‘I’m Māori and I’m a woman’ - that’s what motivatesTrudy Calje-VanDer Kleito strive for success in the field of engineering. By sharingher story, she also hopes to inspire a new generation of wāhine and people of colour.

Trudy’s career began at space camp in America at the age of 15. She became inspired after reading about a woman who attended one and had all these incredible plans forher future. One thing led to another and now Trudy is completing a PhD, hoping to better predict how a person’s lungs reactto different levels of ventilation.

“There is a lot of complexity there and not a lot ofunderstanding. The issue is that it is very generalised how we ventilate people – and while it works for the majority of the population, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it can lead to ventilator-induced lung injuries.”

Trudy’s goal is, essentially, to help people – both clinicians and patients.“I want to bridge a gap and make people’s lives even just a little bit easier.”Trudy is encouraging others to join her and her colleagues in the field of STEM (science, technology,engineering, and math).

“For young kids to see others who look like them out there being engineers, scientists and researchers, can have a huge impact on their outlook towards careers in STEM. I know this because I was lucky enough to have a strong wahine in my life to watch as I was growing up –my mum."“I simply hope to have the opportunity to also inspire the way I have been by many incredible wāhine."

Engineering is not just cars and motors and engines. That’s the message Jaimey Clifton wants to share with young women trying to decide their career path. Take it from her – she’s now working to help pregnant women with sleeping issues get more (and safer) rest.

Sleep apnoea, often associated with snoring, is a dangerous lung condition where a person will unknowingly stop and start breathing in their sleep. Currently, in New Zealand, there is very minimal data on sleep apneoa in pregnancy. The best data available is a small study in America which revealed that up to 27% of women (by their third trimester) could have sleep apneoa.

So, Jaimey is working hard to, firstly, get some accurate data in New Zealand, then, secondly, find non-invasive solutions (like using an app) to help control this condition. “My biggest dream would be to create impactful solutions that can be used to solve real world problems."

Jaimey’s decision to study engineering came from her love of problem solving in a creative way, she says.“I thought, growing up, that engineering was just cars and motors and engines, but it’s actually a lot more about creativity and problem-solving.” Jaimey hopes to encourage other women to follow their passion and not fear trying something new.

“It did take a bit for me to think ‘Oh, I could do engineering’, so don’t give up and give it a go.”

Ellie Byerley spent her childhood building garden furniture with her dad, now she’s working on the latest products for Dyson – from haircare to vacuum cleaners.

Ellie was born in NZ, but grew up in the UK. She’s always loved problem-solving, which is why she chose to dive into the world of engineering.

“Some of my favourite childhood memories are building garden furniture with my dad, which led me to want to continue with something practical in my adult life. So I always wanted to do something that would help people, but I realised quickly that I wouldn’t make a good doctor.”

After studying engineering at the University of Bath, she secured a position as Graduate Ergonomic and Human Factors Engineer at Dyson where she applies her knowledge of the human body and mind to make products more user-friendly.

Ellie recalls being one of very few women on her university course. “The hardest part about university and school was coping with others saying how easy they found things that you found difficult. “It took me a long time to shift my mindset and understand that I was just as capable as them, and that I was just better at admitting when I’d struggled,” she says.

“I think this is quite a big theme in women and we end up believing we’re not good enough.” She hopes to see more women around the table when talking about design and engineering in years to come.

Living rurally in New Zealand shouldn’t be a barrier to accessing adequate healthcare. That’s why Ella Guyis working to change this by developing a device to record respiratory data which can then be usedby doctors to create more accurate at-home patient care plans.

Ella's PhD focusses on respiratory data collection for communities with limited access to specialist care.

“Currently, you can only get infrequent data from people who live in communities far from a doctor or specialist," she says. “That data comes only when they visit a doctor and get tested, which gives a snapshot in time. That one visit could be a good day or a bad day – either way, there isn’t enough information, so it won’t give the best data for doctors to evaluate and make decisions about long-term care.”

Ella’s ultimate goal is to tackle health literacy, she says.“I believe that the increasing burden our healthcare system is under demands attention and focus in order to ensure people are afforded equitable access to services, and healthcare workers are provided with the right information and tools to do their job confidently.”

Ella’s passion lies in the digitisation of healthcare, which stemmed from her time in a Ugandan hospital where she witnessed the many compromises involved in healthcare- especially in places with limitations to access. Engineering was not something Ella thought she would be interested in, but after realising that engineering involved both technical and creative problem-solving, Ella knew she’d found her career.

“For me, engineering comes down to challenging things – why do we do something a certain way, or why not? I like to challenge why we do things and how we can make improvements. Ultimately, it’s quite fun.”

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