Systems Engineer

Systems engineer for transport for London standing in tunnel

Alumni Emily Roach shares her passion for Engineering and her drive to encourage more women into STEM careers.

School: Epsom & Ewell High School

At Esher: 2013-2015

Subjects: Maths, Physics and Spanish

I attended Esher College from 2013-2015, and I studied Maths, Physics and Spanish. I then went and studied MEng Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield, and graduated in 2019. I have since moved back to London and have spent the last two years working as a graduate Systems Engineer for Transport for London. So far, I have been lucky enough to work on some major projects including Crossrail, Piccadilly Line Upgrade, and Bus Electrification.

What are your fondest memories of Esher Sixth Form College?

My fondest memories overall are of friends. The friendship group I met at college are still really close and we speak every day. – we still reminisce about our favourite spot in the canteen by the purple sofas, where we shared lots of laughs during our lunch breaks.

I remember the teachers at Esher had a real passion for their subjects which came through in their lessons. I also look back fondly on playing a monkey and a vulture in the college production of The Jungle Book

How did Esher prepare you for university?

When I was in Year 11, I was a big fish in a small pond, and I think if I had stayed at my secondary school for A Levels, University would have been a big shock to the system. Coming to Esher with such a large number of students, I came across so many different personalities and backgrounds which was good practice for the social side of Uni.

At college we were treated more like adults, which felt great but taught me some good lessons about managing my own time, organising my studies and the consequences of procrastination!

When did you decide to go into Engineering and what motivated you most about the industry?

Emily Roach 2022

At 17, I had no idea what I wanted to do! I went to my physics teacher Mary and told her I liked maths and physics but didn’t fancy doing maths or physics as a degree. She asked if I had considered engineering and handed me a leaflet for a head start engineering taster course. At that point I can honestly say, engineering had never crossed my mind as an option and to be honest I’m not sure if I even really knew what an engineer was. I attended a ”General Engineering” taster course at Cardiff University for a weekend, and the rest is history!

My graduate job is as a Systems Engineer for Transport for London. I love working in the transport industry, as public transport is something we all use and can relate to, and as we all become more environmentally conscious it is going to become an even bigger part of our lives. I feel like part of a positive change as we work to make trains, buses and related infrastructure more accessible, efficient and kinder to the environment.

What motivates me about engineering is: I love problem solving, and I love feeling like I am making a difference. Through engineering you can use technical skills and logical thinking to help make the world a better place.

Why are you passionate about encouraging STEM careers – particularly for women?

Engineering is the vehicle that enables today and drives tomorrow. The opportunities to create, innovate, develop, design and overcome are limitless. I would encourage anyone with an interest in science or maths to strongly consider engineering as a career, whether you get there through completing an engineering degree, or doing an apprenticeship.

As a woman in the industry, I have grown used to being one of the only women in the room, but I want to see change as my career progresses. From a selfish perspective, working with other women is so fulfilling and uplifting. But far more importantly, the more diverse a team of engineers is, the more diverse the ideas, solutions and innovations will be. Studies have shown that businesses that realise the importance of gender equality and invest in women see an increase in productivity and business success.

I am extremely grateful for the women who have come before me and shown the world there is space for us in the industry. There is no singular definition of what it means to be an engineer, and no singular definition of what it means to be a woman. I am excited to continue their legacy, as my female colleagues and I continue to demonstrate the impact we can have.

What achievements are you most proud of?

Emily Roach

Number one is my degree. Four years working for one final goal, at points it felt like an impossible task. I am proud of myself for persisting and I am glad to say it was worth it in the end.

More recently, at work I was given an award for my contribution whilst on placement on the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade. After a lifetime of working towards exam grades and essay marks it felt great to have my work on a real-life, large-scale project recognised and appreciated. Everyone at Bank is a role model to me, and I feel really proud that the team felt I had made a positive impact.

What is the best piece advice someone has ever given you?

Other people will have an opinion on you no matter what, so you may as well just be yourself and do what makes you happy.

What advice would you give your 17 year old self?

Alumni Emily Sheffield Graduate

Stop freaking out – you are going to pass A Level maths!