Celebrating Women in Engineering Day
Q&A with Kaoru Okamoto, Senior Engineer, Caeli Nova
- What sparked your interest in engineering?
During my time at school, we were given copies of the New Scientist to read. I found these fascinating and loved to learn about the developments in engineering, particularly articles focused on medical and aerospace updates. I knew from reading the New Scientist, along with my passion for maths and science, that I wanted to get involved in engineering somehow.
- What are you most excited about in engineering?
Where, do I start? The list is so long!
I love coming up with novel solutions, working with people who have different views and perspectives, but most of all I like how it makes a difference in the world. I always get excited when I see something that I worked on being used in the outside world and potentially making a difference to our lives.
- What top three skills do you need to be an engineer?
Firstly, teamworking skills – engineering is a team sport and you’ll be required to work with a range of people all from different backgrounds, so you’ll need to be able to work cohesively with others.
Secondly, you need effective technical skills – we deal with some complex problems and you’ll need extensive knowledge and understanding of the topic in order to create the solutions we are looking for.
Thirdly, I would say problem solving – every issue you encounter is different from the last and you’ll need to be able to identify the underlying issues and find a suitable solution.
- Who is your engineering hero?
I don’t really have a specific engineering hero, but I definitely have moments everyday where I think that my co-workers and peers are heroic, as they’ve support me through some tough technical challenges. In my experience, I’ve found that many colleagues of mine will willingly give up their time to help me reach the best solution to any issue I’ve had.
- In your experience, how accessible is the engineering industry?
I think it’s a really accessible industry for everyone, especially as there are lots of different branches of engineering you can get involved with.
I’ve worked with a range of people from various backgrounds. You can start your career in engineering from an apprenticeship, coming straight out of university or as a career change. From my experience, there is always a role in engineering and there are many ways to begin your career.
- What can companies/the industry do more of to increase participation from women in engineering?
I think it’s all about increasing exposure from a young age about a potential career in engineering. On my course at university there weren’t many women, which was a shame and perhaps that would have been different, if we had discussed this industry more in school.
I didn’t have much exposure to a career in engineering when I was growing up and the only engineers I had heard of were domestic appliance engineers, who were also predominantly male. Increasing awareness about what cool things engineers can get involved in and seeing more women in those roles would definitely help spread the word.
- What has been your proudest moment whilst working in engineering?
I would say, seeing the Trent7000 engine entry into service is the proudest moment in my engineering career. After working so hard on the engine’s performance through the extensive development program and then seeing the first flight and engine/aircraft certification happen - it’s just so amazing to finally see it carrying passengers! I am very proud to say that I was involved in making that happen.
- How do you see the industry growing in the coming years with increased female involvement?
Personally, I think the engineering industry benefits from having both female and male involvement and those from varying backgrounds, as it allows the industry to get a variety of ideas and perspectives. This can only aid innovation and make our products even better.
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