International Women in Engineering Day – Building Smart Things

June 21, 2019 Dr Cinzia Giannetti
International Women In Engineering Day - 23 June 2019

As a young girl I had always loved science and especially Mathematics.  My dad, now retired, used to work as a telecommunications technician for the Italian Navy. I have always been fascinated by his technical capabilities and especially his broad knowledge about telecommunication systems and computers.

In the 80s he bought me a Commodore 64 and I loved to play with it! Being not so sure what would be my career aspirations I decided to study Mathematics. I liked the challenges of solving difficult problems: using the language of Mathematics to describe real word phenomena and developing solutions to these complex problems.

In the first year of my degree my interest was more on mathematics teaching, but I soon became interested in the application of mathematics and algorithm development and I decided to pursue a career in Software Engineering.  The main event that inspired me was a field trip in my undergraduate studies where we visited a large engineering company in Milan. I became fascinated on how engineers and scientists had tackled traffic problems by developing an intelligent traffic light system. This was a long time ago in the 90s and the intelligent traffic lights were a rarity; no mention of Smart Cities. I then decided that this was the type of career I wanted to pursue. A few years later, my dream started to become a reality: I was hired by the same company as a software engineer to work on the development of their mobile communication network systems. I loved my job, I finally had the opportunity to put into practice the problem-solving capabilities I developed during my degree, from having to fix a tricky software bug to finding the best and most efficient way to implement new system capabilities. I loved to be part of a multidisciplinary team and work collaboratively to create and integrate new systems just from specifications and diagrams written on a piece of paper. This would typically take several months and seeing the final system in action was really satisfying. The thought that my code could enable people to easily communicate from any location was really fascinating.

Following nearly a decade of working in industry, life circumstances forced me to rethink my career after I moved to Swansea for family reasons. The best thing I did was to take up the opportunity to study for an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Manufacturing Informatics. The EngD gave me a further opportunity to pursue my dream of developing ‘smart things’, as I had imagined many years before.

After now twenty years from my first job I am working as an Associate Professor in the IMPACT research institute in the College of Engineering, focussing on the development of autonomous and intelligent systems to support smart production processes. I am currently supported by EPSRC through a Fellowship award to co-create innovative technologies for Smart Factories in collaboration with industry.

In my day to day job I develop new algorithms that use large volumes of data to predict system behaviour and aid the development of more efficient production systems. I aim to apply these technologies to different manufacturing processes including metal packaging and steelmaking. I still enjoy using Mathematics to model real word engineering systems and subsequently use these models to optimise system performance, for instance, improving use of resources, reducing industrial waste and environmental impact. What I like most about my job is to tackle scientific and technical challenges and hopefully provide suitable solutions that can create a wider impact for our society.

Cinzia Giannetti, Associate Professor & EPSRC Innovation Fellow
Cinzia Giannetti, Associate Professor & EPSRC Innovation Fellow

I have been very fortunate that my life was enriched by so many experiences and I feel very lucky that I am now able to do a job that allows me to combine research, industrial applications and most importantly teaching. My initial dream has really become a reality!

Cinzia Giannetti, Associate Professor & EPSRC Innovation Fellow

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