How I fused expertise with passion to help empower the cleantech revolution

How I fused expertise with passion to help empower the cleantech revolution

A testament to the power of combining knowledge and passion to create tangible change in the world of engineering, Sofia Korniliou – Instrumentation Engineer at Bramble Energy – shares her transformative journey into the cleantech revolution.

Science has always fascinated me; I found it was the perfect outlet for my creativity. It was this passion for science combined with an academic curiosity that led me to engineering – a domain where real-world challenges, like climate change, can be addressed head-on. As a woman in tech, my story illustrates how you can have your cake and eat it too. In other words, you can pursue your academic dreams while wholeheartedly chasing your passions without compromising on either.

Born in Greece, my academic journey began in chemical engineering, delving into control processes, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. As a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field, pursuing engineering allowed me to challenge conventions and stereotypes, which for me was important. The diverse applications of chemical engineering across biotechnology, energy, and the environment were equally important, both captivating and challenging me.

A PhD in two-phase flow in microchannels followed, and I continued my pursuit of knowledge through a postdoctoral research position in the same field. Beyond academia, my curiosity led me to explore non-contact thermometry solutions for harsh environments and the development of defect detection methods for PEM fuel cell membranes during my time at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL), one of the oldest metrology institutes in the world.

Igniting a spark 

After immersing myself in thermal engineering research, I felt a calling to transition to the cleantech industry – an exciting yet challenging move. I was inspired to translate my engineering expertise into something that could make a substantial impact on both the environment and society. I wanted to go beyond the theoretical realm and contribute directly to innovative technologies that could drive a cleantech revolution.

A spark was ignited and from there I joined Bramble Energy, a company whose vision is to accelerate global decarbonisation and make clean energy technology accessible. I was intrigued by their dynamic and innovative environment, which constantly demands adaptation and learning, and once there, found the opportunity to influence positive change, particularly for future generations. I find immense satisfaction in the challenges I face daily, the collaborative efforts with diverse teams, and the realisation that I’m directly contributing to both the environment and society.

Currently, I’m part of Bramble Energy’s Test Team and my role as an instrumentation engineer empowers me to develop cost-effective solutions, ensure reliable performance for hydrogen production and fuel cell testing systems, and make meaningful contributions to various research and development projects.

Being part of a team that created a system for the affordable and efficient production of hydrogen has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in my journey so far. Hydrogen, as a clean fuel, holds immense potential across transportation and power generation. This project marked a pivotal moment where my engineering knowledge intersected with my passion for environmental impact. The feeling of accomplishment and pride was unparalleled, knowing that our work would fuel sustainable energy conversion in fuel cells, ultimately contributing to a greener future.

Advice to aspiring female engineers

Reflecting on my role as a female engineer in the cleantech industry, I recognise the inherent empowerment and inspiration it offers to other women considering careers in technology or engineering.

As an instrumentation engineer, I develop innovative solutions, engage in problem-solving, and collaborate with experienced individuals daily. The confidence that stems from overcoming challenges, leading projects, and being a part of a passionate team is invaluable.

That being said – working in cleantech requires dedication, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to making a positive impact.

My advice to those keen to follow in my footsteps is simple: Be bold in your pursuit of knowledge and experience. Specialise in topics that ignite your enthusiasm, stay updated in a rapidly evolving field and don’t shy away from leadership roles. Embrace your achievements, learn from mistakes, and remember that your unique perspective as a woman in engineering is your strength. As you navigate your path, surround yourself with mentors and peers who uplift and guide you, shaping the transformative impact you’ll make on our world.