Esther, Principal Teaching Fellow
Esther Perea Borobio is a Principal Teaching Fellow at Imperial College. She has an MEng in Mechanical Engineering from UCL and an MDes in Design Engineering from Imperial College.
What’s your job title?
Principal Teaching Fellow and Senior Tutor for the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
What is a typical day in your job?
There are no typical days in my job as I am involved in teaching (engineering design, professional skills and management), pastoral support (I am responsible for the wellbeing of our 650+ undergraduate students) and management.
What did you do before you got this job?
I was a Principal Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at London South Bank University, after having spent 10 years working different engineering roles in industry.
What do you wish you knew before you started looking for this type of job?
How varied and rewarding it is, but how many things you have to do in parallel – the ability to multitask is essential.
What do you think the most important skills are for someone in your role?
Engineering knowledge in an industrial context, desire to improve on the status quo, lateral thinking, perseverance, diplomacy, patience and being a good listener.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Seeing our students blossom through their time in the department, in particular those who have had a difficult time.
What are you most proud of in your career?
My first job was with the industrial design team at Grimshaw and Partners, where we designed a range of street furniture for a company in Madrid. My bus shelters are now in cities all over the world, which makes me feel very proud as I remember when they were only an idea. I still have a sample of the first component I designed in my office.
What do you hope to do in the future?
I would like to use my knowledge and experience of the industrial world to build more connections that will benefit our students and academics.
What’s your advice for someone looking for this type of job?
In my particular case, I went to high school in Spain and completed the Selectividad (the equivalent of A Levels) in the Sciences stream, which meant studying Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Technical Drawing. I then came to London to study an MEng in Mechanical Engineering at UCL and then an MDes in Innovation Design Engineering.
I come from a family of academics and teachers so I always knew I wanted to teach at university. However, since engineering is a practical discipline, I thought that I should do myself what I would later be teaching. This led me to spend 10 years in various industries: architectural design, Point of Sale design and manufacture and pharmaceutical R&D designing inhalers and nebulisers for mass production. I finally joined academia in 20005 and I have not looked back.
As you can see, my path was not the traditional one but I would say that it is ok not to follow the crowd. Go for it! Engineering is a fascinating discipline where you will learn something new every day (even after you graduate). You will be able to apply your knowledge to a myriad of fields and will rarely be bored.