Inspiring women who are currently studying engineering or are intending to study engineering in the future, by bringing awareness to the world of opportunities that are available to women engineers.

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The Women in Engineering Network aims to inspire and empower women to achieve their aspirations in engineering. These posts seek to inspire women that are currently studying engineering or are intending to study engineering in the future, by profiling women in the engineering field and bringing awareness to the world of opportunities that are available to women engineers. We hope that these posts will leave you feeling empowered, encouraged and motivated to embark on your engineering journey.

August 2016 - Jasleen Kaur

WENspiration 5 - Jasleen Kaur

“Become an engineer and you can be sitting in a pretty office or working on muddy sites, you decide what you want to do and how you want to do it. That’s the beauty of Engineering!”

Jasleen is a Power Systems Engineer at Beca. She is involved in a broad spectrum of projects spread across the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, including the design and rebuild of existing and new substations. She is the current NZ ambassador for CultureCloud and also the current chair of the IEEE Young Professionals committee for the NZ North region.

“I was involved with a lot during my undergraduate study and I do not regret any of that. It gave me a lot of experiences and skills that will help me throughout my life. The greatest one being the confidence in myself to put a point across. The interactions equipped me with the skills of working efficiently in a team and with people that have different opinions. It is something I do in my role every day.

Most of the activities that I got involved with during University had industry involvements, giving me the opportunity to interact with people from the industry and developing my contacts fairly early on. This landed me into some of my engineering internships and then a job in the field that I wanted. The transition from University to a graduate role was an easy one because I tried to give myself all the exposure to industry before I had to be a part of it. 
The biggest change I have come across in my graduate role is realising not everything you get involved in as an engineer is technical. Understanding project financials, time frames, client interactions and dealing with people is also what engineering is all about. As much as the alphas, betas and gammas are important, it is your soft skills that make you a successful engineer. I have been really lucky to be around a bunch of extremely helpful and welcoming people who boost my confidence to do the things I believe in. The most rewarding part of my job is to see things being built after coming up with a design on a piece of paper! Having a tangible end result is what gives me a sense of accomplishment for the jobs that I do.

Maintaining a balance with work is a trick you play with time. Its managing your time well for things you are really passionate about, that will help you maintain your work life balance. At the end of the day, these things give you a sense of achievement and joy. Strong enough factors to help you make the most of the 24 hours you have each day!

My advice for females wanting to study engineering is; if you think you have it in you to help the world through technology, and make a difference by creating things that ‘not everyone wants to create but would love to use’, then apply for an engineering degree! Don’t let the logistics and the statistics intimidate you even before you begin. The support you get from people who are there and want to help is overwhelming.”

July 2016 - Misha Garg

WENspiration Misha Garg

“Going on exchange was undoubtedly the best decision of my life. I got to meet so many amazing people, go on at least one roadtrip a week and experience life as a Californian (and sorority) girl!"

Misha Garg is in her third year of Biomedical Engineering. During her second year she went on exchangeto California, and she tells us about her experience...

"One thing I didn't expect was the culture shock. I thought that America would be similar to New Zealand, but I was so wrong. No one wanted to talk about the Rugby World Cup and no one understood me when I said insect or sweet as. It took a couple of weeks to get used to the American ways, and even longer to make sure I looked in the correct direction before I crossed the street, but I got by with some help from my friends.

Heaps of people ask about how my courses were, and I have to say that I found them a lot easier than the UoA counterparts. For one, I didn't have as many assignments and labs as I'm used to. Also, the questions we got asked in the tests were always similar to class examples so it wasn't as challenging as the tests and exams here. One prerequisite of going on exchange as an engineering student is that your courses have to match what you're missing out on. For me that (luckily) included systems, and the course I took at UC Merced didn't only count towards my systems paper but also towards my hours! So it was really handy.”

If someone is considering the idea of exchange, I have just a few tips:
1. Plan out your finances meticulously, and don't forget the cheeky costs like insurance and visa.
2. Don't be scared about how you'll fit into the new culture. Most universities have great international offices and programmes to help you meet people. 
3. Get involved in the clubs in your host university's campus. It's a great way to meet friends and get involved in societies/activities you may not be able to do at UoA. 
4. Just do iiiiiiit!!!!

June 2016 - Jenny Wang

WENspiration Jenny Wang

"The uncertainty and open-endedness of a PhD can both be exhilarating and frustrating, depending on how you manage it…"

Jenny Wang is in her third year of postgraduate study. She is a part of the Cardiac and Cardiovascular research group at The Auckland Bioengineering Institute. The aim of Jenny's project is to investigate the mechanical behaviour of myocardial tissue using magnetic resonance imaging and finite element modelling techniques to better understand the causes of human heart failure.

