Hard Hats, High Heels and Heating Homes

Hi, I’m Joanna, a graduate Design Engineer at the energy utilities company, E.ON. I studied at Newcastle University where I got my master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. Now, I’m in the final few months of my graduate scheme.

I was drawn to studying engineering because I loved maths and physics at school. Initially, I wanted to work in the makeup industry – mainly because I love makeup, but also I thought that it could be my way of turning a ‘manly’ engineering job into a little bit more of a girly, glamorous career. I did an industrial placement at a makeup manufacturing company. While I worked there, I had the opportunity to work on a waste management project where I designed a small-scale, sustainable energy-from-waste system. This sparked an interest in sustainable energy solutions.

My degree highlighted many of the issues of how our climate is drastically changing because of many of today’s everyday activities and industrial processes. It became important to me to try my best to end up in a career that helps to reverse these negative effects. Fortunately, I got a job in the energy industry, which is a big part of why our climate has gotten to the point it’s at now, but is therefore an area where there are heaps of opportunities to make an impactful, positive difference.

Heat energy and electricity are of utmost importance to all of us in the world we live in today, and we all can take it for granted sometimes. An engineer’s role is to design and build solutions and systems in the most efficient way possible, whilst minimising the impact on natural environments.

Today it’s more important, yet more difficult, than ever to create solutions that support the everyday lifestyles of the population, in such a way that doesn’t hurt the world around us or cause depletion of natural resources.

I have had some fantastic opportunities, where I have been able to learn more about energy generation and work on sustainable energy projects, helping to provide heat and power to people’s homes across Europe. It is a rewarding feeling to be able to contribute to something that aims to improve the world we live in and the lives of the people in it!

I’ve realised that there really isn’t anything particularly ‘masculine’ about being an engineer at all, and I can be as girly or as glamorous as I’d want to be in any career. I am fortunate to say that I don’t think being a female, going into the engineering industry, has hindered me too much but the reality is that there are more men than women that choose this career, which I believe is largely due to the stigma associated to engineering. I hope that we can eventually stop saying that engineering is a ‘male-dominated industry’. It is a brilliant, rewarding career that the world needs more of, from all genders and backgrounds – the more diversity, the more innovation, and innovation is essential to achieving positive change.

Joanna Snape, E-ON

INWED 2021 - Friday