What does your current role look like on a day-to-day basis?
Primarily, I design water and wastewater treatment plants for industrial clients whilst also managing the projects. On a daily basis, this involves completing process design calculations and projections, producing P&IDs and layout drawings, producing manuals, and liaising with clients and contractors/suppliers.
How did you get started working in STEM?
I was very lucky in the fact that both my parents are engineers, so I had exposure to engineering from a very young age. I always loved chemistry and maths at school; it seemed a natural fit to combine the two and pursue a career in chemical engineering.
What qualifications did you take or gain along the way?
I completed a BEng in Chemical Engineering at the University of Bradford. As part of my degree course, I also completed a year in industry at Bespak Europe in Nelson. During the year I spent there, I was lucky enough to work on both an anodising process line and an industrial wastewater treatment plant. This is what tailored my career to focus on water treatment. I am now working towards my professional chartership with the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).
Why do you love working in STEM?
“I love the variety of the work. No two days are the same, so it remains constantly challenging and exciting.”
I also love seeing the real-world impact my role has, and how I can have a positive impact on improving sustainability for my clients and reducing their usage of natural resources. I love being faced with a problem and solving it in the best way possible for my client, and that is what a career in STEM allows me to do.
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how have you overcome them?
I think my main challenge has been a lack of confidence. It’s sort of a default position for me being in a male-dominated industry. I have to keep reminding myself of the progress I’ve made so far in my early career and how much more I can achieve. I have struggled with imposter syndrome and not believing in myself, so this is something I am working on and can already see my confidence growing. You just have to remember to learn from your mistakes and not take negative feedback personally – use it to improve.
What advice would you offer for someone joining the STEM sectors?
“Enjoy it! Working in STEM is so rewarding; the industries we work in are constantly changing and improving, so they are often fast paced, but that’s what keeps the work we do exciting.”
You can use your skills in any industry. So as long as you have a passion for the work you are doing, you can do it anywhere. The opportunities are endless.
What do we need to do as an industry to attract and keep more women in STEM?
It’s important to share with younger women the opportunities available to them so they can pursue a career in STEM, particularly at a school level. We can’t expect to attract more women to the industry if no one knows what roles are available to them.
In terms of retention, I think we just need to increase the number of women in STEM workplaces. Women would be more likely to stay if there were better represented at all levels of a business.
Lauren is is a project engineer at AllWater Technologies. Find out more about her work at here.