Emily Alfred – Project Engineer at Scaled Energy, Edinburgh

Profile overview

Name Emily Alfred
Age 25
Home town Limerick, Ireland
Degree at Edinburgh Napier MEng Civil Engineering and Transportation
Graduation date 2013
Role title Project Engineer
Organisation Scaled Energy, Edinburgh
Interview date 21st August 2013
Interviewed by Ailish Fowler
Emily Alfred
Emily Alfred

What was Emily’s experience at Edinburgh Napier University?

Emily decided to study at Edinburgh Napier University because of:

  • The breadth and variety of the course because these allow graduates to pursue different career paths after graduation
  • The degree of independence that the course offered
  • Opportunities to develop personally as well as learn about a subject on the course
  • The quality of resources such as the Jack Kilby Computer Centre
  • The friendly and approachable staff
  • Edinburgh Napier’s reputation as a university with one of the highest graduate employability rates in the UK

What is Emily doing now?

As Project Engineer at Scaled Energy, Emily is mainly involved with project management work. She also does client work and site surveys. Because she works in a relatively small company, there are many opportunities to engage in several different aspects of the profession.

How did Emily get to this position and what are her ambitions for the future?

Emily was always interested in physics, and used to want to be a pilot. However, she was keen to take a degree course that wouldn’t force her to specialise too early. This would allow her to change direction should she want to do so.

Emily began her university experience in Ireland. There she studied for three years for an ordinary degree. Then she moved to Edinburgh Napier University for another two years to obtain her honours degree. One year later she graduated with an MEng. The MEng course at Edinburgh Napier allowed Emily to try out lots of different types of Civil Engineering before she narrowed down her options. As she progressed through her studies, Emily developed a specialist interest in environmental engineering and renewables. She wrote her final year dissertation on tidal energy devices, and graduated in June 2013.

As part of Emily’s course in Ireland she joined a placement scheme which gave her six weeks of experience with JBS Environmental Consultancy. She found this to be helpful and important for her course. Emily recommends that other students undertake a placement whilst at university to help prepare for their future careers.

Emily sees herself becoming a Chartered Engineer in the future.

What was Emily’s experience as a woman on an engineering degree course?

Since she has brothers, Emily grew up around boys. She always felt encouraged as much as they were to do what she wanted in terms of education and career choices.

Emily never felt like she was treated differently for being female in a class cohort that was predominantly male (although she was surprised how few women were on her course). She believes that it is advantageous to work in mixed teams. This encourages a full range of perspectives on a project.

What advice would Emily give to women wanting to work in engineering?

Emily has a number of recommendations for women who would like to work in engineering. These include:

  • Gaining some relevant work experience, for example by undertaking summer work in preparation for a degree in this area, or organising a placement with a company.
  • Enhancing your professional visibility by letting companies know about the projects on which you are working, such as your final year project. You could, for example, offer to share your dissertation, or the data on which your research is based.
  • Becoming involved in your professional body, such as the Institute of Civil Engineers.

What was Emily’s involvement with Connect when she was at Edinburgh Napier University?

Emily attended various Connect events. These included lunches with other female engineers and site visits. She advises other female students to take advantage of these opportunities to talk to women who were once students themselves. She feels that it benefitted her significantly to be able to do this when a student herself.

Emily Alford (left) with her classmate Donna Gibbons  (right) at graduation 2013
Emily Alfred (left) with her classmate Donna Gibbons (right) at graduation 2013

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