Ying Wan Loh is a manufacturing engineer at Rolls-Royce’s Civil Aerospace Division, where she focuses on supply chain improvements, working with suppliers to introduce new technology and tools to improve quality. Ying holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Glasgow as well as a Master of Philosophy in Industrial Systems, Manufacture & Management from the University of Cambridge.
“Engineering is constantly changing and adapting to the world around us. I have seen female engineers working on everything from fighter jets to vaccine manufacturing. Engineering is a rewarding career that can deliver true impact to the society.”
Realising how creative and dynamic engineering is
Growing up, my closest engineer role model was a friend’s mum who is an electronics engineer. I took up science subjects during my A-levels and learnt about engineering as a career option at that time.
I only realised how creative and dynamic engineering is after getting into my degree. As a mechanical design engineering student, I designed a formula student car, researched an ultrasonic space drill and built a finite element analysis model for a plane.
I graduated with first-class honours and an award for academic achievement from the University of Glasgow. I then completed a masters at the University of Cambridge and went on to work in Rolls-Royce as a manufacturing engineer. I have gained some interesting experience in the company, having worked on hybrid-electric propulsion aircraft as a graduate to improving quality at our supply chain.
Last year, I was honoured to be awarded the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year.
One role, several jobs
Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace division designs and manufactures aeroplane engines for airframes such as the A330 and Boeing 787, as well as business jets like the Gulfstream.
Every day working there is different. When I used to work in a plant, it was about problem-solving and increasing the efficiency of the production line. I used Lean Six Sigma tools to analyse data and make changes to reduce lead times and increase productivity in the manufacturing process. I am also often involved in meetings to develop solutions as a cross-functional team, or to communicate the results to different stakeholders in the business.
In the supply chain, I ensure new products are made to drawing requirements and help suppliers improve their production rates and reduce defects. Apart from technical work on drawing requirements and engineering specifications, my work also involves building a positive working relationship with the suppliers.
I usually travel for work as well, but since March, due to COVID-19, we have stopped all travel. The team has made changes to allow everyone to work from home where we can. I am fortunate that I can do my work at home.Some of the nature of my work has shifted as well, where I have new projects to support the function.
Constantly learning at my job
I love working with jet engines. I am always in awe with these complex machines that allow us to fly.
In many areas Rolls Royce companies are often the only ones in the world that can achieve the engineering challenge. There is a lot of smart design and advanced technology that goes into these products. As a result, I am constantly learning new things and developing my knowledge. As an engineer, the passion for the product we make is the best part about the job.
Better use of technology due to COVID-19
Instead of traveling for my job, I now do everything virtually. We have utilised off-the-shelf technology to allow us to carry on working. During this period, I definitely see much better use of technology in our team.
For example, I have attended a full day training virtually, breaking out into small virtual rooms for discussions and real-time practice with instructors and get feedback. We have also organised multiple virtual sessions with our suppliers. The interaction we get in a virtual session is different from an in-person one, so one thing we learn is to plan ahead and fully explore what the technology has to offer.
On the STEM volunteering side, I have adapted to giving presentations virtually, for instance presenting a science experiment on Scout’s Facebook page live. The video reached around 10,000 people across different geographies, so I think in some ways, running virtual sessions like this have allowed us to reach more people.
Looking forward to seeing more female engineers
Engineering is constantly changing and adapting to the world around us. I have seen female engineers working on everything from fighter jets to vaccine manufacturing. Engineering is a rewarding career that can deliver true impact to the society.
My advice for aspiring female engineer would be to stay curious and continue to explore engineering, engineering is an extremely diverse field and there is something for everyone.
Representation and role models matter. We have made progress in this and there are many fantastic role models, such as past IET Young Woman Engineer winners and the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Top 50 Women in Engineering (WE50) award winners. I am certainly very inspired by the achievements of these female engineers and looking forward to seeing more women joining us.
Challenging myself to go beyond my comfort zone
I will continue to push myself and challenge myself to go beyond my comfort zone. As an engineer, I am privileged to have the opportunity to keep trying new things in my career. Also, I have a great platform to share my story and volunteer for STEM.
One of the key things I want to achieve is to change the stereotype of what it is like to be an engineer. At the moment, there are many people who still think engineering is a male-dominated profession. I want to show that there is diversity within engineering and encourage more women to join me in this very rewarding industry.