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Youngest elected Fellow is spacecraft engineer Abigail Hutty CEng FIMechE MIET

Institution News Team

Abbie Hutty (Credit Airbus Defence and Space / Emma Underwood)
Abbie Hutty (Credit Airbus Defence and Space / Emma Underwood)

The sky is no limit for Abbie, whose engineering excellence has taken her into a senior role on the ExoMars Rover Vehicle at Airbus Defence and Space.

She is one of the most exciting and accomplished young engineers working in the UK today. Her command of her subject and commitment to the profession have helped her fulfil the requirements of Fellow, to which she was elected aged 29 years and seven months.

Admission to Fellow requires applicants to demonstrate a senior role with significant autonomy and responsibility in engineering, which is assessed by peer review of other Fellows during the application process. Most engineers do not achieve the necessary experience and responsibility required until they are in their late thirties or early forties.

After being awarded a scholarship to the University of Surrey, Abbie graduated with an MEng in Mechanical Engineering in 2010. While at Surrey she was Technical Director (2009-10) on the Formula Student team (SURTEES) and spent several years on the restoration of the Brooklands Museum Concorde. She received the Frederick Barnes Waldron Best Student Award from the Institution in 2010.

She worked at Surrey Satellite Technologies Ltd (SSTL) as an award-winning intern before moving to Astrium, now Airbus Defence and Space, where she continued to develop her experience as a stress engineer. In 2012 Abbie joined the ExoMars Rover Team, becoming Lead Spacecraft Structures Engineer for the ExoMars Rover Vehicle in 2014.

Her passion for Mars Rovers extends beyond the workplace and she has become a recognised authority on the subject. As well as an appearance on Stargazing Live she presents lectures at science fairs and for Institution events. She describes Mars Rovers as ‘my favourite subject’ and has constructed models in paper, knitting, snow, gingerbread - and even a carved Hallowe’en pumpkin!

Abbie has been a STEM Ambassador since 2010 and has held several mentor roles at the Engineering Education Scheme, the Arkwright Scholarships Trust and the Institution, supporting applicants for professional registration.

She said: “I was very fortunate to find engineering as a career path. It is a profession I’m truly passionate about, and thoroughly enjoy. I’m determined to do everything I can to give young people both the inspiration and the information they need to understand whether they would enjoy a career in engineering too.”

Abbie is a committee member of the Institution's Aerospace Division and the IET Satellite Applications Network, and a former board member of the Institution's Eastern Region Young Members' Panel.

She was recognised as one of the Institution's Vision Awards winners in 2013 and was IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2013. She was among those given an Engineering Rising Star Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014. In 2015, Abbie was invited to the ceremony at Buckingham Palace for the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

She said: “To be able to meet the Queen in my capacity as an engineer really emphasises how well respected a career in engineering can be.”

Abbie explained that, since becoming chartered, she had aspired to become a Fellow and recently realised that she seemed to fulfil all the requirements. Close colleagues who are also Fellows of the Institution encouraged her and supported her application.

“At the time, I had no idea what age was normal to become a Fellow – otherwise I doubt I would have had the audacity to apply so soon!

“I would encourage anyone wondering about becoming a Fellow to find out more. If you are working in a role that allows you to demonstrate all the required attributes for fellowship, then why not give it a go? Or, think about how you could guide or grow your role over the next few months and years to develop those areas – it can only do your career good to be growing your skills base!”

Abbie doesn’t think Fellowship will change her role on the project she loves, but could have a positive effect on her future. She intends to keep on pursuing excellence and has ambitions to be an engineering manager on a space mission. She is also determined to continue encouraging others to find out more about careers in engineering.

Find out more about upgrading your professional registration.

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