Women in Engineering

Lani Tan: Field Engineer

What does your job involve?

As a field engineer on the Vauxhall Tube Station upgrade project in London, I’m responsible for making sure that what our team builds complies with the design. I lead all of the other field engineers on the project across all of their disciplines, which include civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. 

What other roles have you had?

I’m a civil engineer by training and have taken on many different roles, working on Bechtel’s transport projects throughout the world over the past nine years. My first job was in Romania, working on a major new motorway as a geotechnical engineer, which involves making sure the ground can support the new infrastructure’s foundations. I worked in the US as a civil field engineer on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Extension—a job to extend the Metrorail from Washington DC to Reston, Virginia. In London, I’ve also worked as an assistant engineering manager on the new tunnels being built for Crossrail at Whitechapel and Liverpool Street stations.

Dulles Metrorail Extension, Virginia

What do you like about working in transport?

Since I was young I have wanted to build things, and working in transport enables me to do that. The infrastructure I help to build is used by the public and it often has a positive effect on the economy. It has a huge impact on so many people’s daily journeys and leaves a positive legacy for decades.

What are you most proud of?

My work on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail—it’s the first project I’ve worked on that I’ve seen completed and being used by the public. The team worked so hard on it and it was so rewarding to know how well it’s been received by the people who live in the area.

What’s your advice to young women interested in the transport industry?

There are a lot of negative stereotypes about transport but I have hardly ever encountered any of them—it’s not reality so you shouldn’t be deterred by them. The industry is changing rapidly and diversifying. It feels like a different environment to when I first did work experience a decade ago.

How should we encourage young people to pursue a career in transport?

Rather than simply promoting the industry directly to children and schools, we should focus on parents as they play a significant role in shaping their children’s perceptions. If they have an outdated view of who works in transport and the types of jobs it offers, they’ll project that onto their children. We need to demonstrate to parents what transport is about today.