Zoe Dobell is a systems engineer at Transport for London (TfL), adding new systems onto existing trains.
Why did you first become interested in engineering?
I have a few theories! When I was about five, I visited a railway depot with my dad. Exposure to that world from an early age made me aware that engineering existed and that it was interesting. I joined the Beavers as a child because my mum thought being active and outdoors was important.
How did you get to where you are now?
I always knew I wanted to go to university as I’ve always quite liked studying, so I took A levels in the subjects I enjoyed: science, maths, and design and technology. One of my teachers suggested that engineering was a good combination of all three subjects, which led to me studying materials science and engineering at Imperial College London.
How did you choose systems engineering?
I chose to work in transport because it helps people; it’s good for society. I specifically chose railways because they’re public transport rather than luxurious travel such as cruise ships or aeroplanes, and metros in particular help lots of people!
I enjoy the challenge of working within restrictions, such as being able to run a certain number of trains during rush hour.
What would be your advice to young people looking to pursue a career in engineering?
Keep your options and your eyes open! Look for the things that excite you and try to appreciate that everything around you has been engineered by someone. Look at problems that need to be solved: if you found something difficult to use, think about how you could improve it. James Dyson had problems with his vacuum cleaner, so he engineered a better one.
I would say it is important to study science and maths throughout school, regardless of whether you choose to become an engineer through an apprenticeship or a graduate scheme route. Design and technology will also give you a great basis for engineering.
What is your most used technology?
3D printing of parts to help check the size and shape of what I’m building.