Sharing stories on International Women in Engineering Day
Yesterday, 23 June 2019, was International Women in Engineering Day, which aims to raise the profile of women in engineering and emphasise the career opportunities available to girls in this industry.
At Aurizon, engineering across many disciplines enables us to operate our trains and railway tracks efficiently and safely, and we build this capability through our graduate program. With this year’s theme being Transform the Future, we met with one of our second-year graduates, Sophie Tan, a Graduate Mechanical Engineer currently on rotation in our Rollingstock Fleet Services team.
Sophie started with Aurizon as a part-time student intern in August 2017 after being accepted as a 2018 graduate while finishing her degree at the University of Queensland. Since January, she has been working in our Train Systems and Reliability Team who are responsible for making sure our trains can operate, and importantly operate reliably and safely. The team looks at the long-term and short-term maintenance strategy across the rollingstock fleet of wagons and locomotives.
Sophie said she chose engineering as a career as she liked the idea of fixing things and found maths to be very objective at school.
“Engineering is logical and there is always a problem to solve. I’ve also found since I started working that it’s great to be able to provide engineering solutions that help and empower people working in daily operations and maintenance.
“I saw this first-hand when I was at university. I was fortunate to attend an Engineers without Borders Design Summit in Cambodia where we were able to learn about the potential engineering had to empower a community,” Sophie said.
As she paves her way through her career, Sophie recognises the importance that mentors, role models and professional development play in growing her technical and professional skills.
“I have so many incredible mentors and role models both female and male. The females are generally more experienced engineers with similar backgrounds and they understand the stereotypical and often unconscious biases female engineers can face and provide good advice.
“From my rotations across Rollingstock Fleet Services, I have been really fortunate to also have great male mentors that are always happy to help me to grow my career,” said Sophie.
“I make a conscious effort to attend professional and networking events held by organisations as Engineers Australia (EA), Women in Engineering Queensland (WIEQ) and Australasian Railway Association (ARA).
“In particular, WIEQ hold events to meet their objectives which are to attract and retain women in engineering positions, develop and support them through their careers and celebrate their achievements and journeys,” said Sophie.
“So far, in my career, I’m most proud of receiving a Young Professional Scholarship to the Conference on Railway Excellence last year.
“It gave me a greater appreciation of the rail industry and I really valued hearing from experienced rail experts and gaining new knowledge and understanding about the future of the industry.”
So what does International Women in Engineering Day mean to Sophie?
“I think it’s important to celebrate everyone’s successes but it’s nice to acknowledge that it can be more challenging for women in roles that have traditionally been held by males,” she said.
Under this year’s theme of Transform the Future, as a young engineering professional, we asked Sophie what advice she would you give to high school female students who might be considering a career in engineering.
“If you’re interested, then why not? Engineering is a great career – it’s both rewarding and challenging and can lead to a number of different career paths including business analyst, management, technical specialist, or specialising in engineering design, safety or reliability - just to name a few.”