Emma Curati-Alasonatti is a former UKESF Scholar who graduated in 2017 with a first class MEng in Electronic Engineering from the University of Southampton, where she was the top-achieving female in her cohort. During her scholarship she was sponsored by Arm, where she is now employed as an Electronic Engineer.
In 2018, Emma was awarded Young Engineer of the Year at the annual TechWorks Awards in London for her contribution to the Electronic Engineering profession. Emma is passionate about STEM outreach and getting more girls involved in Electronics; in 2017 she wrote a brilliant blog for the UKESF about her experiences in the sector: ‘Where the queues for the loos?’.
There is no one person that inspired me to study Electronics. Growing up, I did not know or even meet any Electronic Engineers, of any gender. At school I always enjoyed Mathematics and took Maths and Further Maths at A-level. This aptitude is probably genetic, as both my Italian grandfather and my British great-grandfather were engineers, specialising in aeronautical and mechanical engineering respectively, although I never met either of them. One of my teachers suggested that I might enjoy engineering, so I took every opportunity to explore different facets of engineering, attended Smallpeice and Headstart courses and completing a Nuffield Science Bursary. These, together with a Design & Technology project where I had to design an LED light, showed me the possibilities of Electronics.
Electronics is everywhere and in everything. It makes things that in the past would have been considered impossible a reality. Electronics exists in incubators and pacemakers, in Oyster cards and aeroplanes, in hearing aids and the World Wide Web. It supports, enhances and protects life in diverse and impactful ways.
The best thing about being an Electronic Engineer is to solve real-life problems using technology. It allows me to apply academic learning with creativity and problem solving, as, in a field as fast paced as Electronics, you are always searching for better solutions. The ability to translate ideas into reality quickly is incredibly fulfilling.
In my current role, I am working at the cutting edge of technology, shaping the future of computer processors that will be the backbone of devices that do not yet exist. As these components get smaller, more power efficient and faster, they will be applied in situations currently unimagined. One hundred years ago, when people waited days for newspapers and letters to receive information, the immediacy of the internet would have seemed absurd. I’m sure in one hundred years’ time, the same will be true of technologies that result from today’s electronics.
The reduction in size of new processors will enable the Internet of Things to expand rapidly, making our world even more connected. Machine Learning will also have a huge part in translating the large volume of data these devices collect and allowing us greater insight into topics that are impossible to analyse at present. This will expose many challenges, both technological and ethical, that we must be ready to meet.