INWED18 – Presenting Ioanna Ketsopoulou

25 Jun 2018

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, which fell on Saturday 23rd June, we invited UKERC HQ member Ioanna Ketsopoulou, to answer some questions about her research and career.

We also invited Professor Patricia Thornley to answer similar questions about her career – read her reponses here.

What inspired you get in to engineering?

I have always had an interested in how things work and was good at science, so I thought civil engineering would be an good choice to study at university. I enjoyed seeing things be developed from paper to the real world. After working in a multinational construction company I felt it was time for a change though and decided to study for an MSc on Sustainable Building Technology, which included aspects of both mechanical engineering and architecture. I felt it was important to use my skills to tangibly improve society and help address climate change and saw it as a good way to combine different passions of mine. Following on from completing the MSc I stared work at the UK Energy Research Centre in a dual capacity. In my role as UKERC Research Associate I coordinate and track our research portfolio, however I also undertake my own research as part of the Future Energy System Pathway theme, where I look at the implications of different energy system pathways.

Tell me about a current project you are working on…

I’m currently working on the UKERC project on Disruption and Continuity in Energy Systems. In addition to coordinating the different project partners, I am delivering a work package that explores the role of incumbent utility companies in the transition to a low carbon power sector. It’s fascinating as the project touches on so many different aspects and levels of energy system change. I’m also glad it has the potential for significant real-world impact!

What has been the biggest challenge in your career?

Due to the relative lack of women in engineering and the energy sector, at times I’ve found it challenging to not have many role models. This really highlights a challenge that needs to be overcome – inspiring younger women to pursue a career in engineering by helping them connect to more experienced women who can act as role models and provide useful insights into what engineering actually entails.

What could the industry do to increase the number of women in the sector?

As the sector is currently dominated by men, I think that mentoring schemes and platforms where women can connect would be valuable. As there are challenges associated with working in a male dominated sector it would be useful for women to connect with others who are potentially facing similar issues and learn from those who’ve overcome similar obstacles.

I also think it’s important to show younger women the variety of career options that can stem from an engineering degree. We also need to recognise that life is about more than your career; it’s important to allow for flexible working structures and progression paths that don’t penalise women who choose to have a family and a life outside of work.

Where would you like your research to progress to?

The research I am currently undertaking at UKERC predominately has a UK focus – looking at energy systems on a local scale. Looking forward I would like to my work to have more of an international focus. I’d like to work on issues around the transition to low carbon energy systems but at a global scale.