Female Engineer of the Month
Nancy Bob-Manuel is a graduate research engineer at the National Composites Centre and feels very passionate about encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering and science. Find out more about Nancy's career success here:
Why did you choose to become an engineer?
I was looking for a career that impacts the world and people's lives in a major way that I could positively contribute to. I wanted to utilise both my love of science and my love of art and mechanical engineering allows me to think technically and be creative in the approaches I take to finding new solutions to global problems.
What skills do you have that make you a good engineer?
I am a creatively inclined and pick up new technical skills quickly. I am adept in 3D modelling and design for manufacture. I am strong in Maths and English allowing me to convert technical work into technical reports in an organised manner. I enjoy developing a healthy rapport and relationship with both colleagues and customers and I feel this is made easier by having developed communication and business skills. I believe more than anything I have grit and determination. Engineering is hard but when you refuse to give up it also becomes fun.
What advantages do you have as a female engineer?
As female engineers I feel that we bring a different perspective to work that is both refreshing and vital for the advancement of industry and civilisation. I strongly feel that my interpersonal skills have at times been far more effective in situations than my technical skills as I have liaised with suppliers and customers on a daily basis developing trust, cooperation and support for effective long term relationships. Female engineers are personally advantaged in the fact that they will find it much easier to feel inspired by their job as they will be a walking inspiration to younger women who may have been put off
or doubted the viability of engineering as an option for them. Todays engineers can choose to reach out through schools and organisations and become mentors and support figures to those desiring an extra push and motivation.
What has been the most exciting project that you have worked on?
Working at the National Composites Centre, I am at the forefront of the research and development of composite materials, a new group of materials revolutionising high performance products such as aircrafts. My projects have varied from designing casing to support patent pending robots, to creating metrology artefacts out of composite materials in order establish measuring practices within other collaborative centres and the industry as a whole.
I have been very fortunate to work on projects about improving our technical capabilities by acquiring novel tools and systems. This meant travelling to Canon in Italy to observe new technology advancements and the future of the automation industry first hand!
Engineering is still often perceived as a 'male' industry. What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in engineering?
Engineering is only as 'male' as women let it be. I feel that there are stereotypes that need to be broken down within engineering and women are the ones that need to lead that change by having no fears and being the best women they can be in this industry. I am very passionate about what I do and especially about encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering and science and to see it as a viable career. Engineers are very important in shaping the societies we live in, so it is critical that we have women engineers bringing their ideas and perspectives to the table as well as men's.
What key fact would you share with parents about the opportunities for women in engineering?
Engineering is a 'broad' category and when looking for an opportunity that is exactly what you need to be. It is important to do research on job roles and organisation structures, as bigger doesn't always mean better. There are many smaller engineering organisations that provide great career opportunities, training, and personal benefits that are not well known or considered household names. Therefore it is important to do your homework. As a female it is important not to get put off by organisations that are male dominated, it is up to upcoming female engineers to break that cycle.