What attracted you to engineering?
When I was young, I wanted to become a doctor, not a structural engineer. I spent a year studying pharmaceutical sciences before I realised something was missing: maths and physics. Engineering was clearly the right career path for me so I changed course.
Where did you study?
I studied civil engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, before completing a double master’s degree in structural engineering with Lisbon University and Politecnico di Milano in Italy. I spent two years in Milan and my final year in Lisbon.
Why did you choose to specialise in structural engineering?
I was drawn to structural engineering because it is a constantly evolving field, with new materials, tools and technical knowledge being used to push contemporary structures to new limits.
I also liked the idea that a project can have infinite solutions, but in choosing the best solution one must consider not only safety but also cost, durability, sustainability, etc.
What was your first job after graduating?
After graduating, I spent a year working with the engineering consulting firm, Trimétrica Engineering, in Lisbon, where I was encouraged to embrace a wide range of structures, materials and construction techniques.
When did you join ROD and what projects are you working on?
I joined ROD as a design engineer in January 2019. I am currently working with the bridges team on the Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing in Norfolk and the cable-stayed bridge swing bridge over the River Clyde in Glasgow.
As an engineer, I like to be kept on my toes, but I never expected to be involved in such unique projects at this early stage in my career. ROD has really fired my ambitions for the future!
Do you think gender equality in engineering has been achieved?
While the number of women in engineering has increased in recent years, gender equality in engineering is still a goal, not a reality. There are gendered fields of engineering and female engineers are under-represented in academia and in senior roles in companies. I am curious to see how this will evolve in the future.
What can be done to encourage more young women to explore careers in engineering?
My mother and father are both engineers so I have never thought of engineering as a 'male' job. To address the gender imbalance in engineering and technology careers, I think we need more visible role models – more successful young women – and we need to do a far better job of explaining the wide range of career possibilities open to engineers.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting out in her career as an engineer?
Find a job that you like after you graduate. If you are not sure which area of engineering you want to specialise in, join a graduate program or try different positions in different types of companies.
A good support system is also important: the right colleagues, the right mentors and, ultimately, the right company for you.