Thanks to the Daphne Jackson Trust, I’m now back fulfilling my dreams, working in engineering and aeronautics! 

After completing a Daphne Jackson Fellowship in 2017, Maria Ribera-Vicent has gone on to achieve some great accomplishments in her career. She has been successful in gaining a position as a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London, where she now works, and she has received an award as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering 2018 (in The Sunday Telegraph).

Maria had an exceptional start to her research career. She graduated with a BSc in Aerospace Engineering from Saint Louis University, followed by a MSc and PhD also in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland, specialising in Rotorcraft.

I had an amazing experience in the United States, working as an active international researcher in helicopter research and interacting with the top leaders in my field.

After Maria finished her PhD, she relocated and settled in the UK, where she worked as a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Southampton for five years, in computational engineering and optimisation. She credits her ‘excellent team’ at the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre led by Professor Andy Keane, which lead her to becoming the local expert in this field.

When Maria’s first child was born in 2010, she chose to take nine months maternity leave and then returned to work full time. When her second was born in 2012, she decided that with her long commute to work in Southampton and with her husband now working longer hours, she needed to make some changes and stay at home to look after her two young children.

The time flew by during my career beak. I filled my time with volunteering at school but also continued my Ph.D. research and even published a paper at the European Rotorcraft Forum.  

Before I knew it, my oldest child was at school and my youngest was at nursery. I was now ready to restart my career after a three-year career break and found I had a little bit more spare time to dedicate to returning to my research career. However, I knew I wanted to work flexibly and if possible, part time.

Maria spotted an advert on jobs.ac.uk for the University of Surrey half sponsored Daphne Jackson Fellowship with the other half of the sponsorship coming from the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Fellowship was 0.5FTE and based at the University of Surrey, which was close to her home.

She leapt at applying and after completing the application process, found herself awarded with a Fellowship at the Surrey Space Centre of the University of Surrey, where she would learn new skills in Satellite FEM validation as well as refresh and deepen her knowledge of other theories and project elements connected to aerospace and automotive structures.

The retaining aspects of the Fellowship has certainly opened up a lot of doors for me in my career to date.  The courses I completed during my Fellowship really helped improve my confidence and personal development.