Each year the Women’s Engineering Society hosts International Women in Engineering Day to celebrate the amazing work of women engineers around the world, with the day celebrating its 8th year in 2021. As an international awareness campaign, INWED raises the profile of women in engineering and brings attention to the career opportunities available to women in the industry.
Each year focuses on a specific theme, with this years’ being Engineering Heroes. In celebration of INWED 2021, we spoke to MGF’s Joana Costa on her experience as a Design Engineer and journey so far.
Hi Joana, tell us about yourself…
My name is Joana Costa and I’m from Portugal. I did a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering in the Nova University, located in Lisbon and started working at MGF in 2016. Before that I did an internship at the Construction Department of the City Council of my hometown (Setubal, Portugal). Coming to the UK was the biggest challenge that I ever faced. But in the last 5 years I’ve learnt and progressed a lot within MGF and I don’t regret at all the decision I took 5 years ago.
When did you decide to start a career in engineering and what helped you make the decision?
I decided to start a career in engineering when I was 17 years old. I had to decide on which direction my career would go. At the time, engineering was already on my plans but I was indecisive between Civil and Mechanical engineering. I ended up choosing Civil engineering because I thought it would give me more job options.
What does your average workday look like?
I usually start at 9am. I organise my workload for the day and I read any emails that I might have received on the night before. I take care of my designs during the morning and I leave the checks for the afternoon. I also review the jobs that have been submitted in between designs/checks. I usually finish at 5:30pm.
What has been the highlight of your career in engineering so far?
Becoming a category 2A checker in MGF.
Is there anyone you look up to in the industry that could be your ‘Engineering Hero’?
A few of my colleagues at MGF inspire me to become a better engineer not only because of their engineering knowledge but also the capacity that they have to pass on their knowledge to other colleagues with great professionalism.
What part of being a Design Engineer interests you the most?
The challenge of finding the most efficient solution for every design.
Do you have a favourite project you have worked on so far?
Yes, a 2017 housing project in Peterborough as it was more complex than usual and I had the opportunity to visit the construction site, which is not always possible.
What would you say to your younger self knowing what you know now about working in the industry?
I would say to my younger self to get involved in the industry as soon as I could and not wait until the end of my university studies to look for a job in construction business.
What opportunities are available for women considering a career in Engineering?
There is still a big discrepancy regarding the amount of women compared to the amount of men involved in Civil Engineering. But for the few women who decide to invest in this career, I think there’s a lot of opportunities all across the different areas within the construction business.
INWED celebrates women in engineering around the world, what would you say to women who are interested in becoming an engineer?
I would say that, if that’s what they really want, leave all the preconceived ideas behind and just go for it.
For more information on International Women in Engineering Day 2021 and how you can get involved, see the website.