My name is Carmel Reid I studied Electronic Engineering at the University of Sheffield and I graduated in 1972.
Engineering is a huge field and there are plenty of opportunities, a degree opens the doors that will get you there.
Why did you study Electronic Engineering?
I was doing well with the sciences at school. I did physics and pure maths and applied maths. The schools careers advice showed me about Computer Science as a subject and I went to look around Kingston Polytechnic, the guy there said what about electronic engineering? He said your image of an engineer is probably a guy in overalls with a spanner in his hand. He proceeded to explain to me about what engineering was, my face lit up, this was all the things I had seen on tomorrows world.
We had a lot of lectures and a lot of subjects; mechanical engineering, civil engineering too. A lot of our fellow students would have five lectures a week, whilst we had about five a day. I remember on one morning we lectures at 9am, 10am and 11am and the three lecturers who were running the classes knew each other well and one week each of them told one third of a joke, so you had to go to all three to get the joke.
I was the only girl in the class, I used to laugh because one or two of them used to say “good morning lady and gentlemen”. My tutor was lovely and very helpful to me. The personal support was good. Lots of memories, I think I need to go back there.
Did you have any role models?
My role model was my dad; he was a mechanical engineer, he was working in Baghdad; on the big Caterpillar machines that used to build the roads. I wanted to be like my dad.
What is it like being a woman in engineering?
I have learnt that a lot of women succeed by being like the men they are working with. Something I’m learning is to appreciate myself as a woman. It’s a different approach, women have so much to offer, they have an approach to life that’s about nurturing and caring. A woman that can use that in engineering and apply it to the world in general – is huge, so don’t forget you’re a woman. I am still finding I need to be much more gentle in things; enjoy being a woman.
How do we encourage more women to work and study engineering?
I think it’s about changing the image of engineering. A degree is a stepping stone, if you have an interest in the subject you can do whatever you want to do with it.
He proceeded to explain to me about what engineering was, my face lit up, this was all the things I had seen on tomorrows world.