Skip to content

ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year: 2022 winners announced

07 June 2022

Introducing this year's ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year and the UK regional winners who have been recognised for inspiring the next generation of civil engineers.  

ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year: 2022 winners announced
These engineers continued to inspire younger generations, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Image credit: Studio R/Shutterstock

These ICE members have been making a real difference by inspiring and informing young people about the benefits of a career in civil engineering during another year of Covid restrictions.

During the pandemic young people have needed careers inspiration more than ever. Thanks to these members – and the many others like them who volunteer as ICE STEM Ambassadors.

Due to their work, young people in schools and colleges have still been able to connect with civil engineers and find out more about the profession.

This year's ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year winner is Dr Rebecca Wade from Scotland

ICE is pleased to announce that the winner of ICE’s 2022 STEM Ambassador of the Year is Rebecca Wade from Abertay University!

Rebecca impressed the judges with her commitment and the innovative ways she's engaged young people. For example, with virtual site visits and taking a student delegation to COP26.

The feedback from teachers and students demonstrated to the judges the outstanding level of enthusiasm she brings to everything she does.

Adressing long-term challenges through STEM outreach

Rebecca said she was delighted to have been named this year's national winner, but that she was surprised due to the excellent work delivered by all the regional winners.

"I would like to congratulate all of them and recognise STEM ambassadors across the UK for their sterling work," she said

She said she is passionate about STEM outreach, particularly the need to address gender imbalance, the climate crisis, global biodiversity decline and social inequality.

"I hope that my enthusiasm and energy have inspired others to get into civil and environmental engineering... I have no doubt that through collaborative working with allied professions we will ensure our next generations can find innovative solutions to these complex problems," she said.

Get inspired by reading more about how the national and regional 2022 ICE STEM Ambassadors of the Year have engaged with the next generation of civil engineers below.

ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year 2022 regional winners

3rd-year civil engineering student at the University of Bristol and ICE QUEST Scholar with Tony Gee.
3rd-year civil engineering student at the University of Bristol and ICE QUEST Scholar with Tony Gee.

Abbie Stallard received the accolade in recognition of her work volunteering as a STEM ambassador, which she's been doing for a few years, since the start of her degree and despite the pandemic.

She’s been involved in several activities to encourage others to follow a similar career path and helping those interested in engineering successfully pursue this interest while providing young girls with a female role model in the industry.

Sharing her interest in the industry with younger generations

One of the first activities Stallard completed as a STEM ambassador was writing a profile for the ‘Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge’.

She explained what her role is as a civil engineer and why others should consider becoming one.

Another activity involved giving a talk to a group of sixth formers interested in engineering.

Stallard covered the different engineering disciplines, her experience of studying engineering at university, the ICE QUEST scholarship and how to write a successful university or scholarship application.

Most recently, she produced a video for Year 9 students in the UK who are choosing their GCSEs options.

She explained why she chose Design and Technology as one of her GCSE options and how it has helped in her career so far.

Darren Blank profile image
Project manager at Jackson Civil Engineering

Darren Blank received the award in recognition of his enthusiasm for sharing engineering with young minds and providing them with a chance to explore the profession even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He started volunteering as a STEM Ambassador early in 2020, shortly after joining Jackson Civil Engineering (JCE).

He began by taking part in a nationwide initiative called Speakers for Schools.

He led a virtual session featuring himself and other JCE engineers to detail flood defense engineering to hundreds of students. It included interactive exercises and demonstrations using self-made models to explain the theory behind the projects.

Sharing his passion for civil engineering

He has since volunteered for and completed over 50 hours of STEM delivery activities in the last 18 months, interacting with almost 7,500 students.

These have ranged from career events to ‘a day in the life’ stories and apprentice presentations in-person and virtually.

Blank said he feels privileged to have the space and outlets to partake in these sessions in the hope of igniting interest in engineering in young people.

He wants to encourage budding engineers to explore the myriad of opportunities available or simply get them thinking about something they see but don’t understand.

Maria Eftimova
Civil structural engineer at Costain

Over the past few years, Maria has engaged some 50,000 participants from 450 organisations, volunteering her time and experience to encourage young people to progress further in STEM subjects and consider a career in engineering.

It was through her own research that Maria herself learned about civil engineering. Now, she’s keen to make it as easy as possible for younger people to find out more about the range of roles on offer within the profession.

In her presentations, Maria always emphasises that civil engineering is a great career for women, hoping that in future there will be more gender balance across the profession.

Variety of outreach

She seeks out different ways to reach people with activities including workshops, social media posts, forums, presentations, ambassador training, sustainability events, YouTube videos, quizzes and networking events.

Maria also uses her skills to mentor students as part of Salford University’s 'Go Beyond' programme.

Alongside hosting events herself, Maria is doing all that she can to encourage others to become STEM Ambassadors, particularly in her role as part of the ICE North West Graduate and Student Committee.

Frances Stephens
Chartered civil engineer at Mott MacDonald Bentley

Frances took part in a wide range of STEM activities this year, including mentoring Year 9 and 12 students for the Industrial Cadets Bronze Award with her employer Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB).

She created a ‘What to Flush’ resource for Girl Guiding groups which she shared with other colleagues to take to schools.

She also encouraged and guided colleagues in working with young people and promoted the role of STEM ambassador within her organisation.

