Test Software Engineer.
We interviewed our colleague Angela, who is in charge of Verification and Validation (V&V) of ETCS logic application software at ALTEN. In this article she talks about her work in the Company and her opinion on how the role of women should be more valued in scientific professions.
Question: What is the project you are working on and what role do you play in it?
Answer: I started working at ALTEN in February 2018, right after graduating with a master’s degree in Electronic Engineering. Here I deal with Verification and Validation (V&V) of ETCS logic application software, for the generation and management of ETCS messages, telegrams and packets. I first started working as a System Engineer. Afterwards, I was in charge of the Centralized Traffic Control project design for an Egyptian railway line. It meant the springboard into the world of railways, that I am increasingly passionate about. However, I don’t deal only with railways. After a few months, since I started working for the company, I started in the Life Sciences Department on a Customer Support project. This one aims to provide European support to clients with the usage of virtual laboratory management software.
Currently, my activity consists of designing Test Cases. These are based on analysis and verification of requirements of the European Railway Agency. Particularly, on the creation of scenarios that simulate the railway line. This simulation also makes automate the operations carried out by the PdC (Driver’s Staff) on the automatic execution of tests and consequent verification. Both of them in real-time on the Driver Machine Interface and the mechanized verification of the test result through the control of a file generated by a diagnostic tool that compares the actual output of the test with the expected result.
Q: How is the Team you work with and what is the aspect you like the most about it?
A: I work with a team of people more or less of my age. I am a Test Software Engineer and I contribute to the growth, in the V&V sector, of the resources recently entered in the Railway sector: a climate of collaboration and complicity has been established between us based on the mutual desire to improve and share the knowledge and skills acquired. A Technical Manager with many years of experience in the railway sector coordinates us. Our Manager is always available and attentive to our professional growth.
Besides being interesting from a technical point of view, my activity allows me to share what may be my personal and sector knowledge. It is a team activity, where success and growth can, in my opinion, be positively evaluated over time, when methodology and collaboration become an integral part of the way people work. In the future, I would like to have the opportunity to gain more experience and coordinate a project in which my commitment is not only aimed at training resources, but also at confronting with the management of complex situations that may arise.
Q: How did your interest in engineering start? Was it a vocation?
A: After finishing high school I knew it; engineering would become my professional path.
The decision to study engineering was a natural evolution of my passion for technology and scientific subjects. Mine was, however, partly a vocation, and partly a challenge: I knew my aptitudes, but there were many obstacles to overcome as well, such as the fear of failing.
My family has managed to pass huge confidence to me, providing me with a wealth of strength and serenity that I still draw on now in order not to give up when difficulties come and to improve and grow more and more. However, I must also give credit, and above all, to my tenacity to face and overcome the challenges that have arisen during my studies and that I still live in the workplace. Not only a passion but also the method of study and perseverance have allowed me to be the person I am today from both a professional and human point of view.
Q: How do you remember your university period?
A: Like a not always carefree period. You know, Faculty of Engineering is not one of the easiest, but it’s all about finding the right compromise between study and leisure. The first years of university were certainly the most beautiful ones. Those years in which one creates new friendships, everyone is more mature and entering in a new world, in which one must not only learn to approach a different idea of studying, but to know yourself even more in a personal way.
Q: Do you think that the Engineer is still a figure/carrier mainly associated with men, or have you noticed a change in this trend?
A: I think that, nowadays, just by looking at the percentage of women graduates in technological sciences one could dispel this doubt. However, what still has a great influence on women’s choice of engineering faculty is the cultural heritage of the conception of science as a male subject. This idea is reflected in certain insecurity on some women about technical-scientific issues.
Q: Have you encountered any difficulties or obstacles because of being a female engineer?
A: In my case, I have never encountered any difficulties. Not even during my university studies or in the professional field, at least until today. I think that it is important to consider the qualities of women working in the scientific field. Such as creativity, sensitivity, reliability, intuition, greater relational capacity in a profession, etc. I believe that women are reaching an important space in this area, as far as the achievement of level positions is concerned.
Q: What do you think is the value that ALTEN brings to your project?
A: In today’s increasingly competitive market environment, companies rely on expert consultants when they need. Consultants help them to make strategic, operational and organizational choices that are crucial for companies’ survival and growth. Businesses must be able to react promptly to changes, manage the “race for technological innovation”, to contain or to reduce management costs. All of that, without being at the expense of efficiency and organization. The consulting intervention benefits the client company. ALTEN’s strength is based on its employees. The competence and professionalism of its carefully chosen technical and managerial profiles, make its consulting services an irreplaceable form of collaboration for customers.
In a sector such as the Railway, in which I operate, ALTEN develops and consolidates strategies making the prospects for this sector stable and innovative.
Q: Why should a woman choose to work at ALTEN?
A: Several studies report how some women have found themselves in the uncomfortable situation of being the only people of their gender – or one of the very few – in teams, in meetings, in the places where people make important decisions.
I can say that ALTEN tends to strongly encourage the presence of women in work teams. I think that shows the importance of strengthening gender diversity in the company. Besides, it reflects the idea of investing in more employee’ training to overcome gender bias. This inheritance didn’t allow women to express their full potential. ALTEN has great strength, as I see it is multidisciplinary. This attracts more and more women to the desire to get involved and overcome their limitations. Besides, women have a more collaborative nature, which brings a broader and more meaningful vision of team building. That idea is fundamental for ALTEN.