Roma Agrawal
Structural Engineer

Roma describes her journey from stickle bricks to the top of The Shard, and inspires you to get engineering with everyday objects.

I took an unusual route into engineering. I enjoyed maths and science in school, although I found some bits harder than others! I knew that I wanted to do something scientific but I didn’t know exactly what, so I studied Physics at university to keep my options open.

My mum and dad played a big role in developing my career interests. We played with Lego and construction blocks all the time. I loved assembling the small pieces to create something large and meaningful. Now my job allows me to do that everyday! I was part of the team that designed and built The Shard in London, the tallest skyscraper in western Europe.

I didn’t realize how much teamwork there would be in engineering. Everything is teamwork – putting together a building or a bridge is not something anyone can do alone. I’m always working with people from different backgrounds, which is exciting and fun.

Studying maths and physics is important in becoming an engineer, but you don’t have to be a genius at those subjects. Being an engineer combines many skills. I am very organized, and good at communicating in meetings. I love sketching and doing presentations too.

My work makes a big difference in a city’s landscape. My work on The Shard will have a lasting impact on London’s skyline. I’ve also designed over 500 flats in London, much needed as there is a housing crisis in the capital.

You don’t have to aim to change the world in order to change the world! Think about all the times in everyday life you say ‘Why can’t we do this?’ or ‘I wish it was easier to do this’. Engineers bring real change by trying to solve these problems.

BEST ADVICE?

Ignore all the unhelpful stereotypes and do what you enjoy. Science and engineering careers are far more wide reaching than any of us appreciate.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?

I love travelling and baking cakes. I’m writing my first book, and I also love classical Indian dance. I started dancing when I was 6!

Roma Agrawal
Roma's Journey

Activities

Engineering with everyday objects

Time: 30 minutes

You need: Scrap paper, scissors, sticky tape, paper clips, uncooked spaghetti, elastic bands... you can make structures out of anything!

Activity 1. Design and make bridges using uncooked spaghetti and elastic bands or sticky tape
  • Some shapes are stronger than others. Experiment with triangles, squares and arches. Try combining shapes in your final design.
  • Bridge the gap between two books or two chairs.
  • Test your bridges by adding weight gradually. Can you improve your designs?
Activity 2. Build skyscrapers using scrap paper, scissors and paper clips.
  • Sketch your designs first. Work out how to make them real.
  • Work together to build a ceiling-scraper... or challenge each other to build the highest tower possible with a single sheet of paper!
  • Can you add a striking spire, like the one Roma helped create for The Shard?

Enjoyed This? What’s Next…

  • You’ll find more activities for 7-11 year olds at www.youngeng.org.uk Membership is free!
  • Find out more about engineering careers at www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk
  • Look out for Roma’s book about engineering, called BUILT (Bloomsbury, 2018)
Roma Agrawal

Talking points

#1 Experiment

Changing the shape of a material can make it stronger - whether it's steel or spaghetti. Experiment with different shapes. Talk about what you discover.

#2 Teamwork

Engineering is all about teamwork. Combine your ideas to create structures that are beautiful and strong.

Share your creations and comments

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The Shard