International Day of Women in STEM – Umi Susindran Site Engineer, Water Technologies

Feb 9, 2024

What degree / certifications do you hold?

Hons. Degree in Chemical Engineering and Bachelor of Science (Neuroscience)

What is your job title and what is involved in your role?

My current role is that of a site engineer.  I work closely with project managers as the main on-site coordinator for the project. My role involves overseeing the day-to-day activities of the site ensuring that the build is as per design, procurement planning, subcontractor management, project documentation management and client/ stakeholder liaison etc.

How do you believe your role contributes to a more sustainable future?

My role as the site engineer building water treatment plant enables the client to treat waste water before releasing it to the environment to ensure that water resources are not polluted through the construction project and in the future. Ensuring and managing clean water contributes to a sustainable future.

What made you want to pursue STEM/ engineering/science? What experiences did you have when you were younger that inspired you?

Maths and science have always interested me, and engineering provided an exciting way to pursue my interests. Medical issues within my family such as Alzhemier’s inspired my science degree enabling me to learn about the human body with a focus on neuroscience to better understand the brain function. Both degrees provided me with a wide scope in terms of various job opportunities.

How do you believe innovation and research and development play a role in your field, and how have they influenced your work?

Innovation, research and development also play a big role in both engineering and science.  As an undergraduate at university, reading and understanding research and carrying out research projects was hugely important to gain a greater understanding of both fields.

In water engineering innovation and research plays a large role in conserving, treating, reusing and recycling water throughout Australia. Water affects everything in the world and continually researching is important as we progress as a society.  There are always new ideas and chemicals being tested to conserve water resources and these can be used in my current workplace to improve water treatment processes.

For my science degree I majored in Neuroscience and research which plays a huge role in learning about the brain as there are so many unknowns. Continual development and innovation into neuroscience has played a large role and are required to make advances in finding cure for various medical issues we face.

Can you tell us about a project/experience you’re particularly proud of?

I am proud of the tunnelling projects that I have been a part of, seeing the project from inception (tender to design to construction and commissioning) through its life cycle. I am also proud of my research thesis on delivering medication for spinal cord injuries via nano particles.

In your perspective, how do we at SciDev successfully integrate the domains of policy, science, and sustainability in our work, and why do you believe this integration is significant?

SciDev is a growing company, in the production of water treatment plants which is important in the preservation of water resources. The business development of various strategies, policy as well as knowledge of research into water treatment allows SciDev to integrate best practice in the water treatment allowing for safe reuse and discharge of water back into the environment. SciDev’s also has research in PFAS removal and the tailored PFAS treatment design successfully shows the integration of science and sustainability.

Do you have any advice for younger females wanting to pursue a degree in science?

STEM is a wide and growing field, where you can work in many areas. My advice would be for students to follow their passion and not feel limited in the area of study.

Why do you think women are historically underrepresented in STEM?

While historically women have been under represented due to societal expectations but, there has been a lot of change. Currently, there is a lot more support to help women achieve their goals in their chosen field and be able to dedicate the hours required to progress their careers. Expectation on women’s role have also changed allowing for good work life balance in their careers.

How do you think we could reach more girls and young women to go into STEM? What projects or experiences do you think would get more young females inspired?

Society as a whole is doing a lot better to reach more girls/women to study STEM.  Changing career/gender stereotyping and encouraging women to follow their natural abilities and passion will increase girls and young women in the area. Seeing other women working in the field will also encourage girls to study STEM. I have been part of the women in Engineering group at University where I was able to be a Mentor for other students. It would be great if there were more of organizations that have mentoring to assist women progress.

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