The QUSTom interview series aims to introduce readers to the people behind our research. Meet Almudena Maceda,  Robotic and Automation Engineer. Currently, she lends her expertise to the QUSTom medical team at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute.

Why did you choose this profession and what motivated you to do it?

I did pursue my career as an engineer for various reasons: a passion for problem-solving, interest in technology and innovation, and a desire to contribute to advancements in science and technology.

I have to say that choose this career wasn’t that clear due to the lack of representation in those fields. I have to admit that at the beginning I was doubting, as I didn’t have any role model in my family or close friend reference. But it is true that they have been always really supportive with me so I have to thanked them to encouraged me to pursue engineering.

My principal motivation was a commitment to create a positive change in the diagnostic of breast cancer, and, of course, QUSTom have help me to get closer to this.

Have you encountered any challenges as a woman in pursuing your career?

In my opinion, the main challenge is the lack of representation on the engineering professions. It is easier to have a role model and mentor men than women, and it can make it more challenging for any women to envision and pursue successful careers in those fields.

Do you think it is important to make girls and women in the field of science more visible? Why?

Yes, it is crucial to make girls and women more visible in the field of science for several reasons and I will like to point out 3 of them:

Representation Matters:
Having visible role models in the field of science helps inspire and encourage girls and women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
When individuals can see people, who look like them succeeding in a particular field, they are more likely to believe that they too can achieve success in that area.

Breaking Stereotypes:
By showcasing the achievements and contributions of women in science, these stereotypes can be challenged and broken, leading to a more inclusive and diverse scientific community.

Diversity of Perspectives:
Gender diversity in science brings a variety of perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. Different backgrounds and experiences contribute to a richer pool of ideas, fostering innovation and creativity. Encouraging women to participate in science ensures a more comprehensive and well-rounded scientific community.

In summary, promoting the visibility of girls and women in the field of science is essential for fostering inclusivity, breaking stereotypes, and leveraging the full potential of a diverse and talented scientific community.

What will be your contribution to the QUSTom project?

My involvement in the QUSTom project is focused on the correct operation and maintenance of the machine during the clinical trial in the hospital. Also, the support to the German KIT team for any difficulties that may arise during the clinical trial with the handling of the machine operation. Therefore, I have spent several weeks learning from them about the operation of the machine where I have been able to experience everything.

What do you hope QUSTom can achieve beyond the life of the project?
From my point of view, the project has great potential as it is a quite innovative and non-intrusive method towards women’s radiation. Furthermore, I believe that increased collaboration among all team members can lead to significant breakthroughs.

Do you have any advice for young women who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Sounds a bit common, but follow your dreams and don’t let anyone or anything destroy them.
To all the incredible women considering studying science, I want to convey this empowering message: You belong here, your voice matters, and your potential is limitless. Embrace the curiosity that drives you, the passion that moves you, and the determination that propels you forward. Keep pushing forward, and never doubt the incredible impact you can make!