Published: 17 June 2020

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

To mark this year’s International Women in Engineering Day, which takes place on Tuesday 23 June, we’ve put the spotlight on some of our female academics, researchers and students who are pushing the boundaries, and acting as fantastic role models for the engineers of tomorrow.

Dr Qiong Cai

A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, Dr Qiong Cai is on a mission to get rid of microplastics that are harming marine life. Her groundbreaking research in this area was recently featured in a special issue of the ACS Omega journal celebrating influential women working in STEM subjects.

Dr Cai came up with the idea for her research during a family holiday in Scotland when she read a news item about plastics polluting the ocean. Back at Surrey, she enlisted the help of two undergraduate students to explore the use of electrocoagulation technology to remove microplastics – research which succeeded in demonstrating a 99 per cent success rate for the technology.

Read more about Dr Cai’s research or visit her profile page.

Dr Armin Mustafa

A Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at Surrey’s Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing, Dr Armin Mustafa recently presented her research on 4D Artificial Intelligence systems at the Houses of Parliament.

Dr Mustafa was one of a handful of early career researchers selected to present their research to politicians through the STEM for Britain competition. Her research aims to use 4D Vision to help machines to see and understand the world in four dimensions (including time), in the same way that humans do.

She said: “This opportunity has been a good way of understanding the policy-making process and gaining an insight into how research findings can inform policy. I definitely want to keep the communication going – it’s only by having this sort of dialogue that you can actually influence policy.”

Read more about Dr Mustafa’s research or visit her profile page.

Dr Kathy Pond

Dr Kathy Pond, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has contributed to global WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines on water quality aimed at helping governments to safeguard public health.

Dr Pond said: “Microbiological hazards such as bacteria and pollution pose a huge problem for human health, and preventing these issues is much more time- and cost-effective than reacting, treating and monitoring water after problems arise.”

Read more about Dr Pond’s research or visit her profile page.

Dr Tan Sui

A Lecturer in Materials Engineering within the Department of Mechanical Engineering Science, Dr Tan Sui was awarded one of nine EPSRC-affiliated Women’s Engineering Society (WES) memberships across the UK in 2019.

In addition to teaching and supervising undergraduate and masters students, Dr Sui researches the intricate links between structure and mechanical property in natural and bioinspired materials.

She said: “My WES membership allows me to promote equality and build better STEM communities at Surrey and beyond. By disseminating my research at outreach events I endeavour to expand my network, facilitate discussions of research ideas, and encourage and support women to study or work in the field of engineering.”

“My mum – a senior mechanical engineer in China’s polymer institution – is my role model and inspiration. Her career experience has set an excellent example for me which has inspired me to pursue my current exciting research career.”

Read more about Dr Sui on her profile page.

Estelle le Saché

One year into her PhD within Surrey’s Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, Estelle le Saché has already filed a patent application covering the intellectual property of her novel materials.

Estelle’s research is focused on developing low-cost methods for removing CO2 – the most abundant greenhouse gas – from industrial processes, and converting it into fuels and fine chemicals for green energy.

She said: “By the end of my PhD I would like to be able to make a difference. I love research and definitely want to pursue my career in my field of expertise. It’s amazing to see how much we can do, and also how much there is left to discover.”

Barbara Salonikidou

During her PhD in Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute, Barbara Salonikidou has developed an innovative, cost-effective way of printing electronics which could lead to new solutions in biomedical devices and robotics.

Her research, in collaboration with Yamagata University in Japan, demonstrates a method of inkjet-printing electronics which are versatile, energy efficient and low cost – in contrast to conventional fabrication techniques which involves harsh chemicals and wasted materials.

Barbara commented: “I hope that this research will attract attention to these kinds of printing techniques which tend to be underestimated, because even such simple fabrication processes can lead to very interesting functionality.”

Read more about Barbara’s PhD research.

Ruth Carlson

Ruth Carlson, studying for a MEng Civil Engineering, won the prestigious South East Women in Property (WIP) Student Awards in 2019 – the seventh Surrey student in a row to have scooped the annual award. The WIP Awards recognise the best students on built environment degree courses across the UK.

The judging panel of construction and property professionals described Ruth as “very competent, confident and passionate. She has great energy, enthusiasm and technical savvy. She is very impressive and her maturity showed.”

Ruth said: “The awards process and the feedback I have received has been truly incredible. It has been uplifting to meet so many esteemed women and men achieving great success in their field, and the support from them has been immensely valuable.”

Read more about Ruth’s experience at the WIP Awards.

Isobel Adamyk

Mechanical Engineering student Isobel Adamyk won the 2019 Ricardo Engineering Prize for the UK’s most promising female engineer which brings not only a £1,000 prize but also the chance to do a placement with global engineering consultancy Ricardo.

Isobel was ranked as the student who shows the most promise in her technical excellence, communication skills, and ability to solve complex problems. She impressed judges with her presentation on the most significant engineering challenges she foresaw for the next 10 years.

Isobel said: “Ricardo is an interested and forward-thinking company and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to undertake a placement with them. I’m extremely keen to promote women in engineering, so to be given the award for most promising female engineer is a huge privilege.”

Read more about Isobel’s success in the Ricardo Engineering Prize and her student experience.


If you’re inspired by what our students and staff are achieving, and want to find out more about studying engineering at Surrey, why not join our Undergraduate Virtual Open Day for Engineering and Physical Sciences courses on Friday 26 June.

Share what you've read?