I am Daniela Romano, my area of research is virtual reality, in particular large scale simulations that can be used to better understand complex systems, it could be health-related or geography or construction, it has applications across many fields. I’m a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield.
My role as Senior Lecturer is a combination of tasks including research, looking after students; both undergraduate and PhD students. The most challenging, but also the most rewarding is the research. It is also rewarding to see the development of the students to watch them grow and obtain knowledge. They often keep in contact and are very proud to show me their achievements, even after graduation.
The University of Sheffield is very keen to promote a multicultural environment, where all countries are represented, this is very clear in our student base and at an academic level. We are very welcoming of students from different cultures and it is this difference and coming together of community and culture that makes us interesting.
How did you first get interested in Computer Science?
Twenty years ago it was still the early days for Computer Science, but there was a lot of employment for people with skills in the field. That is why I chose Computer Science instead of any other engineering discipline. Computer Science is creative as well as constructive, you can make your own programs and generate artifacts.
At school I was inspired by the technology in films that portrayed alternative realities; including robots and virtual worlds. In particular the film Tron inspired me to become a computer scientist.
What is it like being a woman in engineering?
There aren’t many women; despite all the encouragement we’re still a minority. We are still able to do our jobs and have fulfilling careers, there are equal opportunities at all levels. As a woman I am proud to say that I have followed my own career, I am also a mother of two children, so I have been able to progress in both my career and personal aspirations.
We need more women to contribute to the field so we have higher numbers, I wish to invite more women to join us. Women inclined toward science and engineering, who are creative should take up computer science. Its a very fulfilling career with a highly creative element which is very interesting. I would say that it is a very good role for women, in academia women have been able to combine career aspiration with their family.
What excites you about engineering?
The most exciting part of my work is the research; the research I do is very multidisciplinary; it could be health-related or geography or construction, it has applications across many fields. My area of research is virtual reality, in particular large scale simulations that can be used to better understand complex systems. This is quite an applied field that requires an understanding of my own discipline but also working in a multidisciplinary environment. The nature of change and the ability to make a difference is what really excites me.
As a woman I am proud to say that I have followed my own career.