Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Laura Daniels

Laura Daniels

The retail sector might seem like a bit of an odd place to be as an Engineer but engineering is in everything!  I am doing an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) with the University of Reading and Marks and Spencer.  M&S have some high profile sustainability goals with Plan A asking for energy efficiency increases as well as targeting other areas of the business.  The Engineering team work alongside the Energy team in order to achieve some of the goals and operate in a sustainable manner.Laura Daniels  

I'd always liked Maths and Physics at school and one my teachers noticed I had a creative streak too so suggested Engineering as a potential career.  I hadn't thought about it a lot and when I looked into it I decided I didn't want to build bridges!  I was taught about Energy issues more in politics and geography than in science but I realised there was an opportunity to get involved in a growing and evolving industry from a STEM side of things. 

I studied my undergraduate in Renewable Energy down in Cornwall through the University of Exeter.  It was a real eye opener and it was great to be able to take media hype about wind turbines and understand the facts from a technical side.  I tried a lot of work placements while I was studying because the field is so wide!  From working for a tin mine on geothermal energy, to spending a few weeks at the Department for Energy and Climate Change looking at informing policy, there are lots of opportunities out there.  I finally realised what interested me most was the electricity network side of things through a work placement with National Grid.  Smart Grid research and innovation is such a massively growing area and when I finished my degree in 2012 there were still plenty of directions to take things in.  I chose to study in an industrial environment - so I could carry on learning as well as experiencing the growing industry. 

It's great being an engineer in a non traditional engineering environment.  People don't think about the technical aspects of areas such as retail but retail stores are large electricity users and the impact they have on the grid could play a role in electricity prices and even policy in the future.  I'm working on projects with big numbers of stores and big impacts which is great so early into my STEM career.   I basically look at how big retail stores can change the way they use electricity in order to accommodate more renewable energy on the grid.  This means looking at costs, store temperatures, customer satisfaction as well as all the tecchy stuff like grid code!

When out of the day job you might find me playing cricket but I also spend time volunteering with organisations such as STEMnet, Women's Engineering Society, Engineers Without Borders or anything else that comes my way.  It's great to hear about the varying roles people have taken on in engineering and the aspirations out there in the schools and colleges of engineers-to-be.
Engineering, It's in Everything

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