Three young women engineers have been recognised at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards for their work in engineering
IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year: Dr Ciara McGrath (30) is an Aerospace Systems Lecturer at the University of Manchester. Ciara carries out engineering research projects in the areas of astrodynamics and space mission design, working with industry and policy makers to design space systems that can help support life on Earth. She also teaches University courses and supervises student projects in space system design, to support the education and development of the next generation of engineers. Ciara’s public engagement aims to make complex ideas accessible to everyone, through hands-on examples, podcasts, radio interviews, written articles and public talks.
IET Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices: Dilani Selvanathan (22) is a Junior Software Engineer at Herotech8. Dilani works alongside the technical delivery team to support growing technical requirements and helps build the products and services. Dilani recently completed a Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship with the BBC, where she worked on a variety of projects and learnt about the different aspects of Software Engineering. Dilani is a STEM Ambassador and took part in the STEMazing programme, giving online interactive sessions at primary schools. She is also a WISE role model, promoting young women in STEM.
Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Prize: Eftychia Koursari (35) is a Senior Civil Engineer at Amey Consulting. Effie specialises in scour, the main impact of climate change on infrastructure, whilst also undertaking part-time PhD Research on scour at the University of Glasgow. Effie is developing innovative scour monitoring and prediction tools and methods, protecting infrastructure, whilst also aiding in the response to the Climate Emergency. Effie is an active STEM Ambassador and has been named one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering for 2020 and was also awarded the Women Leaders Association Rising Star in STEM.
On winning, Ciara said: “These awards that the IET run are so incredibly important, and I am completely shocked to have won – it is more than I could ever have imagined. Engineers are the people that change the world and make a difference – they problem solve, they find a solution and they make amazing things happen. Being a finalist has been a whirlwind and I am so excited to see what happens next. I’d like to say a special thanks to my parents for their support – I always say it was my Dad that took me out to show me the stars, but it was my Mum that taught me to reach them.”
Finalists Lauryn Jayes, Nipuni Karunaratne and Anna Will were all highly commended. All winners and finalists will play an ambassadorial role for the engineering and technology professions in the forthcoming months, promoting engineering careers to girls and young people.
Now in its third year, the Gender Diversity Ambassador Award, which recognises an individual’s hard work in achieving gender equality within the engineering industry, was awarded to Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon.The award aims to showcase innovation and good practice to compliment the YWE Awards, by recognising the support and encouragement of women in STEM careers.
Elena, who studied Mechanical Engineering in her hometown Monterrey in Mexico, has always had a focus to help people. Having spent over 25 years in male dominated learning and working environments, Elena has led national and international activities to seek to bring balance to engineering where the lack of women representation is painfully evident. She has received numerous awards throughout her career but in 2020, she was named Executive Leader of the Year by Equal Engineers, Distinguished Mexican in the UK by the Mexican government, and Woman of the Year by FDM everywoman in the Technology Awards.
The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards celebrate women working in modern engineering – and aim to help change the perception that engineering is predominantly a career for men by banishing outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and dirty overalls.
As well as highlighting female engineering talent, the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards seek to find role models who can help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis by promoting engineering careers to more girls and women. Just 14.5% of those working in engineering and technical occupations are women (source: Engineering UK).
Dr Laura Norton, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the IET, said: “Engineers develop products and services for everyone, yet just 14.5% of the sector’s workforce are women. Awards like this are crucial for raising the profile of women within engineering and providing real-life role models to younger generations to encourage greater diversity within the industry.
“I’d like to congratulate our fantastic winners and finalists of this year’s Awards. They are a real credit to the engineering profession and will make excellent role models to young girls who might be thinking about a career in engineering and technology.
“It’s vital we champion engineering careers to the next generation – it’s a diverse, creative and exciting career, which offers the opportunity to change lives, or even the world.”
This year’s YWE Awards were sponsored by BAE Systems, Boeing, BP, Collins Aerospace, Capgemini, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, GCHQ, Leonardo, MBDA, Northrop Grumman, Nucleargraduates, Ofcom, RAF, Rolls-Royce, Royal Mail, RS Components Grass Roots, Teledyne and Thales..