Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Audrey Briodeau-Line

Audrey Briodeau-Line

When people ask me “why engineering?”, my response is always “why not?”

People are often surprised when I say that I am a Mechanical Project Engineer. Growing up in France I was not a tomboy, in fact going to see my two big brothers playing football was the only interest that was remotely “boyish” about me. I was always more of a “girly” type – enjoying painting, crafts, and playing music. Audrey Briodeau-Line

However, at school my favourite subjects were always maths, physics, and literature. So when I eventually went for career advice, I was told that either a scientific or an artistic career would be the best match for me. Deciding that a career in art or music could be risky, I opted for a scientific route.

Looking back, I actually think that engineering, particularly mechanical and design, fulfils both my creative and scientific sides. To be honest, I could not have found a better career match.

The next question people usually ask is “isn’t engineering a man’s job?” Yes, although it is true that engineering is a male dominated environment, it is not specifically a “man’s job”!

The first day at my French engineering university will always stay in my memory – there were only five women compared to a hundred men! It was a bit scary at first, but I got used to it quickly and I proceeded to make some of the strongest friendships during those years. Since then, I have never thought much about being in the minority and it has never been a big problem for me (except for when lifting heavy parts, of course!).

Why Instron?
At university, I got to know about Instron through the various conferences that I assisted. I was impressed with their involvement in such a wide range of industries and applications, and decided to apply for one of their summer placements.
Once I had been accepted onto the programme, and after packing 32 kg worth of clothes (and French food, obviously!), I arrived in London ready to start work for a proper engineering company.

The placement was an excellent fit. I worked on the design of a prototype with an experienced R&D engineer who took me under his wing. I even got some hands-on experience with the hydraulic machines that are manufactured at the European headquarters … quite impressive for a work experience placement! 

Once I had completed my work experience, I went on to finish the final year of my master’s degree in the UK. After graduating I wasted no time in applying for an Instron graduate position. The graduate schemes allow you to complete a series of six-month projects in different roles across the company and I loved the idea of expanding my knowledge over such a wide breadth of positions.

I began as a Graduate Applications Engineer, acting as the link between the engineering and the sales departments, before moving to design and project engineering roles. The graduate scheme allowed me the opportunity to discover the area I wanted to focus on as a career, as well as building my confidence in working in the engineering industry as a whole.
I have been with Instron ever since, and I am currently working as a Mechanical Project and Design Engineer. Every day I get to work with a variety of applications ranging from medical to nuclear to automotive and beyond, as well as being involved in all stages of the project lifecycle from quotation through to product design and the assembly and testing stages. My job allows me to interact with both customers and suppliers of Instron, and I’ve even had multiple opportunities to travel the globe to meet with the most inspiring and interesting people.
It is rarely boring I can assure you!

Being an Engineer
Despite first impressions, being an engineer is not only about complex calculations and analysis. Yes, I do these things but, for me, being an engineer is about creating a great product on time and to budget, solving problems when they arise, and most importantly always meeting or exceeding the needs of the customer - something they don’t really teach you at university.
Professionally, there is nothing better than designing, project managing, assembling, testing and subsequently, shipping, these great machines to different parts of the world. Knowing that they are going to be used for crucial materials testing and innovative research projects across the globe is something that makes me incredibly proud every day.

Join Us
Instron still runs a Graduate Scheme for new engineers, and like me, many of these graduates have gone on to have successful and diverse careers within Instron, as well as within the wider   ITW group. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity,  please contact us today at: recruit_uk@instron.com.

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