Our Graduate Consultant - Acoustics, Pooja Ganatra talks about the shift in popularity for females entering engineering and how everyone should follow their passion and dreams – irrespective of gender...

Who are you and what is your role?
My name is Pooja Ganatra and I am a Graduate Consultant with the Acoustics team at WSP in the Middle East. As a part of my role I work on various projects – residential/commercial/hospitals/hotels to analyze the acoustic performance within rooms and also carry out mechanical systems noise assessment – alongside doing site surveys.

Tell us about your engineering journey?  
My engineering journey began when I visited Dubai for the first time and I was amazed by the infrastructure. I always had a passion for math and physics, but architectural engineering was my particular interest – to understand how a building functions rather than just the design and construction of it.

I began my degree in Architectural Engineering four years ago, before which I took up an on-site internship which basically gave me an overview of what I was getting into. That made me even more thrilled to get into my chosen field. Since my course covered multiple branches of what I could continue as a professional in, I was keen to gain experience in majority of them before narrowing one down. And so, whilst I was trying to decide on my chosen field, I began interning at WSP and developing my knowledge and practical experience. I interned in various departments through my summer breaks and started interning part-time through my third year at university in a field that I found the most exciting – Acoustics. I was given the opportunity to begin as a full-time graduate consultant while I was in my final year at university and here I am!

Have you experienced any barriers as a female in the industry and how did you overcome these?
Honestly, I haven’t faced any yet, and I think that’s a great sign. I am fortunate to have been surrounded by professionals and team members who value each of us equally, and I hope this continues everywhere else.

What achievements are you most proud of as an engineer?
Being an engineering graduate of 2020 and being given the opportunity to work full-time while I was completing my full-time Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering, I am proud of finishing it with first-class honours! It wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of my team and mentors at WSP.

Although my career is just taking off, I have already enjoyed the privilege of experiencing some great projects and proud of every project I have helped with so far. It is interesting to see how the acoustics of a space is not noticed when well done, but very obvious when it isn’t, so the problem solving and brainstorming with the team on how to design spaces to achieve that gives all of us a sense of pride by the end of it!

How do we hold ourselves accountable as an industry when it comes to Gender Balance & Diversity?
Gender balance and diversity is extremely important and we are absolutely accountable for it. At WSP, I have always seen that we constantly drive the message on our expectations around this subject and the fact that I haven’t faced any barriers as a “female” in the industry speaks for itself. The Acoustics team has an equal gender balance within the team with diverse nationalities and I already see the inclusivity from everyone around as well.

What do you think the future of engineering looks like?
I think the future will be based around automation. Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality will take care of the operationally intensive parts of engineering, ultimately enabling the engineering process to become more creative.

What would you like to share with the next generation of females entering a STEM career?
I had the opportunity to present at JESS Arabian Ranches as an acoustic intern, and it was interesting to see the number of girls interested in engineering and our profession as a whole. I do think there is a shift in popularity with more girls aiming for engineering roles. My engineering class at university had a 90-10 female-to-male ratio, so it is great to see this change and that more females are entering our field! I’d say just follow your passion and dreams, because you’re an engineer at the end of the day – irrespective of your gender!