Q&A with Dr Dawn Morgan - International Women in Engineering Day
This week, EU-Funded ASTUTE 2020 have been celebrating ‘International Women in Engineering’ day, raising the profile of women in engineering and drawing attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. We caught up with our very own Dr Dawn Morgan, a Project Officer within the ASTUTE 2020 team about how she came to #TransformTheFuture within Engineering.
Dawn, tell us about your background and what brought you to study engineering in the first place?
I really liked maths in school and so that was what I chose to study in University, but my first graduate job was working for British Steel (now Tata Steel) and most of the research and experimental work I was involved in was Engineering….. and I loved it! I’ve done a number of jobs since, but the ones I like best are where I can apply some of the maths and practical skills that I have to solve real-world problems.
You’ve been involved in the ASTUTE 2020 project from when it started in 2010. Your main expertise is in Computational Engineering Modelling, tell us what this involves and how this can have an impact on the manufacturing industry in Wales?
Most days do involve me sitting at a desk staring at a computer all day!!! But it isn’t as dull as it sounds…..I use computational software to simulate real-world problems. What I do would either be very expensive or impossible to do experimentally. For example, today, I am running a computer model of a hinge for a car door. I want to know if it will snap or bend if the door springs open in high winds. I want to know where on the hinge that will occur. I want to see if I can make it lighter and thinner and still ensure it doesn’t break. I can get answers to some of those questions in less than half an hour on my computer, but it would take weeks, maybe months experimentally. All our projects are linked to companies based in Wales and our expertise helps to support their Research and Development activities.
What are some of the projects you are working on here in ASTUTE 2020?
- Analysing the vibrations in lamp-posts
- 3D printing of an optimised hinge bracket
- Increasing the proportion of recycled materials in plastic medical equipment
- Investigating large scale manufacturing techniques for solar powered domestic fridges to be used in 3rd World Countries
Can you tell me what obstacles you faced entering this industry and how you overcame them?
Sometimes in Universities the work you’ve done in Industry is not taken seriously and vice versa. It does take time for some people to trust in your expertise, but in the meantime it is also important to address any issues with your colleagues or manager if you feel that they are not treating you fairly for any reason.
To date, what would you say is your greatest accomplishment within the field of Computational Engineering Modelling?
Seeing the production team implementing your recommendations…… and they work!
What do you consider to be ‘Transform the Future’ technologies that the manufacturing industry need to adapt to?
Not only recording and storing large datasets from production lines, which has been done for many years, but using this information to better inform and improve the products and processes.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence can bring greater efficiency savings into the manufacturing industries, but business needs to look beyond the immediate improvements and consider how this is going to affect the workforce and the skillset requirements of the future workforce together with the societal implications of this.
Favourite engineering technique?
CAD – Computer Aided Design….. I like to use 3D drawing tools like SOLIDWORKS and CATIA. I can create or modify a 3D geometry that can then be used in simulations to assess its strength or thermal behaviour or to optimise its weight and size. I can send it to be 3D printed in plastics or in metal. CAD provides clear information for someone else to make it….. Sometimes it just feels like playing and not work at all.
Favourite moment in your day job?
When I come in on a Monday morning and the numerical simulation that has been running all weekend looks like it is going to deliver the result that I’d hoped for…………………………….I may discover later in the day that there were some errors and I need to work on it further, but that happy moment first thing keeps me going.
What are your long term goals as an engineer?
To keep on finding and undertaking work that interests me.
What advice would you give to a young woman who is considering to pursue engineering?
Take the risk. I meet lots of women who, like me, chose to study maths at University even though they were practical sorts of people and would have enjoyed an Engineering degree more. There are plenty of opportunities for a whole range of skills within the Engineering field, don’t be afraid to take the risk just because you haven’t studied it as a subject in school.
This year’s INWED day is focussed on #TransformTheFuture, what three key words would you use to promote women in engineering?
Dare, Dream, Deliver
‘The ASTUTE 2020 (Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies) operation, supporting manufacturing companies across Wales, has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and the participating Higher Education Institutions.
ASTUTE 2020 (Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies) is working with the manufacturing industry across Wales to enable greater levels of business innovation in future manufacturing technologies. Through demand-led industry-academia collaboration, the multi-university partnership ASTUTE 2020 are supporting industry by applying advanced engineering knowledge to manufacturing challenges by strengthening knowledge and expertise to create higher value goods and services and improve efficiency, aiming to drive productivity and growth within the industry.