INWED18: Creating innovative engineering solutions to societal challenges

To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2018 (INWED18), Emilia Apostol, Principal Electrical Engineer at Edinburgh-based Faraday Grid, discusses her career and the ways in which more women could be encouraged into STEM careers.

What is your job title and how long have you been in that role?
I am a Principal Electrical Engineer focussing on computational electromagnetics, including numerical and analytical modelling of electromagnetic field problems. I’ve been in this position since November 2017.

What does your job involve?
In short, modelling, design and optimisation of electromagnetic devices. This involves using numerical methods and high performance scientific computing applied to electrical engineering. I model, design and optimise electromagnetic and electronic devices and systems. This involves applying numerical methods for the computation of the electromagnetic field, at low and high frequencies, in linear or non-linear materials, model order reduction, computer simulation of field-circuit coupled problems and developing of techniques for optimisation and inverse problems.

What is your favourite part of your job?
I really like the fact that I have the opportunity to use my scientific training in creative ways to develop innovative solutions to societal challenges.

What did you study, where did you study, and how did you start your career?
I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Politehnica University of Bucharest. I started my career as research scientist at the Romanian Institute for Research and Development in Electrical Engineering.

There are many different types of engineer. Are women well represented across these different engineering skillsets?
No, I don’t think so. Statistics show that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.

Are women encouraged to become engineers?
There are some outdated stereotypes that present the engineering profession as being more suited for men, stereotypes that are putting off young women from pursuing a career in engineering. But lately it seems that diversity has become a major issue and that the shortfall of STEM skills can be overcome by encouraging women to study and choose engineering professions.

Magnets at Diamond Light Source

Are engineers in the UK regarded with as much respect as, for example, lawyers or doctors?
In UK the definition of an ‘engineer’ doesn’t necessary imply higher education. For example, someone coming to fix your home telephone line is incorrectly called an ‘engineer’ when really they’re a ‘technician’. Unfortunately, I have seen many situations where people perceive engineers as less qualified or educated in their field than lawyers or doctors.

If you were Prime Minister and could make one thing happen immediately for women in engineering, what would it be and why?
From my point of view, the most important thing for women in engineering is to be considered as equal to their male colleagues so I would not encourage any preferential treatment towards female engineers.

How will you be marking INWED18?
This is my first INWED18 in the UK since moving here last year. I plan to join local campaigns celebrating women in engineering and encouraging more girls and young women to consider engineering as a career.



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