The engineer with an inspiring career

Rebecca Fox is a Canon Medical CT Technical Support Engineer, and every day she works with a team who service and repair lifesaving CT scanners.
A white, half-doughnut shaped machine, which is a partial view of a Canon Medical Aquilion LB CT Scanner. It has operating buttons on either side of the central gantry.

Written by Sarah Vloothuis

Senior Manager External Communications

Back in 2018, a research project called Draw the Future asked around 20,000 7–11-year-olds to draw what they wanted to be when they were older. Among the boys, ‘engineer’ ranked at 6, just under ‘scientist’ and above ‘doctor’. For the girls, it was number 22. The same study pointed to a similar piece of research that found girls, “in all cultures, prioritise working with, and helping other people.” In which case, why isn’t being an engineer higher up the list? Rebecca Fox, a CT Technical Support Engineer for Canon Medical Systems UK, thinks the answer lies in semantics.

“An ‘engineer’ is the vaguest profession,” she says. “A car mechanic is classed as an engineer. Or the person who fixes your gas boiler. An engineer can be someone who designs calculations for the military.” However, engineering as a career direction just made sense to Rebecca. She loved maths and physics at school, so going on to study Mechanical Engineering at University was a natural next step. “For A Levels I studied Maths, Further Maths and Physics. So, there weren’t many things you could go and do with that,” she laughs. Her degree, she admits, took a broad-brush approach, covering everything from maths to mechanics, materials to management. Even so, she was among only a handful of women out of three hundred engineering students at her university. From the third year of a four-year degree, Rebecca was allowed to supplement the core subjects with modules of her own choosing and discovered that she absolutely loved those covering Biological Engineering – finding engineering solutions to medical problems – “I took as many of these modules as I could.” She had fascinating lecturers and recalls with fondness her Biomechanics lecturer, who would describe how he was involved in a bike accident and used the experience to share in great detail how the design of his helmet saved his life.

On the left, a quote that reads, ““You get to go and see different cities, meet different people and do something hands-on every day – physically fixing something whether it be software, electronic or mechanical. It’s a very cool job.” On the right, a head and shoulders photo of Rebecca Fox. She has long brown hair and is wearing a blue blouse with white polka dots.

Of course, once university was over and the world of work beckoned, Rebecca found herself searching for a job that was essentially ‘a niche within a niche within a niche’. Not only was she seeking an engineering role within the medical sphere, but she also knew that she needed variety, something where she wouldn’t be tethered to a desk for 40 hours a week. Finally, in September 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, she was offered the position of Level One CT Engineer with Canon Medical Systems UK. Within a few weeks, she saw the inside of a Canon CT scanner for the first time and was learning how to give this highly complex and lifesaving machine a service.

From here, Rebecca hit the road, shadowing a more experienced engineer, masked up and taking multiple Covid tests to access hospitals and private clinics throughout the pandemic, keeping their precious Canon CT scanners in tip top condition. Each scanner requires three or four services a year and, as you might imagine, they see a lot of wear and tear. “It could be a simple thing like a gurney ramming into it, so a cracked or damaged panel needs replacing. Or a high voltage part inside might need fixing. Sometimes I was assisting in investigating a problem, doing different diagnostic tests. If it affects the x-ray tube or the detector, you have to do a lot of calibrations afterwards, so it takes a lot of time to get it back up, working and ready for clinical use,” she explains. It’s important to mention that while the work Rebecca and her colleagues undertake is highly technical, they also have to be skilled at customer service, keeping the staff at the hospitals informed and reassured.

A netball team, posed for the camera with five people stood at the back and four on one knee at the front. They all wear red Canon branded polo shirts and white Canon branded baseball caps. The man stood at centre back holds a netball. On either side of them are pop up banners advertising the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Rebecca (front row, second left) is a keen netballer and joined colleagues from across the Canon community in a charity netball match during Canon’s partnership with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Recently, her role has changed to that of a CT Technical Support Engineer, which means that while she’s not on the road quite so much, she’s more involved in providing remote help to engineers out in the field, as well as starting to help train them on new machines and software. At a Canon Medical site in Dinnington, South Yorkshire, engineers can get hands-on with these systems under the supervision of Mike Robson, the CT Technical Manager, Rebecca and her colleagues. “I’m still quite new to the role, but there’s not a set schedule – every day is different. So, you have to be very flexible,” She explains. And, as she says, she “couldn’t ask for better colleagues”. The mix of new recruits and experienced engineers means there’s a solid support network for all. “If you need help anyone will help you out. It’s a really nice environment.”

When she is not working, Rebecca loves horse-riding and is also a big fan of netball, dodgeball and golf. She also has a weakness for medical dramas – but they’re not the same since she started working for Canon Medical. “Every time you see someone having a CT scan, they’re there for a really long time and I’m like, ‘that’s not how a CT scan works!’ I know it’s done for the drama, but a CT literally takes a few seconds. It’s so quick!” she laughs. Such occupational hazards aside, she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her job to others and would love to see more women in the field. “You’re physically part of keeping a hospital running,” she says. “The better you do your job, the more patients they can hopefully see. You get to go and see different cities, meet different people and do something hands-on every day – physically fixing something whether it be software, electronic or mechanical. It’s a very cool job.”

Rebecca is only 26 and already an excellent role model. She volunteers in schools, helping to show youngsters what a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) can really look like. It is people like her, talking about the important work they do with such happiness, who will change the face – and profile – of engineering. And hopefully this means we’ll start to see it rise into the top ten dream jobs for young women and girls too.

Sarah Vloothuis Senior Manager External Communications

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