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.

2022 Karen Burt Award Application - Deadline for entries 30th June 2022

Our 2021 winner

Image removed.The 2021 winner of the prestigious Karen Burt Memorial Award for the best newly chartered female engineer is Eleanor Earl, Civil Engineer at Arup.

Eleanor was nominated for the 23rd 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.

Head Judge Dr Katherine Critchley, said,

“The judges were impressed with Eleanor’s clear passion and drive for making engineering diverse and inclusive, particularly in her area of expertise around humanitarian water provision and development.

Eleanor’s determination to make engineering accessible to all has been highlighted by her volunteer work with the Social Mobility Foundation and the Girls’ Network for the past six years, and by launching the national STEM Ambassadors Network at Arup.

Eleanor’s continued commitment to both her profession and to the promotion of how engineering makes a difference to lives all around the world make her a very worthy recipient of this award as well as an inspiration to young women entering the profession.”

Eleanor Earl responded to the Award by saying,

“I am honoured to receive the Karen Burt Memorial Award and would like to congratulate all of the fantastic nominees. I would also like to thank everyone who has shown me kindness and support on my journey. There are too many people to name, but I hope that you all know who you are. You are my engineering heroes!”

Eleanor was selected as winner from a strong group of contenders, all nominated by their own Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs). The nominees and PEIs included: Mivy James (BCS), Aga Jezierska (CIHT), Vaishnavi Balachandran (CIWEM), Maha Khan (Energy Institute), Tola Oseni (IChemE), Laura Read (iED), Sahar Danesh (IET), Klementina Gerova (IFE), Dr Sin Sin Hsu (IMechE), Professor Sarah Cartmell (IOM3), and Stephanie Jones (RAS).

Eleanor 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 16 December 2021. The Caroline Haslett Lecture was delivered by Dame Jo Da Silva, Global Director of Sustainable Development at Arup.

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 2022. 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. 2022 Karen Burt Award Application - Deadline for entries 30th June 2022

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.