I am ready to pursue my career in Civil Engineering and help to provide sustainable solutions to environmental problems worldwide.

Monika Szczyrba
Monika Szczyrba
Civil Engineering Student
My name is Monika, I am a Civil Engineering student at the University of Sheffield.

I was good at mathematics but I really enjoyed the environmental side of geography. I searched through University websites and found a perfect connection in civil engineering. It combines mathematics and IT skills with the hands on experience of designing and constructing.

Monika Szczyrba

After my A-levels, I became an active member of the Institution for Civil Engineers (ICE) and Chartered Institution for Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) as I was curious about the extent of the civil engineer’s role. Attending their local events and discussions I learnt about the numerous ways in which scientific techniques can be applied in the real world. This has reinforced my desire to pursue my degree and gain a broader knowledge and expertise in civil engineering disciplines.

Most importantly, civil engineers have a great impact on the world we live in, they are responsible for all the structures surrounding us, as well as water, energy and transport infrastructure which are crucial for people to live. I find it very rewarding to study such an important and useful area of knowledge and be able to apply it in the future for the benefit of the society. This course offers an ideal way to combine engineering and environmental awareness and equips me with all the tools I will need to make a real impact.

I was really keen on studying Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield because of the significant input industry has contributed to the academic content of the course. In addition to the structural design, soil mechanics and water engineering-related subjects, I was looking forward to a whole variety of projects where, as part of a team, where I would be able to apply my newly-acquired knowledge in designing and implementing solutions to real-world engineering problems. I am especially enthusiastic about the Integrated Design Project during my third year; working within a multi-disciplinary group, we will have to consider a wide variety of complex issues and re-cast the design in an international context.

Additionally, one of the major reasons why I chose University of Sheffield was the fact that everyone is so friendly and helpful, from the admissions team to the lecturers and students support staff. It really allows me to feel confident and supported throughout my course and able to benefit from this great experience of being at the University.

Do you have any role models?

My current role model is Kate Hall, Director at Arup. She is a very inspiring leader because of her exceptional commitment to civil engineering and driving changes worldwide. She has led major design projects such as Arup’s Olympic Park Infrastructure Design Team for London 2012 and High Speed Rail (HS2) engineering study. She holds key roles in different Arup’s executive boards worldwide. Her work was appreciated and she has been awarded plenty of prestigious titles together with 35 under 35 and winning the Lloyds First Women awards 2011.

What is most inspiring about her is the incredible mentoring that she gives to young girls to encourage them into STEM careers. She drove the change within the company and set up the first women’s network. She also pioneered the leadership development for staff in Arup and set up a diversity advisory group to the regional board.

She impressed me with her ability to introduce a change while influencing and inspiring people at the same time. Her motivation and passion along with excellent leadership skills make her a very powerful woman who can manage many projects at the same time and complete them before the deadlines.

I would like to develop the strength and management style similar to hers to be an inspiring model for others and make a real difference to the developing countries’ infrastructure.

What excites you about engineering?

The importance of civil engineers' work strongly motivates me. Society takes for granted the infrastructure around us and this is what makes civil engineering so exciting for me. It is crucial for our lives to develop but people generally do not notice it until something goes wrong. My aspiration is to connect science with practical application for use in everyday life.

Inspired and excited, I am ready to pursue my career in civil engineering and help in providing sustainable solutions to environmental problems worldwide.

As a result of my passion for engineering, I became an active STEM ambassador (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Ambassador). I find it very rewarding to share my enthusiasm and engineering experience with children and youth and I continue doing it through our University Engineering Faculty.

What do you want to do after you have graduated?

My aspiration is to connect science with practical application for use in everyday life.

I have a strong motivation to bring a real value to the community through my engineering work. This is my main drive to develop all the important skills that will enable me to lead, inspire and create a positive change in the most needed areas of the world.

During my early graduate career stage I would like to explore the scale of work and projects that I can apply myself to, for e.g.from short term disaster relief work, through working on infrastructure projects with local governments in developing countries to influencing policies and leading a change in applying new technologies to empower the poorest communities.

The major step in my career will be to become a Chartered Civil Engineer with the Institution of Civil Engineers to consolidate my comprehension of the civil engineering industry and to gain an internationally recognised qualification.

In the future, I would like to take part in international projects to share the skills and expertise I gained in the UK with engineers across the world. I am particularly keen to improve the quality and access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries through vital water and energy infrastructure. I want to encourage sustainable development through civil engineering with community engagement at the earliest possible stage of the projects.

I believe that with the huge variety of tools available and a team of enthusiastic people working together, it is possible to take on global problems and find creative and viable solutions.

How do you think we can get more women in to engineering?

Working as a STEM Ambassador with children of different age and at various events I have realised that we need to encourage the girls from the very early stage and show them how exciting engineering can be. From kindergarten through to University, we should provide them with enthusiastic and inspiring role models and equal opportunities to explore the world of science and engineering. The existing stigma in society has to be challenged continuously and the media need to cooperate to change the perception of what a successful engineer looks like.

In the later stage, I think the engineering employers need to support the family friendly policies to sustain women engineers within the industry.

I believe that if we provide women with support and role models at every stage of their education and future career, more girls and women will feel confident about an engineering career which would hugely benefit the industry.

We interviewed Monika in 2015.

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