2015’s Alastair Graham Bryce Award was presented jointly to two members who were considered by the judging committee as being of equal merit: Dawn Elson CEng FIMechE and Caroline Alliston CEng FIMechE.
Dawn Elson CEng FIMechE is the Business Transformation Leader at Gatwick Airport and is leading a series of transformational airline terminal moves and capital projects. She was previously the Head of Engineering at Gatwick Airport, responsible for all of the infrastructure and technical services at the airport. She joined Gatwick after 23 years as an Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force; which meant not only the transition from military to civilian business, but also from aeronautical engineering to infrastructure and services support.
Dawn won the Alastair Graham-Bryce Award for her significant contributions to campaigning for the promotion of engineering to children, students, young adults and particularly women. She has been regularly invited to speak about engineering, and particularly about women in engineering, by schools, colleges and companies. Her reputation and profile has grown, and the fact that she is increasingly in demand is testament to her powerful message.
She feels strongly that the percentage of women entering engineering will only increase if girls understand the opportunities offered by an engineering career. Young people, as well as their teachers and parents, must understand the ramifications of choosing certain subjects and she would like to see more young people keeping their options open.
Dawn intends to use her prize money to develop a website for everybody and anybody who is interested in engineering; with information about engineering careers, academic options, entry points, apprenticeships and vocational studies collated in one place – a 'one stop engineering shop'.
After working as an engineer for over 20 years in the UK and abroad for companies including Tata and Renishaw, Caroline Alliston CEng FIMechE swapped roles with her husband who had been at home with their children. She took the opportunity to set up an engineering club at her children’s school where pupils could design and build fun working models, using cheap and recycled household objects. This proved hugely popular, and before long she was being asked to run many more clubs and workshops.
Caroline won the Alastair Graham-Bryce Award for her significant contribution to inspiring and encouraging children towards a career in engineering. She believes that the most powerful way to enthuse children is for them to experience engineering ‘design and make’ activities for themselves, rather than having engineering explained to them. This helps children understand and enjoy STEM subjects, and gives context to what they learn in class.
She concentrates her efforts on boys and girls of primary age, as it is important to build enthusiasm early. Later, girls often get the message that ‘girls don’t do science and engineering’. However the good news is that once instilled, the enthusiasm doesn’t go away.
Caroline now also runs workshops for teachers, has written three design and make project books and her teacher resources have been downloaded nearly 50,000 times. Caroline is working closely with the Institution to design kits for schools and to train STEM ambassadors to run workshops.
Find out more about the Alastair Graham Bryce Award