Engineering your future
By Elaine Campbell, engineer
27 February 2018
When I say I'm an engineer and I work in the oil and gas sector, some people are surprised and ask if there are other women who work offshore. The answer is, yes. Being in the North Sea, hundreds of miles from land, is a challenging environment to work in but that makes it incredibly rewarding. I don’t have anything else to compare it to - it’s my chosen career - but I would definitely encourage more young women to grasp the opportunities available in engineering, and specifically, in the energy industry.
I didn’t grow up knowing what an engineer was, or wanting to be one. But my mum encouraged me to try things at least once, and continue if I enjoyed them. And my dad liked it when I helped him out on our farm when I was young. (Although I’m not sure how much help I actually was!) Looking back on it now, I can see why the engineering profession works for me, as I always enjoyed being practical and creative.
I first thought about engineering as a career after I attended a week-long, girls-only ‘Insight into engineering' course at the University of Strathclyde when I was in the fifth year of secondary school. The event showed how broad the sector is and the different career options available to you. I was so pleased to have found something I thought I would enjoy doing.
I went on to study Civil Engineering at the University of Strathclyde and graduated in 2012. I then joined Atkins, working in the oil and gas team in Aberdeen. I spend the majority of my time in the office but I also head offshore once or twice a year to carry out structural inspections of oil and gas platforms in the North Sea. Out there, there are more men than women working on the platforms but it’s not something I notice - everyone is focused on doing their jobs.
It’s great to have female role models with successful careers that I can aspire to. And I am happy to share my story because I think we need to encourage others to seize the opportunities and create inclusive environments.
My advice to anyone thinking about a career in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) would be to try it. There are so many roles you can consider. Even if you don’t enjoy your first choice, you will have gained a huge amount of knowledge, skills and experience that you can transfer to other sectors. I have friends who design aeroplanes, work on construction sites, light up the trading floors in financial companies and even work in a sugar factory. They’re quite different professions but they all got there by choosing STEM careers.