Jane Wernick CBE FREng is Director of engineersHRW, incorporating Jane Wernick Associates
“Almost everything around us has had an engineer involved in it at some stage.”
How would you describe your current role to someone who knows nothing about engineering?
I am a structural engineer. I work as part of a team that includes the client, the architect and other types of engineers to develop the design of buildings and other structures. For each project, we try to work out what would be the best way to make the structure in a way that meets the brief, enhances the architecture, can be easily built, is affordable, and can bring delight to all who experience them. We do calculations that make sure everything is strong and stiff enough, and produce drawings and specifications so that a contractor can build it.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I liked maths, physics and making things. I also enjoyed art and the process of representing a 3D object in 2D. The more I looked into what engineering was, the more I realised how almost everything around us has had an engineer involved in it at some stage. Reading about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his ability to make things happen amazed me, so engineering seemed like an exciting prospect.
What do you like most about being an engineer?
Making a contribution to our built environment, and being part of the community that cares about that, and about the future of our planet.
Tell us about an achievement that you are most proud of.
Probably starting my own company and building up a really varied portfolio of projects that will remain for many years, such as the treetop walkway at Kew, the Young Vic Theatre and many other projects in the public realm, as well as quite a few houses.
How do you think gender parity in engineering can be achieved?
We need to have a much higher proportion of women at the board level or equivalent of all the organisations, both in practice and academia.
How has being a woman in engineering changed since you started working in the engineering sector?
There are more of us. So it isn’t quite so lonely. But many attitudes and issues remain unchanged.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
If you like making things, problem solving and working as part of a team, it can be a really rewarding and varied career. No two roles are the same, and there are so many interesting routes that you can follow.