Tina Gunnarsson wins WES’ 2020 Karen Burt Award for best new female Chartered Engineer

Tina Gunnarsson

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.

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.

Two other awards were presented at the ceremony: the WES ‘Men as Allies Award’ and WES ‘Amy Johnson Inspiration Award’.

Men As Allies Award

The Men As Allies Award was fiercely contested this year with three frontrunners reaching the finals for the first time. The award seeks to celebrate a male engineer, or professional male working within the engineering, technical and applied sciences sectors, who has gone above the call of duty to support his female colleagues and address the gender imbalance within engineering and applied sciences in general. With men holding the majority of roles within engineering and applied sciences, it is crucial that they are involved making the cultural changes needed to attract and retain women in engineering and applied sciences.

The three finalists were: Stephen Gill of Energy Efficient Solutions, Mike Nayler of Amazon Web Services, and Mark Wild of Crossrail. All the finalists were nominated due to their great support and promotion of women in engineering both inside and outside of work. The winner was announced on the night.

Amy Johnson Inspiration Award

This award honours a non-engineer who has made a truly remarkable achievement in furthering the diversity agenda within engineering and applied sciences. It serves to recognise the efforts of an individual in inspiring more women to enter and/or remain in the engineering and technical professions.

Fiona Hopkinson was selected winner of the 2020 Amy Johnson Inspiration Award, having been the driving force behind a school’s cultural transformation to a leading school for STEM as noted in the Good Schools Guide. She also supported teams to win the TeenTech Challenge, is an MSC student at the University of Liverpool reading Organisational Psychology, a non-executive trustee of TeenTech and a volunteer for the Tech Talent Charter.

A very deserving highly commended place was also awarded to Naziyah Mahmood of Scottish Engineering for her inspirational work in promoting diversity in engineering.

Alexandra Knight, Chair of Judges for the Men as Allies Award and Amy Johnson Inspiration Award had the following to add,

“It was an honour to judge the Amy Johnson Inspiration Award and Men As Allies Award this year.  The standard of applications was extremely high and it was brilliant to read about the many amazing people that had been nominated. It's fantastic to see all the work being done to support diversity and inclusion in engineering and applied science. The three finalists for the Men As Allies Award are all true role models, setting a great example to others of what is possible. The winner of the Amy Johnson Inspiration Award, Fiona Hopkinson is hugely deserving of this accolade as her tireless efforts to encourage, support and inspire girls in STEM is demonstrating real results. These individuals are showing us all what can be done and how to make a difference. Congratulations to them all.”

For more information on the award winners for this year and previous years visit www.wes.org.uk/awards.