Tell us about yourself…
Hello! My name is Aisling Guilfoyle and I’m a Civil Engineer specialising in utility infrastructure services.
I’m originally from Ireland and I’ve been in the Middle East for over 5 years, 4 of those have been with WSP.
How did you become an engineer?
Curiosity! It was my curiosity that got me into engineering. When I was growing up Ireland was transforming rapidly.
Highways, bridges, residential developments, water treatment works and many more civil developments were underway. This increase in the construction market was referred to as ‘the Celtic Tiger boom’.
I saw first hand highways replacing our single lane regional roads; Expressways slicing through green fields connecting the four corners of the island and residential developments springing up in what were once were large villages, turning them into towns.
All of this activity sparked my interest and filled my head with questions - How do they build it? How did they know where to place these developments? Who designed it?
All of this lead me to pursuing a career in this sector, I was fraught with choices. What aspect of engineering to do? civil, structural, quantity surveying, architecture? In addition, the daunting prospect of entering a predominantly male dominated industry was quite intimidating for someone who went to an all-girls secondary school.
All these questions and worries were put to rest when I arranged a meeting with the only female lecturer (at the time) at the university that I had shortlisted for my undergraduate qualification. When I met with her and she told me of her career before lecturing and the kind of projects she had worked on across America and Africa, I was inspired and assured that Civil Engineering was the career for me!
Share an achievement of yours?
Project wise I think one of my greatest accomplishments was the design of a passive storm water system for the 130 hectare mixed use development at the Al Sulaimania Development located in the Jeddah City Centre District in KSA.
There where no nearby storm water municipal lines, and so, alternative stormwater drainage solutions were required. This involved a full hydraulic study of the surrounding roads, reverse engineering of the existing infiltration ponds downstream, implementation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), a study to ensure that the nearby main highways tunnel to Jeddah would not be at risk of flooding and collating all of this into a technical report in order to obtain approval form Jeddah Municipality and their third-party peer reviewers.
What are you passionate about?
Professionally – it is collaboration and teamwork – getting things done enjoying the satisfaction of submitting a good quality submission to the client on time. Outside of work – I’ve been horse riding since I was 5 years old, as I grew up on a farm, and I have competed in show jumping. I try to go to a riding arena close to where I live 2-3 times a week
It’s great for catching up with friends and to spend time around the horses.
Tell us about an initiative you are involved in.
I am currently one of the WSP representatives on the Engineers Without Borders for the UAE. As part of this group I am engaging with the global organisation about how we can engage with academic institutions as part of our corporate social responsibility initiatives.
What are your thoughts on gender balance within the engineering industry?
Since I began my career in engineering it was evident that there wasn’t much diversity. Although over the years I have seen first-hand that more women are entering the industry. In WSP alone I have seen a big increase of female colleagues particularly in technical roles.