Photos of Zahra and Lucy

Image: Postgraduate winner Zahra Razaie-Yazdi and undergraduate winner Lucy Wootton

Female engineering students celebrated by Loughborough’s Women’s Engineering Society for the second year

Loughborough University’s Women’s Engineering Society was delighted to announce the inspirational winners of the second Female Engineer of the Year Awards earlier this week by video on their social media channels.

Headshot of Lboro Wes Chair for 2019-20, Naomi Richardson

Pictured: Loughborough WES Chair, Naomi Richardson.

The competition was first launched last year and aims to identify two students – one undergraduate and one postgraduate – who have gone above and beyond and have the potential to become future leaders in the sector.  

The key qualities judges considered included their achievements in academia, as well as their professional commitment and contribution to the engineering community. In addition, applicants were asked to submit a 500-word essay explaining why they deserved to win the award alongside a poster detailing a STEM activity plan which could be delivered at primary schools.

Undergraduate applicants were required to provide their CV whilst postgraduates were asked to provide an abstract of their work.

The judging panel – which included Loughborough WES Chair Naomi Richardson, Professor Andy Dainty, Professor Chris Reilly, Professor Cees de Bont, Professor Andy Harland and Caterpillar’s Graduate Engineering Manager Sam Stubbs – chose the winners as Lucy Wootton and Zahra Razaie-Yazdi.

As a result of winning the undergraduate award, Lucy has been offered a prize from Caterpillar; originally this was a summer placement but due to the coronavirus pandemic an alternative prize will be provided.

Zahra has been awarded the opportunity to present a 30-minute talk about her research at a celebration evening planned for the next academic year, which will be hosted by the IMechE Leicestershire Young Members Committee. The winners will also receive trophy shields and a monetary prize at the event.

Naomi Richardson commented: “The Loughborough FEY Awards were founded by my predecessor, Jennifer Glover, to celebrate female engineering at the University. We worked on her strong foundations for the award and tried to encourage more female engineers to apply, which was reflected having received almost double the number of postgraduate applicants this year.

“The entire judging panel found it very difficult to select winners due to the exceptional applications we received. I hope that as many applicants as possible will be able to attend the reorganised celebration evening next year, as they all deserve recognition for the hard work they put into their applications.

Postgraduate winner Zahra added: “I am honoured to have received this prestigious award and am grateful that my enthusiasm, efforts and contributions for the good of young female engineers and scientists have been recognised. There are many incredible women in our University, throughout the country and across the world who, with their exceptional performance, show that women are central pillars of society wherever they are and whatever role they are in, particularly within STEM fields. Thus, I would like to share this award with all the hardworking women and particularly young female engineers.

“We need to remember that, in order to flourish and progress, we should not consider any action as insignificant. Wherever we are, we need to step outside of our comfort zone and make contributions, take challenges, advance and strive ahead. This is why I am actively supporting charities helping our front-liners and those whose lives are economically impacted by the current situation.

“Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all at the Loughborough WES, my friends, colleagues and academic mentors, and also show my most sincere appreciation for my parents who supported me in every step of my life and career. With this award, I am more than ever, determined to work and strive harder.”

The University’s Women’s Engineering Society is supported by both the University’s Engineering Departments and Caterpillar. Through this support, members have not only received an enhanced student experience, but they have been able to attend networking opportunities, site visits and sector conferences too.

This is part of a wider relationship between Caterpillar and the University which has seen over £340,000 in philanthropic support over the last 20 years and the development of the Caterpillar Innovation Research Centre.