Award-winning Women Engineers
Senior Hardware Engineer, Sarah Cooper, won the ‘STEM in Defence Award’ at the 2021 Women in Defence UK Awards, due to her work promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) to young people in Edinburgh and across the UK, while encouraging her colleagues to undertake STEM outreach.
Sarah has led many Leonardo STEM activities, including International Women in Engineering Days and Ada Lovelace Days. She is also a contributor to the company STEM@Home initiative, with her featuring in videos where she leads young people through fun STEM activities to build their confidence in their engineering skills.
Outside her STEM work at Leonardo, Sarah co-founded Techtopia World during the early part of the first lockdown, as an online resource to help inspire the next generation into STEM. She created the site in collaboration with her fellow Leonardo engineers Amy Edwards and Anna Hart.
Leonardo Hardware Engineer Jon Norris, who nominated Sarah for the award, said: “Sarah is such a dynamic engineer and everyone around her is influenced by that enthusiasm – from the students she mentors, to her colleagues. We are tremendously proud of her award, which is very well deserved.”
Sarah added: “I was lucky enough to grow up in a family of engineers and scientists, so it was never a consideration for me that engineering was not always seen as a natural career path for women. When I entered further studies, I started to realise how many misconceptions there were about what engineering is, and who it is suitable for. I decided that I wanted to become a positive role model for young people, in particular young girls, who might not have any other people in their lives to showcase this amazing field of work. I feel absolutely honoured to have won this award, but I also want to thank every other incredible STEM Ambassador at Leonardo who all put in so much time and dedication into promoting STEM, since it will never be a one person job.”
Devon Ward, a Mechanical Degree Apprentice in Aerospace at Leonardo’s Yeovil site, won the 2021 Engineering Apprentice Rising Star Award at the Make UK Awards.
Having won the competition's South Region Awards in October 2021, Devon went on to win the national final in January 2022
Devon joined Leonardo's degree apprenticeship scheme in 2017, aged 18, having grown up in Yeovil and become "very used to the sound and sight of helicopters flying overhead.
"Leonardo was a desirable and exciting company to me, and I looked into its apprenticeships. I always had a desire to continue my education and advance my qualifications, so the degree apprenticeship scheme was the perfect choice, allowing me to do so while gaining the work experience and professional development I was eager for," she explains.
Devon was also part of the Leonardo's student and apprentice association committee in Yeovil, spending a year each as Vice Chair and then Chair – the first person to hold both roles during the association's 80-year existence.
In February 2022, Anna won the 'Rising Star' category at the 2022 WorldSkills UK Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Heroes Awards, which celebrate individuals championing inclusion and diversity (I&D) within business.
Upon winning the award, Anna said: "I was extremely proud to win, since I&D is something that I am proud to work towards. I am also delighted to act as a role model for the next generation of engineers, especially young girls, showing them that you can accomplish great things as a female engineer."
This is the second time Anna has won an award, having previously been named as one of the winners of the Electronics Weekly BrightSparks award in March 2020, which ‘recognises the talent of some of the brightest young electronics engineers working in the UK today’. This was just six months after she joined Leonardo as a Graduate Electronics Engineer in Edinburgh.
Leonardo's Head of Lean Engineering for the UK and Italy, Kris Harrison, won the Inspiring Young People Award 2015 by WISE (Women in Science and Engineering).
Alongside her main role as Head of Lean Engineering, Kris has led the company's outreach programme at its Luton site since 2012. During this time, she has managed the company's partnered schools in order to attract a more diverse range of students in terms of gender, socio-economic background and ethnicity. As a result of Kris's efforts, the company has seen a 250% increase in the number of girls on its work experience programme, and 75% of its placement students going on to join the company as graduates. Additionally, as part of the National Women in Engineering Day, Kris invited more than 40 year 7 girls from the local area to the Luton site. By the end of the day, 65% had decided they want to be an engineer!
Praising Kris, the judging panel said: "We found her to be motivated, thoughtful and a great role model. She demonstrated strategic thinking in her ideas which has dramatically improved results for her company’s outreach and engagement programmes."
