Dorota and Emily liken their work on the railway to forensics because our Victorian infrastructure keeps our people guessing about how it was first built.
Watch this film to hear what inspired Dorota and Emily to explore engineering and why now is the best time to consider joining them:
“Even now, I still like to know how things work.” – Emily Pollard, asset engineer
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Dorota Durazinska, project engineer
Click here to watch Just Like Me, the full film we released for International Women in Engineering Day last year.
Why do you love engineering?
It allows you to build things, design things and make them come to life. Just make things – I think that’s quite empowering.
It allows you to be creative… For me, every day is different. Every day brings a new challenge and every day you learn something new.
What’s challenging about the railway?
The railway is different because it’s old and we don’t always have the drawings, we don’t have the archived information so you have to work out what’s going on. How did they build it?
I think the word they’d use is forensic. There’s a lot of trying to work out why things were done the way they were done and how a structure is behaving.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
My maths teacher… I remember thinking, ‘I’m in a maths class doing A-level maths… she did civil engineering… What is civil engineering? Someone said to me, “you build bridges and tunnels,” and I thought ‘oh, and airports and lovely things’. I went, ‘I fancy doing that, that sounds all right’. It was that simple.
I had a really, really good teacher, who was really engaging. It starts with the teacher themselves.
There were lots of boys in my school and I quickly made a lot of friends. I spent a lot of time with them. They were talking about engineering stuff and looking at technical drawings and it was just so important and sounded so clever and I wanted to be like them so I wanted to do what they did.
Why did you join Network Rail?
I think I accepted a job with Network Rail not particularly because I was joining the railway but because I was joining a company with a lot of engineering paths I could have taken. Network Rail enabled me to pick a path and follow it and if I wasn’t happy with it, quickly switch without having to move companies.
Why is now the best time to be an engineer?
It’s moving so fast and so forward and you think of the new green tech that we’ve got going on at the moment. I think it’s the perfect time to become an engineer.
Everywhere you look, you see cranes, you see piling rigs, you see barges on the Thames. There’s construction happening absolutely everywhere and there are the most exciting projects happening right now.
Engineering is such a broad field – there’s civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering – that everyone can find something that interests them.
What does your job involve?
I look after structures on the Kent route, I just take a huge interest in tunnels. My job is to make sure if it goes over the railway or under the railway, it has to stay there – safely.
[Dorota reviews] the designs of the structure, I review the examinations of those structures so once I get the exam, I can look at it, look at the exam I did the year before that and the year before that. My job is to pick up on trends in defects that hopefully we can intervene before they become an emergency repair that might require us to close the line.
If I find any defects that need repairing, I might request a design, which [means I] would come to [Dorota].
A big part of my job is to keep maintaining existing structures, which are quite old on the railway… Every time we are together, we share our ideas, we learn from one another.