Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day; a Mechanical Engineer’s perspective

Marine People

International Women in Engineering Day, this year on the 23rd June 2017, is an annual celebration of the fantastic impact that women make to engineering internationally.  It aims to recognise the women already working in the industry, and showcase the opportunities to future generations.

In support of this important day, Marine People and the IMarEST will be showcasing amazing international female engineers in our weekly blog.  We want to demonstrate the diverse roles available within engineering, the career development opportunities, and provide some insight in to what it is like to be a female engineer in various parts of the world.  We are passionate about showcasing the fabulous opportunities to women in maritime engineering, because we believe it is an exciting, varied and progressive career.

So, let us introduce this weeks featured engineer:

Katarzyna Tobolczyk, a Mechanical Designer working for a Shipbuilder based in Hampshire.  Here is her interview:

  • How long have you been in engineering and what is your role?

I started my engineering career 17 years ago.  After leaving college, I decided to study Ocean Technology at Technical University, and during the following 5 years I discovered I really enjoyed the theoretical side of engineering.  Whilst studying, I decided I wanted to be an engineer within shipbuilding when I graduated, as I had always had a love of the sea.  I am currently working as Piping Detail Designer in a Design Office, where I am involved in a complex, high-standard engineering project.

  • Why did you become an engineer?

From childhood I liked seas, oceans, ships, boats, yachts and water sports. I was also interested in science, maths, numbers, and calculations. I was raised to question how things work, how they are manufactured and developed, so when I needed to decide what career I would like to pursue, I found the solution easy – be an engineer in the shipbuilding industry!

  • What are the best parts of your role?

Challenges make every single day exciting.  I get great job-satisfaction when complex issues are resolved, and I gain new experiences.  I like to see the solutions come from the proverbial drawing board, being manufactured and installed by shipbuilders in dock, which are then commissioned and set to work.

  • What challenges have you encountered?

Generally, I prefer to be able to go out and see the project and potential problems, rather than stay stuck behind a computer.  I do my best to design and find the best solutions for the production teams, to allow them to manufacture the best product.

My biggest personal challenges were encountered when I was working on a Superyacht project in Abu Dhabi.  As a mechanical engineer in a male-dominated international team, very often I felt pressure to resolve the seemingly unresolvable, to make the owners happy, and produce one of the best Superyachts in the world. At the beginning I suffered self-doubt, I was concerned that my knowledge and experience may have been insufficient for the project.  In the short term, I found that as a team, we were doing an excellent job, talking, listening to each other, and that each role was very important.

  • Why is it important to get more women in to engineering?

In my opinion gender doesn’t really matter.  If people remain focused and passionate with professional, ambitious standards of engineering, they will succeed.  I’ve noticed, however, that in many instances women in a team are often helpful to stop conflict, they can be more empathetic, and bring refreshing insight into stressful situations.

  • What would you say to girls still in school who are thinking about engineering? How would you encourage them?

If you like engineering – go for it, there is nothing to be worried about. Challenges will arise, it is part of life, but the job-satisfaction, successes and respect are well worth it.

  • What advice do you have for students just starting out?

Listen, watch and learn! Catch the experiences every moment that you can, and respect the people around you that give you the opportunities to develop.

For more information on International Women in Engineering Day please visit http://www.inwed.org.uk/