The 2017 Alastair Graham Bryce Award was presented jointly to two members who were considered by the judging committee as being of equal merit: Kathryn Bjarkvik and Jessica Rogers
Dr Alastair Graham Bryce spent his retired life dedicated to encouraging children into engineering. This prize has been set up to recognise an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the encouragement of young people towards a career in engineering.
Kathryn Bjarkvik has won this award for inspiring the next generation of engineers both in the UK and in Sweden. She is really passionate about encouraging female engineers into this male dominated sector, and has visited primary and secondary schools as a STEM ambassador. She has also volunteered at the Big Bang Fair, hosted work experience students through CREST and organised technical visits and large networking events. She is an excellent role model for young engineers, and works hard to make all her activities a fantastic success.
Kathryn studied for her degree in mechanical engineering at Sheffield University with one year at the Technical University in Dresden. She then went to Atkins as a Mechanical Building Services Engineer, before moving to her current position as a Mechanical Building Services Engineer at SWECO in Sweden. She has set up an ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’ at her new company and had 30 girls spending a day in SWECO.
Kathryn is very keen to promote engineering to girls in particular. She was involved in a social media campaign for National Women in Engineering day and volunteered as a female role model at a STEM event at a secondary school where she met a large number of school girls to discuss engineering and gender barriers and to demonstrate to them the different opportunities out there. “I think it is important for girls to meet engineering role models early on so they can feel inspired and realise that engineering is definitely not just for boys.
Kathryn plans to spend the prize money from this award to run an Institution ‘Engineering Your Future’ event in Sweden, as there is nothing similar to this in Sweden to encourage young people into engineering. She is also keen to raise awareness of the Institution in Europe and potentially expand the EYF events further. “I am honoured to win this award as I feel really passionate about inspiring the next generation. I am excited to continue to promote engineering in Sweden and hopefully more countries in Europe!”
Jessica has been promoting STEM to young girls and boys for almost 15 years. She is a passionate mechanical engineer, diversity advocate and STEM Ambassador who has promoted her profession across Europe and in the United States.
Jessica started her professional career teaching young people to ride horses before switching paths and pursuing a degree at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte in mechanical engineering. It was through her teaching that she discovered she loved to inspire children towards exciting career paths. Since the very beginning of her engineering adventure she has been involved with the Society of Women Engineers promoting engineering to young girls through the Scout network. She not only encourages fun, practical exercises, but also designs them herself - the puff mobile design challenge being a great example!
“I think it’s really important to inspire young girls towards careers in STEM. They have such a creative and thoughtful way of viewing the world and want to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Jessica has been working as a mechanical engineer in energy at Atkins, seconded to EDF-Energy, for the last three years. She has been involved in STEM activities, particularly setting up the Young Engineers and Scientists (YES) Programme locally, supporting the Society of Women Engineers and inspiring young engineers within Atkins and beyond.
She has spoken at the American International Women's Club conference in Germany about her work in the nuclear business to help build awareness of the benefits and challenges of nuclear energy. Most recently she started a professional development series with the Greater London Affiliate of the Society of Women Engineers, inviting executive coach and CEO Sandra Green to speak to a packed room on the importance of ‘Influence and Impact’ for women in their careers.
“I am thrilled to win the Alastair Graham Bryce award for my work in STEM,” explains Jessica. “I am more thankful for all the help and support I have been given by my colleagues and companies over the years in making these activities such a success at inspiring the next generation. This award is as much theirs as it is mine.”
Jessica plans to use the prize money from this award to continue to fund the STEM programmes she is so passionate about. The YES Programme would benefit from the purchase of several raspberry pis to develop a robotics and computer coding session. Additionally, the 3-D printed rail crossing boards used in the instruments and control session would get a much-needed overhaul and upgrade to more durable materials.
Find out more about the Alastair Graham Bryce Award.