With a degree in physics and a masters in Engineering, Roma Agrawal pursued a career in structural engineering which combined her two biggest passions - science and design.
In her job, Roma uses maths and physics to design structures, including bridges, skyscrapers and sculptures. She calculates how much wind and load affects buildings - its own weight, and the weight of the people and things inside. Then she decides how strong the beams and columns in her structure should be to stay safe.
Roma has worked on loads of of exciting projects in the last 11 years, and her career highlight is designing the 'Spire' for Westen Europe's tallest building, the Shard in London.
We got to know Roma better with a little Q&A. Read on for tips, insights and inspiration in the world of structural engineering.
Q: Who were your role models when you were at school?
A: I had great admiration for Indian mathematician Shakuntala Devi, who was known as a human calculator! I enjoyed maths and thought her ability to do really complex sums in her head was inspiring.
Q: When you chose to study physics at university, did you have a clear career goal in mind?
A: No, I chose physics because research (rightly!) showed that studying maths or physics would leave a huge range of careers open to me. I know physicists that went on to work in finance, engineering, civil service, research, music, medicine, marketing – you name it!
Q: Why structural engineering?
A: Engineering to me is all about people – you work with people to create things for people. I love that these huge structures will be around for lifetimes for people to use and enjoy.
Q: Best piece of career advice you've been given?
A: I love the book Lean In by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg - one thing that stuck out for me is to make sure you are not creating artificial barriers for yourself that hold you back. Don't let fear get in the way of giving something a go!
Q: What are your top five tips for girls looking to get a job in structural engineering?
1) Ignore any stereotypes you may have about the profession, it’s an exciting and rewarding career
2) Be curious! Look around any city or town at the buildings and bridges and think about how they were built and still stand safely
3) Don’t forget this job is about people so communication and building relationships is just as important as technical skills
4) Research and figure out what courses and type of engineering is best for you
5) Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and have fun!
"I chose physics because research (rightly!) showed that studying maths or physics would leave a huge range of careers open to me."
Are you studying any of the same subjects? Perhaps there's something here you haven't heard of, or sounds interesting? Talk to your teachers about anything that excites you...
Design & Technology
Undergraduate: Physics (University of Oxford)
Masters: General Structural Engineering (Imperial College London)
Chartered Structural Engineer (CEng)
Member of Institution of Structural Engineering
Member of Institution of Engineering and Technology
Fellow of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Claire is a software developer at 27partners, where she develops products for the web. She studied engineering at University and taught herself to code via online courses. Alongside her day to day job, Claire runs regular, free workshops and boot camps especially for women looking to learn how to code.