International Women in Engineering Day: Nicola Schofield




Our interview today is with Nicola Schofield, Building Energy Modelling Senior Consultant for BRE in the UK, who works alongside the Principal Engineer responsible for testing the Studor products.

Engineering Speciality:

Building Physics, Energy Efficiency



What got you interested in engineering?

I first studied theoretical physics and found it a little too abstract and unrelated to the everyday world. I then studied architecture, but found it a little too lacking in mathematics and science! I’ve always had an interest in the environment and green technology so building science and energy efficiency was a perfect mid-point for me.

Where did you study:

The University of York (MPhys in Physics) and Leeds Metropolitan University (BA in Architecture), which was renamed in 2014 as the Leeds Beckett University.

Any other personal details you feel would be of interest to readers:

I work on developing energy efficiency methodologies and tools for the built environment to be used on a country-wide scale through to bespoke dynamic modelling of individual buildings to investigate issues such as overheating.

What’s the most notable project you’ve ever been involved with and why?

SAP, which is the calculation methodology most likely to be recognised as it underpins the Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) needed when renting or selling a house in the UK.

What specific skills or attributes do you feel that women bring to engineering?

I like to know how things work and why. I like to solve problems and build things. I think rather than there being particular attributes that women should/could bring to engineering, a group of people with different backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints is best to creatively problem solve any engineering task. This means a multidisciplinary group of women and men with open minds to exploring new ideas.

Women constitute a small percentage of engineers versus men. What advice or thoughts can you give to women thinking of studying or training to become engineers?

Engineering is not limited to the few specific stereotypes that are often portrayed in films and TV. Instead, it is a high-level term that encompasses a wide variety of careers. If you enjoy designing and creating or applying any sort of knowledge to build things in the real world then there is probably an area of engineering that you would both enjoy and excel at.

What do you enjoy doing outside work?

I enjoy urban sketching, painting, dressmaking and anything creative.

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