Carla Bevilacqua, R&D Project Engineer, Magaldi Green Energy
Gender policies implemented in recent years have fortunately contributed to facilitating the entry of young women into the workforce, although unfortunately, the minority in the STEM sector in the workplace is still evident today. From the perspective of integration and collaboration of mixed teams, this can represent an open challenge to balance the professional environment.
However, considering that during my university course, half of the enrolled students were women, I am confident that the current direction is the correct path to bridge the long-standing gap, leading to increasingly substantial outcomes year by year. This is just one of the motivations that encourage us not to give up and to take advantage of and celebrate every opportunity that comes our way – such as the special International Day of Women and Girls in Science organized by UNESCO and UN-Women – to assert women's right to access STEM education and careers worldwide.
Exploring my path: from passion for science to engineering career
From the early years of school, I have always been very curious and interested in scientific subjects, especially mathematics. Solving equations or finding solutions to geometry problems was a very exciting and, at the same time, enjoyable challenge. In the first important decision, that of selecting a school path, I tried to follow this interest of mine, without completely abandoning humanistic studies, which I consider to be very important for educational development. Therefore, I attended a classical high school with a focus on experimental computer science in Avellino, my hometown. Over the years, my interest in all scientific subjects has been confirmed. In addition to mathematics, I developed a passion for chemistry and physics. Field applications, utilising scientific evidence in real-world scenarios, and the pursuit of innovative solutions for improvement have been the "green fuel" towards choosing my technical-scientific path.
I enrolled in the Chemical Engineering program at "Federico II" University in Naples. And the decision ended up being perfect for me! The study of industrial processes, their optimization, the transformation of raw materials into finished products, and the knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of substances began to be part of my background and fortunately, of my current job at Magaldi. In particular, I have focused on the industrial energy sector, in terms of the use of renewable energy sources (RES) and their enormous potential for applications for industries.
Personal and professional development: Delving into industrial energy technologies with Magaldi's R&D Team
From a personal point of view, I have not encountered any gender challenges. In particular, my team is made up of highly competent professionals, with whom I have always interacted with pleasure and without any issues. I am very pleased to work with Magaldi's R&D team. In continuous collaboration with the entire group, I have had the opportunity to focus on innovative solutions patented over the years by Magaldi in the field of Concentrated Solar Power (STEM®-CST) and thermal energy storage for Power to Heat applications (MGTES). Magaldi's technology consists of a fluidized bed receiver made up of granular solid particles. Thanks to the skills acquired during my thesis work, in the Federico II’s research group and CNR-STEMS, I actively participated in the thermo-fluid dynamic characterization of the fluidized bed receiver, with particular detail on the physical and chemical properties of the solid particulate storage medium and the verification of the fluidization system. Additionally, I followed the experimental testing campaign conducted on the STEM® demonstrator plant, installed in Sicily, at the San Filippo del Mela site. Field experiments, although requiring perseverance and significant effort, was a great professional experience that not only strengthened technical skills, but also provided the satisfaction of practically following the operation of a plant.
Growing commitment and know-how: universally essential traits
The characteristics that I consider most important, also in relation to my professional journey, are passion and a strong interest in the sector, determination in facing the continuous exciting "challenges" that are part of the growth path, and continuous and constant commitment, fundamental for building one's own know-how. However, to be honest, I hope these are "universal" characteristics. Perhaps, as an added value, choosing to always maintain a positive attitude can certainly help not to be influenced and to trust one's abilities.
I believe that in all social spheres, whether they are professional or private, the integration of a mixed team can always represent added value, thanks to the possibility of enabling continuous exchange, certainly of technical skills in the sector, but above all of different personalities and characteristics that, when well valued in their qualities, contribute to strengthening and uniting the team even more.
In this perspective, the difference in managing work and interpersonal relationships is closely linked to one's personality, regardless of gender, and therefore, a union between the parties can always be a good idea and certainly a strength.
Empowering girls in STEM: fostering interest and confidence in educational paths
Certainly, organizing awareness days like this can pique the interest of young girls grappling with the future choice of their educational pathThe passion and desire to pursue a technical-scientific path are deeply personal decisions, but receiving practical feedback from experienced individuals who have already traveled the same course can significantly bolster one's confidence in their choice.
For instance, one might contemplate arranging focused gatherings, like participating in webinars or attending in-person events, in collaboration with women professionals in the field. This aims to collect firsthand accounts and exchange shared experiences.
Sometimes it's not necessarily about having remarkable encounters, but rather simple tips or strategies, even just to motivate themselves at work, like my motto-approach to tasks, once I grasp the context and the objective, I always say to myself: "Alright, let's get started!".
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