• 21 June 2018

Ottavia Rispoli

Associate Director, Structures

“The creativity of an engineer is never going to be replaceable, it’s everywhere – your iPhone, car, the underground, video camera, as well as the building you are sitting in”

As a child I was always interested in how things were made and enjoyed very much opening objects up to try and understand how all the elements were put together. In school I was good at physics and maths and when the time came to look around universities, I was inspired by a course in building engineering. This course had the technical part of engineering, but also composition and history of architecture, which made me realise how important structural design is and how it can positively or negatively influence the building’s performance and overall aesthetic.

When I chose to go into engineering, there wasn’t any internet and I didn’t have any friends who were engineers. It proved better than I expected though as it’s a field full of opportunities and a new challenge to face every day. You don’t get bored in engineering that’s for sure!

Every day is rewarding, especially when you get to do pure design work and you find yourself using previous years’ experiences from other projects. There is a long process and journey from the initial vision and the most satisfying part is when you are able to maintain the vision of the architect or designer, succeeding when you walk into that building for the first time.

Engineering has its own language and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a French engineer or Italian engineer in the same trying to solve a technical issue. If you gave them a couple of pencils and a piece of paper, they would be able to talk to each other through the universal language of engineering!

I feel there’s a misconception that our job is cold and boring but it isn’t like that at all. Every day, I get to meet lots of different people with diverse backgrounds and experiences and learn from them. I’ve also recently applied to become a STEM Ambassador and think it will be a brilliant opportunity to promote engineering in schools. I believe you live by example and in showing how passionate we are about what we do, we could inspire other women to become engineers as well.

Diversity and creativity is a key part of engineering and, if we were all very similar to each other, we wouldn’t be bringing anything new to the design. Things aren’t the same as when I started university in the 90’s where I’d often find myself being the only woman in the room. All of that is changing and I collaborate with truly inspiring women daily, nevertheless, more needs to be done for equality and this is where International Women in Engineering Day plays a fundamental part.

Engineering is a fantastic journey. It’s the future surrounding you. Some jobs will soon become obsolete with robots and artificial intelligence, but not engineering. The creativity of an engineer is never going to be replaceable, it’s everywhere – your iPhone, car, the underground, video camera, as well as the building you are sitting in. Why wouldn’t you want to do something that makes a difference in everyone’s life?

Ottavia Rispoli

You can view Ottavia’s video here:



You can also view our International Women in Engineering Day video here.

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  • Emily Wingrove

    “There is no reason a woman should ever hesitate to take a career in engineering because the industry is an evolving, exciting and inclusive sector for everyone to work in”

  • Juliet Harshaw

    “International Women in Engineering Day is so important because it’s a day where we can reach out to young women around the world to show them what engineering is and how you can be involved”


  • Rand Jasim

    “After all the hard work and dedication you put into a project, you have something tangible to show for your efforts that everyone can physically see”


  • Jennifer Camilletti

    “It’s important to raise awareness within young women to break down the misconceptions that science and engineering is a male-only industry