International Women in Engineering Day 2022


Natalie Taylor

Job title: Systems Engineer
Length of time at QinetiQ: 13 years

What got you interested in engineering?
My Grandad was an engineer in the Royal Navy and even from a very young age, he always encouraged me to understand how things work such that I could fix them myself or even find a better way of doing something.

Is there anyone who you admire or has inspired you to take up a career in engineering?
There are lots of people who I admire as engineers (aside from Grandad obviously) but the most influential inspiration I had was my chemistry teacher at secondary school. At my all-girls school 20 years ago, there was very little natural exposure to engineering related career paths, so Dr Foley made all the difference to me. He introduced me to extra-curricular activities related to engineering which were run by universities, such as the Green Design Challenge at London Imperial.

What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome to become an engineer?
There was no avoiding the feeling of being out of place as one of 5 girls in a university cohort of around 200 engineering students. That said, I had a hugely positive experience studying engineering and the demographic balance has definitely improved since my time! Aside from that, engineering is all about application. The application of the academic science and maths you learn at school into real world situations can be really challenging and is often the best test of our understanding of a concept if we can apply it as part of a complex, real life engineering problem.

What are the best elements of being an engineer?
I find the satisfaction of using science and maths to solve a complex, real world problem where you can see the benefits to the people who need it are really rewarding. Also, engineering is definitely a team sport. I enjoy being part of a team where everyone works to their strengths, supports each other and produces results that you could never get alone.

If you weren't an engineer, what do you think you would have been?
I love sports and the mechanics of the human body so probably a physiotherapist.

If you could say anything or provide any advice to an aspiring engineer, what would it be?
Engineering is an immensely broad subject and it's something we can do throughout our everyday lives, outside of education and work. If you find yourself wanting to understand how things work, or often wonder about how something could have been designed better, then you need to be an engineer - and the possibilities are endless!

Natalie Taylor in an Apache helicopter