In March Frances ran water filtration activities with 200 primary school children, learning about the water cycle and how civil engineers supply clean drinking water.

Frances’ wide range of activities combine practical activities and talks. These have helped lots of young people understand what civil engineering is and got them interested in the career.

Jessica Clark
Engineer at AECOM

Jess has been a STEM ambassador since 2018, organising and taking part in many events throughout.

She’s been part of the ICE Early Careers Network and Education panel for a few years, helping organise and run STEM events.

Recently, Jess has been involved in helping organise the ICE Inspire Competition for students and is looking forward to judging the entries.

Teaching STEM concepts

Jess engaged with her local middle school (year 7-9) through lockdown to provide virtual STEM lessons for the students.

One of these was to design, build and test a parachute as part of a lesson to learn about gravity.

Another included building and testing a tin foil boat to learn about buoyancy.

Jess was also part of an expedition to Malawi to help construct a STEM classroom block for a secondary school.

In this time Jess ran a water filtration workshop with the students who were incredibly keen to get involved.

Amy Dillon
Senior civil and infrastructure engineer at Design ID Consulting Limited

Amy has dedicated her career to inspiring the next generation of engineers and encouraging students into a career in construction.

She has led with a particular focus on her local area and in disadvantaged schools.

Amy has helped to build strong links between schools and volunteers, facilitate and supervise work experience placements, and organise outreach events for local interest groups.

She’s also been involved in the creation and roll out of the ICE Inspire Competition and the Zombie Apocalypse Workshop.

Helping to develop CityZen

Amy is currently a member of the Education and Inspiration Group for ICE Northern Ireland and chairperson of the David Butler Award Committee.

She has had a key role in the development and roll out of the CityZen game, a digital challenge for students aged 16-18.

In its first year the game has been a huge success with over 500 students taking part. The vast majority stated that the game would encourage them to consider a career in civil engineering.

Following her maternity leave, Amy will continue in her volunteer roles with ICE.

She will return to delivering workshops in schools as well as continuing to explore innovative ways that civil engineering and construction can be promoted to as wide a range of students as possible.

Louise Bungay-Azman, senior development manager (sponsorship) at Network Rail

Throughout her career, Louise has been a passionate STEM Ambassador.

Having taken part in the Engineering Education Scheme Wales while she was at sixth form, she’s continued engaging with the scheme every year.

She's led several ICE Bridge to School event across Wales, often arranging sessions when Network Rail are carrying out major engineering work nearby.

Before the pandemic, she’d also worked on an interactive ‘chocolate bridges’ session that incorporated many different aspects of engineering, including materials, cost, and sustainability.

Encouraging colleagues to become ambassadors

While at Network Rail, she’s felt empowered to strive further in her STEM Ambassador role.

She set up a network of STEM ambassadors within her route, training and mentoring them on their ambassador journey and developing railway specific sessions.

As part of this, she worked with her safety colleagues to develop a bespoke engagement session, after identifying that they were delivering sessions separately.

The bespoke session was hands-on, which encouraged the children to think about how they would design a railway and the safety implications of using and working on or near the railway.

Through this, she was able to engage even more colleagues to become STEM ambassadors.

Senior lecturer in Environmental Science at Abertay University.
Senior lecturer in environmental science at Abertay University.

Dr Rebecca Wade was praised by judges for her ‘shining enthusiasm’ as a volunteer who visits schools and gives talks encouraging young people to consider civil engineering as a career.

On being told she had won the award, Dr Wade said it was a great honour and she would continue to work hard to address the gender imbalance in STEM subjects.

She also aims to encourage everyone to work across STEM disciplines, and with arts and culture, to find innovative solutions to complex problems.

“I hope that my enthusiasm and energy have inspired others to get into engineering, and to recognise the importance of working together with allied professions to deliver sustainable solutions,” she said.

Working with various groups

“I have been impressed that in recent years the Institution of Civil Engineers and other professional bodies are engaging with the need to address the climate crisis, global biodiversity decline and social inequality,” Dr Wade said.

Dr Wade has been working simultaneously with ICE, her employer, regional STEM partnership groups, Dundee Science Centre, Tayside Climate Beacon, Homeward bound (Global Women in STEMM network), and other STEM outreach activities.

She works with them to try to support the transition for organisations and individuals to a more equal and sustainable future.

“It really means a lot to be recognised for these efforts,” she said.

Judges’ Commendation

The judges commended Taciana Jackson, an engineering manager at BAM Nuttall, for her work as a STEM Ambassador, particularly in encouraging more girls to consider STEM careers.

Taciana strongly believes in the power of representation and role modelling which is why she became a STEM Ambassador.

She said, "[Being an ambassador] is very rewarding and I enjoy seeing kids engaging with activities and putting what they learnt on my talks into practice through activities, such as bridge building using loose materials on the school playground.”

Want a STEM ambassador to engage your students?

ICE has over 2,000 active STEM ambassador engineers in fascinating roles shaping the world – from constructing bridges and eco buildings, electric railways and smart motorways, to increasing our clean energy supplies and water conservation.

ICE is keen to hear how it can contribute to your careers programme so please get in touch with the Careers team with your request.

  • Kathryn Denham-Maccioni, digital engagement manager at ICE