jennifer-leggett-1

Any secondary school student who thinks they are creative, who has an interest in maths and who wants to help find solutions to real world problems should think about a career in engineering. As a girl studying civil and structural engineering at the University of Sheffield, I often get asked the question: “Why did you choose engineering?”

The simple answer is that I was creative, I had an interest in maths, and I wanted to help find solutions to real world problems. I was lucky enough to find out that as a result of these qualities and traits, engineering would be a perfect career path for me.

Four years ago I won the first ever Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Create the Trophy competition. My trophy design was a tree-like structure that symbolised the growth of engineering. It had small repeating units signifying synergy, showing that when different people in different disciplines of engineering come together, the result is worth a lot more than their individual contributions alone.

Since winning the competition I have met some amazing engineers through the QEPrize, whose enthusiasm for engineering is infectious. Dr Robert Langer, who won the 2015 QEPrize, proved that engineers really do make a difference on a worldwide scale.

The person who has most influenced my drive to study civil engineering however, is my older sister. She too studied civil and structural engineering and won the TARGETJobs ‘Undergraduate of the Year’ award three years ago in construction engineering and design. This gave her the opportunity to travel to Australia, where she took part in a large scale engineering project. Growing up with her made me oblivious to any stereotypes associated with engineering. As we had the same upbringing and similar academic abilities, she led me to believe that I would also thrive by pursuing a career in engineering.

I have been studying civil and structural engineering for three years now and have one more year of my integrated masters’ degree left. The past three years have shown me that choosing engineering was the right decision. I have particularly liked that the degree has a variety of modules in the course; from geotechnics, to structures, to water engineering. I also enjoy the academic challenge of the course.

As an ICE QUEST Scholar, I have taken part in industry work placements, which has meant I have been able to work on civil engineering projects throughout my summers. The ability to put into practice what I have learnt on placement directly into my studies has been really rewarding.

The pursuit of preserving the world’s scarce resources through finding efficient solutions has fuelled my enthusiasm to become a chartered engineer after university. Engineering can improve quality of life on a global scale. I would strongly recommend studying engineering to anyone who wants to make a difference.

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