Honorary Fellowship Awards Announced

Author: IStructE

Date published

27 January 2022

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Honorary Fellowship Awards Announced

Date published


Date published

27 January 2022



The Institution is delighted to announce that Honorary Fellowship Awards have been given to Neil Gibbins, Peter Wilkinson, Kate Simonen and Peter Oborn.

The Honorary Fellowship is awarded to senior non-structural engineering figures who share similar values to the Institution and whose activities and interests bring added value to the Institution and its work. 

Honorary Fellows through their work will additionally bring visibility to the profession of structural engineering. In recent years Honorary Fellows have included Angela Brady (Past President RIBA).

There is currently a very strong Institution focus in two fields of activity:

  • Climate action where the Institution has placed a response to the climate emergency on a par with its traditional focus on structural safety.

  • Fire Safety and the reinvention of CROSS to include fire reporting as part of the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

In both arenas, we believe the Institution’s mission will be strengthened by appointing several new Honorary Fellows and therefore the following individuals have received Honorary Fellowship of IStructE:

Kate Simonen AIA SE

Kate is Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture University of Washington USA, and the Executive Director of the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF). She has been instrumental in shifting the dial on sustainability in the USA.

Connecting significant professional experience in high performance building design and technical expertise in environmental life cycle assessment, Kate works to spur collective action to bring net embodied carbon to zero. She does this through cutting-edge research, cross-sector collaboration, and the incubation of new approaches.
Kate directs the research of the Carbon Leadership Forum and convenes collaborative initiatives such as the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (the EC3 tool) and the Structural Engineers 2050 Challenge that was subsequently adopted by the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the USA.



Peter is a Chartered Architect and was key in creation of the UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG) of which IStructE is also a founding member. Since its inception, the UKBEAG has worked closely with UN Habitat and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office's Global Future Cities Programme, linking UK built environment expertise with the needs of global cities.
Peter has considerable experience of working internationally, particularly in the Middle East where he has completed projects in Oman, Qatar and the UAE. He is a RIBA Competitions Adviser and a Design Council Ambassador. He also served as Client Adviser to the government of Oman in connection with the development of a planned city extension situated in the Muscat capital area.
He is a former Trustee and Board Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and in March 2018 he was appointed as Chair of the RIBA Ethics and Sustainable Development Commission; and in August 2019 he was elected Senior Vice President for the Commonwealth Association of Architects. He is also a Trustee of Architecture Sans Frontieres (ASF-UK).
Peter is currently retained as a senior consultant to the UK Built Environment Advisory Group. Through their work with the UK Prosperity Fund, Peter is supporting 19 rapidly urbanising cities in 10 countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. He also recently served as Architect Adviser to RIBA Competitions for Green City Kigali in Rwanda.
In May 2021 Peter was appointed as a member of the UN Habitat Stakeholder Advisory Group Enterprise (SAGE).

Neil Gibbins QFSM FIFireE


Neil’s career commenced as an operational firefighter in the late 1970s, progressing through the ranks to become Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, following the successful merger of the two services.

Neil was lead officer for fire protection within the UK Chief Fire Officers Association (now NFCC) from 2007 to 2013, chairing the group that managed the implementation of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Since moving on from the fire and rescue service Neil has been President and CEO of the Institution of Fire Engineers. He was chair of a national working group set up to improve product safety recalls, appointed by the then BEIS Minister Margot James. The working group’s report lead directly to the creation of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). He supported the post-Grenfell industry led work, as a member of the Competency Steering Group and secretary of the Fire Engineers’ Group. He has also assisted Structural-Safety with the expansion of CROSS to incorporate fire safety. Neil has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal and is a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers.
Over the last two years Neil has become a key part of CROSS, as the Lead Fire Safety Consultant; a Designated Person and a member of the CROSS Technical Board. Neil has been key to the development of CROSS in the fire sector, helping build the CROSS-Fire Safety Panel, introducing CROSS to the various facets of the fire industry and acting as an ambassador for CROSS to the fire sector. Further Neil has shown passion, dedication, and skill in helping CROSS grow and communicate to a much larger audience. Through this work Neil has become a great friend of and collaborator with the Institution of Structural Engineers and a key part of the CROSS team.

Peter Wilkinson EngD CEng FIFireE CSci MIScT


Dr Peter Wilkinson is an experienced fire engineer who has worked on an interesting mix of fire engineering assignments and fire risk assessments for a wide variety of clients. His expertise has been vital in developing the fire engineering profession through CROSS, the Institution of Fire Engineers and BSI standards development work. Peter is founder and Director of Pyrology Limited, providing a wide range of safety, fire and risk engineering services to both established buildings and new-build projects.
As well as being a Designated Person for CROSS, he is a Trustee and Technical Director at the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE), the international organisation for fire professionals, helping to promote the profession and register professional engineers with the Engineering Council. Peter also chairs the British Standards Technical Committee FSH/24, developing and codifying fire safety engineering practices, such as the BS7974 suite.
Peter is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Scientist and a Registered Fire Risk Assessor, and holds an Engineering Doctorate where he investigated resilient fire engineering building design. Prior to his current roles, Peter was an Associate Director at the Fire Protection Association, overseeing the activities of the Fire and Risk Services group, and prior to that, an Associate Director with a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, leading a team of fire engineering consultants and fire risk assessors.
Peter is CROSS’s Fire Engineering Consultant and a Designated Person for CROSS. Peter has become a key part of CROSS’s technical expertise in the fire sector and a member of the CROSS team driving its direction and expansion into the fire sector. Peter was key to developing and finalising the partnership between CROSS and the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) and works with the IFE and CROSS to ensure CROSS is promoted to the fire sector through the IFE.

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