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For Women in Engineering Day, we meet some AECOM engineers

For Women in Engineering Day, we meet some AECOM engineers

 May 27, 2022

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International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) began in the UK in 2014 as a national campaign hosted by Women’s Engineering Society (WES). It has since grown to shine a light on women engineers around the world, increasing their visibility across the profession. INWED also provides an important opportunity for challenging stereotypes and encouraging further women to work as engineers.

To mark INWED, we hear from three women engineers working for AECOM who share insights about their careers and work, and explain why diversity in the workplace is so important.

To address the world’s most complex challenges, AECOM strives to attract, hire and develop talented people from all backgrounds. Additionally, the company consistently ensures inclusivity and fairness in all its sourcing, interview and hiring processes. Talented women are present at all levels of the company.

Meet an AECOM senior engineering geologist, Sophie Hoggard

AECOM ground engineers

AECOM's Sophie Hoggard moved into ground engineering following a love of science and physical geography at school. “So I studied Environmental Geoscience (a variation on a pure Geology degree) as an undergraduate. The course had an Engineering Geology module, which I found really engaging – my first exposure to a career that required geological insight to solve civil engineering problems. I decided to do an internship in the industry after I left university, and having enjoyed this I completed a Masters Degree in Engineering Geology at Imperial College,” explains Sophie. 

When asked about the key strengths needed for her role, Sophie identifies three-dimensional thinking, critical analysis and interpretation of data, problem-solving skills, and good communication as important skills.

On getting more women into science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) roles, Sophie has an interest in encouraging women to consider STEM jobs. "I don’t understand the complexity of what puts young women off these jobs, but I can say that if as an industry we could remove stereotyping and work on promoting a diverse image it might make them more appealing. I have participated in career conventions at my old school to encourage the pursuit of ground engineering. I also took part in the Building Futures scheme to promote engineering to young school children in North London.”

Sophie encourages more women to work in ground engineering with AECOM. "The Ground Engineering team at AECOM brings together a large and diverse group of people of many nationalities. With that comes a wide range of experiences and skills, increasing our capability to take on a range of interesting jobs. The opportunity is there for you to find a specialism and be well-supported as you pursue it," says Sophie.

Meet an AECOM geotechnical engineer, Riya Patel

AECOM ground engineering

Riya always enjoyed studying STEM subjects in school and visualising how logic could be applied to provide the optimum solution to a problem. Riya was fortunate to undertake a number of summer placements at various civil engineering organisations and this cemented her interest in pursuing a Civil Engineering degree where her passion for ground engineering grew.

For someone outside the engineering industry, AECOM's Riya Patel describes her ground engineering role in a very clear and concise way: "All structures have loads which could arise for many reasons, for instance, self-weight and moving actions i.e. vehicles. To prevent collapse, these loads must be supported by the structure and the ground beneath it. In other words, the structure and the ground must work together to achieve overall stability. The role of a geotechnical engineer is to design a system to safely transfer the loads to the ground. To do this, knowledge of the soil and any water it contains is required. Geotechnical engineers work on various projects involving the design of foundations, embankments/cuttings, tunnels, retaining walls and much more.”

Riya has some wise words of advice for graduates looking to join AECOM. “Be confident to voice your own ideas and ask questions, even if you think it is trivial – it is the easiest way to learn! Be pro-active and engage in activities within the office and wider business as this will expand your network and push you to discover your passions outside of engineering,” she says. “Prioritise yourself and your own wellbeing, which may seem easy to say and harder to do (many of us are still trying to apply this – myself included!), but it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid burning out. AECOM provides employees with ample resources such as an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and myStrength which are tools that provide support and useful wellbeing advice.”

Reflecting on AECOM's equity, diversity & inclusion commitment, Riya explains, “Being a member of the Ethnic Diversity Network Culture sub-committee at AECOM gives me the opportunity to contribute towards fostering an inclusive workplace. The committee organises events celebrating the various cultures and backgrounds of employees in our offices, providing a forum for deeper understanding and empathy.”

Meet an AECOM engineer who is a regional director, Lynn Masterson 

AECOM women ground engineer jobs

AECOM's Lynn Masterson began her career in AECOM's Highways team in Glasgow and this equipped her with some great skills and experience. However, when she rotated into AECOM's Ground Engineering team, she enjoyed the variety of projects and the work so much that she decided to stay and make a career in this area.

"Working as part of a strong team is what makes me tick, whether it be delivering projects or as part of the leadership team. I really enjoy the times when deadlines are difficult to achieve and I am under pressure to deliver, this is when I am at my best. I am highly organised and thrive under pressure. These skills have served me well on some of the projects that I have worked on where we have delivered to very challenging programmes. I try to always stay calm and whilst this can be challenging, I truly believe that this achieves the best results in the long term," explains Lynn.

One of the best schemes Lynn says she has worked on is the M77 Fenwick to Malletsheugh in the UK. "This was quite early on in my career and there were lots of technical issues that needed to be resolved. The scheme gave me a wealth of experience, which I then used to get Chartered," reflects Lynn. "More recently I have really enjoyed developing the Newry Southern Relief Road in Northern Ireland. This is a technically complex project involving a magnificent bridge crossing that I hope to see constructed one day. The teams on both these projects have been excellent and it has been a truly collaborative multi-discipline experience."

A key issue in ground engineering, according to Lynn, is the recruitment and retention of people and this is an industry-wide problem. "There are simply not enough people interested in pursuing a career in Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology. A key focus area for the ground engineering industry must be publicising the great projects we work on and the contribution to these schemes by ground engineering professionals. As an industry we need better links with universities and learning institutions in order to promote what we do in ground engineering, and to show people what a truly rewarding, diverse and exciting career it can be."

It is said that ground engineering can often involve more site work than other disciplines, which can be daunting for some. "There can be a fear that there will be negative reactions to women being on construction sites, but this is simply not the case," attests Lynn. "I have never had anything other than complete support from others when working on site. Being on site is a great way to see the soils and rock first hand for the design that we do in the office and is a vital part of our development."

Join the many talented women engineers at AECOM 

AECOM groundengineer jobs

Looking to embark on an exciting engineering role with a prime employer for women?

AECOM is committed to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) within its organization, industry and communities - and offers meaningful work and exciting careers with impact. 

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