Dr Carol Marsh OBE has been working in the Engineering industry for nearly 40 years and currently works as Head of Digital Systems at Celestia UK. Being Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, Dr Carol shares her advice for Engineering students based on her views on current and future trends in Engineering sector.

Can you share some of the most important lessons you have learnt throughout your nearly 40 years career in the engineering field?

The most important lesson that I have learnt is that technology changes quickly (especially in electronics) and you never stop learning. There are many engineering jobs in various industries such as energy, space, communications, medicine, food, fashion etc. An engineering degree gives you the foundation to move between industries and to work anywhere in the world. The most surprising benefit for me has been the amount of public engagement I have undertaken with schools, STEM organizations, government, and the media.

What do you think are some of the most important trends and developments in the engineering sector today, and how do you see the field evolving in the future? 

Dr Carol Marsh OBEIf I look back to when I was born, we had black and white TVs and records with record players. There were no mobile phones, home computers, internet or bank cards. The Integrated Circuits had just been invented at that time. When I started working, there were colour TVs (with just 4 channels), cassette players and microprocessors. Cashline machines, mobile phones and home computers had just been invented along with my area of expertise Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). However, now we can stream music online and also make financial transfers online. There are hundreds of TV channels out there and Microprocessors and FPGAs have several million times more capacity in smaller packages.  

In future, I believe the most important trends are going to be in Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Metaverse, Cyber Security and Robotics. I see these technologies being used:

  • In the advancement of medical devices to either provide assistive technologies, personalized medication and to improve diagnosis and cures.
  • To achieve net zero, with advancement in power solutions (solar panels, heat pumps, energy storage, smart grids) and transport (hydrogen and electricity vehicles, hyperloop, spaceports).
  • To improve communications and learning through holographic meetings and greater access to information worldwide.

You have held several high-level positions in industry and academia. Could you please guide current engineering students on how to get the most out of their degree and shape their future careers?

You should enjoy what you do. The more you enjoy the work, the more you will succeed in career. If you find yourself in a job which is not right for you, then change the job. You should change roles and industries regularly as well. I changed approximately every 5 years. Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Set yourself realistic goals for technical achievements, professional registration and promotions. You should also engage with supporters, mentors and coaches throughout your career. Their expertise can really help. 

Networking is also very important. According to a latest statistic report, around 85% of jobs are filled through networking and it’s amazing the amount of inspirational people you will meet. As you progress through your career, you should give back to the industry and share your expertise as it is very rewarding.  

Could you please tell us in brief how getting involved with a global organization like IET can help engineers boost their career?

The IET has 154,000 members in 148 countries and their tagline is a Professional Home for Life. When I completed my EngD, I applied to the IET and became a Charted Engineer around 12 years ago. As an ENU student, you get free membership of the IET. You can set up an On Campus committee and receive funding from the IET to run events. Once you graduate, you can join a Young Professional Committee, request an IET mentor, get access to career manager to record your CPD and your progress towards CEng. As your career progresses, you will discover more volunteer opportunities, conferences, and events to attend. You can also support through their charity Foothold and most importantly build a strong network.

What is it about us that we do at Edinburgh Napier University that help students prepare for their careers? 

From my experience, I have found out that Edinburgh Napier University have always had a focus on industry. They also include staffs who are equipped with industrial experiences. The university also maintain good connection with companies and offer courses which are relevant to the industries. Furthermore, the courses are continuously reviewed and updated accordingly. This differentiates Edinburgh Napier University from many other universities.

What is your role like as a visiting professor at Edinburgh Napier University and how do you feel about it? 

The ‘Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor’ program is making a real difference to many universities across the UK bringing with it access to industrial experts. As a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor, I have 4 aims:

  • Bring industry best practice to Edinburgh Napier University - I assist with the Programmable Logic course and provide presentations on many topics which ranges from PCB Design to Engineering Management. 
  • Strengthen links with the IET - I have held professional engineering and fellow sessions and the IET and Edinburgh Napier University are starting to collaborate.
  • Increase the number of female engineering students - I am a STEM Champion and we are holding our first event on 29 May 2023 and there are exciting plans for this summer.

To help develop new MSc courses – Currently I am helping to develop two new courses for the university. One of them will start in September 2023 and another one is under development.

Personally, I am enjoying myself and I have learnt a lot. I have had good feedback, which is encouraging, and it is good to know that I am making a difference.