Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day 2023

6/23/2023 11:10:00 AM
It's International Women in Engineering Day and to mark the occasion we're highlighting some of the incredible women engineers at Dennis Eagle who are playing a key role in developing and delivering innovative products for the waste industry.

INWED header image (2).jpg



Karen Vithanage - Software and Control Team Leader


Karen (1).jpg


Karen is an accomplished academic with a PhD in Control Engineering and has been Dennis Eagle’s Software and Control Team Leader for almost 5 years.



Q: What does your job entail?


"I look after the Software & Control Team, we are a team of eight.  Our role supports current vehicle production issues in terms of software and we are also developing our own software.  We can test our code in a simulation environment, on the bench using a hardware simulator and then on the actual vehicle."


Q: How does it feel to be in a role such as yours?


"It’s fantastic to be a part of such an industry and the pioneering work that we do. I don’t think I envisaged being head of a software department all those years ago when I embarked on my engineering journey, but here I am and it’s great to be doing something that is making a difference in the world of waste management. When I was studying for my maths degree, having a female engineer in such a role was probably unheard of. But now, more and more women are breaking the glass ceiling."


Q: Who was your inspiration?


"I would have to say, my Dad, he believes in education, education and education!  He is an excellent engineer and has been such a good role model."


Q: Any advice for someone interested in a similar field of work?


I would say Computing or Maths as a subject would be very beneficial for a career in software engineering and vehicle knowledge is important too.



Aswathy Balakrishnan - Software and Control Engineer




Aswathy has been a Software Control Engineer at Dennis Eagle for 2 years and works in Karen’s team. Originally from India, and with extensive experience working in the automotive industry, Aswathy decided to broaden her horizons and came to work in the UK.


Q: Can you tell us a bit about your role at Dennis Eagle?

My main role is to develop the software using modelling tool to generate the code for the vehicle systems. There will be different levels of model and software testing. Followed by bench-based testing in a controlled and safe environment before testing in the vehicle.


Q: What is your favourite aspect of the job?

I love seeing the end project coming together and going live!


Q: What inspired you to become a software engineer?

"My favourite subjects at school were physics and maths. I then went on to study BTEC in Computer Science where I was involved with a project with the automotive industry, and this sparked my interest. The passenger car industry is different to that of a refuse collection vehicle, but this is a good thing because I’m furthering my knowledge and experience and it’s more hands-on.


Q: What would you say to someone who is unsure whether to consider a career in software engineering?

It’s all about the person’s perspective and interest. If that is what you want to do, go confidently with your choice of career. The automotive industry is for anyone and is not limited to men only. If you put your mind to it, you can flourish in the industry.



Michelle Clarke - Product and Data Control Coordinator




Michelle is a Product and Data Control Coordinator and has been in her current role for 10 months but has over 14 years of experience working in the engineering industry, starting in 2008.


Q: What does your job role entail?

“My job is to look after the bill of materials (BOM) for each vehicle, which is a list of units and parts. It’s important that the details are all correct as per the specifications otherwise this could impact the vehicle build. I also progress changes to the implementation and ensure everyone approves the change accordingly through the workflow. Each truck at Dennis Eagle is unique and this may require a lot of change.”


Q: What inspired you to follow a career in engineering in the automotive industry?

“I’ve always liked cars from a young age. At school, I liked the idea of making things and enjoyed subjects such as woodwork and metalwork, so when I joined Dennis Eagle, I was excited to see that the trucks were built by hand. I feel proud to work for Dennis Eagle and the brand because of its unique products and is one of the UK’s biggest manufacturers based in the Midlands.”


Q: What would you say is the most challenging part of your job?

“I would say making sure the Bill Of Materials is accurate. You really need to go through it carefully and be aware of the specifications requested by the customer. One wrong part could have a huge impact on the whole truck and the business.”


Q: How has your experience been as a woman working in engineering?

“It has been a great experience. I’ve never once felt like I didn’t belong in this industry and have been treated equally and have found that my male colleagues have always given me a lot of respect. It’s imperative that schools support the next generation of female engineers at an early age through STEM subjects and activities, women are more than capable of accomplishing a successful career in engineering. I wouldn’t want to work in any other business sector.”



Teresa Jones - Techincal Sales Support Engineer 




Teresa is in the fourth and final year of her apprenticeship and is currently working as a Technical Sale Support Engineer, helping the Sales team with customer vehicle-related queries.


Q: How did you become interested in engineering?

"I was intrigued about engineering through the Engineering Education Scheme (now known as E-Trust) which gave me an insight into engineering projects and Dennis Eagle and decided to take a small chance."

Q: How has the Engineering Apprentice been for you and any words of advice?

"Don’t feel nervous, if you’re interested in engineering take a chance on it. During my apprenticeship I’ve loved the whole process and working with a male-majority workforce hasn’t affected my progress at Dennis Eagle. I was welcomed into each area of the business and treated equally. Yes, it may be a slightly different learning experience, but I felt very much part of the team."


Q: Are there any challenging aspects of your role?

"Working in large groups. The role requires a collaborative approach when it comes to discussing issues and finding the best steps to take to resolve any issues. I work with all departments as every process in the vehicle build impacts every department in the business so it’s important to be a team player and have good communication skills. We have to ensure vehicles are built to specification and that the customer’s products meet their requirements and expectations."



Joely Side - Production Engineer




Joely initially joined Dennis Eagle as a Design Engineer and has since moved into her current role as Production Engineer on the chassis line.


Q: Can you explain a bit about your job?

"I take the designs from the design engineers and implement them in production making them more cost-effective and reducing cost by improving the process for the chassis. Due to my previous experience, I am familiar with drawings so can spot any discrepancies if there are any. Also, I get great job satisfaction from the end product because I know what aspects I was involved with. In addition, I like providing production issue support because of the communication side of it as I can work with different departments within the business."


Q: What inspired you to get into engineering?

"My favourite subjects at school were maths and science due to my love of analytics and problem-solving; plus, I didn’t want to get into a straight subject as I preferred to go down a more practical route.
I was diagnosed with Dyslexia quite late into my school years; however, this didn’t stop me from achieving my goals. I received great support at university which helped my confidence and ability to read drawings and improve my report writing skills because proofreading is important in my job, and I can carry out my tasks without any hesitation."


Q: How do you think more can be done to encourage more women into engineering?

"There needs to be more encouragement from a younger age at school to explore STEM subjects as this could help spark curiosity and interest to learning more because when they come to choosing subjects in high school, it may be too late for them to see how they could shape the future."