Gender Balance Q&A: Yang Zhang
It is our responsibility to encourage the talented girls to be part of the industrial and technology revolution.Yang Zhang, Virtual Engineering Centre
Company: The Virtual Engineering Centre (University of Liverpool)
Role: Project Engineer
I am a Data Science Project Engineer in the Virtual Engineering Centre. I have worked on ERDF projects for over two years and focus on supporting companies from different industries to better understand and use their data streams through improved data analysis, data mining and machine learning approaches.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK WITHIN INDUSTRY?
There is an astonishing amount of data generated today across all industries. Every project is like a puzzle. To solve the puzzle, we need to extract the valuable insights from these including structured and non-structured data, then design the bespoke machine learning pipeline to support the company development.
Meanwhile, I gain a lot of interesting knowledge about different industries during the collaboration with Engineers from various areas.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
What I enjoy the most about my job is the diversity of a typical team in the organisation. It is an enriching experience to work with colleagues from different backgrounds, sharing opinions, supporting each other and learning from one another.
MISCONCEPTIONS OF INDUSTRY
WHAT ARE THE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WHAT YOUR JOB ENTAILS?
Sometimes people have the expectation that more data means more insights or getting more value out of the data. In fact, it is more about the data quality rather than quantity, and enough background knowledge to interpret the data properly, so that the data can be analysed and applied more efficiently and precisely.
This usually requires us to spend a decent amount of time focusing on this and to keep close contact with the partners to make sure our understandings of the data are consistent.
BARRIERS AND CHALLENGES
DURING YOUR CAREER, HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY BARRIERS AND CHALLENGES?
It is always a challenge to start working on the data from a new field where I don’t have related experiences. That is also the fun part about my job; you don’t stop learning!
I can overcome this through learning the background knowledge from the partners and how the ‘insider’ Engineer interprets the data, reviewing the literature to see the state-of-the-art approaches in related areas.
WHAT CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS DO YOU THINK THERE ARE FOR WOMEN IN INDUSTRY?
I think one barrier for women within industry can be the lack of female role models in the field, however, this is improving.
Diversity is the key to innovation. Having different perspectives in the workplace provides more possibilities to solve industry challenges.
I would love to continue to work in the industry to contribute to the adaptation of digital technology in different fields.
I am looking forward to seeing how the possibilities of digital transformation will influence traditional industries in the following years. I truly hope that digital technology can increase the industry efficiency that leads to less resource consumption and emissions, so as to shape a more sustainable future.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO YOUNG WOMEN LOOKING FOR A CAREER WITHIN INDUSTRY?
I would encourage young women to pursue a career within science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), which can be exciting, challenging and rewarding.
Please follow your passion and believe in yourself. There are also a lot of women engineering groups or societies that provide support on engineering education and career.
For the downloadable Q&A, please click here.
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