Women in ICT - Silvia Urra
URBANAGE project recognises its responsibility in raising awareness of women working in ICT and wishes to help encourage young women into rewarding ICT-related careers. As part of its commitment URBANAGE wishes to share the experiences of the women involved in our project.
Job title: Senior Researcher
I´m an architect, and in my first years of professional life I worked in different architectural offices. When I entered Tecnalia I worked mainly in construction works and in the identification of retrofitting needs of the buildings. Different projects and my own interest in working on issues that make a direct difference in people´s quality of life led me to the field in which I work now, the adaptation of built environments to the needs of older people.
Overview of the job:
I work in the Urban Transformation Lab inside the City, Territory & and Environment area. I research how we can improve our environment to make it friendlier, healthier, and better for all, especially the most vulnerable groups. We try to translate people’s needs into the urban regeneration and planning processes, including all the local ecosystems (citizens, but also public administration, academia, industry...). To achieve this we use Digital tools, such as GIS and Digital twins of the city.
What inspired you:
I decided to be an architect because of my grandfather, he always told me that I should be an architect. My current research field has come from a mixture of causalities and my own personal interest in improving people´s quality of life. I have had a very good relationship with my grandmothers and I have seen how different barriers in the environment have not allowed them to keep on doing their normal life when their personal conditions have changed.
Typical working day:
I get up quite early, I go to work by bus, I have a coffee with some colleagues, and I start with my meetings that are mainly online since I´m involved in several European-level projects. Depending on the project stage sometimes I must travel to have face-to-face meetings or to participate in different project activities. The rest of the time I´m working at the office (or teleworking) dedicated to different project tasks. When I finish my working time, I go back to the city where I live by bus, and depending on the day I go to the gym, then the supermarket, and back home with my family.
Study and career path:
I studied architecture in Donostia-San Sebastian, with a specialty in Building. I spent one course in Lisbon (Portugal) with the Erasmus program. I have done several courses in accessibility and GIS for example. Currently, I´m a Ph.D. student in the faculty of Sociology, my research is “Planning Cities for our future selves”. Probably if I went back again, I would study for a Master's after my Architecture studies to specialize more, but to be honest at that stage I didn’t have a clear idea of what my interests were. The best educational experience I have had is to start working in real life, you learn a lot when you have to start thinking by yourself and to solve real issues.
For my job, I need all the analytical skills, and the capacity to make the analysis of the situations, find the reason behind them, understand the existing data, and try to solve the problem through new and existing research. Regarding communication skills apart from the skills to write and present the results of the research every time you are involved in projects that intend to get the needs of people translated into solutions it´s key to listening and collaborating. From my point of view personal and social skills are needed in all the jobs that involve research and teamwork.
I think that in all the sectors that work in the built environment, including urban planning, buildings, products, and services, especially those that have a direct link between needs identification and solutions definition.
To be able to find the solutions that the people need.
To assume that it is impossible to know about everything.
To focus on what is important for my working line.
Your advice to students:
Don't close doors, do not think that you can't.
None of the decisions you make related to what you want to study will be absolute, the professional career is very long with infinite possibilities.
Technology is a very useful tool to achieve many things, use it.
Your advice to teachers and parents: I think that we have to explain to our kids what we do, but in its full context, so that they can see the real impact of what the different professions have on people´s quality of life. And inform them about the huge amount of possibilities they have.
This interview was also published on STE(A)M IT portal.