Rising Stars: 'It's incredibly rewarding to know I make a difference'

Rich McEachran

Roshni Wijesekera (Credit: Will Amlot)
Roshni Wijesekera (Credit: Will Amlot)

This week, we are featuring some of the best and brightest engineers aged under 35. Together, they are shaping the future of the profession, and the world.

Read part one here

Read part two here

Read part three here

Ethan Spall

Non-destructive testing (NDT) operation specialist at Airbus

Age: 22. Location: Broughton

Making aircraft safe to fly means people’s lives are in aviation engineers’ hands, but for Ethan, who is currently working within the NDT department at Airbus on the A320 aircraft, ensuring that there are no defects present is both the challenging and rewarding part of the job. Outside of work, he is the chairman of the Merseyside and North Wales IMechE Young Members Panel, organising educational and social events. In 2013, he was awarded an Arkwright Scholarship for being seen as a potential future leader in engineering. “I hope that I prove this throughout my career,” says Ethan.

Roshni Wijesekera

Fire and CFD engineer at AECOM

Age: 28. Location: London

Why were you inspired to get into engineering?

There’s no one particular reason – it was a combination of things. In Sri Lanka, where I grew up, engineering is presented as a respected profession and the best and natural career choice for those who enjoy maths and science. I also have a couple of uncles who are engineers, so I was aware of engineering from a young age. 

What does your job involve?

I deal with the life safety of people and the fire service. Architects have their visions for buildings and my role is to make sure their designs are safe and robust if a fire was to break out.

What’s the most challenging part?

Being part of an engineering consultancy for the construction industry, the workplace is generally fast-paced and we end up working on multiple projects at any one time. And, quite often, we end up having to work to very tight deadlines, which can be challenging.

And the most rewarding part?

The most challenging part is also the most satisfying. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that the work I do is actually making a difference in society and that I can contribute to the safety of homes, offices and public places so people can go about their business as normal. Working in construction is also rewarding because you can see the results of the work you’ve carried out all around you in the built environment. 

What would you like to achieve in your career?

I don’t tend to set hard targets as plans can change, so I prefer to set smaller goals to let myself know that I’m always improving.

I’m currently focused on gaining professional registration as a chartered engineer over the next few months. And, at the moment, I’m passionate about CFD – computational fluid dynamics – and its application in guiding fire engineering designs. I hope to eventually become a technical expert in this subject.

Jodie Howlett

Mechanical engineering student

Age: 23. Location: Sheffield

Although still in her final year at Sheffield Hallam University, Jodie has already had the chance to be involved in numerous projects. These include helping to develop the design of UltraFan, a Rolls-Royce jet engine that will be ready for commercial flights from 2025. Next summer, she’ll attend the International Space University in France for a nine-week study programme. Looking ahead to the future, she hopes to aim for the stars and maybe start her own business. Her ambition is to develop solutions that benefit humanity and contribute to sustainability.

Vincent Lee Chieng Chen

Acting dean of the faculty of engineering and science at Curtin University

Age: 31. Location: Sarawak, Malaysia

After graduating with a BEng and PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2009 and 2013 respectively, Vincent joined Daikin Malaysia as a research engineer, before moving on to Curtin University. He’s currently looking at how microwave and ultrasound can be used to replace conventional heating techniques in engineering applications. “These conventional techniques are not always environmentally friendly. The end goal is to come up with a cleaner energy source,” says Vincent.

Lewis McGregor

Programme engineer at Severn Trent Water

Age: 27. Location: Coventry

Lewis likes to think of himself as “the Mr Scott of my company” – it was Star Trek that inspired him to get into engineering. His job involves delivering new assets on sewage treatment sites and optimising ageing assets, which he says can be testing. The rewarding part of the work, though, is “seeing the significant environmental benefits it can have” on river quality and ecosystems. He aspires to one day lead and manage his own team delivering a variety of waste-related projects.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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