We are delighted to introduce some of our WiMAC members, through a series of profiles, as they take us through their journey within measurement, automation and control, what inspires them and any useful advice they can offer.
NAME: SHEILA SMITH
ROLE & COMPANY: HEAD of DEPARTMENT, DEPARTMENT of APPLIED SCIENCES, GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY
What originally sparked your interest in engineering?
I come from a farming background and growing up I often helped to tinker with farm implements when they broke down. This was a common occurrence! This originally sparked my interest in agriculture, however, I could not see a future in that field, pardon the pun, but being curious to know how things worked, as well as a love of mathematics, led me to an undergraduate degree in Applied Physics. Both subject areas are the underpinning of all Engineering disciplines. From my UG degree I then embarked on a PhD, part of which was the development of a new instrument for the simultaneous measurement of fluorescence lifetimes. I have therefore been involved in instrumentation, in one form or another, throughout my career.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy two things about my role, the first is interaction with students and being part of their learning journey and secondly interesting research projects which will bring benefit to industry and add to scientific knowledge.
What skills and/or knowledge do you bring to your current role?
My current role is now more management focused although I still give lectures and am involved in research. I certainly bring many years of research and lecturing in chemical sensor development and associated instrumentation to ensure that graduates of the future are well prepared for the world of work. Skills I need at present are more people focussed and being able to interact with others to influence both senior management and advise students and early career researchers are key to the role I presently have.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career, based on your own experiences and lessons learned along the way?
I would advise people starting out to ensure that they enter a sector of the industry that they are passionate about. It is also good to be flexible and open to change and new opportunities. Equally, continuing to learn throughout your career is extremely important and vital as engineering will always be changing as new technologies come to the fore.
CLAIRE JONES, WiMAC Chair
NAME: CLAIRE JONES
ROLE & COMPANY: APPLICATION CONSULTANT – FLOW, ENDRESS + HAUSER UK
- What originally sparked your interest in engineering?
I originally started out in an order entry role at Endress+Hauser and working closely with the engineers helped me gain a great insight into the industry which I had never had exposure to before. I am inherently quite inquisitive so for me it sparked my interest to learn what they were doing day to day!
- What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy speaking to different people from all areas of the industry and with my role this happens every day. I gain so much knowledge from my experienced colleagues and customers around the world, and I love networking with them and forming great working relationships.
- What skills and/or knowledge do you bring to your current role?
I love a good challenge, which can prove useful in an application consultant role! There are often complex questions and queries coming through that require a bit of puzzle solving and in-depth technical discussions. The previous knowledge I gained through order entry and going through our graduate scheme has also helped as I have developed skills outside of my technical training which I still use daily.
- What advice would you give to someone starting their career, based on your own experiences and lessons learned along the way?
My first piece of advice would be don’t let anything hold you back if you have a career goal. But even if you don’t know what you want to do right now, that is also okay. Sometimes the best things find you, which is what happened to me. My next advice would be to align yourself with those who will support you and push you outside of your comfort zone. For me, having two incredibly supportive mentors within Endress+Hauser was invaluable to me. They still support me to this day and give me that confidence boost that we all need sometimes.