Dr Ozak Esu
Technical Project Manager R&D, Hilti Group
Ozak graduated with a PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University in 2016. In 2017, she was named on the “Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35” list, and as The Institute of Engineering and Technology's (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year. Her BEng degree is also from Loughborough. Here she discusses how the University gave her a lifeline and how she transitioned into the working world.
Why did you choose to study BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Loughborough University?
I did not apply for a BEng. I applied for an MEng but did not make the required A Level grades and so I had to downgrade to a BEng degree before joining the university. I chose Electronic and Electrical Engineering because I love Mathematics and because of my ambitions to work with other engineers towards improving the energy and power sector in my country, Nigeria. I chose Loughborough University because it was ranked in the Top 10 universities for my chosen course in the league tables.
What made you stay on to complete a PhD in the subject?
I chose to stay on at Loughborough University because I experienced first-hand what a great place it was to study in. The teaching and research quality was outstanding, especially within the Electronic and Electrical Engineering department. Highly-skilled and trained staff like my PhD supervisor, Dr James Flint, were always willing to impart knowledge, and provide guidance in any possible way.
I was also offered a fantastic scholarship which was too good to refuse. Loughborough was ranked in the top 5 in the National Student Survey at the time and its high graduate employment rates were also attractive.
How has Loughborough University inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?
Loughborough University gave me a lifeline and second chance in summer 2008 to try my hardest. Arriving a new country at 17years old, Loughborough University is where I grew up. My parents instilled a culture of working hard, outreach, and giving back; but Loughborough University helped me to practically demonstrate these values.
The culture of volunteering and RAG at the University has inspired me to continue to devote time to outreach, has helped me to develop as a human being and progress in my career.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering?
You have made a wise decision in selecting Loughborough University. The state of the art facilities, and knowledgeable lecturers within the department are the best there is to offer. Take advantage of all opportunities afforded to you whilst at Loughborough University. The best experience is when you participate.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
I took part in athletics, training weekly with the expert coaching staff of the Athletics Union. I made many friends outside of my course by taking part in extra-curricular activities.
I served as the President of the Nigerian Society, and I was the Electronic and Electrical Engineering representative on the Women in Engineering Society. I organised events for members of the various societies I was serving in and the experience helped develop my team working skills outside of my course.
I participated in many outreach programmes organised and hosted on campus such as First Lego League, EDT Headstart, Family Day, and Open Days. I served as an International Student Ambassador, Examination Invigilator, and a UCAS Clearing Contact Centre assistant for the admissions office. These experiences developed my understanding of the importance of customer focus, client care and branding.
Can you tell us more about your former role at Cundall?
Cundall is an international multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, employing over 700 staff worldwide, operating within the UK and Ireland, Australia, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The world’s first consultancy to be formally endorsed as a ‘One Planet Company’ by sustainability charity BioRegional, Cundall is committed to providing people with the knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm to make a difference in our homes, offices, projects, industry and community.
The company primarily operates within the built environment, integrating environmental considerations into innovative design solutions to encompass everything from transport and energy consumption, to how people will ultimately use buildings, which in turn develops positive links with the community.
I joined Cundall in November 2014 as a Graduate Engineer while I was completing my PhD at Loughborough University. I was promoted in January 2017 to Electrical Engineer. I have surveyed existing buildings, and engineered innovative electrical services design solutions for new build and refurbishment projects. These electrical services include electrical generation from photovoltaics, electrical distribution, small power and data, containment systems, lighting design and lighting control, emergency lighting, fire detection and alarm, security and access control systems.
My project involvement includes sixteen plus schools for the Education Funding Agency, leisure centres, mixed-use (retail, hospitality, and commercial) schemes, workplace, redevelopment schemes and student accommodation.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
We spend on average 90% of our lives inside buildings for various reasons including shelter, security, and privacy, to store belongings, or to live comfortably, learn, and work.
For projects I am involved in, I work to ensure it is the best possible space in terms of occupancy comfort with minimal negative impact on the environment. I particularly find the developed detailed design stage of my job the most interesting.
The best parts about being an engineering consultant within the built environment are the diversity of projects and the many interpersonal skills you develop in your career from collaborative working.
How does it feel to be recognised by the Institution of Engineering and technology, and being named in the Top 50 Women in Engineering “Under 35” list so soon after completing your studies?
It feels amazing to be recognised through the various awards. 2017 has truly been an exciting year for me personally and professionally. I have always worked hard and continue to do so. To be recognised for my contributions to engineering and technology so early in my career has encouraged me to devote even more time to it.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Completing my PhD has been the proudest moment of my career so far. I began my PhD at 20 years old and it is till this day, the most challenging thing I have ever done. To complete it successfully against all odds and a few setbacks/challenges has boosted my self-confidence. I face every challenge in my career with a renewed sense of purpose and belief that I can truly achieve anything so long as I put my mind to it, and work extremely hard.