21 June 2024

International Women in Engineering Day 

To mark International Women in Engineering Day, we interviewed Jessica Rees, Project Engineer from System Five 

How long have you worked in the industry?  

I have been in the industry for four years, I Joined System Five in January 2020. 

What was your first role? 

My first role in the industry was actually as administrative support for the Projects Team at System Five. This is where I gained the basic background knowledge surrounding the industry through handling documentation including technical submissions and operations and maintenance manuals. 

If different, what is your current role? 

It became clear rather quickly after starting my admin role that I was interested in developing my knowledge of building management systems and that I had an aptitude for learning how these systems are put together. I’ve progressed from Project Administrator to Project Co-ordinator then onto Assistant Project Engineer and finally I’m glad to say a fully-fledged Project Engineer. As a Project Engineer, I now design various Building Management Systems for all types of buildings and applications from offices to laboratories. 

When you first started, what challenges did you face? How were these overcome?  

I think the most obvious challenge I faced when first starting out was that I had no knowledge or experience of the building controls industry, I was a newbie. However, the team at System Five were incredibly supportive and helpful in terms of teaching and providing training, which has helped me get to the position I am in now. By taking several training courses including various BCIA courses I have developed my knowledge which means I am able to effectively design Building Management Systems. 

What have you enjoyed most about working in the industry?  

The industry is ever changing, there are always new products, regulations, and technology, so there is always something new to learn. 

When it comes to attracting more female professionals, what can the industry do better?  

I think the industry needs to offer non-traditional ways of getting into the sector, for the most people in the industry they have entered straight after education or apprenticeships and have certification/experience under their belts. There are going to be cases like me, where plenty of women who have entered the industry in administrative roles, do not know they have the capacity or ability to work in an engineering role instead. I think it’s important that they are offered the opportunity to undertake training and education, it may be the career they never knew they could achieve. 

Where do you see the industry in five years’ time?  

As energy efficiency and regulations become more common place and are enforced more stringently, I believe that the building controls industry will thrive. 

What are your hopes for the industry moving forward? 

My hopes would be that more women are encouraged to enter the industry, and that during educational years when young women are trying to decide a path to take, that they know a career in construction and engineering is a viable option and feel supported in their choice.