PICTURE an engineer and you could effectively think about a white, university-educated man in a tough hat with a roll of blueprints below his arm.
The Inventive Podcast aims to flip these conceptions by highlighting inspirational and influential engineers who don’t match this constricted, outdated mould.
Host Trevor Cox, an acoustic engineer on the College of Salford, UK, chats with a unique visitor in every episode earlier than asking a author to give you an authentic story impressed by these conversations. That makes the podcast itself an innovation of types, in that it marries truth and fiction to exhibit there’s much more to engineering than individuals may suppose.
It’s a welcome addition contemplating the shortage of variety and uptake that also plagues engineering. Within the UK, solely 12 per cent of engineers are girls, and 186,000 new engineers are wanted annually till 2024 to make up for the nation’s abilities shortfall within the occupation.
Reassuringly, the podcast’s first three episodes function girls, the primary of whom is electronics engineer and activist Shrouk El-Attar. A part of her day job includes designing and growing applied sciences for ladies’s well being, together with silent breast pumps and a pelvic ground coach. El-Attar additionally performs as a belly-dancing drag king by evening to problem societal conventions and lift cash for the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.
As a lady and asylum seeker from Egypt, El-Attar is aware of first-hand how being denied alternatives, similar to going to college, may cause engineering to undergo – not solely by being much less various, but additionally on the expense of innovation. “What number of wonderful, artistic applied sciences are we lacking out on as we speak as a society as a result of we’re telling these individuals with the wonderful concepts that they don’t belong right here?” she asks.
In response to El-Attar’s work and her account of being impressed into engineering by the “magic” individuals residing inside her TV as a baby, author Tania Hershman incorporates poetry to create a thought-provoking story that displays El-Attar’s life. It makes use of the thought of a human being as a circuit board and emphasises the significance of language.
Within the second episode, Cox meets Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who was a part of the group that designed The Shard, considered one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Agrawal additionally wrote the ebook Constructed: The hidden tales behind our constructions. She did so to encourage individuals to grow to be engineers by displaying that it’s “so totally an intrinsic a part of people and the way in which we’ve lived proper from the start”, she tells Cox.
“ShroukEl-Attar additionally performs as a belly-dancing drag king by evening to problem societal conventions”
The accompanying story by C. M. Taylor attracts on Agrawal’s self-confessed love for concrete (“I’ve been identified to stroke concrete – I like feeling it!”), as a mysterious determine generally known as the Night time Builder begins to secretly create colossal concrete constructions in cities.
Cox’s third visitor is aerospace engineer Sophie Robinson, who works on a kind of drone-inspired plane referred to as eVTOL (electrical vertical take-off and touchdown), with the thought of growing broadly accessible air taxis that lower highway congestion and carbon emissions.
Robinson can also be an avid swimmer, having as soon as swam throughout the English Channel, a truth that’s on the centre of novelist Tony White’s story about an engineer who grapples with the moral dilemmas of her job whereas on a chilly water swimming journey.
As you’d count on from the expertise of the personnel, the podcast is constructed on sturdy foundations. Cox asks perceptive questions that get to the center of what it means to be an engineer, in addition to serving to to flesh out the main points of the work itself, whereas every author’s tackle the interviews provides an fascinating and totally different aspect to the present.
The friends’ enthusiasm can also be infectious. “Being an engineer is my superpower,” replies El-Attar, when Cox asks her which superpower she would love. “I hope individuals see that and that it may be your superpower too.”
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