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Data-Centric Engineering

What does an engineer look like to you? #IamAnEngineer #INWED22

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2022, our Enterprise Doctoral Scholar Pryanka Chadha tells us about her path into engineering and her experience of a recent storytelling workshop at Queen Mary's Festival of Communities, created by international photographer Michael Cockerham and the Ideas Foundation.


Recently, the @IdeasFoundation hosted an ‘Engineer Your Story’ event at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Festival of Communities. A world-renowned photographer, Michael Cockerman, introduced an intimate, thought-provoking storytelling technique to explore who engineers really are.

The room was a safe space where we spoke candidly about our lives. It was a privilege to listen to young inspiring female engineers talk about their childhoods and how particular skills have shaped them. The photograph taken of myself wonderfully captures the root of my journey as an engineer, but I would like to share more of the background to the story with you to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day.

I was determined to become a doctor when I applied for university. My interest stemmed from the care provided to me when I was in a car accident as a teenager. I was fascinated by how quickly doctors fixed my broken bones using implants. However, my applications for medicine were rejected. I was offered alternative courses, one of which was “Medical Engineering” at QMUL. I had never heard of it before and moreover, becoming an engineer was something I had never considered. At (an all-girls) school the careers team introduced us to jobs like doctors, lawyers, economists, biologists, etc. but this was the first time I’d thought of becoming an engineer…

At the QMUL “Introduction to Medical Engineering” day, I arrived with an open mind, but I was still melancholic as I felt like I wasn’t good enough to become a doctor. When the presentation started, my mood immediately lifted - medical engineering was everything I loved about the idea of becoming a doctor but more in line with my interests in math and art. That day, I learnt to be grateful for all opportunities, in particular the ones that arise from failure.

Through the decision to join QMUL, I then had the opportunity to travel to China where I met my fiancé. I then landed an excellent job at one of the top four in London and had the opportunity to take part in an incredible Biodesign course in Switzerland. Now, I am back at QMUL doing an engineering doctorate to research the impact of air pollution on fetal development.  

When I was younger, I thought my life would look very different… We are trained to always strive to progress to the next level in our careers, but progression is not always linear. You never know where life will take you. Take every opportunity that comes your way and be brave enough to explore what is out there.

Now that you’ve heard my story, let’s hear yours #tellyourstory

Follow me on Twitter: @PryankaV



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