A former graduate of North West Regional College who completed a Higher National Diploma in Building Studies, is helping raise the profile of female engineers in her new home town of Darwin, Australia.
Sinead Deeney from Feeny who went on to complete a degree in Civil Engineering with the Open University, now works with Global giant WSP.
She is also the Chair for Women in Engineering and Future Net, and the Vice President of Young Engineers Australia where she not only is seen as a role model for other women aspiring to a career in the Built Environment, but is also actively mentoring other young engineers trying to break into this field.
Sinead said that her interest in construction stems right back to her childhood.
“My Dad is a crane driver so as long as I can remember I always wanted to go to work with him and see what he was building,” she explained.
“When I did my A-Levels at school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. The course in Building Studies at North West Regional College seemed perfect because there were so many parts to it and I knew I could be sure that this was the area I wanted to work in.”
As one of two girls on her course, Sinead said she never let herself feel daunted breaking into an industry that has traditionally, been dominated by males.
“It never phased me,” she said. “I have two brothers and growing up in the countryside I always ran around playing with boys and girls, so it never was an issue. I was used to getting on with boys.
“The HND in Building Studies covered a wide range of topics – Surveying, Design, Plumbing, Drainage, Law, Contracts and Maths.
“There was a wide spectrum to it and I was able to touch on them all. It allowed to me to see the areas I liked and what I didn’t like.
“I learned a lot. Every module I studied at NWRC I have used in some respect in my career, many on a regular basis. The HND was such a good stepping stone for me.”
After completing the HND, Sinead went on to study for a Degree with the Open University in Civil Engineering.
And, after learning about the opportunities for engineers in Australia she packed her bags and made the more than 8,000 mile trip to Darwin to kick-start her career in the Engineering trade.
She explained: “The first thing I did once I had made the decision to go, was to Google and download the details of all the Engineering companies in Darwin. When I arrived, I rang them for a solid two weeks until I finally persuaded one of them to give me a job.
“I learned that in Darwin you have to be very diverse and ready to jump in and help out, I ended up doing a lot of civil engineering, hydraulics, project managing and administration.”
Sinead’s since held a number of positions in Darwin and currently works as a Civil Engineer and Project Manager with WSP.
She continued: “The work is incredibly diverse. I’ve worked on car parks, roads, water and sewer works, building and design. I’ve recently taken on jobs for the government including refurbishment works, which can be anything from painting to knocking down and rebuilding.
“I find that the work is changing and there are a lot more women involved in engineering. There are a lot of women coming up, it’s a new generation.”
It’s this new generation of women engineers that Sinead is keen to nurture, hence her commitment to organisations such as Women in Engineering, Young Engineers Australia, Consult Australia and Future Net.
Sinead said: “There isn’t much down time representing all these committees but there have already been some amazing upsides. I’ve grown my professional network beyond what I first imagined. I’ve built some great friendships and I’ve also managed to help get our company name out into the Northern Territory market.
“I’m the chair of Women in Engineering and we come together to organise events and like to keep young engineers involved.”
Her advice to other engineers making their first steps on the career ladder is: ‘Aim High.’
“You have to aim high,” she said. “It’s important to keep the push on. Do what you want to do, if you don’t put yourself out there it will take longer to happen.
Going forward Sinead hopes to capitalise on the networks she has helped foster since starting with the company.
With leadership ambitions, she also hopes to gain her accreditation for Project Management by the end of the year.
For details on courses on Construction and the Built Environment and other Higher Education courses at NWRC please log on to www.nwrc.ac.uk