The Karen Burt Memorial Award

Each year WES asks Professional Engineering Institutions to nominate their best newly chartered female engineer, from which a winner of the Karen Burt Memorial Award is chosen. This most prestigious annual WES award was set up to encourage more women to aim for and celebrate the achievement of Chartered Engineer status.

Nominations are have now closed for 2021 and the winner will be announced at the Caroline Haslett Lecture in December 2021.

Our 2020 winner

The 2020 winner of the prestigious Karen Burt Memorial Award for the best newly chartered female engineer is Tina Gunnarsson, Digital Transformation Lead for Balfour Beatty Major Projects.

Image removed.Tina was nominated for the 22nd Karen Burt Award by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), in acknowledgement of her achievements. The Award recognises the importance Chartered status has, the winner’s own contributions to excellent practice and highlighting engineering to others.

Sally Sudworth, Head Judge for the 2020 Karen Burt Award, supported by Joint Head Judge Dr Katherine Critchley, said,

“The judges were very impressed by Tina’s commitment to sustainability, demonstrating the application of her technical skills to improve transport links at Rubavu, Rwanda. From learning the local language of Kinyarwandan to deliver effective communications and engagement, to promoting engineering at the local schools, Tina’s talent was evident.

Her role in promoting SECT was also very impressive together with her support for the reverse mentoring scheme at Balfour Beatty. Tina was awarded the Renee Redfern Hunt prize by the ICE for her chartership assignment on the subject.”

Tina Gunnarsson responded to the Award by saying,

“It is an honour to have been awarded the Karen Burt Memorial Award. Dr Karen Burt was an incredibly accomplished engineer, and to share a passion with her for recruiting and retaining women in engineering is exciting. Engineering has empowered me to make positive changes in our communities to improve sustainability and diversity through teamwork, and I'd like to thank all the amazing people that I have worked with. I hope I can help to inspire more engineers to use their knowledge and skills to create positive changes in the world.”

Tina was selected as winner from a strong group of contenders, all nominated by their own Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs). The nominees and PEIs included: Madeleine Combrinck (IMechE), Hannah Day (IOP), Camilla Fletcher (IOA), Andrea Kis (BCS), Bridgeen Mc Carron (IChemE), Helen McGloin (IET), Ioana Price (IStructE), Kirsty Ward (RAeS) and Sharon Wilson (CIHT).

Tina was presented with the Karen Burt Award at the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Caroline Haslett Lecture and Awards ceremony, held virtually on the evening of 10 December 2020.  The Caroline Haslett Lecture was delivered by Amanda Fisher, Chief Executive of Amey.

Nominations are made by Professional Engineering Institutions who may nominate one newly chartered engineer per year. Many have internal review processes to decide who to nominate. Please contact your PEI if you would like to be considered for the award.  Nomination forms will be sent direct to the PEIs in early 2021. If you have any questions about the award or the nomination process, please contact us at

Previous Karen Burt Award Winners 

What is the award and who is eligible?

Launched on 3 November 1998 by WES, the Karen Burt Memorial Award is made annually to a newly Chartered woman engineer in the following disciplines – engineering, applied science, IT.

The award recognises the candidate's excellence and potential in the practice of engineering and highlights the importance of Chartered status, as well as offering recognition to contributions made by the candidate to the promotion of the engineering profession.

Who are the judges?

WES would like to thank the judges of the Karen Burt Award:
Dr Kathy Critchley (Chair)
Swee Keow Goo
Fiona Scott
Helen Ramsay
Jo Strange

How are nominations made?

Each participating accrediting engineering Institution nominates one candidate annually, following the normal institutional review process, with final selection by a WES panel on the basis of further information provided by the candidate. This latter stage focuses particularly on the candidate's contribution to the promotion of the engineering profession. The collaboration strengthens links between WES and the engineering Institutions and helps raise the profile of women engineers and encourage them to attain Chartered status. 

Further information on the Karen Burt Memorial Award

Individuals wishing to obtain further information about the award and the nomination procedure should in the first instance contact their own accrediting professional Institution. Institution managers who need further information should contact us at

Who was Karen Burt?

As an active member and Council office holder in The Women's Engineering Society, Dr Karen Burt was a Image removed.tireless campaigner for the recruitment and retention of women in science and engineering. From her own experience and her extensive research she was regarded as an expert in the management of career breaks and women 'returners' to engineering.

Karen graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge and obtained a PhD from Reading University in electron microscopy. She joined British Aerospace Systems at Stevenage as project engineer for scientific satellites and progressed to Senior Systems Engineer before developing an interest in management in the Total Quality Environment, and subsequently becoming Business Acquisition Manager.

Leaving BAe, she set up her own consultancy and was instrumental in establishing the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems within University College, London. She had just accepted a position on the staff of UCL when her career was abruptly ended by a devastating stroke.

Karen is remembered as a gifted communicator and her fight to recover speech and mobility following her stroke was an inspiration to all who knew her.