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The Engineering Talent Awards 2021: Winners, Highlights, and the Rise of Diversity and Inclusion

The first-of-its-kind event, the Engineering Talent Awards (ETAs) is hosted by EqualEngineers – a company on a mission to make the engineering and technology industry more diverse and inclusive. The awards celebrate the incredible achievements of inspiring individuals who go above and beyond in their roles to make a difference. 

Partnered with McLaren Racing and headlined by SSE, this year’s line-up was a talent-packed ensemble. And as the first face-to-face ETA, it showcased exactly why diversity and inclusion are imperative for the future of engineering and technology.

Let’s take a look at the 12 category winners and why they deserve recognition.

You can see the full list of Engineering Talent Awards finalists and winners here.

Engineer of the Year 2021

Why it’s important 

It’s one thing achieving professional registration in your engineering career; it’s quite another to lead by example and inspire others to follow in your footsteps. This category celebrates those who both excel in their field and actively encourage others to pursue a career in engineering.

And the winner is: Dr. Larissa Suzuki, Google

Not only does Dr. Suzuki excel in an entrepreneurial sense, but she also gives back to her adopted country by encouraging others to fulfill their potential through technology – something that’s sorely needed considering the current skills shortage. As a result, Dr. Suzuki was the perfect recipient of this Engineering Talent Award.

Engineering Apprentice of the Year 2021

Why it’s important

We want to challenge the stereotypes around engineering apprenticeships now most employers consider them ‘equally valuable as degrees.’ However, we understand that the work and study commitments of apprenticeships are challenging. As a result, this category celebrates those who not only excel in their role but act as ambassadors for this viable career alternative.

And the winner is: Elizabeth Barr, BAE Systems

A high achiever with a Distinction grade in her foundation degree, Elizabeth added Engineering Apprentice of the Year to her numerous award wins. This is all thanks to her active promotion of apprenticeships and engineering in her spare time.

Engineering Student of the Year 2021

ETA Awards winners. ED&I Talent Awards - EqualEngineers

Why it’s important

Change starts with education, which is why this category rewards students who promote engineering and champion inclusive industries. As diversity balances the need to work hard and maintain personal wellbeing, this award is for a pre-grad student who goes above and beyond for what they believe in.

And the winner is: Craig Orrock, Heriot Watt University

Craig is deaf and a diversity champion who advocates captioning in all aspects of life. Not only does he study hard, but he also leads a team of engineering students in his spare time as they develop a liquid rocket engine. And he does all of this whilst maintaining his position as a Charity Trustee and Treasurer of UKSEDS.

Engineering Graduate of the Year 2021

Why it’s important

The transition from study to work is a relatable challenge, which is why this award recognises graduates who’ve pursued their passion for engineering all the way through university and into the workplace, especially if they champion diversity and inclusion at the same time.

And the winner is: Mohammad Taher, Heathrow

Mohammad shares his journey around overcoming barriers to inspire younger generations, regardless of their background, into pursuing a rewarding role in engineering. He’s also a hugely valued member of Heathrow’s Engineering Team. By helping to solve complex problems, he enables efficient and effective solutions to everyday operations.

Engineering Returner of the Year 2021

Why it’s important

There’s a skill shortage in engineering, especially when it comes to mid-senior level positions, with many individuals leaving the industry for various reasons. That’s why this award is about celebrating those who come back (regardless of why they left) and are now thriving.

And the winner is: Chitra Srinivasan, UKAEA

As a real-time Control Engineer from India, Chitra has relocated to different continents and taken two extended breaks as a result. However, now she’s back as a UKAEA employee working on the world’s most advanced fusion machines. Consequently, she’s won awards for role modeling sustainability, with her achievements resulting in a VISA that (hopefully) ends her need to take career breaks.

Executive Leader of the Year 2021

Executive Leader of the Year 2021 - ETA

Why it’s important

Change isn’t easy. There are often barriers to embedding new ways of working, some of which are people. That’s why this award celebrates executive leaders who’ve used their influence to pave the way for a more inclusive organisational culture.

And the winner is: Dr Anne Nortcliffe, Canterbury Christ Church University

Anne not only made the School of Engineering, Technology and Design an exemplary example of inclusion, diversity, and equality, but she also leads on institutional and regional initiatives that challenge stereotypes about the engineering profession, promoting it as a creative discipline ideal for women.

Innovation of the Year 2021

Why it’s important

Innovation is key when it comes to changing the world. And without STEM, innovation can’t exist. To that end, this award celebrates innovation in engineering, science and technology across all disciplines and backgrounds.

