Dr Yvonne Barton MBE FREng is a Consultant on Natural Gas
“If you have the curiosity and motivation to get things done and make a difference, then engineering is for you.”
How would you describe your current role to someone who knows nothing about engineering?
I advise liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects around the world, especially those countries which are new to the technology. Natural gas is often supplied by pipeline – such as those from Russia to Europe – but sometimes it can be chilled to a liquid at -162oC, which is LNG, and supplied by ship. This way gas fields in remote locations can supply markets which might not be reached by pipeline. LNG projects are massive, typically costing tens of billions of dollars.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I wanted to make a difference. I started out thinking that I would work in water resources – the fundamental key to people’s lives is to have sufficient clean water to drink and to wash. But then the North Sea oil and gas industry began to take off. My PhD looked at designing offshore platforms to withstand extreme conditions. I specialised in natural gas, and this is also a utility that gives people the means to develop their lives by providing clean affordable energy.
What do you like most about being an engineer?
I can work all over the world and I get to tackle new challenges every day. The scope is amazing. And I never stop learning.
Tell us about an achievement that you are most proud of.
Recently I was involved in the Lithuanian LNG import project, which allowed this tiny country to receive energy independently of Russia. It was a very fast-track project using floating technology. In fact the vessel is named ‘Independence’. It was achieved at the relatively low investment of around €400 million.
How do you think gender parity in engineering can be achieved?
As more and more women are seen to be successful in engineering careers, younger women will be inspired to follow them.
How has being a woman in engineering changed since you started working in the engineering sector?
I myself have grown more confident and – I hope – more knowledgeable. Nowadays people want my opinion and advice. While 30 years ago I may have been regarded as an oddity, today my gender is not an issue – it is irrelevant.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
If you have the curiosity and motivation to get things done and make a difference, then engineering is for you.