As we look ahead to International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June, we are celebrating the careers and achievements of women at Ricardo. Here we meet Project Engineer Kayleigh Jones, an analyst in the structural analysis team within the Ricardo Automotive and Industrial Division’s Analysis Capability area. In her day to day role, she uses finite element analysis (FEA) to perform structural analysis of large numbers of internal combustion engine components: performing specific analysis tasks herself on some projects and on others taking on the role of Lead Analyst, which means taking responsibility for coordinating all of the required analysis tasks and ensuring that the team of analysts have everything they need to meet the project deliverables.
Here, we find out what inspired her to become an engineer and why she values her career in engineering at Ricardo.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
Kayleigh Jones: “The last four generations of my family have had a connection with cars and engineering, I often joke that perhaps I was always destined to be the fifth!”
“I grew up with a curiosity for puzzles and how things worked, often building something out of Lego or Meccano. While it was fun to construct the things on the box, I always enjoyed trying to build whatever my imagination could come up with, which I’m sure led to all sorts of crazy ideas!”
“At school, I always enjoyed maths and physics, but I didn’t really know what to do with them as a career. Unlike many of my peers, I didn’t always have a plan from a young age to follow a career in engineering as I didn’t really have any visibility of what it truly means to be an engineer. It was the typical ‘lightbulb moment’ when I began to research my university options and found that engineering not only offered the perfect blend of maths and physics that I was interested in, but also appeared to be the perfect fit for me.”
“This was because I realised that there was a whole world of different types of engineering out there that not only fit in perfectly with the subjects I was interested in and good at, but which also involved a lot of the things that I enjoyed in my spare time – puzzles and problem solving, as well as the more creative side of thinking up an idea and turning it into reality.”
“I applied for engineering courses at university and haven’t looked back – the key point for me was understanding what engineering actually is and dispelling some of the preconceived views around smelly, dirty factories. I’ve visited several automotive production lines since I started my career and they were all modern and spotless – a far cry from what teenage me thought they would be like!”
Why do you value a career at Ricardo?
Kayleigh Jones: “Ricardo is spread across the world and is involved in more disciplines than I can count! While my job is primarily focused on automotive applications, it’s exciting to be part of a company that is involved in so many different and diverse sectors, because it gives me the opportunity to meet and work with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. I’ve worked with colleagues and clients from France, Italy, India and the USA to name but a few!”
“To me, the main strength of Ricardo is the people – I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from experts in a wide range of areas, with a wealth of knowledge that I couldn’t have begun to imagine. As well as learning and growing within my own team, I’ve also been able to pick up knowledge in all sorts of other areas from the people I’ve worked with on different projects – people at Ricardo always seem more than willing to share their knowledge.”
“As well as this, I find there’s a real ‘team spirit’ at Ricardo: there’s always someone ready and willing to help if it’s needed. Within my team I always know that I have the support and knowledge around me that I need to solve any problem. It’s the variety in work and interest in working on a wide range of projects at the forefront of engineering that makes me enjoy my work, but it’s the people around me who make me enjoy my job!”
Why is a career in engineering so great to pursue?
Kayleigh Jones: “Engineering is such a broad subject – mechanical, civil, electrical, aerospace – the disciplines covered by engineering are extensive and varied.”
“Many of these engineering disciplines rely on a common core skillset, and there’s always the opportunity to apply your skills to something different that interests you – the skills you build as an engineer are useful in so many different areas. Whilst there are always specialist skills that can be learnt, the core skill set of an engineer gives you a versatility that means you’re free to explore any career path within the industry that appeals to you.”
“Within engineering there are such a wide range of disciplines specialisms and applications to which you can apply your skills. Whether you’re interested in a role where you’re responsible for individual components or which oversees a complete system; want to develop a huge amount of knowledge in a specific area or learn a little bit about a lot of things; or are interested in working with computer models or physical parts, you’re sure to find an area that suits you and allows you to build a satisfying career in engineering that’s as specialised or varied as you want it to be.”
To find out more about Ricardo, please visit: https://automotive.ricardo.com/