We’re delighted to announce that Kate Bellingham is hosting The Structural Awards 2014. Famous for her work presenting programmes like ‘Museum of Life’ and ‘Tomorrow’s World’, Kate has also been awarded the ‘Public Promotion of Engineering’ Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the UKRC ‘Women of Outstanding Achievement Award for Communication of Science, Engineering and Technology to Society’. Here she tells us her thoughts on The Structural Awards 2014 and the vital role of engineers.
I’m delighted to host The Structural Awards 2014
. It's a great way to celebrate engineering achievement. Despite a lot of hard work by a number of organisations, engineering is still misunderstood by many people in this country. By recognising and highlighting the work of structural engineers we have an opportunity to spread the word about the profession, and explain what an important part it plays in our lives.
I'm looking forward to meeting like-minded people at the event, as I'm never happier than when among engineers and engineering enthusiasts. It’s great sharing their stories of achievement, whether in formal talks I give to young people, or simply in the pub!
I really appreciate the engineering behind great structures. We had a family outing to the Shard for my husband's birthday recently, and in the viewing area I realised that we and our children were fascinated by the structure, while nearly everyone else just looked out at the view! I have recently been to Scandanavia on holiday and we added a long detour just so that we could actually drive over the Øresund Bridge, which connects Denmark and Sweden - I love structures that are functional as well as beautiful. We also drove the longest road tunnel, the 15 mile Lærdal Tunnel, which was fascinating.
If you ask someone to name an engineer at all, never mind an inspiring one, they will probably choose someone who is dead, but I'm keen to show that engineers are not only alive, but actively building a better future. My inspirational engineering figures are people like Jade Aspinall (Apprentice of the Year 2014) and Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who worked the Shard and acts as a vital role model for women in engineering.
I became a patron of WISE 20 years ago, and a lot has been done since then to encourage women to go into engineering, and to encourage them to stay in the profession. However, there are still instances of unconscious bias which can make a woman's engineering journey more challenging, which do need to be addressed. And there can be as many barriers from society in general as from the workplace specifically. I'm looking forward to the time when the WISE campaign is out of a job, but I accept that will take time.
More generally, as a STEM ambassador, I’m keen to show young people how exciting STEM subjects can be. There are some really useful careers websites and information videos for STEM, and more specifically engineering, here, here and here.