UNSW Women in Engineering programme named runner up in GEDS Airbus Diversity Award

Members of the University of NSW's Women in Engineering Programme. (Airbus)
Members of the University of NSW’s Women in Engineering Programme. (Airbus)

The University of NSW Women In Engineering (WIE) Programme has finished runner up in the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Airbus Diversity Award.

The 2017 winner, announced at the recently-concluded GEDC conference in Niagra Falls, Ontario, was the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan for its BIRDS Satellite Project, which trains graduate students from developing countries in engineering skills with the long-term goal of being able to commence a sustainable space program.

The University of NSW’s WIE Programme was one of three finalists in the GEDC Airbus Diversity award alongside the University of Calgary Schulich School of Engineering’s Discover Engineering Programme and the eventual winner.

The programme features initiatives such as workshops, outreach and scholarships to help raise awareness of engineering opportunities for women and improve recruitment and retention of female engineers at all levels, from school students to professionals. It was hoped the project would also address gender imbalance and create a strong community of support and guidance for engineering students at a national level.

Meanwhile, the Schulich School of Engineering was recognised for its efforts to introduce engineering to students at a secondary school level, with 25 trained student facilitators, primarily from under-represented groups themselves, leading engineering career workshops for Grade 11 and 12 students.

All three finalists, selected from 45 projects submitted by 39 institutions from 18 countries, presented their case at the GEDC conference, with the winner determined by a six-person jury. The Kyushu Institute of Technology received US$10,000 as the winner, while the two runners-up each picked up US$1,500.

“One of the Award criteria is for projects with the potential to be successfully replicated in other institutions and countries,” said Peter Kilpatrick, McCloskey Dean of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, USA, and Chairperson of the GEDC.

“All three of our 2017 finalist projects have made a significant impact in increasing the diversity of students pursuing engineering studies, and my hope is that my fellow GEDC members will be inspired to initiate similar projects in their home institutions and in their countries.”

Kyushu Institute of Technology BIRDS Satellite Project Manager Taiwo Tejumola (right) receives the award. (Airbus)
Kyushu Institute of Technology BIRDS Satellite Project Manager Taiwo Tejumola (right) receives the award. (Airbus)

It is the fifth year of the awards, which are backed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and aim to recognise successful projects that encourage more people of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering.

In 2014, Marita Cheng, a former Young Australian of the Year who founded a program to get more girls involved in engineering, won the Airbus and Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Diversity Award at the World Engineering Education Forum.