Dr Amber Hill’s academic background is in translational neuroscience while her social impact is focused on creative and digital strategies in healthcare to improve outcomes. She has written and implemented strategies on several awards. Dr Hill is currently an Enterprise Fellow supported by the Academy's Enterprise Hub.
“One of the most unique aspects of engineering is that it gives us the tools to create our future and improve the infrastructures around us. Anyone with an interest in discovery or inventing something new should explore engineering.”
How would you describe your current role to someone who knows nothing about engineering?
I design, deploy and scale new software to support research, development, impact, and engagement. I also turn my intellectual property into businesses as an engineering entrepreneur.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I have a slightly unconventional path to engineering, via biomedical neuroscience. I have an interest in artificial intelligence and virtual reality to widen access to research and increase efficiency.
What do you like most about being an engineer?
Creating, developing and scaling ideas that positively change the future.
Tell us about an achievement that you are most proud of.
I’m at the beginning of my career, but I’m most proud of my growth in the last five years. In this time, I’ve earned my doctorate from University College London (UCL), run a small disability non-profit that I founded called Movement for Hope, and travelled to 20 countries across four continents. I’ve helped to change a few lives for the better through Movement for Hope and also reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres) to support the final building phase of a new school in Burkina Faso. Most recently, I’ve started new research postdoctoral study at UCL and founded a company called Rgrid as a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow.
How do you think racial parity in engineering can be achieved?
Racial parity, like gender parity, is a complex issue that can only be addressed in a space of self-awareness, respect and value for differences — particularly ethnic and cultural differences. From a BAME perspective, some of the viable solutions for racial parity include: having accurate quantification of disparity to address problems (such as statistics on ethnic diversity in executive employment versus global diversity and BAME pay gaps), having qualified minority ethnic groups in executive and decision-making positions, and having youth-first programmes pairing BAME groups with BAME engineers willing to participate in engagement and development programmes.
Has being a BAME engineer had an impact on your career that is either positive or negative?
Experience has taught me, sparingly, about overt racism, agency and a variety of unsolicited pressure. However, I am more confident and comfortable being the only triple minority in a room, dismissing outdated mindsets, and being authentic while working toward my goals. I decide what outlook I have and, subsequently, I seem to attract like-minded people who value my differences and who are rooting for my rise.
How has the ethnic diversity of the profession changed since you started working in engineering?
There’s an incremental shift in perspectives and mindsets aligned with funding, data, media and politics. From a comprehensive perspective, the Academy published recent reports suggesting that numbers of people from BAME backgrounds employed as professional engineers has increased by 2% between 2016 and 2018. Notably, the reports consider BAME first degrees in engineering and percentages of working-age people in the UK. Longitudinal data for BAME subgroups working as engineers remains under-explored. However, there’s a general awareness that positive representations, publicity, and political agency of each BAME subgroup help to improve modern norms and challenge outdated narratives on ethnic diversity in engineering.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
There are so many areas of engineering that are growing, changing and positively impacting the world. One of the unique aspects of engineering is that it gives us the tools to create our future and improve the infrastructures around us. Anyone with an interest in discovery or inventing something new should explore engineering.