She's an Engineer- Lois Gray

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Route into engineering

I wanted to be a vet but didn't get the grades. So being good at physics and maths, I followed in my dad's footsteps and did a full time Electronics degree. Then, I was lucky to get a job as a designer of equipment for aircraft, airports and defence where I worked with a lovely and supportive team and learnt loads. But as I got older, I realised that my true strength was in helping and inspiring others, so I left my wonderful career which had let me travel the world and became a college lecturer. 

Job description

I produce courses for undergraduate degree students, which is creative and fun as it involves watching and making videos, playing with educational apps, writing software programs and trying out experiments. Of course there is some serious research and writing as well, but I can choose what I want to do here. 
I also teach fantastic classes of enthusiastic students - seeing them pass exams is the most satisfying thing I have ever done.

I work flexible hours. So, I might start at 9 am by answering urgent emails. Then, probably a meeting with my team to check their progress, followed by some time reading, browsing the University's library or the internet for information I can put in my courses, followed by trying out some software, apps or experiments and writing about what I have found out or learnt. After about 1 hour's lunch, I will host an interactive class then write a little about how this went. Later, I will prepare some fun activities and notes for my next class. Finally I might do some marking, solve any urgent student problems and report on my day to my boss and finish about 5 or 6 pm. Some days I might attend or speak at webinars, conferences or student employers' meetings.

Find out about careers for yourself, don't just accept what the first person tells you. Choose something that you will enjoy, not just what you think is expected of you. Whatever you choose, make the most of it - learn something new and useful every day. Be kind to others, and celebrate your qualities, without dwelling on your problems and insecurities.

The best thing, for sure, is seeing my students do well and knowing I have contributed to their success. I love working with people from all walks of life - they have such interesting stories to tell. I also really like learning new things as part of my job. I don't really have a worst thing, but I suppose I must be honest and say there is quite a lot of paperwork. Sometimes you have to be very innovative and think on your feet to solve unexpected problems.

I've had a few arguments with my employers when they've tried to implement policies which negatively affect my students. Usually I've resolved these by presenting a good argument, but I did once end up leaving and taking another job. I came back though, as I missed teaching so much. I also had cancer for a while, but my employer was very understanding and let me return to my job as soon as I was better. I think, because I love my job so much, there are not many challenges I wouldn't find some way of resolving.

I am worried that robots and AI will take over all teaching jobs. However, I don't think there will ever be a time, when human attributes like empathy, imagination, adaptability, experience and organic intelligence will not be needed to help people learn - it might just not be as teachers.

L.Gray 3 pictures