And the winner is: Gerard Simpson, SSE Renewables

Gerard has proved himself an exemplary member of SSE Renewables, using his self-funded skill set to understand technical problems and solve them quickly and effectively. This has saved time for users and an incredible amount of money for SSE Renewables, which allows for greater innovation and more effective use of funds.

Inclusion Programme of the Year 2021

Why it’s important

If you want to attract and retain talent in the engineering industry, inclusion matters. That said, accessing some communities is easier than others, while understanding the hidden identities of who you attract is a whole other challenge. That’s why this award recognises organisations that actively embed inclusion throughout their operations. This includes welcoming people from all backgrounds and making sure everyone is heard, listened to, and respected.

And the winner is: Inclusion Commitment, Energy & Utility Skills

As a result of The Workforce Renewal and Skill Strategy, 45 employers signed an Inclusion Commitment to enable collaboration with the Prison and Probation Service, 10 000 Black Interns, Women Utilities Network, and Equal Engineers to share best practice. As a result, Energy & Utility Jobs have generated nearly 10 million opportunities for potential candidates to apply to work in the sector.

Engineering Society of the Year 2021

Mark McBride-Wright - EqualEngineers - ETA Awards

Why it’s important

Running engineering societies on top of studying shows a high degree of commitment. It also fosters soft skills that help individuals achieve success throughout their careers. Consequently, this award is all about recognising the achievement of student societies that have impacted their members long after they’ve left university.

And the winner is: FemEng, University of Glasgow

FemEng is a student-run network that supports women and minorities in engineering. It does this by creating a safe space for students within the School of Engineering, connects students with engineering role models, and encourages young people at home and internationally to pursue further education in engineering. Not only that, but FemEng adapted their approach to allow them to work online and reach hundreds of children across Scotland and Ireland.

Employee Network of the Year 2021

Why it’s important

Employee networks are important. They allow people to come together with a shared common identity or interest, which can lead to positive organisational culture changes. To this end, we wanted to recognise the employee networks that have had a demonstrable impact over the last year when it comes to improving engagement and broadening the conversation around diversity.

And the winner is: Empower (Gender Balance) Network, Atkins

With over 1,000 members and allies, Empower focuses on: empowering women to bring their authentic self to work; breaking the glass ceiling, and providing a space for employees to share best practice, new ideas, and voice concerns. In doing so, they’ve driven positive change and increased female representation in engineering.

Small-Medium Enterprise of the Year 2021

Why it’s important

Most engineers are employed in small-medium enterprises (SMEs). As a result, this award celebrates organisations that have made a commitment to supporting the development of their people. This includes utilising available resources to widen participation and create a more diverse and inclusive industry.

And the winner is: Techwuman

Techwuman is all about STEM. They’re an engineering consultancy that dedicates 50% of its time to raising awareness about STEM career opportunities. This includes promoting the jobs on offer and championing the aim to achieve gender parity in STEM industries. To do this, they’ve already delivered STEM activity days to over 1,300 pupils, which included the opportunity to speak to more than 55 real STEM ambassadors. And it doesn’t end there. They’ve collaborated globally with over 20 companies to deliver motivational talks and create blogs that promote STEM. And their mentoring services have helped over 20 people (81% female) with career advice, improving their employability.

Large Employer of the Year 2021

All the winners at the ETA Engineering Talent Awards

Why it’s important

Engineering is a foundation industry for the UK, hence the number of large employers of engineers in various fields. As a result, this category is all about celebrating organisations that support their engineers, proactively promote diversity, and create an inclusive profession.

And the winner is: Costain

Costain is dedicated to an employee population representative of society by 2030. 2020 saw the percentage of women on the executive board reach 50%, and 56% on the PLC board. Costain believes inclusion is about making sure everyone can achieve their potential. No one should be at a disadvantage because of who they are.

Overall Excellence in Engineering

And the winner (sponsored by SSE) is: Craig Orrock, Heriot-Watt University.

Craig is a testament to why the Engineering Talent Awards are so important. His advocacy around accessibility in engineering and technology aligns well with our ethos at EqualEngineers, while his work with non-profit UKSEDS shows an unwavering commitment to his industry. That’s why we’re thrilled Craig won this year’s Overall Excellence in Engineering award.

We caught up with Craig a few weeks after the Engineering Talent Awards. Read his full story here.

Do you want to get involved with The Engineering Talent Awards? Why not become a sponsor for ETA 2022? Or maybe you have someone in mind and want to nominate them for an award?

Get in touch to learn more.

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