Kris said: "It was such an honour to win the WISE Inspiring Young People Award 2015, and fantastic to receive recognition for all of the work that both myself and my ambassador team have done to make our outreach programme the success it is today. Working with young people and watching them develop their skills, knowledge and confidence is rewarding in itself, but this award has been the icing on the cake."
Further coverage about Kris's award
Placement student, Katie Archibald, won the top award at the 2015 ‘Future Industry Leader Awards’, in recognition of her highly innovative work during her year at the company’s Edinburgh site. The awards are run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT).
This award was further recognition of the 19-year-old’s outstanding contribution, after she swept the board at the regional EDT Scotland Year in Industry Contribution to the Business Awards in July 2015, when she won four awards – Perth College/CMI YINI Student of the Year; Business Improvement Award; Best IT Project Implementation; and overall winner.
During her ‘Year in Industry’ programme placement, Katie, who is about to start her degree in General Engineering at the University of Cambridge, significantly enhanced the accuracy of predictions of modern radar modes, by developing an advanced clutter model which simulates expected clutter (radar reflections from the ground) using free Ordnance Survey map data. To develop the clutter model, Katie taught herself programming and designed her own software to draw 3D objects.
As a result of Katie’s outstanding work, Leonardo 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.
Lead Radar Systems Engineer, Paul Rose said: “Katie was a stand-out candidate from the moment we interviewed her; brimming with enthusiasm and confidence. Her work on the advanced clutter model is world class and is worthy of someone with much more experience. 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.”
Katie, who collected her prize at the awards ceremony at the Royal Academy of Engineering, explained: “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 the company 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,” she added.
During a six-month period from autumn 2016, Anna scooped several awards in recognition of her outstanding apprenticeship work.
In December 2016, Anna Martin, was named 'Apprentice of the Year' at the Believe In Somerset Awards. It was noted by the judges that Anna "is a dedicated and competent Electrical Engineer with an overwhelming enthusiasm towards improving her own knowledge."
The award also recognised Anna's various charitable activities. She is an ambassador for Women in Engineering, and was Vice-Chairperson of Leonardo Helicopter’s 2014/15 Apprentice & Student Association committee, working tirelessly to coordinate the team throughout the year to raise an amazing £66,000 for two charities.
After completing the final year of her four-year apprentice, Anna was awarded the EEF Future Manufacturing Award for the 'Regional (South West) Final Year Apprentice of the Year'. This qualified her for the National EEF Future Manufacturing Awards in January 2017, where she was a finalist in the 'Final Year Apprentice of the Year' category and received an EEF Rising Star Award.
Anna was also named Leonardo Helicopters' 'Technician Apprentice of the Year' and won the Managing Director’s Cup award. She was also awarded a Whitworth Scholarship from the Whitworth Society to support her degree studies.
The University of the West of England also awarded Anna the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence in the Faculty of Environment and Technology 2015/2016. This is given to those students who scored above 75% across all their modules in the academic year, and was the second consecutive year Anna won the award.
Anna said: “I’ve been really overwhelmed by all the awards, which have all been a surprise and really proud moments. I never thought I’d win each one, let alone more than one!
During her apprenticeship, Anna spent a year as Vice Chair of the apprentice and graduate association, which is responsible for organising charity fundraisers, trainee social events outside of the workplace, and the company’s annual awards dinner. “I worked very closely with the Chair to manage our team, delegate tasks effectively and organise special events,” explained Anna. “I was responsible for organising the company’s annual awards dinner, which hosted more than 200 people including VIP guests, and conducting the role of Master of Ceremonies for the evening. We were set a fundraising target of £50,000, but managed to reach a massive £66,517.52, breaking all records for the committee’s fundraising since its inception.”
Anna also had the opportunity to work with STEM Net during her training scheme, taking the lead in Imagineering workshops for Year 6 groups in local primary schools. This involved running engineering-themed workshops with the pupils, with the aim of opening their minds to engineering and what it can offer them.
Lisa Daniel was named Apprentice of the Year (Level 4 and above) at the 2017 Scottish Apprenticeship Awards in November, in recognition of her exceptional levels of commitment and maturity demonstrated in her approach to her work in the Quality Assurance (QA) department at the Edinburgh site.
