering topics such as mechatronics, signal processing and artificial intelligence.
“My research is currently focused but not limited to on-body sensing and signal processing for development of new algorithm to improve quality of our everyday life,” explains Dr Haratian, “I focus mainly on the design and development of wearable assistive technologies for long-term monitoring of mental and emotional health and well-being. I want to create awareness of the early warning signs and provide biofeedback for stress management by collecting physiological signals.”
1 in 4 of us will experience some form of mental health difficulty in any given year and the World Health Organisation estimates that 676 million people across the world are affected by poor mental health.
“Statistics such as these show the potential impact of assistive technology in the field of mental health,” continues Dr Haratian, “Assistive technology can help people to detect stress and recognise their emotions in real time, which may help them to better manage their mental health.”
“My advice to women who are considering a career in this area is to believe in their abilities and to break the gender stereotypes which still exist in the 21st century.”
The use of advanced engineering materials
Dr Yi Huang is a Lecturer in Engineering and has worked at universities in the UK and USA, as well as having worked in industry for JVM Castings Ltd. Her research is in the area of advanced engineering materials for aerospace, automotive and bioengineering applications.
“With the newly developed engineering materials, we can generate lightweight structures for energy saving in aerospace and automotive applications. We can also make high performance aerospace components for safe and long lasting product life, and apply new biocompatible materials to improve human being’s life quality,” explains Dr Huang.
“Working in academia has provided me with the chance to make a contribution to the propagation of materials related knowledge through teaching undergraduate modules, and to carry out cutting edge research through supervising PhD students and postdocs. Working in industry gave me a different set of experiences, as I had the chance to focus on new product developments in manufacturing environment and quality control.”
“Engineering is an interesting field because it gives us a chance to contribute to the sustainable development of industry and society,” concludes Dr Huang.
Software engineering applies engineering principles to the design, development and maintenance of software. BU’s Dr Deniz Cetinkaya has been carrying out research in this area for over ten years.
“My BSc and MSc degrees are in Computer Engineering, and I did my PhD in Systems Engineering,” says Dr Cetinkaya, “My main motivation since my undergraduate years has been applying the principles of science, mathematics and technology for solving problems and improving systems as an engineer.”
“My main research interests are model driven software development, software reusability, domain specific modelling, code generation, conceptual modelling and process modelling. I apply software engineering methods into various areas to improve the processes and automate some stages of it. My current research topics focus on modelling for Internet of Things and modelling tools for visually impaired people.”
“My advice to anyone considering a career in this area would be to have a strong work ethic and to follow professional bodies’ code of ethics and professional conduct within their discipline. I believe that we are all human beings and equal in rights so there are no barriers to a career in engineering. Just be ready for lifelong learning.”
To find out more about the campaign, visit the Women’s Engineering Society’s website.