This Sunday (23rd June) marks International Women in Engineering Day. Ines Mfarej Ep Nasri has worked at Airborne Oil & Gas in The Netherlands for almost five years. Ines is originally from Tunesia and plays a key role as the company’s controls engineer for industrial automation.
AOG is the world’s leading manufacturer of Thermoplastic Composite Pipeline (TCP).
Its TCP solutions are manufactured at the dedicated plant in IJmuiden, from a composite of fibres and polymers. This makes it more durable and corrosion resistant than steel and other pipeline materials. The TCP is designed to withstand design pressures up to 15,000 psi/1,050 bar and temperatures up to 121˚C (250˚F), ensuring installation costs are reduced.
Here, Ines shares her experience of being a woman in engineering.
What do you enjoy most about your job and engineering in general?
What I enjoy most is that it is all about creating something new. Engineering is an exciting field of science which involves the application of the STEM subjects. I still get excited to be doing a job which combines my favourite subjects and is also very creative. I love the challenges of controls and automation. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What does a typical day as a controls engineer at AOG look like?
As a controls engineer, the work I do day-to-day depends on what projects I am working on. Each project follows the same timeline; design, implementation, test and start up. If I am in the design stage, I will be going through requirements from spreadsheets, flow diagrams, process diagrams and laying out the initial design.
The implementation stage is the fun part – this involves putting together the hardware and software required for the design. At the testing stage, you are executing the requirements against the implementation and this can take a number of days to complete as you have to test the software and then document any changes required. Although each of these stages involve different things, all of my work involves problem solving.
What challenges do you think exist for females?
I think there are still a number of issues for females in engineering to overcome. For example, I’ve faced challenges in the past with males thinking that I don’t know how to operate power tools properly, which in fact it is a big part of my job. In reality, with my years of experience and training, I know how to operate more tools than the average male.
It’s frustrating when others assume women are not as knowledgeable in engineering due to gender, especially when it directly relates to the success of the job. However, AOG is an extremely inclusive and supportive company to work for and, as I have advanced my career, I have found I have come up against less of these stereotypes.
Why did you decide to work with AOG?
Prior to working with AOG I worked with service engineering companies, so the chance to work with an industrial manufacturing company presented an excellent opportunity for me to expand my skillset. It was a new challenging exciting step in my career and I really enjoy working for such a dynamic and ambitious company.
I would eventually like to take on more of a senior leadership position. Also, I am working on improving my Dutch to help me further my career at AOG, which has its headquarters in The Netherlands.
What advice would you give to other females who are interested to pursue engineering as a profession?
In order to succeed in this job, you have to always be learning, don’t be afraid to ask questions and build relationships with mentors. Start looking at internships early on, real-world experience is so important in determining what you want to do and where your skillsets lie.