Press release

Young female engineer finalists announced to inspire the next generation

14 September 2015

Five young female engineers working on projects ranging from the next generation of sports venues and stadiums to sound systems in cars have all been shortlisted for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards 2015.

These prestigious engineering industry awards aim to banish outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and greasy pipes – and help change the perception that engineering is only a career for men.

The finalists shortlisted for awards are:

  • Ashleigh Sumner (21) is an Engineering Apprentice at Siemens currently working in the research and development department
  • Helen Cavill  (31) is a Process Improvement Manager at M&H Plastics, currently working on automating dimensional measurement of plastic components
  • Orla Murphy (25) is an Audio EQ Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover - she produces exciting sound systems and features in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles
  • Emma Goulding (23) is a Technical Apprentice (Controls) at Siemens, specialising in the Power Generation Services sector
  • Rossella Nicolin (35) is a Principal Structural Engineer at AECOM, working on large sports venues and stadium projects worldwide.

The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards aim to find female role models to help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis. Women currently represent only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK (source: 2014 IET Skills Survey), the lowest percentage in Europe. If this trend continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 1.82 million engineers it is estimated the country will need 2012-2022 (according to Engineering UK).

Naomi Climer, IET president-elect, said: “Engineering is a hugely exciting and diverse career with the opportunity to do something life- or world-changing but the lack of women in the sector is a huge problem.

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of many things, including the image of engineers within the UK, careers advice girls are given in schools and the way that companies with engineering roles advertise their opportunities.

"It’s also a result of the lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls, which is why our Young Women Engineer of the Year awards are all about finding role models to get girls – and young people in general – excited and inspired about the possibilities of an engineering career.

“These awards recognise and celebrate the women that do work in the industry and I’d like to congratulate Ashleigh, Helen, Orla, Emma and Rossella for making the final five.”

The winners will be announced at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony on 3 December in central London. For more information, visit www.theiet.org/ywe

Media enquiries to:
Rebecca Gillick
Communications Executive
Tel: +44 (0)1438 765 618
Mob: +44 (0)7725 498 129
Email: rgillick@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

More information on the finalists:

Ashleigh Sumner, Engineering Apprentice at Siemens
Ashleigh is a third year Electrical and Electronic Engineering Apprentice at Siemens in Congleton who is really passionate for engineering, manufacturing and everything that is involved with it.

For her ‘A Levels’, she decided to study subjects she enjoyed; Mathematics, Physics and Product Design. After achieving the grades that she needed, Ashleigh looked at the apprenticeship route instead of university as she felt it offered greater advantages and development, involving both theoretical learning and practical knowledge. During her four year apprenticeship she will complete the following certificates; IT Functional Skills, BTEC Level 3, NVQ Level 3 and a HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

In the past Ashleigh has worked extensively with local schools and colleges in designing and delivering activities and events that are aimed to encourage, engage and inspire students, teachers, parents and others about STEM subjects.

Ashleigh’s apprenticeship programme involves a four-year ‘rotation’ of the Siemens business. This means she gets to try out lots of different roles in the company, while attending college one/two days a week. Ashleigh is currently in a placement in the Research and Development department (R&D). This involves designing and researching, such as contacting suppliers, for a project she is currently involved in.


Emma Goulding, Technical Apprentice (Controls) at Siemens
Emma is currently a Technical Apprentice working for Siemens Aeroderivative Gas Turbines (AGT) within the Energy business. Here, she is involved with the Power Generation Services sector whereby the business uses aeroderivative gas turbines for industrial purposes such as power generation and gas compression.

After undertaking 3 month rotational placements within the AGT business, I am now permanently working within the Controls Service Engineering team, where I am responsible for providing technical support for the Siemens AGT fleet of industrial gas turbines. Upon completion of my apprenticeship towards the end of September 2015, I will permanently join this team as a Controls engineer.

Helen Cavill Process Improvement Manager at M&H Plastics
Helen started her engineering career with a Year in Industry placement in an iron foundry in her hometown of Lincoln. She then studied Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Cambridge, graduating with a first class MEng degree in 2009. For the last six years, Helen has been employed as the Process Improvement Manager at M&H Plastics in Suffolk, becoming a Chartered Engineer in 2014.

M&H Plastics is a premium manufacturer of plastic bottles and caps, primarily for the personal care market. Helen’s role involves investigating and resolving complex technical issues, often spanning across several production departments (a challenge that she describes as being an “engineering detective”). Research and development of new manufacturing processes and operational systems also features heavily – Helen is currently working on automating dimensional measurement of plastic components.

For the last nine years, Helen has been a STEM Ambassador, reaching the final of the 2013 STEMNET Most Dedicated Ambassador Award. She particularly enjoys volunteering on activities where her creativity and design skills can be exercised to devise novel educational resources. In addition to running Saturday Science Masterclasses, Helen has been on the organising committee of the Lowestoft Interschool Maths Challenge every year since its inception, designing and building three-dimensional practical maths games suitable for teams consisting of a wide range of ages.

Orla Murphy, Audio EQ Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover
Orla Murphy is an audio engineer at Jaguar Land Rover. Orla realised her love for Science and Engineering when she led a school project on bubbles at the age of 16, which won first prize in the Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry section of the BT Young Scientist Competition and also won Special Award from the institute of Physics. She then went on to an MEng degree in Electronics with Music at the University of Glasgow, completing part of her studies abroad at the University of Radford in the USA. Throughout her time as a student she won a variety of awards and bursaries for both Engineering and Music, including the Eilidh Reid Foster Prize, the William Wilson Scott Award, the Sir Thomas Beecham Scholarship and the Glasgow University Engineer’s Society Medal.

A keen musician, she plays viola and has performed around the world. She is a staff member at the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and a member of the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra. With her day to day job she combines her passion for music and acoustics with her drive for problem solving- to help produce exciting sound systems and features in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.

Rossella Nicolin, Principal Engineer, AECOM
Rossella is a Principal Structural Engineer in AECOM, where she holds a technical/management role in the Sports Structures team in London, specialised in large sports venues and stadium projects worldwide.

Trained both as an architect and an engineer, Rossella holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University IUAV of Venice and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, she was the recipient of awards and fellowships for her work on structural engineering, architecture and sustainability.

From 2007 to 2012, Rossella worked for Buro Happold, being based in New York, Bath, Milan and London. Since August 2010, she is based in England and she joined AECOM in 2014. She worked on projects worldwide in UK, Europe, USA, Middle East and China and developed an expertise in the field of complex geometry, long span structures and earthquake resistant design.

She has lectured and tutored at universities, as well as published technical papers in international conferences. She has been awarded the prize of National Finalist for the 2010 US Green Building Council Natural Talent Competition, focusing on rebuilding efforts for New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina.

Rossella is also active as a STEM Ambassador in promoting engineering to young people and in enhancing the role of women in male-dominated industries.

About the IET

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 163,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most interdisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.