03 July 2024

AECOM highlights how engineering impacts on everyday life. This is Part 1 of a three-part series.

International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) mark its 11th anniversary in 2024 under the theme of #EnhancedByEngineering. This year, INWED celebrates women engineers who have enhanced lives and livelihoods through their work. These remarkable individuals contribute to building a brighter future for all of us.

Retang Maphothoma, Civil Engineering Technologist, AECOM

Retang works in the Transportation and Highways Department, mainly on roads and stormwater projects, whereby she liaises and manages tasks from the Enterprise Capabilities (EC) side for the United States in different districts from her base at the AECOM head office in Centurion.

“Engineering is about problem-solving and making tangible differences within communities,” says Retang. Her passion for engineering was ignited as early as high school when she elected technical subjects to study. Having a great teacher who was really passionate and put in a lot of effort contributed significantly to her career.

Ending up in civil engineering and having experienced the work environment, her passion is all about the problems she assists to solve. “Engineering gives me that opportunity to make a difference within South Africa, or the world for that matter, by providing clean water, ensuring sustainable public transport, quality roads, and promoting a sustainable environment for everyone.”

Only at AECOM for a year to date, Retang says the company is highly supportive of new graduates and new people. “It has been really great. Just making the move to AECOM has contributed positively to my life in that I have access to a lot of additional resources like AECOM University and its digital tools.”

This has been especially meaningful coming from a smaller consulting company without the same resources. “Coming to AECOM has been wonderful, especially with regard to having received excellent mentorship from my line managers, who have been highly supportive.”

Retang notes that from day one when she joined, she was involved in US projects in Georgia and then North Carolina. “It gave me that opportunity to grow and also learn some international guidelines and standards. Looking back since I joined there has actually been a significant growth in my career.”

Regarding the 2024 INWED theme of #EnhancedByEngineering, Retang says it reflects the overall infrastructure development happening globally. “It is all about building a sustainable environment and looking at how things can be done easier as compared to before.” While engineering has traditionally been categorised as a male-dominated industry, “we have learned that engineering actually transcends gender stereotypes. It is about making a difference.”

Retang comments: “I believe that I and all other women have a voice in the engineering industry and the same capability as men. Traditionally, women’s mindset was channelled away from STEM fields. However, we now realise we do have a voice and can excel and lead as women.” Her message to girls aspiring to pursue a career in any engineering field is to believe in themselves, to pursue their passion relentlessly and to remember that they are just as capable. “We as women can do it better. Engineering welcomes diversity and our unique perspective. It is all invaluable. We all matter, and we are all capable,” concludes Retang.

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