I get the most bewildering reactions from people when I tell them I’m an Engineer, it’s almost always met with the same response; “gosh, you don’t look like an Engineer, how many girls were in that class with you?” But what’s an Engineer supposed to look like?
At this point I start to lose people when they assume I’m some glorified electrician working for the ESB and they are horrified that some blonde wan is wandering around in the dirt with overalls and a hardhat. While some projects might land me on site, and yes I do own a couple of hard hats, (it doesn’t give you hat hair), Engineering is so much more than people realise. I am a qualified Electrical Engineer and while I won’t be joining the workforce until June (I got sidetracked and decided to do a Masters), I wanted to give a little information on my journey, my course and my future career.
Why do WE need Electrical Engineers?
Providing electrical power in a modern economy is about generation, distribution and usage in a safe, economic and sustainable way. Fossil fuel energy now combines with solar, wind and tidal energy to create “embedded” generation which needs a “smart grid” to automatically switch users and suppliers in and out while maintaining the quality of the supply. Now this sounds mighty complicated doesn’t?
What does an Electrical Engineer do?
Designs & evaluates electrical systems, products, components, and applications by designing and conducting research programs; applying knowledge of electricity and materials. Confirms system’s and components’ capabilities by designing testing methods; testing properties.
Generally, this is in industrial sized terms, housing is more domestic and small scale, so the next time you walk through a big fancy building it is an Electrical Engineer who has designed and evaluated the electrical system for it and tested it for our safety.
Most Engineers work in a design office, and that’s where I’ll be starting my Graduate Programme, but there is always an opportunity to work on site depending on what sort of experience you would like. My dad is an Electrical Engineer and he hates being stuck in an office, so he much prefers moving from site to site viewing the progress of different projects.
Electrical Engineering as a Course
Now this is where I should come clean, Engineering was not some childhood dream I had when I was younger, I sort of happened across it, (like when you end up in the wrong queue in the supermarket and you just have to go with it). I had my heart set on being a power-house solicitor in a smart suit with chic heels. Engineering was not on my radar, because I thought it was for boys and I hadn’t taken physics for my Leaving Cert.
But after a brief epiphany in room B269 during the CIT Open Day it was moved to the top-spot of my CAO for CIT, and I got it. There I was landed into Electrical Engineering, 18 years of age and the only girl. I almost ran out of it screaming, but I didn’t, I loved the course content.
I will warn anyone contemplating Engineering, it’s all maths! Even the subjects they name something different, it’s going to be calculations based. But you know what the best thing is? Essays become a dreaded thing of the past, (until your final year project) and you get spend time in the lab building circuits and writing programmes.
The first year in Engineering is spent leveling the playing field, everyone is brought up to the same level in terms of maths and physics, and the electrical circuit analysis classes, you are all as lost as each other, believe me!
My Advice to Girls…
I was the only girl in my course, and it was lonely sometimes and quite daunting, and I second guessed my self a lot, I thought because I was the only girl I was going against some stereotypical norm, that maybe girls shouldn’t be Electrical Engineers, ( I was the only girl out of 48). But I was good at the course, I excelled with ease and got a First Class Honour, I was perfectly suited to Engineering.
So, with the CAO applications officially opening on February 1st, I implore you girls to consider Electrical Engineering, if you are into Applied Maths, Algebra, Calculus and you are highly analytical, a general over-thinker (like all girls, really), then maybe Engineering might just be what you’re looking for.
But stay true to yourself, I didn’t and I got a bit lost along the way. I have a beauty blog, I’m a qualified Makeup Artist and I love having my nails, lashes and hair done. But I thought in order to be taken seriously in Engineering I should dim my light a little and wore tracksuits to College and didn’t put much emphasis on my hair and makeup, and that crushed me a little. It’s how I got side-tracked, decided a life in Engineering wasn’t for me because of this, which led me to a Business Masters where I could focus on my blog and marketing in general.
And guess what I got bored, I got so bored (not from the course I might add, the MSc in International Business is a fantastic add-on to my skill-set and I now have a very unique qualification at just 23 years of age), but nevertheless I was bored. It wasn’t until I was put in a group to design an APP for a sustainable energy in the Nimbus in CIT, (a team with a female Engineer), that I got to get to grips with a technical project again and I fell madly in love with the idea of Engineering.
Suddenly I wanted to be this stand out female engineer that incorporated all makeup artist, all beauty blogger and all Electrical Engineer. And guess what, I walked into a job, now don’t get me wrong, it took 5 years of hard work and dedication, but the minute I started being true to myself everything fell into place.
We need more women in Engineering, because we were born to stand out.
For more information about my course click here
And for an absolutely kick-ass female Engineer that inspire me daily; Authentically Ella