12 APRIL 2021
We recently interviewed Fellow of The Welding Institute and Chartered Engineer, Joanna Nicholas (CEng FWeldI) to find out more about her volunteer roles as well as her career and experience as an engineer.
Joanna joined The Welding Institute as a graduate Member in 2002 and has since advanced to Fellow and Chartered Engineer status.
Joanna achieved her Bachelors (BEng) in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wales, Swansea.
During her Bachelors with Swansea University, Joanna carried out a placement year within industry at TWI Industrial Member company, BAE Systems where her role involved looking at production metallurgy, stress analysis (including FORTRAN programming) and fire damage assessment.
After completing her BEng, Joanna joined TWI in 1999, where she continues to work. During her time at TWI, Joanna has advanced through multiple roles, initially starting out as a Metallurgist to her role now as Team Manager for TWI’s Materials and Structural Integrity Group. Within this role, Joanna leads a team of specialists looking at the ways materials behave, including how welding changes materials during and after the fabrication process. Joanna explained that one of the main reasons she chose to work at TWI following graduation was the opportunity that the role offered her in working within the welding industry, including being able to look at the performance and ways welded materials behave.
Joanna revealed that she wanted to pursue an engineering career during her A-Levels due to her love for the subjects that she studied. These subjects included chemistry, physics, maths and further maths, and Joanna highlighted that, due to her enjoying each of them, it was difficult to decide on just one of them to study at university. She therefore ultimately decided that undertaking a BEng in Materials Science and Engineering was the best choice, as it combined each of her A-Level subjects, enabling her to continue studying and pursuing her interests within each subject. Joanna explained that she enjoyed not having to compromise on her interests and continued studying the subjects that she liked the most and, when it came to deciding her career after graduating from university, she was already set on becoming an engineer.
As highlighted already, Joanna initially joined The Welding Institute as a graduate Member in 2002, and also recalled her experience from doing a Presentation Skills course with a member of our Professional applications team at the time, and being encouraged to join through this. Since joining, Joanna has advanced from being a Graduate Member through to Member status (MWeldI) and is now a Fellow of The Welding Institute and a Chartered Engineer with the Engineering Council.
Joanna explained that her volunteer roles with The Welding Institute began with her sitting on the Younger Members’ Committee (YMC) in 2003, where she worked to support both Younger Members of The Welding Institute and additionally outreach activities within schools.
Joanna currently undertakes a wide range of volunteer roles, including:
Speaking on the benefits of volunteering, Joanna highlighted the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) she gains from these roles, adding that it also supports her own self-development and understanding of what is happening from an applicant’s point of view. She added that another benefit is her ability, from taking on these roles, to encourage new people into the Institute and industry overall and, additionally, support them through the process of professional registration with the Engineering Council, including supporting those already professionally registered to further their development by advancing their registration grade throughout their career. Another key benefit that Joanna pointed out was the ability to gain professional industry recognition through volunteering and speaking at events, including our own Institute Branch events and additionally, through this, the ability to network, both in-person and virtually.
In concluding her interview with us, Joanna’s advice mirrored her reasons for choosing to pursue a career in engineering in the first place, explaining that you should do what you enjoy and also not be afraid to take on something new. She explained that volunteering can be a rewarding and career progressing opportunity, linking in her achievement of gaining Fellow status, while also explaining the importance of fitting your roles around your current career, ensuring that you are always undertaking volunteer roles that you find engaging and rewarding!
The Welding Institute would like to thank Joanna for taking the time to work with us on this case study and sharing her experiences, both within her career and also from being a Member of, and Volunteer with, The Welding Institute!