Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day 2020
Tuesday 23 June 2020 marks the seventh International Women in Engineering Day. This campaign aims to raise the profile of those women currently working in engineering and highlight the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls in this exciting industry.
We asked some of our own 'women in engineering' to tell us about their work.
In the beginning
Aileen, Asset Management Engineer: "My interest in civil engineering started with a primary school trip to the Dornoch Bridge. What captivated my interest was how the bridge was being assembled - it got built inside a large shed before being pushed out into the Dornoch Firth on hydraulic jacks!"
Kelly, Area Civil Engineer: "I have worked in Civil Engineering since I left school, working for Balfour Beatty as a trainee before taking a role with a large consultant engineering firm where I worked as a Technician and then Assistant Engineer. I took some time out following the birth of my daughter and then saw the opportunity to join Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) in 2015. I spent four fabulous years working with the team in the north of the country followed by a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ six months as a Recreation Engineer in the national team before discovering that 'west really is best' when I was welcomed into the amazing West Region team as Area Civil Engineer in 2019."
Kim, Environmental and Geotechnical Support Engineer: "I started with [FLS predecessors] Forestry Commission Scotland back in 2004 as a Project Manager for an EU-funded flood alleviation project. After that project came to an end I moved across to join the Civil Engineering team, where my work largely covered the North Highlands, before moving to our Head Office as the Slope Stability Project Manager. This eventually lead to my current role.
"I have been lucky in that my work to date has encompassed a fairly diverse range of jobs which keeps things fresh and interesting."
My background is in Environmental Science which gives me a great insight into the environmental factors when planning a road system.
Hazel, Civil Engineer: "I started with FLS as a Site Supervisor in February 2019, becoming a Civil Engineer in June. My background is in Environmental Science which gives me a great insight into the environmental factors when planning a road system.
A day in the life
Sally, Civil Engineer: "I am the Civil Engineer for the west beat of FLS's North Region. I'm also the engineer for the A82 project which means I have a nice variety of work including on steep ground and the challenges of deep peat bog on the west coast."
Kelly: "I am the Area Civil Engineer for our West Region and manage a team of six Engineers and two Works Supervisors. My main role is to give professional advice and support to my team and other colleagues to enable them to carry out their work. This could involve visiting a tricky site to discuss options for a new road or structure, visiting an active site to discuss issues or problems that have arisen, or working on plans to maintain and improve the forest road network. I am lucky to be able to call on support from our Civil Engineering Technical Services team whose specialist Engineers provide guidance and advice on a wide range of topics."
Hazel: "I spend my time budgeting and planning a programme of works, and manage site operations where forestry operations are due to take place. There is a great balance between working behind a desk and working out in the forest."
The main part of my job is to lead the inspection regime for the 1,700 bridges and structures on the land we manage across Scotland.
Aileen: "The main part of my job as Asset Management Engineer is to lead the inspection regime for the 1,700 bridges and structures on the land we manage across Scotland.
"In FLS we are always working to find the optimum solution to maintain and enhance our infrastructure for the communities we serve across Scotland. This is a daily challenge, always diverse, varied and pressurised - the nirvana of any civil engineer!"
Kim: "My work today can typically involve desk studies to help understand site conditions, planning environment works such as improving habitat for fish migration and Fresh Water Pearl Mussels, helping procure geotechnical services in response to emergency situations and assisting with hydro scheme developments."
Kelly: "My role has a huge amount of variety and I really enjoy the different sorts of challenges and projects I get involved in. I have always enjoyed the problem-solving element of civil engineering and many of the sites we work on in FLS have plenty of tricky elements to solve, from steep ground access and environmental sensitivities to simply managing the maintenance of such a large network of roads and bridges."
[Each year we] deliver an annual programme to construct between 60-80km of new forest roads, upgrade between 80-120km and maintain a network of almost 10,000km - the longest road network managed by a single organisation in Scotland.
Morven, Head of Civil Engineering Profession: "I am responsible for managing the national Civil Engineering Technical Services team and leading the civil engineering profession as a whole within FLS. This includes setting strategic direction and ensuring professionalism and continuous improvement in priority areas such as the development of staff skills, competencies, health & safety, programme management, procurement, contract management and supplier relationships.
"The civil engineering staff group comprises just over 40 people and delivers an annual programme to construct between 60-80km of new forest roads, upgrading between 80-120km and maintaining a network of almost 10,000km - including 1,700 bridges - the longest road network managed by a single organisation in Scotland (the motorway and trunk road network managed by Transport Scotland is only 3,400km by comparison).
"In addition to forest roads, our civil engineers are also involved in planning, design and delivery of recreation trail building and maintenance; managing the quarrying of stone; managing our responsibilities in relation to dams and reservoirs and specialist engineering projects arising from our landowner responsibilities."
The best bits of the job
Elaine, Civil Engineer: "There are many great aspects to my job working for FLS, the first being the mix of office and outdoor work - not always in perfect balance but good none the less. Secondly, the opportunity to work and enjoy the best of South West Scotland’s scenery. And finally, working with a great bunch of people both within FLS and from external agencies makes it all the better!
"I have always had an interest in the natural environment and hoped to work in some form of land based industry and so finding myself at FLS has worked out just fine."
Kelly: "I really enjoy the diversity of work that I get to do with FLS and have an awesome office to work out of.”
I love my job because it gives me a great balance between working outside and desk based tasks.
Sally: "I love my job because it gives me a great balance between working outside and desk based tasks. When I started in my role I didn’t know much about forestry but five years later I’m still learning and enjoying the challenge!"
Hazel: "FLS gives you the opportunity to work in some of the most beautiful places throughout Scotland, where you can visit the same forest every month and it will look different every time."
Aileen: "The good things about the job are the fantastic people I work with, the world class forest landscape of Scotland and the structured professional career path in FLS."
Morven: "The diversity of the work our engineers are involved in, along with the opportunity to see projects all the way from conception, through feasibility and design and onto construction and completion and into maintained use makes the jobs relatively unique in the civil engineering industry and keeps things interesting.
"The wider team of civil engineers in FLS are a motivated, hard-working bunch of people and I consider it a privilege to be their professional lead. Working with them, right across the country (and getting to visit all of the different areas they work in) is definitely the best bit of my job!”
A big thank you to all the Forestry and Land Scotland engineers who helped with this blog post.
You can find out more about International Women in Engineering Day 2020 at www.inwed.org.uk or on social media using the hashtags #INWED20 and #ShapeTheWorld.