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2019 winners

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) recognised three exceptional young women engineers at its Young Woman Engineer (YWE) Awards Ceremony on 5 December 2019.

Ying Wan Loh  

The Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award Winner
Ying Wan Loh

Ying Wan Loh works as a civil aerospace manufacturing engineer at Rolls-Royce plc. She joined the graduate scheme in 2015, gaining experience in areas such as Lean Six Sigma, quality management, external supply chain and technology strategy development.

After completing the graduate scheme, she was selected to join the extended development scheme in the company.

During her first attachment, she worked as a manufacturing improvement lead, where she led operational improvements in a complex manufacturing environment and delivered over £1 million in total cost savings. She worked closely with operators and engineers to drive continuous improvement projects and embed a sustaining data-driven approach to problem-solving on the shopfloor. During her second attachment, she is a manufacturing team leader, where she led a team to reduce non-conforming parts in the factory. She is accountable for £3 million worth of inventory. She is also responsible for the recruitment, health and safety, performance review and professional development of team members. In this role, she has successfully released cash value of £2 million from slow-moving parts and supported the plant to achieve 40% more parts delivered.

Ying completed an MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management at the University of Cambridge. During this time, she co-founded a technology startup that developed rapidly within a year and won the CSSA UK High-Tech Entrepreneurship Bronze Award. In addition, she also published her dissertation work on technology intelligence in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. Prior to that, she studied at the University of Glasgow and graduated top of the class with a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Design Engineering.

Outside work, Ying is very active in extracurricular activities. Since 2017, she represents the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Young Members Board to participate in the Professional Development Standards Committee. This committee sets the global standards for professional chartership accreditation. Her role involves providing a young engineer’s perspective to the committee, informing strategy and influencing decisions regarding the chartership process. As a keen STEM ambassador, she also participated in a social mobility coaching program through the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Since a young age, Ying is a theatre enthusiast and have taken on different roles, from director, scriptwriter to being an actor. She has organised over 25 theatre productions in her spare time. Being in the arts sector requires her to think critically and creatively.

She aspires to combine her passion in arts and engineering to engage and inspire the next generation of engineers.

Claire Lucas  

The WES Prize Winner
Dr Claire Lucas

Dr Claire Lucas always enjoyed maths but was never interested in the type of hands-on engineering and fabrication that was typical growing up in a rural, working-class community.

She took part in the Engineering Education Scheme but felt out of place amongst the group of boys taking design and technology from her school. It was only when attending an Oxford outreach residential for law (and being put off by the room full of books to read) that she discovered a different type of Engineering which was about modelling, understanding and solving problems.

She was fortunate in being accepted to Oxford without having studied A-level Physics and was able to catch up quickly studying in her own time to achieve in A less than 5 months after receiving her acceptance.

At Oxford, Claire studied Engineering Science giving her the ability to formulate models over a wide range of functions. Claire stayed at Oxford to carry out a DPhil modelling the regulation of blood vessel diameter in the brain reaching the final of the annual IMechE Biomedical Student Project Competition in 2013. During her PhD, Claire competed for Oxford University Women’s Boat Club beating Cambridge in the 2010 reserve boat race. She also met and married her husband Mike and in 2012 they moved to Leamington Spa where she joined Jaguar Land Rover as a mathematical modelling specialist. At JLR, Claire carried out and managed modelling capability projects working in multiple domains around the business to derive bespoke models and simulations which could be incorporated into virtual design processes.

In 2015, Claire joined Warwick as Director of Studies for Systems and Information Engineering where she is responsible for teaching activity in Systems, Biomedical and General Engineering. Warwick has one of the very few UK undergraduate courses in Systems Engineering which combines Electronics and Mechanical Engineering with Software and Data Science but the demand for Engineers able to develop active and intelligent systems is increasing. Claire conducts research and delivers teaching on model-based systems engineering, active systems for vehicle dynamics and systems engineering principles.

In addition, she carries out action-based pedagogic research with recent projects on assessment of group work, analysis of student surveys and consideration of gendered language in course descriptions. In 2019, Claire was a visiting research fellow at Jaguar Land Rover modelling physiological responses of drivers and passengers combining her Biomedical and Automotive Engineering knowledge.

Outside of Warwick, Claire is a fellow of the IMechE, a QAA subject specialist reviewer for Engineering, an academic accreditor for the IET and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy as well as a member of the UK and Ireland Engineering Education Research Network.

She is passionate about developing curriculum which attracts female students to Engineering through incorporation of non-technical system issues alongside traditional technological challenges and believes that holistic systems thinking in particular has the potential to produce Engineers capable of solving society’s grand challenges.

Samantha Magowan  

The Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices
Samantha Magowan

Samantha chose to pursue engineering as an opportunity after completing her A-levels in Maths and Physics and realising that University wasn’t for her.

She had really struggled with the academic pressure around exams and wanted to escape traditional education and learn on the job in an apprenticeship.

She chose engineering because it seemed to fit well with the subjects that she really enjoyed at school, Maths and the Sciences, a little unsure what it actually meant to be an engineer and whether she would truly enjoy it. She never imagined 3 years later that she would have so many opportunities and work on so many projects alongside studying for a higher apprenticeship.

Samantha studied at school always keeping as many doors open as she could but loving the practical subjects at heart. When it came to post 16 options, she chose to do A-levels thinking that was the only choice for someone with 11 GCSEs at A and A* grade. She chose Maths, Physics, Geography and Further Maths AS level. The strain that studying A-levels was immense but despite being offered a job by Dale Power Solutions at 17 she chose to finish her A-levels. Samantha finished sixth form with an A*, A, B and an A in AS Further Maths.

