Awards night for Women In Engineering

2014 UNSW Women In Engineering Awards

UNSW Dean of Engineering, Graham Davies, presenting during the awards ceremonyIn August, UNSW Engineering held an awards ceremony at The Mint, Sydney, to recognise the achievements of its female graduates.

Dr Alex Bannigan who manages the Women in Engineering program for the Faculty said “the evening acknowledges and showcases the accomplishments of our women graduates and their contribution to the profession and the community”.

Two awards were presented and were open to all alumnae from UNSW Engineering.

The Maria Skyllas-Kazacos Young Professional Award for Outstanding Achievement went to Ms Lee-Anne Sylva. “It is a great honour to be recognised for my contributions to my projects, organisation and professional associations,” said Lee-Anne.

Lee-Anne is a senior process engineer for GHD, a world leading company which provides engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services to private and public sector clients. In this role she has been involved in a wide variety of water and wastewater projects. Ms Sylva has also played an integral part in GHD’s Young Professionals program as an internal Quality Auditor.

(L-R) Prof Maria Skyllas-Kazacos, Ms Emma Donaldson, Ms Pia Seeto, Ms Lee-Anne Sylva, Dr Bronwyn Evans, Prof Judy Raper, Prof Graham DaviesThe second winner of the night was Ms Pia Seeto who received The Judy Raper Award for Leadership in Engineering. Alex said that this award is named in honour of Professor Judy Raper who completed her PhD at UNSW and was the founding Director of the Centre for Particle and Catalyst Technologies. “This award goes to an alumna who made a sustained and significant contribution through demonstrated leadership, characterised by passion and commitment, setting bold objectives and achieving results,” she explained. “Most importantly the recipient has also motivated and mobilised the talent of others.”

As the Portfolio Director for Managed Services for Ericsson, Pia was certainly a deserving winner, having led gender diversity initiatives at Ericsson and also directing teams of up to 60 project managers to deliver major projects for corporate clients such as NBN, AMP and Telstra.

"It is a great honour to be recognised in this way, something like this allows one to reflect on the journey that has been and the many people who assisted you to develop and grow, that is the true gift,” Pia said on the night. “It is fantastic opportunity to pay forward the intent of the program and shift thinking in a relevant way towards increasing diversity in engineering and the broader work environment."

Lee-Anne also spoke of how valuable UNSW’s Women In Engineering program is. “It’s such an important initiative to get behind. Increasing the diversity in engineering will allow us as a group to achieve better solutions, improve our servicing to clients and improve communication with the wider community."

The outstanding quality of nominations this year demonstrates the high calibre of our alumnae and we would also like to congratulate the other finalists:

The Award Presentation Ceremony, Dr Alex Bannigan, the Women In Engineering Program ManagerMs Gabriele McGill (MSK Award finalist) is a process engineer at GHD. Having volunteered for Engineers Without Borders Australia since 2011, she is now Sydney Regional President of EWB. Ms McGill recently spent a year in Cambodia delivering sanitation solutions to local communities.

Dr Jacqueline Thomas (MSK Award finalist) is a senior scientist at the Ifakara Health Institute based in Tanzania. Her research is focused on sustainable sanitation with nutrient and energy recovery and appropriate household level water treatment for local communities.

Dr Robyn Grote (JR Award finalist) has combined the disciplines of physiotherapy and medical engineering. As the Principal Research Fellow at Queensland Health she focuses on three dimensional gait analysis of people being treated for serious movement disability. Currently Dr Grote is also a visiting fellow at the UQ Centre for Clinical Research and the School of Engineering Systems at QUT.

Ms Raelene O’Brien (JR Award finalist) is the Group Manager of Technical Services at Glencore Coal Assets Australia. She has over 17 years’ experience as a mining engineer with a particular focus on applying systems engineering ideas to mining processes, including a focus on safety, standards and efficiency. She has led specialised teams in the areas of mine design and planning, production, strata control, geology, ventilation, and infrastructure.

Dr Shari Soutberg (JR Award finalist) is the Director Materiel Engineering at The Defence Materiel Organisation. Shari has provided almost 30 years of service to the Defence Department in various engineering roles, concentrating on applying the systems engineering process in Defence to efficiently and effectively achieve greater defence capability.

All of these accomplished women are excellent role models for young women and we hope that they will continue to inspire the next generation of women in engineering at UNSW.

Congratulations again to the winners and finalists.

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