What does your job entail?
I’m the project champion of the microprocessor-controlled lower limb prosthesis Linx, which won the MacRobert Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2016. I work in the new product development department undertaking research to understand biomimetic principles and then applying the insights to technical systems during the development process.
We have a range of research projects. One of my current research projects is MovAiD which is investigating factories of the future and additive manufacturing for customised movement assistive devices. We’re also looking at a further evolution of the integrated limb Linx and what changes we can make to improve functionality even further.
How did you get into manufacturing?
Initially I studied Engineering Cybernetics which deals with advanced control and optimisation. I did an internship at Blatchford and was offered a permanent role afterwards. The system integration of Linx was my first project. I’m now in the final stages of my PhD in Biomedical Engineering.
Why do you enjoy working in manufacturing?
Engineering is about applying science in a meaningful way. You take principles of how things work and then apply them to reality. I enjoy the fact that you get to make products that people are physically benefiting from. In my job, we’re changing the life of amputees.
It’s quite challenging, but fascinating work. I’m moving into the stage of my career where I’m helping people develop their skills in a manager and mentor role beside of pure technical research and development.
What challenges have you overcome in your career?
The field is still male dominated, but it is getting better. You still sometimes find people have preconceptions and stereotypes about women in engineering.
What advice would you have for women thinking of a career in manufacturing?
Get experience in the industry to see if you enjoy it. Do a work shadowing, an internship or apprenticeship first.
With technology these days, you can try small projects on your own as an easy step into engineering: With platforms like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, you can easily create control without knowing too much about code. The same applies with 3D printing: create a mechanical part, print it and see what it looks like and how it works. Those tools help to gain insights into engineering - its variety and potential.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution is technology driven it is making it easier and more attractive for more women to get into the industry.