Lisa (pictured on the right) joined Leonardo in 2013 and was nominated for the award due to the impact she's made to the QA team since then. She completed her 4-year Technical Apprenticeship in autumn 2017 and is now a Product Assurance Technician, being the main point of contact for QA issues within the integrated project team at Edinburgh.
After winning the award, Lisa said: "I am overwhelmed with pride to have won this award. It’s been a great achievement considering the competition from all over Scotland. Leonardo has provided me with an excellent and varied apprenticeship programme which has allowed me to build upon my skills and knowledge, and continually better myself. It’s been great being an apprentice and I would love to encourage anyone out there considering an apprenticeship to go for it – it can provide you with further education whilst gaining valuable experience in the work place."
Her line manager and Head of QA, Mike Lees, added: "We're proud of Lisa and delighted she's won this award. She conducts herself with great maturity and demonstrates Leonardo's values in all her work. She's thoughtful and taker time to reflect before taking action, and is able to adapt to change environmen and situation. Lisa drives her own career development and is hungry to contribute even more. Her customer awareness, team work and coaching skills show the first sign of leaership characteristsic which are way beyond what I could have expected from someone who is at such an early stage in their career. It all appears to be so natural or effortless to her."
Sophie Caffrey was named Apprentice of the Year at the 2018 FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards in February, in recognition of her contributions to engineering projects and to outreach work undertaken as a STEM Ambassador, engaging with many secondary school pupils through a variety of engineering-related initiatives.
It was the first year that the awards have recognised an outstanding apprentice. Since establishing the awards in 2011, they have aimed to promote successful STEM role models to inspire the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. With this year’s theme being ‘Inspiring Tomorrow’s World’, the 2018 FDM everywoman awards focused on the importance of nurturing an interest in STEM subjects from a young age – something Sophie is actively involved with as a STEM Ambassador. Currently, there’s a dearth of women students pursuing these subjects, with only 17.2% of computer science students and 17% of engineering & technology students being women.
Sophie, who is a third year technical apprentice, was inspired to pursue engineering after visiting her first-ever Apprentice Open Day at Leonardo. Her first complete project as an apprentice saw her taking responsibility for the design of a Printed Circuit Board, which was subsequently used on every global trial of the related product in 2017.
In addition to this award, Sophie was a finalist in the IET's Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2017, due to her passion for helping young people understand more about the full span of STEM Careers which they could pursue in the future.
“Winning the apprenticeship category at the inaugural FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards was a huge honour,” said Sophie. “Along with being a finalist in the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year (YWE) Awards on the 40th anniversary of the prize, in December 2017, it has been an amazing experience to be involved in these competitions and to have met so many inspirational engineering role models. For me, it is also satisfying to see the value of apprenticeships being recognised, as well as the contribution apprentices make to so many industries.”
Kam Perry, Engineering Director of Leonardo’s Electronics business in the UK, added: “We’re so proud of Sophie’s award win. She is an outstanding STEM Ambassador – both in her role and in the outreach work she does in the community. Well done Sophie!”
While undertaking her year in industry with Leonardo in Edinburgh, Katie was recognised for her work with the company, by winning the Innovation Prize at the 2020 Engineering Development Trust’s Year in Industry ‘Contribution to the Business’ (CTTB) Awards.
The CTTB Awards recognise students’ achievements during their year in industry and how they have positively impacted the business they’ve been working in.
Katie explained: “I won my innovation award for my work creating a software tool that will be used to model different sorts of wire antenna at Leonardo. The judges were impressed by the steep learning curve that I undertook, as well as my ingenuity and how innovative and useful my tool was. I was so grateful to win a prize; I really felt recognised for all the hard work I’ve put in over the last year.”
Principal Systems Engineer, James Pearce, who was Katie’s line manager during her placement, said: “Katie's faced stiff competition from all the other Year in Industry students across the country. Being a high technology company, technological innovation is one of the cornerstones of Leonardo's success, and is something we actively encourage. We are extremely proud of Katie, and are delighted that her project has been recognised in such a positive way.”