Celebrating Women in Engineering Day 2024: Atalana Hague, Graduate Engineer

20 June, 2024

International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED) is held annually on the 23 June, with this year’s theme being ‘Enhanced by Engineering’. Coordinated by the Women’s Engineering Society, the day aims to promote the amazing work of women engineers across the globe. Women engineers are still hugely under-represented globally, with around 14% of women making up the Australian engineering workforce.

We got the inside story from Atalana Hague, our graduate engineer, about her experiences.

What made you decide to get into engineering?

Since I was young, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career that would challenge me mentally, where I would have the opportunity to continuously expand my knowledge and expertise within my field. Whilst those plans didn’t quite pan out to me becoming a genius astronomer making cosmic discoveries (I was ambitious at 12 years old) … I think engineering is a close second! I wanted to specialise in the chemical and environmental engineering sector, as I think they are fundamental to working in an industry that can make a positive impact on the environment and contribute towards a sustainable future.

What do you like about engineering?

As many of my fellow engineers would agree, engineering can be challenging, but even more rewarding. I enjoy being involved across the various aspects of an engineering project as there is always a unique challenge or problem to solve. However, more importantly, there is always something valuable to learn and take away from each project as well. It is gratifying to work with a talented and hardworking group of people as part of a successful engineering team. This was one of the best parts I enjoyed while working on group projects during university, and this has followed on into my career having the privilege of working with a wonderful team of people!

What has been your academic & career journey so far?

My academic and career journey so far has been quite limited, but nothing short of an adventure. I studied and graduated from the University of Queensland (UQ), with a Bachelor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering in 2023. I was very fortunate to have started an internship with the Water & Carbon Group (WCG) back in 2021 during my third year of uni, and I then started working part-time whilst finishing my degree. I am very fortunate to have continued as part of the team and began working full time as a graduate engineer at the start of this year in 2024.

Having the opportunity to be a part of WCG since university and seamlessly transition into a graduate role has allowed me to kick-start my professional career as an engineer. I have been exposed to such a broad scope of responsibilities over the engineering project timeline, which have allowed me to identify my strengths and the tasks I find most fulfilling. Throughout my professional career I have already learnt so many valuable skills and made meaningful connections that have helped me to grow and expand my abilities as an engineer

What type of projects have you worked on?

I have been involved in a range of tasks, at the various stages of the project timeline, including design, commissioning, and operation of wastewater treatment solutions. These include WCG’s leachate treatment plant in Shoal Bay, and I have also worked on various containerised treatment systems tackling different wastewater concerns. Recently, I have been involved in some Research and Design (R&D) projects and modelling tasks for WCG’s LEEF system, which has been very interesting, and I have been learning lots!

Are there any barriers for women getting into engineering?

There are definitely still some barriers that exist for women in engineering, but I do think they are improving at a rapid pace. I am very fortunate to be a young engineer in this current climate as there is a big push and encouragement for women to study and pursue careers in STEM. There are many opportunities out there to assist women in achieving this, especially people in less fortunate circumstances. My experience throughout my studies was positive and the cohort I was a part of was very inclusive. It feels good to contribute to the diversity of the team here at WCG!

What would you advise other young women who would like to get into the industry?

As I mentioned before, there is a massive push from schools, universities, and companies to encourage women to pursue and be involved in the industry. So, my advice would be at whatever stage you are at, to use the opportunities available to your advantage to make the most of your studies and excel in your professional development. You will undoubtedly face some hardships and tough challenges along the way, but you will reflect on your journey and be proud of all your achievements and how far you have come. It is such a great industry to be a part of!

I want to give a congratulations to everyone that is celebrating International Women in Engineering Day today - you should be proud of yourselves! It is empowering to know that there are so many strong and intelligent females entering or working within the engineering industry. I cannot wait to work alongside many fellow female engineers throughout my career, and to hopefully make lifelong connections along the way.

Creating a lasting positive impact on the environment.

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