Amaia tells us how she became a structural engineer. “It’s hard for me to pinpoint where my fascination with buildings began. I always wanted to be part of the design and creation of the structures that people depend on and interact with on a daily basis. When I was 14 years old, I was involved in a sustainable stadium design competition with three other girls from my school. Our ambitious design, which included transparent PV panels in the roof and a moveable pitch, won 1st place.

I was hooked! I’d loved the process of interpreting the client’s brief, coming up with ideas that would not only satisfy the purpose of the structure, but that would also push the boundaries of technology and look amazing. The thrill of presenting our ideas back to a real construction firm and having our efforts rewarded was incredible!

At sixth form, my physics teacher organised a trip to BRE (the Building Research Establishment) and their unique structural testing facilities. This was the first time I’d really been able to see the importance of an engineer in the design process of buildings, and the role they play in developing new technologies. At Sheffield University I studied Structural Engineering and Architecture. This multidisciplinary course really highlighted the difference between the two roles, and also allowed me to understand that my strength lay in engineering. I also became a STEM ambassador whilst I was studying, wanting to help other young people understand what engineering is.

I am now in a permanent role with Building Research Establishment, focussed mainly on structural testing on a range of scales; I have found that working in a research-based company has meant that each day is completely different, and that I am still constantly learning and adapting.”

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