Dr Margi Vilnay
Part of Women in STEM
Hello, everyone. My name is Margi and I'm a structural engineer.
What is a Structural Engineer?
Structural engineers design and make sure that all the structures that are around us are safe and fit for their intended purpose. Structures like flats, houses, hotels, shops, bridges, offshore structures and even telephone masts.
What have I done in my career as a structural engineer?
I've been really lucky in my career as a structural engineer to have worked on a lot of really interesting and very, very different projects. I've worked as part of a team investigating historical structures in the Mediterranean and having a look at how we could protect them from any future earthquakes that might happen, preserving them for generations to come. I've also been a structural engineer in an engineering office which investigated the structural integrity of offshore platforms. That is, we had a look and analysed those offshore platforms to make sure that despite the really high wind and wave loads that they endure, they're still safe for the people who work on them. I also investigate what happens to structures and the really high impact loading. I look mainly at reinforced concrete structures and try to examine and simulate what would happen if they were hit by some really high blast loads. I do this in order to analyse the structural behaviour and try to figure out how we can protect structures in the future from any extreme loading cases.
What do I do as a lecturer?
I currently also lecture in structural engineering at the University of Dundee, where we go on a journey together, discovering how to combine maths and physics and our understanding of the world around us to design and make sure that the structures that we build are safe and fit for purpose.
What subjects and skills are needed to be a structural engineer?
In my job, I use maths and physics, as well as computer programmes, and I combine these to check what happens to structures under different loads. For example, a concrete column under blast load or perhaps a shield where bullet penetrates it, combining all of these together to analyse a structure under different scenarios. Apart from those skills, though, as an engineer there are quite a few other skills which are just as important, and they really are creativity and curiosity as well as teamwork and really good communication skills. All those are really important in order to be a good engineer.
Why I love being a structural engineer
I love being a structural engineer because no two projects are ever the same. You get to meet really interesting people and this is a profession that can take you around the world because let's face it, wherever you go around the world, there are structures and there are people that need to design them.
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