“I've always wanted to do scientific research, and my interests in biology and physics meant that the Biomedical Engineering research area was my top choice. So the PhD is a natural first step in the direction of doing academic research.

The most rewarding part is when after months of struggling with a problem that I finally arrive at a solution. Quite often these problems are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, after all not everyone cracks the cure to cancer after four years of a PhD. However the sense of achievement comes through small break-throughs, and one must realise that big scientific breakthroughs is usually an accumulation of these tiny ones. So I've learnt to celebrate these when they happen, and to use that as fuel for going just a little farther down the road of discovery.

I think perhaps one of the greatest challenges of the PhD degree is the transition of mindset from that of an undergraduate student to that of a postgraduate student. Gone are the structural crutches of exams and grades, and I've had to learn to develop better discipline in my work habits so that I can be productive without the need for rigid deadlines and clear performance reviews. The uncertainty and open-endedness of a PhD can both be exhilarating and frustrating, depending on how you manage it. A PhD is definitely difficult, and it is not something which should be taken up flippantly.

The University of Auckland has high standards for the PhD degrees which they award, and that protects the international reputation of both the PhD programme itself and the University at large. However, having said that, I would also say to someone who is contemplating pursuing postgraduate studies that they shouldn't be daunted by the mountain of work that a PhD entails. Yes it is a lot of work, but you do also have a lot of time to get it done. And what may seem like an impossible task actually becomes possible with patient hard work and a sprinkle of ingenuity. If you go into a PhD thinking that it is going to be hard, then you've got the right mindset for doing a solid amount of work everyday. And before you know it, you can look back on some quite sizeable accomplishments that you didn't know you were capable of. It is a challenge well worth tackling.

Once my PhD studies have finished, I plan to pursue post-doctoral research positions at different labs overseas to learn more things and to broaden my experiences and skills."

May 2016 - Annie Scott

Annie Scott

Annie’s hot tip: Don't overthink things too much. There are always opportunities to change your mind.

“I use my structural engineering skills I learnt at University on a daily basis. I loved studying but was ready to start applying those skills and using them in practical situations. The biggest highlight so far is getting to know some amazingly talented and interesting people at my workplace. There is such a wide range of skills and wide range of personalities that I'm really enjoying getting to know. The people and the opportunities to work on such huge scale projects, as a graduate, is so rewarding. I really do enjoy my job. It’s amazing how much I have learnt in just a few years. I definitely want to do an OE at some point as I have a huge passion to travel, and something I'm very lucky that my company is supportive of."

"I like to say we get thrown in the deep end but with floaties on. It’s hard work and there is a very steep learning curve but I enjoy learning new things regularly. Deadlines and time pressures are a part of life, and learning to cope with them and the stress is an essential life skill in engineering, and most jobs. The toughest part is explaining to people in other industries we work with, why things can't be built the way they want it to look. At times, being a female in a male dominated work force can be hard. I'm lucky to be at a company that is hugely supportive of female engineers and consciously making an effort to treat everyone as equals.”

Annie Scott is a graduate structural engineer working for Holmes Consulting Group in Auckland. She is currently working full time on the Commercial Bay development, assisting with a variety of structural engineering concepts.

April 2016 - Nina Gailer

WENspiration - Nina

“My advice that I would give to other girls is to not be afraid of doing something a little different.…”

Nina Gailer, a third year Mechanical student, spent her recent summer completing 500 hours of work experience at Airbus Tailored Support Package. We interviewed Nina to hear more about her experience and inside tips on internships.  

“The majority of my work was conducted at Singapore Technologies Aerospace Services Co Pte. Ltd. (SASCO), which is an off-site hangar. I worked with a small team of eight doing a Heavy Maintenance Visit (HMV) for two specific A330 aircraft: 9V-STI and 9V-STK. My favourite part about working with Airbus TSP was getting a hands-on experience with the aircraft in the maintenance check. Every day I was taken to the aircraft and one of my employees explained all the different systems of the aircraft. I loved feeling important in a professional team. I was relied on and was responsible for tracking all the repairs, so if anyone had a question about it I could answer them confidently.

My advice that I would give to other girls is to not be afraid of doing something a little different. It may seem scary, especially moving country for a few months, but the experience and connections you make will last a lifetime, and they may even offer you a job at the end of your internship. It would help to do a bit of research about the organisation and what they offer to really show you’re interested. There is no shame in rejection, so apply to as many firms as possible to keep your options open.  Be sure to stay true to who you are and don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.”