Women’s Engineering Society announces winners of 2018 awards

The Women's Engineering Society (WES) announced the winner of this year’s prestigious Karen Burt Memorial Award at a ceremony in London on 2 October. This award recognises the winner’s excellence and potential in the practice of engineering, while also highlighting the importance of Chartered status and celebrating the contributions made by the winner to the promotion of the engineering profession.

Now in its 20th year, the accolade was awarded to Susan Deeny, a Senior Fire Engineer at Ove Arup & Partners, an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Sally Sudworth, Chair of the Judges, said:

“Susan Deeny is a chartered engineer with the Institution of Fire Engineers and, in 2011, was awarded a doctorate in structural fire engineering from the University of Edinburgh. Her contribution to science and engineering in this specialist field is significant.

“In 2016, Susan was awarded the Margaret Law Award for her creative approach to fire safety design and for her outstanding individual research. She is recognised in her field as an expert witness and has most recently had a supporting role in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

“Susan’s commitment to coaching and training is impressive having produced training material, given lectures, supervised and coached PhD students and has also managed school work placements. The judges were particularly impressed with Susan’s role in optimising the design of the iconic Macallan Distillery.”

The award was presented to Deeny at the WES Caroline Haslett Lecture and Awards Ceremony, held at the Institution of Structural Engineers in London. The event was hosted by Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon OBE, co-founder and Head STEMette of STEMettes, the award-winning social enterprise inspiring the next generation of females to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.

Upon receiving the award, Deeny said: “I am truly delighted to receive the Karen Burt Award. Engineering has been such a challenging and rewarding career for me.

“As a fire safety engineer, my work has helped to shape the built environment in all parts of our lives – our homes, schools, hospitals, places of work and infrastructure. I was drawn into engineering by the buzz of seeing my work shape the world around me.”

Deeny added: “I believe our built environment would be better for all of us if the people engineering it are representative of our society. So I’m pleased to represent the Women’s Engineering Society, which inspires and supports women in all stages of their career.”

Recognising industry excellence

A further two prizes were also presented at the awards ceremony; the Men as Allies Award and Amy Johnson Inspiration Award, which Matchtech Managing Director Grahame Carter helped judge.

This year’s Men as Allies Award was presented to Stephen Reid, Head of Development at Formulate Digital, a company which specialises the design, build, market and support of high-performance websites for businesses of all shapes and sizes. With men holding the majority of roles within engineering and applied sciences (women make up less than a quarter of the UK workforce in industries involving science, technology, engineering and medicine), it is crucial that they are involved making the cultural changes needed to attract and retain women in engineering and applied sciences.

The WES Men as Allies Award seeks to celebrate a male engineer or professional male working within the engineering, technical and applied sciences sectors, who has gone above the call of duty to support his female colleagues and address the gender imbalance within engineering and applied sciences in general.

Betty Bonnardel-Azzarelli, Chair of the judging panel, said: “with the great quality of applications received for the Men as Allies award, judges have found it difficult to pick only one winner. But Stephen Reid was consistently named as one of the top contenders by all judges. In addition to his day job, Stephen has been teaching computing to women with charities, and has also contributed to leading research on the prevalence of bias in machine learning.”

The Amy Johnson Inspiration Award, meanwhile, was presented to Tabitha Goldstaub, Co-founder of Cognition X, an AI Advice Platform that connects organisations with a global on-demand network of AI experts. This award honours a non-engineer who has made a truly remarkable achievement in furthering the diversity agenda within engineering and applied sciences. This award serves to recognise the efforts of an individual in inspiring more women to enter and/or remain in the engineering and technical professions.

Bonnardel-Azzarelli added: “Tabitha’s approach to artificial intelligence and how she uses it to support women in tech impressed the judges. She is using her positions in highly-visible roles with government and the mayor's office to promote diversity in tech.”

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Image credit: Susan Deeny (@sueDArupBD) 

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