The word ‘engineering’ conjures up an unhelpful image in peoples’ minds according to Sam Royal, Transport Engineer at Tetra Tech. This International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) her mission is to tell anyone listening, particularly women that engineering is not stuffy or boring, it is in fact the opposite. Engineering is a vast and fascinating discipline with so many different and interesting fields to get involved in – and not just something you can get into when you leave school.
Sam came into engineering in her early 40’s almost accidently. By her own admission she had jumped from job to job trying to figure out what she would be happy doing but never stuck with something longer than a year. Whilst working as a self-employed painter and decorator Sam looked for a course to pursue her interest in 3D artwork but actually ended up doing a course in AutoCAD which she thoroughly enjoyed.
When her tutor helped her to get an unpaid, 1 day a week placement at an architects she stayed there 18 months, sending over 100 applications in the hope of making a leap on to the career ladder, until one firm gave her the break she was looking for and took her on in their transport planning department.
Since then she has moved to Tetra Tech and looks forward to the projects and challenges that each week brings.
‘Being a transport engineer means I get to solve puzzles and brainteasers every day as my job – not just for fun. It combines my love of design with my desire to figure things out and I am never bored. This is the longest I have ever stuck with the same field of work and I have no desire to change so it must be interesting’
The projects Sam gets involved with are mainly residential and infrastructure developments designing road schemes and roundabouts that complement the surroundings. She has to think about traffic flow, pedestrian needs, drainage and future proofing amongst other considerations.
Sam is now working towards achieving her Eng Tech qualification, supporting her professional development and enabling her to provide better support for her team and existing and future clients.
The London based transport team that Sam is part of is almost a 50/50 split male and female which she says that gives them a diverse range of ideas and thought when it comes to working on projects.
‘I don’t feel different to my male colleagues, we are all engineers who are passionate about our work, supporting each other to deliver high quality technical advice for our clients. I am very lucky to have such a great supportive team with an equal gender dynamic’
When asked what advice she would give anybody not sure about a career in engineering Sam’s reply was simply ‘give it a try, it’s lots of fun, there is so much variety within the Engineering field that it will never be boring’ Perhaps more people need to rethink their perception of engineering!