Zhen Qiu, Research Engineer
Liverpool John Moores University
“With the adoption of industry 4.0, the industry is going through its digital transformation. New skill sets are required, and more and more opportunities appear for women.
Don’t let misconceptions discourage you, there are so many aspects and areas that you could explore; engineering and industry can be fun and creative.”
I joined the Cheshire and Warrington 4.0 team at LJMU in 2021. In my previous life, I got my PhD in Electronic Engineering and Physics and had been working in HE as a senior researcher for six years in the field of sensor technology.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK WITHIN INDUSTRY?
I believe that research and innovation in engineering and science fields should be practical and useful. Knowledge transfer and exchange between universities and industries is a great way to make this happen and to create meaningful impacts. This role creates a platform for bridging advanced research and practical uses and I get to use my knowledge to support this development through a collaborative approach.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
I get the opportunity to work with many SMEs from different industries. Every company has unique challenges and every day is a new and interesting challenge for me. I enjoy helping companies to identify their digital challenges and breaking their aspirations down into actionable steps.
I am also developing different skillsets from this role which would benefit me in my future without a doubt. I am learning so much from my wonderful colleagues not only about the technologies but also about engagement and communication skills.
Engineering is often perceived as difficult, grimy and labour intensive, and a ‘man’s profession’. The truth is that engineering contains a wide range of activities. Within the innovation around Industry 4.0, there are many women like myself working in the field of data gathering, data analysis, software development, simulation and modelling, product design, advanced manufacturing and process control, and often it is a combination of a few together in addition to business engagement and project management.
DURING YOUR CAREER, HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY BARRIERS AND CHALLENGES? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE?
This role requires me to step into leadership and management when working with both academics and industries. I am participating in the Aurora leadership development programme this year and with daily practices, I am continuously gaining confidence.
WHAT CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS DO YOU THINK THERE ARE FOR WOMEN IN INDUSTRY?
There are still barriers for women to get into senior management roles. Women are great listeners and tend to solve problems with a more collaborative approach which make women great team players, and of course great leaders.
I enjoy my role and I hope to continue to work with industry. I hope to see more young girls get into the engineering field and industry for creating a positive impact.