Maria Radu is an electrical engineer at Alewijnse International Switchboard Production, part of Alewijnse Marine, a leading specialist in designing and delivering electrical systems for the shipping industry. Maria is a successful woman in a profession that’s mainly dominated by men, but that doesn’t bother her. She feels very comfortable in the mainly male engineering team and is proof that the shipbuilding industry in general and Alewijnse in specific is learning to embrace women with a technical background.
“Deliver good work to your clients and keep your promises”
“There might have been a small degree of resistance when I first started at Alewijnse” says Maria. “Some trust needed to be gained in the beginning, but I am quite happy I got the chance to prove that a woman can be an effective member of the team. It was not always easy, but I managed. In some cases I had to prove myself maybe a little more and had to convince the team that they could rely on me. But it was totally worth it. Being part of such a great team makes me feel more empowered and well appreciated in the role I have within the team. Although I am surrounded by my male colleagues all day, making their ‘jokes’, they are the nicest colleagues I could wish for!”
Maria does have the necessary amount of determination. She has been interested in technology since she was very young. "In my childhood I used to draw various car components from some of my father's books,” she says. “At school I always felt especially attracted to mathematics and geometry and so after secondary school I opted to study electrical engineering at university, specializing in electric drives. In the fifth year, I took up a practical internship at the Alewijnse training center in Romania and at the end of that year I was awarded a scholarship to study for a master’s degree in the management of energy systems. Unfortunately, I had to interrupt my master’s studies due to my arrival in the Netherlands. As a mother of two beautiful children and with a full-time job as an engineer I haven’t found the time yet to finalize my studies, but I have plans to resume them once my children are older."
After eight years at Alewijnse, Maria has achieved a lot: "As an engineer I am part of the team that develops two 3D databases, one for Alewijnse International Switchboard Production (AISP) and one for Alewijnse Marine. AISP is the panel building division of Alewijnse Marine. It is an ongoing process, but the current 3D databases are now already used daily by the entire Alewijnse Group. With 3D techniques, schematics become much more lifelike and in the event that there are mechanical errors, they become much easier to identify and we can fix them well before the start of the building process. Together with the AISP team, we have developed methods for working with new programs in our department and currently I am part of the team in charge of developing 2D and 3D models for consoles and electrical cabinets."
Secret of success
So what is the secret of her success as a woman in a technical world? “The most important thing is that you and be part of the team. This is what I focus on and where I use my expertise. At the moment I am learning about the Inventor iLogic software, which standardizes and automates design processes and configures virtual products and I am being trained in the mechanical design programs that are used in our department. People are still often amazed that a woman has so much technical knowledge, but the shipping industry has generally accepted me.
“I would like to encourage other women to do exactly what they want, no matter what the apparent limitations or restrictions are. The more restrictive a certain domain, the more satisfaction you will have when you succeed. Never lose sight of the target and go for it. In my opinion you can get very far with that.”