Passion for a hands-on career

Cerys Low

By Cerys Low
Electrical, Control & Instrumentation Engineer

Ahead of International Women in Engineering Day, Cerys talks about her passion for a career in engineering – and why she'd recommend it to anyone.

How did you get into your role?

I’d say to my mum when I was 5 that on Monday I’d be a swimmer, Tuesday I’d be a footballer, Wednesday I’d be an astronaut, Thursday I’d be a scientist and Friday I’d be a motorbike racer. I think as I got older I realised five jobs was a little unfeasible and so tended towards the scientist idea – buying chemistry and Mechano kits, building contraptions in my back garden and tearing apart my dad’s old printer to run the motor separately.

I didn’t like the idea of doing a typical office job and wanted a career that would be hands-on. I studied maths, chemistry and biology at A-level and then went on to do a foundation year in engineering.

Last June I graduated with a MEng in electrical engineering from the University of Sheffield and took up a role with Centrica in the merchant power team. During my degree I’d done a summer placement with the company and knew it’d be a great fit for me.

What do you love most about your job?

I’m the Electrical, Control & Instrumentation Engineer working on our Roosecote Battery Storage System.

The facility will be one of the largest in the world and, once completed, will be capable of responding to fluctuations in demand in under a second – holding enough power to meet the needs of around 50,000 homes.

I love that I get to really stretch my problem-solving muscles. Every day involves prioritising and negotiating to make sure that we’re getting the best out of our partners and contractors.

It’s great fun to see some of the industrial-scale energy generation equipment too. I’ve been to some factory testing sites and seen how some of the kit is built and tested before it’s approved for industrial use, which was really interesting.

What inspired you the most in your career?

My passion for maths, physics and art inspired my career direction. I’d always enjoyed them and felt that engineering was a perfect mixture of these three subjects, giving me the chance to design solutions to problems using mathematical and scientific knowledge.

It’s great to be able to put these subjects into practice day-to-day. Engineering isn’t always about being text-book smart either, being creative with your solutions and thinking outside the box is critical. It’s a very different skill set and one that I really relish getting my teeth stuck into!

What advice would you give women who are new to the sector?

If you enjoy what you’re doing, whatever that is, why not give it a go? Don’t feel put off if it isn’t what you’ve studied or got experience in, go with what you enjoy.

And don’t be put off by outdated stereotypes. Most industries are far different from what they were even just a few years ago and engineering is no exception. I’ve made lots of great friends working in the sector and get to work with some fantastic people. It’s a fast-paced and evolving industry and you get to gain a huge wealth of experience – I’d recommend it to anyone.

Every woman I have met in my field has been confident and strong and that’s because they have been told that they can do whatever they set their mind to and know that there is no disadvantage from being a female.