Every year on IGEday (Introduce a Girl to Engineering day) engineering companies and organisations open their doors, inviting girls and non-binary people aged 13 to 19 to experience a day in the life of an engineer and meet female role models in engineering. This year’s event in Sweden was held on March 25th across the country, both digitally and live. The Autodesk Gothenburg office invited Gunilla Liedman, Fredrik Eriksson and myself to give a Spacemaker workshop where we hosted an enthusiastic group of 17 students from different schools in and around Gothenburg. It was great to be there with Leo Li, Barbara Massolin and Nikki van der Walt from the Autodesk Gothenburg office, and Raquel Bascones Racio and Sasha Crotty who joined via Zoom.
The aim of the day was to give the students a peek into what it’s like to work as an engineer, and also introduce generative design and data-driven design as the new normal to a group of people for whom data is second nature. We explored how Autodesk, as a technology provider, is leading the way for the engineering sector, and the kinds of opportunities Autodesk offers engineers to work at this forefront.
For our Spacemaker workshop, we worked together on a project in Gothenburg to transform a former parking lot into a new mixed-use block with housing, offices and restaurants. A new ‘living room’ in the city, as the city of Gothenburg describes the project, it’s located beside the Göta River. Despite its attractive waterside location, there’s quite heavy traffic which hinders the area as a whole. The challenge of the workshop was for the students to experiment with designing different types of blocks according to the defined number of dwellings and floor heights, and use the data to iterate their proposals. We also looked at how to use Spacemaker’s generative design tool Explore to improve specific living qualities such as views and daylight.
Needless to say, the group nailed the assignment! What surprised the students the most was the complexity of working with urban planning issues with so many factors to consider, which is definitely the case in real life. I think it was great for them to see that there are smart tools available to support this type of early stage planning. Plus, they got a glimpse into the process of designing buildings, like those they see everyday, and an understanding of the decisions behind the end result. Personally, I was very impressed by their sustainability mindset which I believe will have a positive influence on how future generations design our cities.
I also shared my story about my own journey as an engineer (I studied building engineering), how varied the job is, and how it’s evolved in the context of digitalization. There were three of us engineers from Autodesk that day, and we all shared the same story about what it’s like to work as an engineer: follow your heart and that your career has less to do with engineering than you think. The engineer gets to go on an amazing journey, be part of unique experiences and shape many important solutions in society today and in the future.
For me, the day was a fantastic opportunity to be able to step into the students’ shoes to understand them better, and answer their questions about everything from university studies to the daily tasks of an architect and engineer. Personally I enjoyed having the chance to reflect on what I’ve done so far, and how I got here – it was definitely not really part of a bigger, thought-out plan! The students were keen to understand the possibilities of technology and many of the students had already been working with programming and ADSK software. I hope IGEday has inspired them to dream big about becoming an engineer one day and who knows, maybe join our team here at Spacemaker and Autodesk!