“I am a passionate advocate for all women in engineering”: Dr Celia Butler 's career at Synopsys

Posted on 23 June 2019 by Rebekah Dixon


As part of International Women in Engineering Day, we spoke to Dr Celia Butler, Senior Application Engineer at Synopsys Simpleware, about her experiences within the industry. She also explains how she has taken advantage of opportunities such as the Synopsys ‘Women in Leadership’ program and why she is an advocate for Women in Engineering.

I’ve been working as an Application Engineer for Simpleware Synopsys since February 2015

How did you become an engineer? What led you here?

Most of my family are involved in the automotive industry, and I remember a “take your daughter to work day” where I went to work with my Dad (I was probably about 10 years old). He worked for Rover Group and this was my first experience of being in a large-scale engineering workplace, and I loved it.

When I got to A-Level, I chose Physics because I thought of it as an “all-rounder” subject. When applying for universities, I decided to apply to study a Physics Degree at the University of Exeter as I thought that I would be able to incorporate aspects of computer engineering within it.

My degree was a full-time four-year course, which included a year in industry. During this time, I worked for QinetiQ, which is a defense research company, working specifically in smart materials. This year really put into perspective for me what I liked about industrial research and development and that I would love to build a career in it.

How is it being a woman in a mainly male-orientated industry?

I can’t speak on behalf of all women, but for me, I always feel that no matter who you are or what type of job you have, you should always strive to do your best. As I believe that it is your work that will be judged as a direct reflection of you. Many engineering projects are all about team work, and when you’re working as a team there is no such thing as gender; engineering can be blind to everything about an individual when the group produces good work.

What do you like about Synopsys?

I love working for the Synopsys Simpleware Product Group: there is great variation in projects, from creating human body models for complex surgery, to developing models of new composite materials for heat management, to investigating the internal structures in museum artefacts – basically, anything with image data.

The best aspect about my job is talking to other people, understanding their projects, and then helping them. I am responsible for developing the workshop and training courses worldwide as well as being the Technical Lead on research projects.

Through various projects, I have been exposed to lots of new and different industries and have even had the opportunity to watch live surgery, such as knee replacement and hip revision procedures.

I’ve been part of an internal Synopsys program on “Women in Leadership” with women from Europe, Middle East and Africa. The program aimed to connect and develop women across Synopsys’s worldwide employee network, from software developers to recruitment specialists and security consultants. Confidential peer coaching sessions were part of the year-long program, wherein a group of women including myself would discuss our professional challenges. This was a fantastic opportunity to understand other people’s perspectives, and to come up with helpful suggestions and/or solutions. During other sessions, we would read and discuss leadership literature and meet with other successful Synopsys female leaders. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet colleagues in far-flung offices and learn from the very best!

What have been some of your career highlights?

There have been so many interesting and exciting projects throughout my career, but the one that gives me the most pride was when I developed a “transceiver” for a wireless Ethernet bridge. This allows very fast transmission of high volumes of data over short distances (1 – 5km). Devices like these are part of the new 5G mobile data network which is being rolled out across the UK.

The project I am most proud of when working for Synopsys was the series of models I developed with Stanford University investigating “bulging brains“. This involved creating computer models of a brain to study how to alleviate swelling caused by traumatic brain injury. This was fascinating – a completely new area of research for me, and the findings are of use to the medical industry.

When I was 28, I went to The Gambia for a development project. A small team of Leaders from Girl Guiding went out to work with The Gambian Girl Guides Association, and worked with all levels of the organizations, from the youngest – who were about five years old – to the senior management team. We focused on training individuals, who could then pass the knowledge down their chains (known as “train the trainer”) on self-worth and how to have confidence in themselves, as well as basic business skills. This was an inspirational trip for me especially when I realized that I had the skills to share.

Do you like a challenge?

I am always looking for the next opportunity to get involved in a new project, expand my knowledge base, meet new people and help them in developing new ideas.

I have also taken on a new role as an Honorary Senior Lecturer at University of Exeter, and this means I have the opportunity to get involved in new kinds of projects in an academic setting.

With the experience and qualifications I have, I could have taken them almost anywhere, it happened to lead me along the path to being a Senior Applications Engineer at Synopsys.

Interested in Joining Synopsys?

Want to know more about different career paths at Synopsys?

Any Questions?

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