Victoria Rastelli reflects on the importance of STEM and having female role models

New Zealand based engineer opens up about her personal experiences in celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

I am an Acoustic Engineer with Norman Disney & Young, A Tetra Tech Company, based in Auckland.

I get involved in construction projects that require acoustics (which is basically noise and/or vibration control) incorporated in the design. My role is to liaise with other consultants to provide efficient, integrated, viable and creative options to provide a design that meets local environmental and building requirements and provides adequate acoustic settings for future users and neighbours. In science and engineering, I can work efficiently in something I really love, in two different languages (Spanish and English) while being recognized by my team and co-workers.

One of my most interesting experiences as an engineer came during a construction project where there were endangered birds on site. Although not part of the original report or scope, we worked with a group of ecologists who were concerned about their safety during breeding season. In estimating the vibration levels near the construction site, we could then move them to where they were safe. We didn’t have the data on what vibration levels were safe for them, so we went by what was safe for humans. I felt lucky to work with something so unique.

Read Victoria’s article here.

I was born and raised in beautiful Venezuela, where I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer and got my Ph.D. in Sustainable Development. Upon graduation, I worked briefly in Hydraulic systems and then as an Acoustic Engineer consultant for industrial applications such as environmental and occupational acoustic studies, acoustic enclosures for plant rooms and even as an acoustic consultant in the update of local and national standards for environmental acoustics in my home country.

Of the women in my family, almost all are in engineering. When I was a child, I wanted to be a doctor but as I got older engineering took over!

The ratio of women to men in STEM disciplines in Venezuela is 50/50. They have the same capabilities as New Zealand (where I am based), but my home country is in crisis so perhaps this pushes people to get into careers where they have more opportunity to work and have a decent job. Here the opportunities for secure employment are more varied, people have more choice. I’m not sure that’s the reason but it’s interesting. As a consultant within the Auckland Acoustics team, I am currently the only female.

With the many resources available today, we have the tools to bring down the misconceptions about engineering and promote it as an attractive prospect to girls. I think high school is a good time to introduce to STEM to girls and to teach them it’s about more than just numbers; that you actually get an opportunity to improve the lives of people and communities around the world.

Science is beautiful, fascinating and it is everywhere. It’s the world’s engine and the base for all of humanity’s development. To me, all other disciplines are connected to science in some way.

Of the women in my family, almost all are in engineering. When I was a child, I wanted to be a doctor but as I got older engineering took over!

Good engineering takes a holistic approach, it contributes to a better life quality for people and a more sustainable world.

I love that through science I am contributing to a better world, one project at a time.

Find out more about International Day of Women & Girls in Science: https://www.womeninscienceday.org/

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