Called to Be: Emilia's Journey

Growing up I thought vocation meant becoming a vicar or another church sort of job, whereas what I realised I wanted to study and work in was engineering (specifically motorsport). As I learnt more about engineering whilst at university, I felt like it was going to be more than just a job - more than a career even. Recently I have concluded that to me being an engineer is a vocation, and I hope to use the skills I’ve learnt to do good in the world. Engineering is a way to serve others through the things we design, make, and innovate, and engineers create all sorts of products and systems that can help people for the better. To me, serving others and doing good with the gifts we have been given is part of being a Christian, and my work is just one way I can do that. My faith, in part, does determine what sector of engineering I work in. My degree, although specifically motorsport, is mechanical engineering based so lends itself to a range of sectors. Although I believe all engineers should use their skills and expertise for good (as does the Royal Academy of Engineering and Engineering Council in their statement of ethical principles*), there are plenty of sectors that require engineers that don’t always adhere to those ethical principles. Personally, I refuse to work in the military or defence sectors and am unlikely to work in aerospace or for some large engineering/consultancy firms (aerospace and large corporations can work in defence). I don’t want to be part of the development of technology and equipment that can, and does, hurt and kill people. Being a Christian calls us to love our neighbour and to not do harm to others, and this doesn’t come through working in these sectors.

Currently I am in the automotive sector, working on projects for a luxury car company. Although my current work doesn’t have the obvious ‘doing good and serving’ element that would ideally be part of my work (and my plans to work in motorsport don’t particularly either), I am hoping I can take on roles in the future that will allow me to do so. Whilst it is not in my day-to-day job, I try to use my engineering skills and position as a young female engineer to create change through volunteering. I volunteer at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) events for children and teens, encourage women and other under-represented groups into STEM careers and am involved with organisations that support minorities in STEM.

Many engineers - and others - who work in STEM are able to do good through their day jobs and in various sectors of engineering.  An example is Extreme E, a new motorsport series. They race in locations across the globe that have a visible impact on climate change and aim to highlight the issues of the climate crisis to the public. All of the kit and vehicles (which are all-electric SUVs) are transported by boat to have less of a carbon impact. The series also employs science advisors to create legacies for local communities and advise on the series’ outreach and education activities.

Additionally, there are charities implementing engineer’s technical skills for positive change - Engineers Without Borders UK is a charity working to achieve social and environmental justice by using the knowledge of engineers. In the past they have provided 200,000+ hours of engineering knowledge, pro bono, to projects across the world and are now focusing on creating systematic change in order to put global responsibility at the forefront for all working in the engineering sector.

*The four fundamental principles from the statement of ethical principles are as follows: honesty and integrity; respect for life, law, the environment and public good; accuracy and rigour; and leadership and communication.