For the third year running a young Imagination engineer has taken home a EW BrightSparks award. The BrightSparks award, in association with Electronics Weekly and RS Components, celebrates the brightest, young engineers in the UK today.
Following in the footsteps of Keno Mario-Ghae in 2017 and Razvan Caramalau in 2018, Louisa Smith, Leading Hardware Engineer, took home a BrightSparks gong at an award ceremony held at the IET’s Maxwell Library in London on 2 May 2019.
Louisa’s success came from her being responsible for the verification environment for a complex module that controls scheduling and manages resources in Imagination’s graphics processing unit (GPU), also containing an MCU. Her work improved the verification code and documentation and standardised the methodology, reducing the number of test benches required from forty-nine to just two.
At University Louisa helped start the Robogals Southampton chapter. She also helped with a Headstart course run jointly by the University of Southampton and the UKESF and has also supported several events in local secondary schools.
Following the event, we conducted a short interview with Louisa to discover a bit more about what inspired her to become an engineer.
Congratulations on being named one of Electronic Weekly’s 2019 BrightSparks – how does it feel?
I feel very proud to be one of the thirty BrightSparks recognised, but I would add that I would not have won this award without the support of a lot of people here at Imagination. I first came to Imagination as a placement student just after I finished my A-levels. The team at Imagination has been there for me throughout my degree and the early years of my career and I have learnt a lot from so many of them.
What inspired you to become an electronic engineer?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what inspired me into electronic engineering, but for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be an engineer. It became more specific as I got older and I experienced different things through my education. I suppose my decision to go into Electronic Engineering was made when I really enjoyed Systems and Control GCSE classes, and I was fortunate enough to go to a school that offered Electronics as an A-Level.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is the people, I have learnt so much in my career so far and I hope that continues. Seeing new technology is cool, but without the people to keep improving it and applying it to new fields, we will not continue to create new solutions that can be applied to problems no one has even thought of yet.
What advice do you have for people wanting to get into electronic engineering?
Get hands-on, get experience. Its applicable to all industries but the worst any company is going to say to you when you approach them is “No, we are not interested right now,” – and any company who says yes is a valuable opportunity to gain experience and learn from people who are in the industry.
Where do you want to be in five years?
This is a hard one to answer in the world of technology. I hope to still be in the electronics industry but it’s a field that changes frequently – at the moment a lot is happening around the Internet of Things and self-driving cars – and no doubt some other things that no one has thought of yet. This means it’s hard to predict exactly what I will be doing in five years, but that is what makes this industry exciting.
As women in engineering, are you seeing positive changes in terms of attracting, retaining and developing women?
Are there more women getting into engineering? Yes, I think there are, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s too early in my career for me to say about retention, ask me again if I’m still here in another five years! In terms of developing women, I think women and men should be given the same opportunities to show what they can do and develop as professionals – let me prove myself on a level playing field rather than giving me specific opportunities because I am a woman.