IWD: Q&A with Laura Reeves
Tomorrow is International Women's Day (IWD) and Electronic Specifier is bringing its readers Q&As with notable women in tech that want to share their industry experiences. Here's an interview with Laura Reeves, Project Engineer, Ansible Motion.
Can you tell us a little about what you do now, and how you got where you are?
I work as a project engineer at Ansible Motion, we design and build driver-in-the-loop simulators for the automotive industry to help streamline vehicle development, performance and handling. I got here through working in the agricultural and automotive industry as an electrical design engineer for nearly 15 years.
What first motivated you to get into this area of the automotive industry?
I suppose it was from watching my Dad race karts as a child and being taken to watch Superbikes and Touring Cars at Brands Hatch. I enjoy driving and modifying my own cars to improve their feel and performance. At school my favourite subject was Design and Technology, and I followed this on at university doing Product Design and then a Masters in Automotive Engineering.
What’s your best on-the-job memory?
It was quite early on in my career where I helped develop the shuttle lever on a New Holland tractor. Actually seeing something go from concept to reality and seeing it being used in the field gave me a great sense of achievement. That's the best part of engineering, seeing your hard work come into fruition as a tangible object. I often see the tractors in the fields and know that the farmer is using what I designed.
Do you think there is a diversity issue in your industry? Has it affected you in any way?
I don't see it as an issue, I accept that there aren't as many women in the engineering sector, but the industry has always helped encourage women to join. I think the lack of women is a by-product of perceptions; engineering is viewed as big warehouses with exhaust fumes and oil everywhere. Nothing can be further from the case, in fact cleanliness and order is one of the priorities now. It has only affected my career in a positive way, if anything it has helped me go further as organisational skills, planning and clear objectives help deliver products and being organised is where women excel.
What advice would you share with other women wanting to start a career within your industry?
I would say leave your preconceived notions at the door. Engineering is creative, hands on and an inspiring environment to work in. Every engineer I ever worked with has welcomed me as part of the team and hopefully realised that I have brought another angle to the table. There is definitely a place for women in engineering.