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Prestigious engineering awards celebrate women in modern engineering

09 October 2018

To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, six young female engineers have been announced as finalists for the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards 2018.

Image courtesy of the IET
Image courtesy of the IET

These prestigious engineering industry awards celebrate women working in modern engineering, working on projects ranging from future combat jets and spaceplanes to artificial intelligence – and aim to help change the perception that engineering is predominantly a career for men by banishing outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and dirty overalls.

Kate Self (20), Shajida Akthar (22), Sophie Harker (26), Amy Wright (28), Lorna Bennet (29), and Dr Claire Donoghue (33) have all been shortlisted for awards.

The finalists are:

Kate Self is a degree apprentice in TV at BT Tower, studying towards a Bachelor’s degree in Digital and Media Solutions. In her role Kate has worked on a variety of high-profile projects including contributing to the success of the BBC’s next-generation broadcast network and helping to implement cutting-edge surround sound technology for the UEFA Champions League.

Shajida Akthar is a Software Engineer at Accenture which involves coding scripts to automate manual processes in Financial Services.

Sophie Harker is an Aerodynamics & Performance Engineer for BAE Systems. She performs aerodynamic and performance analyses on future combat jets, as well working on hypersonic aircraft and the application of emerging technologies in aviation.

Amy Wright is Senior Site Engineer at Farrans Construction. She was part of the core team constructing the impressive Northern Spire bridge across the River Wear, which opened to traffic in August this year. In her role with Farrans, Amy leads subcontractors to complete sections of work and manages programming, resourcing, quality and health and safety. Amy was the Regional Education Coordinator for the Institution of Civil Engineers North East and was responsible for initiatives that reached thousands of students to promote engineering.

Lorna Bennet a Mechanical Engineer at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. She works to improve the operations and maintenance of offshore renewable energy assets.

Dr Claire Donoghue is a Software Specialist at 3M’s Corporate Research Lab, where she is researching disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and computer vision to invent and engineer new products.

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 12 percent of those working in engineering occupations are women (source: Engineering UK).

Jo Foster, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the IET said: “Engineering is a fantastic career – it’s diverse and exciting with the opportunity to do something life- or world-changing. But the lack of women in the sector is a huge problem.

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things, including the image of engineers within the UK, careers advice girls are given in schools and the way that companies with engineering roles advertise their opportunities.

“It’s also a result of the lack of engineering role models for girls, which is why our Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards are all about finding role models to get girls – and young people in general – excited and inspired about a career in engineering.

“I’d like to congratulate Kate, Shajida, Sophie, Amy, Lorna and Claire for making the final six and in helping to demonstrate the tremendous female engineering talent in our industry today.”

Minister for the Year of Engineering Nusrat Ghani added: “Engineers shape the world around us, and are at the forefront of tackling some of the biggest challenges we face – from protecting our environment, to harnessing the power of AI to fight disease. So it’s vital that we encourage more girls to consider careers in the profession and be part of shaping a future that works for everyone.

“Celebrating creative, innovative and stereotype-smashing engineers from all backgrounds is at the heart of the Year of Engineering, and it’s fantastic to see the achievements of some of the many brilliant women in engineering being recognised by the IET today. I’m sure all of these trailblazing finalists will play a crucial role in showing girls what they could achieve as engineers.”

The winner will be announced at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony on 6 December at IET London: Savoy Place. For more information, visit

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