Ilya Espino De Marotta is a marine engineer who has worked on the Panama Canal for over 30 years. She led the expansion of the Panama Canal as Chief Engineer, which was completed in 2016. Ilya has won numerous awards for her work in engineering and is seen as an outstanding role model for women in the industry. We are delighted that Ilya is joining the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering judging panel for the 2019 prize.
Why did you become involved with the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering?
I was invited to participate, and I am honoured to have been invited. I believe in engineering as a game changer for the world.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
My proudest moment was leading the Panama Canal Expansion Program to completion and seeing the first Neopanamax ship go through the new locks.
What can we expect to see next in your work on the Panama Canal?
We are looking into the feasibility and market for a fourth set of locks, measures for water conservation and new water reservoirs and new port developments.
Why is it so important that we attract young people into the field of engineering? What motivates you to be an advocate for young engineers?
It is important to attract young people because engineering impacts all areas of our life: energy, food, medical, communication, housing, travel, water, engineering make the world work. I am an advocate for engineering because it helps make a better world.
What would be your advice to a young engineer?
Engineering is an awesome world to discover; it is such a wide field, so there will be an area for everyone. Engineering impacts the world. I would encourage engineers to always look for opportunities to grow and be creative, and always be ethical about their work.
How will AI and robotics change the world as we know it?
It will transform the job industry. The challenge will be to generate jobs for people whose skills will be replaced by AI and robotics. On the other hand, new opportunities and new jobs will be generated. It should improve life on planet earth, making much more accessible to more people.