Shruthi Sivadasan, volunteer

“I wanted to take this opportunity to break the gender stereotypes the children may have about what an engineer does and looks like.”

  • Name: Shruthi Sivadasan
  • Job title: Graduate Subsea Engineer
  • Organisation: Wood

What activity did you participate in?

Since October 2020, I have volunteered for 16 virtual events which included career insight talks, ‘What’s my Line?’, speed networking, and mock interviews. I am based in Aberdeen, Scotland, and the activities I volunteered for were held in schools in England – a benefit of the events going virtual has meant you can support communities further afield.

Why did you decide to take part in the activity?

I was fortunate to have my father as a role model who inspired me to get into engineering. However, not every student has such role models or gets exposure to different career paths. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to break the gender stereotypes the children may have about what an engineer does and looks like.

How did you get involved?

I am an associate member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). It was through their newsletter that I first heard about Inspiring the Future. I signed up as a volunteer on the website.

The volunteer form was easy to fill and I got access to the system quickly without any delays. The system is very user-friendly, I can express interest for virtual or in-person events and accept or decline requests based on my availability.

I get auto notifications straight to my email inbox whenever a school invites me for an event or sends me a message through the chat function on the system. This is a great feature as I do not need to continuously monitor my profile, I can ask questions to the teacher and get a notification when they reply.

For the virtual events I have been asked to join the classroom via Teams, Zoom or Google Meet. Sometimes I have had test calls with the school before the event to iron out any IT issues.

How did you prepare?

I used the resources available on the website to prepare for the events which included documents that explained the activity in detail, the safeguarding rules, etc. The Inspiring the Future YouTube channel is great as there are videos from previous activities that give you an insight into what happens on the actual day.

I also prepared a slide pack for the activities with pictures as it helps me structure my talk and engage with the students visually.

What was the best part about the activity for you?

Doing something meaningful with my time and giving back to the community. And answering the questions the children had after my presentation.

What was the strangest/funniest/best question you were asked?

It was whether I had ever gone diving underwater. This was a funny question because I fear the deep oceans and think a sea monster will bite me even though I analyse structures that are underwater for a living.

What is a key piece of advice you gave?

Ask questions to clarify your doubts. There is no silly question! It is always better to ask a question and get an answer rather than being afraid of losing face in front of people.

What impact do you think you’ve made on the lives of young people you spoke with?

I tried to give the students an insight into the subsea industry which they would not have normally seen on TV or heard through their social circles. I hope that some of the children feel inspired to get into engineering in the future. And the icing on the cake would be that when I am older, there would be more girls pursuing engineering and the industry would no longer be male dominated.

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