Despite her academic success she didn’t want to go to university so started to explore the options available to her. She applied to various Engineering companies, including Dale Power Solutions and GCHQ. Samantha received several offers but decided to accept Dale Power Solutions. They offered a rotational apprenticeship that allowed her to try all the business departments and learn exactly what she liked doing to help find a position in that department. When she started work, she had no idea that she would discover all the practical elements she loved when growing up would combine with maths and science to create a role that she really became passionate about.

Samantha worked in Panel Wire, Test, Electrical and Mechanical Design and Applications. She finally settled in Applications allowing her to figure out solutions for customers combining the commercial side of business that she finds fascinating. This role allows her to combine design with elements of salesmanship which keeps her constantly interested. Alongside this work she was given a project to complete a Feasibility study into a new product range. Something like this was completely new to her and she had no experience in marketing or even the product itself.

Within a year and a half Samantha has completed the study, additional research, written two reports, presented to the board, written a specification for 81 different combinations of the product, helped create a webpage, conducted site visits for the product and in the process of writing the first quotes for the product.

She never imagined that she would get to perform on such a project and that the Directors listened to her from the start is a real achievement and now it is likely that a set may be sold in the near future.

Glynis Dean  

Gender Diversity Ambassador Award
Wg Cdr (Retd) Glynis Dean

Wing Commander Glynis Dean led the Royal Air Force Youth and Diversity Team from its inception in 2008, until she retired in Dec 2018.

Glynis was among the first to recognise that a growing gap in the availability of STEM skills nationally would impact the long-term future of the RAF. She identified that addressing the gender imbalance across technical trades offered the best route to addressing this problem and was so persuasive in her argument that the Chief of Air Staff funded the establishment of a Youth and Diversity capability at RAF Cranwell. From that humble start, Glynis grew the RAF Youth and Diversity programme, with the driving aim of encouraging more girls to select STEM subject choices at GCSE and consider a career in engineering. The programme was deliberately pitched at students of 14 years and under, as part of a long-term plan to redress the STEM skills gap; essentially investing in young people 6-8 years before they would enter the jobs market. This investment required a substantial ‘leap of faith’ in terms of resource allocation, but one the RAF made largely because of the passionate argument put forward by Glynis.

An early landmark of the programme was the first STEM Residential for girls held on an RAF base. The course, for 40 girls age 14, was delivered at RAF Cosford in 2008, in partnership with Women Into Science and Engineering. The course was so successful that 3 more rapidly followed, and by 2018 the team were delivering 11 courses a year, a minimum of 3 specifically for girls, and 2 with a strong BAME focus. The RAF STEM Residential programme has now reached over 2,500 students, nearly 1,600 of which were girls, and over 2,000 achieved a British Science Association Silver Crest Award and a silver Industrial Cadet Award. Whilst tracking students engaged in the youth space is extremely problematic, we know that 18 former students are now serving in the RAF and over 100 others have contacted the team over the years to tell us that this programme provided the inspiration for their choice of an engineering career.

In 2010 this residential programme won a Business in the Community (BITC) Inspiring the Workforce of the Future Award. Key to the growth of the programme were partnerships with like-minded organisations, many of which endure to this day. First among them was a joint programme with BAE to deliver a theatre-based STEM Roadshow, which in 2018 reached the milestone 1 million students  engaged since 2008. Also, in 2018 the programme sponsored its 100 Arkwright Scholar and celebrated our status as having awarded more Industrial Cadet Awards than any other organisation. Other key partnerships include the Women’s Engineering Society, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), the Institute of Physics (IoP), STEM Learning (formerly STEMnet) and Primary Engineer.

In 2012 Glynis’ extraordinary achievements were recognised by the award of an MBE.

In 2013 Glynis wrote a paper entitled, ‘Drawn from the Society it Serves’, laying out proposals to improve BAME representation in the RAF. The reaction was immediate, included a doubling of the team’s budget and additional resource. BAME specific engagements followed, mirroring those already in place for girls.

The programme won the BITC Inspiring the Workforce of the Future award again in 2014 (gender) and 2015 (BAME). The European Diversity Award for inclusivity and promoting diversity in 2014 and the BITC Recruiting Diverse Talent award in 2016. Additionally, the RAF Youth STEM Programme was cited as best practice both for STEM and inclusivity by Government wide audit in 2014 and 2016. This unparalleled success led directly to the Inspire theme of the RAF 100 celebrations in 2018, where Youth STEM engagement was at the heart of the largest youth engagement programme ever delivered by the UK military and the largest Youth STEM programme ever delivered in the UK.

When Glynis retired in 2018, she handed over a Youth STEM programme that is second to none. A programme conceived through her own insight and brought to life through peerless passion and tireless commitment. Reaching just 200 students in 2008, the programme reached over 2 million students in 2018, thousands of which have gone on to technical careers. Glynis retired in the certain knowledge that she had made a tremendous difference to thousands of lives and changed the perception of girls in engineering forever. The programme continues as her legacy.


The 2019 finalists were

  • Charlotte Buffey (Material Laboratories Degree Apprentice, Rolls-Royce)
  • Shrouk El-Attar (Electronic Design Engineer, Renishaw)
  • Ying Wan Loh (Manufacturing Engineering Team Leader, Rolls-Royce)
  • Dr Claire Lucas (Director of Studies - Systems and Information Engineering, University of Warwick)
  • Samantha Magowan (Engineering Apprentice, Dale Power Solutions)
  • Amber O’Connor (Engineering Programme Manager/Equipment Health Monitoring & Performance, Siemens)

Other IET Awards