EngineerChic (Rhea – Mechanical Engineer)

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It is my pleasure to feature, Rhea of EngineerChic on the blog today. She is another blog that writes articles about what it’s like to be an engineer in hopes to inspire others to follow her lead. She rocks an awesome pink hard hat and she is certainly having some great experiences while working as an engineer in South Africa!

Tell us a little about yourself…

My name is Rhea Naidoo and I am a mechanical engineer living in Johannesburg, South Africa. I studied at the University of Cape Town and for the past three years have been working for a mining multinational in the rural province of Limpopo in South Africa. Currently, I work for an engineering consulting firm in Johannesburg as a project engineer on capital projects in the mining sector.

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Why did you become an engineer?

I have always been fascinated by how things work and as a kid, was always taking things apart. Engineering was a logical option, especially when I considered the demand for engineers and scarcity of skilled engineers in my country. I knew that an engineering degree would give me a firm foundation on which to found a career.

What places have you traveled to while studying or working as an engineer?

I was incredibly fortunate to travel to India and China as part of my previous project to inspect equipment being imported. This was an amazing way to experience other countries’ business cultures. I’ve also travelled extensively to the USA and Canada as part of my volunteer work with ASME – a society of mechanical engineers. In my new position in consulting however, I expect to travel much more regularly within South Africa and in various countries in Africa.

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What is a fun/interesting opportunity you have had through your career as an engineer?

In my final year as a student, I lead an Engineers Without Borders, UCT project. The project involved rolling out energy-efficient technologies to assist businesses operating in informal settlements around Cape Town. This was a great opportunity to meet and work will leaders in the field of development and gain valuable experience.

What have you enjoyed most about being an engineer? 

Making things happen and seeing my work come to life. Having worked on a project designing and constructing an entire plant from scratch, it was amazing to see the designs I worked being built, the equipment I selected being installed and the plant I had devoted two years of my life to come alive and start producing its product. You just don’t get that kind of satisfaction in other careers!

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Any advice to aspiring women interested in engineering?

Many, many people are going to tell you not to do it. They are going to tell you how hard it is and what a sacrifice you will be making to your lifestyle. They will tell you that it’s a “manly” career and not suited for a pretty, young woman like you. The funny thing is that they are right! But do it anyway because it will make you financially independent. Do it because it will set you up for a lucrative career in the engineering and business worlds. Do it because it will make you tough enough to handle anything that life throws at you. Do it because you can.

Others will look up to you as a pioneer, as a role model, and you will gain recognition for your achievements (like being featured on blogs). If you’re worried that being an engineer will impact your femininity, check out the EngineerChic blog to see how I’ve managed to be the girlie-girl I am whist being a successful and respected engineer.

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