The awards are open to all self-identified female and non-binary students at the University and aim to celebrate the talents and potential of women in engineering.
They are split into undergraduate and postgraduate categories with a criteria of outstanding academic achievement, professional commitment and contribution to the engineering community.
Applicants had to submit 500 words on why they should win the award, as well as a one-minute video based on the theme ‘Engineering at Home’. Undergraduate applicants were required to provide their CV whilst postgraduates were asked to send an abstract of their work.
The judging panel – which included Professor Andy Harland, Professor Chris Reilly, Emma Nicholson (WES Associate Fellow), Dr Ksenia Chmutina, Professor Rachel Thomson, Professor Richard Bibb and Natalie Tang (WES Chair 2020/21) – chose the winners as Georgina Edwards and Anna Tholen.
As a result of winning the undergraduate prize, Georgina Edwards has been offered a MentorSET prize package. MentorSET is the Women’s Engineering Society’s mentor scheme, offering cross-sector mentors from around the UK. She said: “I wasn’t expecting to receive it at all but saw the awards as a way to create a fun STEM video to be used in conjunction with the incredible social media posts created by the committee to inspire more women into engineering, especially at the school age.
“Thank you to the University for the great opportunity to be involved with the society and the awards. Alongside my degree, these extra-curricular development opportunities and the chance to network with female engineers make Loughborough the best place for an engineering degree.”
Anna Tholen, the postgraduate winner, was awarded the opportunity to present her research on using holographic laser bean shaping to improve metallurgy in additive manufacturing at the celebration evening. She commented: “I am honoured to have been awarded the prize. Having been a student at the University for a number of years it truly means a lot to have received this award from an organisation that has shaped me as a professional. It has been great to be surrounded by so many inspirational role models this evening.”
Loughborough WES Chair, Natalie Tang added: “All who applied should be incredibly proud of their courage to put themselves forward. The applications we received this year were outstanding. I hope the awards have given the brilliant applicants an opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and recognise their amazing abilities.
“The awards would not have been possible without the continued help and support from Loughborough University, the Women’s Engineering Society, Leicestershire IMechE young members team and Caterpillar.”
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 collaborative relationship between Caterpillar and the University which has seen several collaborative projects including the development of the Caterpillar Innovation Research Centre plus over £350,000 in philanthropic support.