Women in Engineering: Collette Whitson - Graduate Engineer
Published 14th July 2023
In this series, we’ll be highlighting some of the unique stories of the women in engineering at Taziker. Keep on reading to find out more about Collette Whitson, Graduate Engineer in our Scotland team.
Growing up in Motherwell, Scotland, Collette Whitson discovered her passion for STEM related subjects in physics and mathematics from a young age. Also an avid music lover and accomplished at both the saxophone and violin, Collette faced a difficult decision of which career path to follow when it came to applying for university.
She explained: “Applying for university was tough, as I was considering two completely different career paths either in engineering or music. In the end, I decided that the engineering sector was best suited to my talents and the wealth of job opportunities was a big factor.”
Collette went on to study for her master’s in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. It was a work placement opportunity during her degree which introduced her to civil engineering, where she would see her career eventually progress.
Collette explained: “I worked with a local civil engineering company whilst I was at uni as a site engineer. I enjoyed it so much and getting experience setting out, procuring materials, and assisting with TQs, showed me that a career in civils was more where I saw my career going.
“It was a lot easier than I thought to make the switch to civils from mechanical. My mechanical engineering degree constantly comes in handy.”
Graduating in 2021, Collette joined Taziker shortly after as Graduate Engineer in our Scotland team. Her role involves crucial processes for our works including the implementation of technical, quality, safety and environmental controls, preparation of methodologies and risk assessments, communication of technical drawings and specification to our site teams and much more. She is also a STEM Ambassador, offering mentorship to young people.
Reflecting on her time at Taziker so far, she said: “Taziker is great for providing development opportunities. I have completed several courses since I’ve been here and if I see a course or qualification that will benefit me within my role, everyone is really open to hearing more about it.
“The range of projects is a great advantage as an engineer, no two days are truly ever the same! There’s always new challenges and new solutions to be developed and implemented.”
There’s no denying that engineering is primarily a male dominated field, but Collette has never let this deter or faze her, from her university studies to working on our sites day-to-day.
She explained: “When I was at university, there were about 30 women studying the course out of a cohort of 200. I had a really positive experience and got on with everyone that I met.
“When I started on site, of course being one of the only females it was a bit daunting at first, but I got to know everyone quickly and it was a lot of easier. Now I don’t even give it a second thought!”
When asked about her advice for women looking to get into the industry in the future, Collette said: “If you have an interest in engineering – just go for it! Diversity and inclusion can only increase productivity in a workforce. Women in construction or engineering need to break the stigma to ensure everyone can reach their full potential.
“I’ve been there, and it may seem daunting at first, but it gets easier and the end result makes it so, so worth it!”