The Future Leaders of Industry are … Female

Media Release

18th September 2015

Evidence that momentum is being generated in attracting girls into careers in industry was delivered at the EDT Future Industry Leaders Awards, held at the Royal Society of Engineering last night. In an unprecedented result, the winners of all the four prizes on offer were female, having completed stunning projects for major science and engineering employers.

The annual awards run by leading science and engineering education charity EDT give three awards to the winners of their top level “The Year in Industry” programme in which students undertake placements with industrial employers across the country. Being top of over 500 projects which are undertaken each year is no accident, it has to be earned, and Katie Archibald (Finmeccanica-Selex ES), Ana Groom (Rolls-Royce) and Elizabeth Palmer (Network Rail) rose to the challenge with projects which were judged by a panel of experts to be of the very top standard. To maintain the trend, the Engineering Education Scheme Future Industry Leaders Award, for the best extra-curricular six month programme for year 12 students, was won by the all-girl team from Chelmsford County High School for Girls for the project they undertook with engineers from BAE Systems.

Dr Gordon Mizner, Chief Executive of EDT, observes, “While EDT encourages all young people into science and engineering careers, for some time a particular objective of our work at EDT has been to convince girls that there are no barriers to them having enjoyable and successful careers in industry; that industry is not the preserve of men and that women are vital to the future success of UK Industry. The success of these award winners shows that the message can get through and I hope that a momentum is being built which will bring a critical mass of women into industry to fill the very real skills gaps, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths which are appearing as older generations of scientists and engineers approach retirement in vast numbers. These young women are undoubtedly the first of a growing cohort of female future industry leaders.”

The Winners

Winner of the very top Year in Industry award as Year in Industry National Winner 2015 was Katie Archibald a student from East Lothian who undertook some highly innovative work with Finmeccanica-Selex ES, where she developed a remarkably accurate mathematical computer model of the reflectivity of the ground, as seen by the Company’s radars. To develop the clutter model, Katie taught herself programming and designed her own software to draw 3D objects. In collaboration with her manager, Paul Rose, Lead Radar Systems Engineer at Finmeccanica-Selex ES, Katie wrote a paper for a journal outlining her work on a particularly complex element of the project, and her solution to inconsistencies in the data produced. As a result of Katie’s work, Finmeccanica-Selex ES has been able to reduce the number of flight trials required in testing and development. The Company anticipates that this will result in significant savings each year, as well as being more environmentally friendly.

Katie who is about to start a General Engineering Degree at the University of Cambridge says, "Having the opportunity this year to apply my own knowledge and skills to a real engineering project has been invaluable.  It is an amazing feeling to see the positive impact that my own work has had on the company. Working at Finmeccanica-Selex ES this year has shown me that far more than technical knowledge is needed to be a successful engineer.  I have discovered the importance of perseverance and problem solving within the job, as well as the need for team work and good communication; and the placement has given me the opportunity to develop all of these skills."

A spokesperson for Finmeccanica -Selex ES said:  “Katie was a stand-out candidate from the moment we interviewed her; brimming with enthusiasm and confidence. Working with calm, dogged determination throughout the year, she has never let any obstacle beat her. Her work on the advanced clutter model is world class and is worthy of someone with much more experience. She transformed her model from being merely ‘very good’ to being ‘outstanding’ – the results are simply astonishing! Her success is a result of her tireless endeavour and brilliant intellect. We are honoured and privileged to have worked with such a talented youngster.” 

Winner of the Institute of Engineering and Technology Award for Innovation 2015 was Ana Groom for her project which involved developing a new capability within Rolls-Royce for programming robots that undertake ‘shot peening’, a process which is used to finish metal parts to prevent fatigue and stress corrosion failures and to prolong product life for the part. To embed the new capability Ana built program history into the company databases and became proficient in programming and computer modelling.

Dominic Thornton-Flowers, Chief of Manufacture Systems, Rolls-Royce plc “Ana’s project has been of significant and strategic importance, providing a competitive advantage for Rolls-Royce as a company and the UK as a major aerospace exporter. The project represents a major leap forward in terms of robot programming capability. As a helpful and knowledgeable member of the community, Ana has become one of three technical experts in this area. Many colleagues often mistake her for a fully trained Manufacturing Engineer! Her legacy within Rolls-Royce will stand throughout and beyond her time at University: the knowledge she has created and shared will change the way we program robots forever”.  Like Katie, Ana is also heading to the University of Cambridge to study Mechanical Engineering.

The project undertaken by Elizabeth Palmer with Network Rail to win the Centrica Award for Environmental Awareness 2015 was rather different as during her year she was given a key role in the work to replace the expired Churchill Road footbridge in North London. As lead stakeholder manager for the project, she was involved in identifying and communicating with all parties affected by the works. She liaised with the local authority and line side neighbours, playing a key role in arranging the necessary consents for the project to go ahead, such as closure of the highway and coordinating ‘Public Information Events’. In her sensitive and challenging role Elizabeth dealt professionally with local opposition to the new bridge by organising a design options presentation for stakeholders. Elizabeth completes another clean sweep as she is also heading for the University of Cambridge, in her case to study Geography. 

She reflects on her Year in Industry saying, “Working at Network Rail this last year has been extremely enjoyable and invaluable to my development as a professional. Getting to work as part of a team or leading a team on thousand pound projects has given me some truly unique industry experience. What was enjoyable about the work that I was doing was that it had real physical impact as well as more theoretical applications to projects. The negotiations that I held with council members or third party stakeholders were essential to hold, to allow us access to the site to start construction works. To have something physically appear, in this case a footbridge, as a result of the planning and coordination in my work created a real sense of ownership and pride.”

The EES Future Industry Leaders 2015 award went to a team from Chelmsford County High School for Girls who were working on a project with BAE Systems. The team comprising Courtney Canning, Sophie Oldroyd, Hannah Ritchie, Hannah McCarthy, Abigail Bowler and Martha Anderson-Taylor designed a life jacket that would monitor vital signs of the wearer, such as body temperature, heart rate and GPS location, whilst simultaneously transmitting these data to a variety of potential rescue means – via nearby sea vessels, aircraft or onshore avenues. Lydia Hyde, Senior Scientist, at BAE Systems in Great Baddow said, “We set the team from Chelmsford County High School for Girls a tough, real-world challenge and their innovative concept could help save lives. At BAE Systems, we want to ensure that in the future we have the right skills to deliver complex programmes. By bringing science, technology and engineering to life, the Engineering Education Scheme is a great way to help inspire young people and encourage the next generation of highly skilled engineers. The team have excelled and been a pleasure to work with. They thoroughly deserve to be winners of the EES National Winners at the Future Industry Leaders Awards because that is what they are undoubtedly going to be.”

The extensive project was undertaken over six months as an extra-curricular activity by the students with the assistance of mentors from BAE Systems and with input from Daniel Crane, Head of Physics at Chelmsford County High School for Girls who says, “The team can be very proud of their project which involved considerable research and the application of their knowledge in a commercial environment. They have gained new skills, both technical skills and soft skills such as teamwork, project management and presentation skills. Winning the award gives them the recognition they deserve for their hard work and innovative ideas. I have no doubt that they will achieve great things as leaders in not only Engineering, but any-and-every profession they might choose.”



Contact Details -  for further photography and to arrange interviews.

Andrew Third, Integra Communications Ltd


M:        07917691532


About EDT

EDT delivers over 30,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) experiences each year, for young people age 11-21 across the UK.

EDT’s range of work related learning schemes provide opportunities for young people to enhance their technical, personal and employability skills through industry-led projects, industrial placements and specialised taster courses.

Date published: 
September 22, 2015