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2018 winners

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) recognised three exceptional young women engineers at its Young Woman Engineer (YWE) Awards Ceremony on 6 December 2018.

Sophie Harker  

The Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award Winner
Sophie Harker

Sophie is an Aerodynamics and Performance Engineer for BAE Systems’ Concepts & Technology team within the Air Sector.

Last month, Sophie won the IET Sir Henry Royce Medal for Young Professionals at the annual IET Achievement Awards. She was also the 2017 winner of the BAE Systems Bee Beamont award, recognising an exemplar newly qualified Engineer. She was also BAE Systems Technical Graduate of the Year 2016, SEMTA Graduate of the Year 2017 and was named in the Telegraph’s Top 50 Women in Engineering list. She gained Chartered Engineer status with the RAeS in 2017, after challenging the by-laws of the society to allow her to do so at such a young age.

After finishing her A-levels Sophie decided to study Mathematics at the University of Nottingham. Whilst there, she had the fortune of meeting Dr Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space. As an aspiring astronaut herself, Sophie asked Dr Sharman for advice to which she was told to consider engineering as a career. With this in mind to help her achieve her dream she continued with her degree, focussing her studies on applied mathematics, and undertaking an internship in software engineering for BAE Systems between her third and fourth years at university.

After graduating, Sophie joined BAE Systems full time on their Graduate Scheme, consisting of four engineering placements across various aircraft platforms and products, including the Eurofighter Typhoon. For her final placement she secured the company’s first secondment to Reaction Engines, where she worked on the Skylon spaceplane, leading her to her current role in the company’s Concepts & Technology team.

Sophie is an active STEM ambassador and inspirational public science and engineering communicator. As well as developing and running aerodynamics themed workshops, she discusses the engineering vision for space and hypersonic transport and shows that women like herself are an integral part to that vision. Sophie is also setting up a non-profit to enable schools and institutions to video call engineers and scientists in the classroom, to make sure that no child misses the opportunity of a career in STEM due to their geographical location.


Lorna Bennet  

The WES Prize Winner
Lorna Bennet

Lorna Bennet is a Mechanical Engineer for the Operational Performance team at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s world’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy.

She works with academic researchers, SMEs, technology developers, manufacturers and operators to drive improvements in the operations and maintenance of offshore renewable energy assets through developing new technologies, procedures and research.

Lorna has always had a passion for building things and solving problems, helping her dad with DIY tasks from a young age. This was integral to her decision to study for a BEng honours in Product Design Engineering at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art.

As a STEM Ambassador since 2010, Lorna has dedicated a significant amount of personal and professional time to STEM engagement programmes.
In March 2018 Lorna was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Award to set up a pilot STEM engagement strategy with four local primary schools in Glasgow.

She has since recruited 18 new STEM Ambassadors to run the programme and developed a series of renewable energy and sustainability-related lesson plans.


Shajida Akthar  

The Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices
Shajida Akthar

Shajida chose to pursue a career in technology/engineering straight after leaving college because she had a keen interest in computing, having studied electronics and computing at A level.

Unlike many of her friends, she had no desire to follow the traditional route of attending University, but instead wanted to gain real-world work experience and kick-start her career as soon as possible. Having completed 4 weeks of work experience with Movement to Work (AKA Go Tech) partnered with Accenture, Shajida went on to apply for the first intake of the Accenture London Technology Apprenticeship programme in 2014.

This gave Shajida the ability to try multiple roles and expand her knowledge of the world of technology. Many of her roles varied, so on some days she would find herself managing an entire project delivery, while on others, she would be doing DevOps, test automation or even development. At one point in time, Shajida was managing the DevOps stream of work on a project while also covering scrum activities as an acting Scrum Master.

Over the past 2 years, she has been working mainly in Financial Services, implementing DevOps solutions and automating their delivery pipelines. However, she has held onto her interests of project management and agile working by helping projects become more Agile.

Outside of work, Shajida has been given countless opportunities to inspire and relay her experiences to the younger generation – exposing them to technology as a career option. She has worked with organizations such as Pathway CTM and TeachFirst to share her experiences as an apprentice.

Because of her efforts in client delivery and promoting women in technology and apprenticeships, Shajida was awarded the Accenture Apprentice of the Year Award 2018, along with the Rate My Apprenticeship Outstanding Higher/Degree Apprentice Award 2018.



Finalists were Dr Claire Donoghue (3M’s Corporate Research Lab), Katie Self (BT Tower) and Amy Wright (Farrans Construction).

Other IET Awards