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ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year: 2023 winner announced

05 June 2023

Introducing this year’s ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year and UK regional winners, recognised for inspiring our future civil engineers.

ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year: 2023 winner announced
L-R: ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year 2023, Ellie Thomas, and highly commended winner, Aoife Campbell.

The ICE has recognised STEM ambassadors from across the UK who have made an impact on the next generation by promoting the benefits of a career in civil engineering.

ICE STEM ambassadors are ICE members who engage and inspire young people towards a career in civil engineering through school visits, careers talks, and hands-on activities.

This year's ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year is Ellie Thomas from Wales

The ICE has named Ellie Thomas, a graduate civil engineer from Atkins Ltd, as the winner of the ICE 2023 STEM Ambassador of the Year Award.

Thomas impressed the judges with her passion and commitment by coordinating her colleagues and getting involved in nationwide activities in Wales, maximising her impact and helping others to do the same.

The judges said: “Ellie has influenced learners across educational stages and has made a concerted effort to work with under-represented groups.

“Her efforts are helping to reduce inequalities in the industry by introducing the career to those who may otherwise never had the opportunity to think about a career in civil engineering.”

Inspiring pupils to pursue an exciting career path

Thomas was delighted to have been recognised for her work to inspire the new generation.

She said: “It’s a pleasure to be recognised, at a national level, for the STEM outreach work I do - although knowing I have played a role in encouraging a new generation of civil engineers is what really drives me."

“I think it’s really important to demonstrate engineering concepts that aren’t usually on the curriculum to help inspire pupils to pursue this exciting career path."

Thomas also highlighted the importance of inclusivity in the industry.

“I’m also passionate about reducing inequality in the industry, to ensure we have a diverse workforce to solve the problems of the future and so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

“I’d encourage other fellow engineers to get involved where they can – it is hugely rewarding work, and just one more way we can help solve the problems of the future!”

Dedication, enthusiasm and commitment

Director of membership Séan Harris congratulated Thomas on winning the award.

He said: “From the thousands of ICE STEM ambassadors, [Ellie Thomas] emerged as a deserving winner and can be proud both of the work she has undertaken and the many successes that she has delivered.”

He also took the opportunity to thank STEM ambassadors for their work.

“It being National Volunteers Week, I also want to say thank you – to Ellie and all ICE STEM ambassadors.

“It is through your dedication, enthusiasm and commitment that young people are inspired to dream bigger and to engage in making the world a better place.

“Your efforts ensure that we have a pool of educated, excited and innovative young civil engineers ready to be the future of the profession.”

As well as the accolade of ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year, Thomas will receive a monetary prize in congratulations.

This year’s highly commended winner is Aoife Campbell from Northern Ireland

The ICE also announced a highly commended winner: Aoife Campbell, a civil engineer from Akins Ltd.

The judges were particularly impressed with the 4-week programme Campbell developed to give young people a deeper understanding of the many aspects of civil engineering.

They said: “Her passion has influenced others, and she has inspired many of her colleagues to become STEM ambassadors. What’s more she is making sure a truly diverse range of young people have the chance to find out more about the career.”

Campbell highlighted the importance of being a STEM ambassador.

She said: “With so many civil engineering problems to solve in the world around us, the added pressure of climate change, and the growing opportunities within digital technology, we need to keep inspiring young civil engineers into the industry so that it keeps growing!’

"STEM events don’t have to be jaw dropping or huge scale to make a difference, so, my advice to anyone interested in getting involved is: don’t hold back!

“With any spare time you have, sharing what you might feel is a boring day-to-day activity could make a big difference to the next generation of future civil engineers!”

Read more below on what it meant for the national and regional 2023 ICE STEM Ambassadors of the Year to be recognised.

ICE STEM Ambassador of the Year 2023 regional winners

Aoife Campbell
Civil engineer at Atkins Ltd

“In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, many children have missed out on events and experiences that we previously took for granted, at pivotal moments in their ‘education to career’ journey.

“This is seen to be having a negative impact on confidence, skills and knowledge, so it is now more important than ever to provide new and exciting opportunities to learn and grow.”

Cary Hartigan
Graduate engineer at WSP

“I’m absolutely delighted to have won this award. I have a huge passion for promoting and participating in STEM events, so to have this passion acknowledged by the ICE is an honour!”

Conor Flannery
Graduate bridges engineer at AECOM

“I became a STEM Ambassador because when I was in school myself, I hadn't a clue what STEM was or what kind of careers it could lead to.

“I've thoroughly enjoyed the various STEM events I've been fortunate to be a part of - virtually judging a design project, a school presentation and interview, exhibitions and more.”

Ellie Thomas
Graduate civil engineer at Atkins Ltd

“I am delighted to have been recognised for the work I have been doing with the ICE and within Atkins to improve STEM outreach and impact.

“STEM outreach is hugely important to me as I am passionate about reducing inequality in the industry so that we have a diverse workforce to solve the problems of the future and so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed”.

Jennie Harrison
Principal engineer at AECOM

“I’m over the moon to receive this ICE award. STEM is my passion so it means such a lot to be recognised for it.

“It’s my privilege to work with schools and young people, hopefully igniting a civil engineering spark that one day may turn into a rewarding career.”

Jessica Williams
Assistant engineer at Stantec

“Being a STEM Ambassador has enabled me to share with students of all ages and abilities my journey and positive experiences as a young female engineer.”

Jonathan Simons
Principal engineer at AECOM

“I believe that civil engineers have an important role and immense opportunity to improve society for the better.

“Engaging and involving the younger generation on this journey is an essential part of that vision and sustaining civil engineering advancements in society.”

Matthew Callcut
Assistant engineer at Atkins Ltd

“I am incredibly grateful and thrilled to have been recognised for my contributions to promoting STEM careers within our industry.

“This award is a reminder of how much impact we can have in inspiring the next generation of engineers and innovators and I’m excited to continue my work in this space!”

Rebecca Innes
Civil engineer at Jacobs

“Working as a STEM ambassador is a part of my job I absolutely love and give my all too, so being given this award is amazing and a great privilege.”

Ruth Brown
Student engineer at Tony Gee & Partners LLP

“It is wonderful to be able to show my passion and excitement for civil engineering to young people.

“Seeing representation in a sector is critical and I hope people are learning about the amazing opportunities in STEM from a younger age and I am delighted to be a part of this.”

Suzie Heard
Graduate engineer at WSP

“I am delighted to have won this award especially as it means so much to me to help inspire young minds into engineering and for them to see the benefits.”

Victoria Barbour-Smith
Highway bridges manager at Arcadis Consulting UK

“I love that being a STEM ambassador gives me the opportunity to show young people how interesting and rewarding a career in civil engineering can be.

“As the STEM lead in my team at Arcadis, I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by others who share this passion for inspiring the next generation.”

Recognising hard work and dedication

Harris congratulated all regional winners, highlighting their role in fighting the climate crisis.

He said: “These awards reflect endless hours of commitment in engaging with and inspiring young people to consider a career in civil and infrastructure engineering.

“Without their commitment, the challenge facing the sector in combatting the climate emergency as well as ensuring a society that is safe, fair and inclusive would be much greater.”

Harris also noted an increase in those choosing civil engineering as a career.

“As it is, the work of our ICE ambassadors has resulted in increasing numbers of young people committing to a career in civil engineering, and the broader engineering profession too.

“I thank all our ambassadors for their hard work and dedication and hope that their example encourages others to come forward in shaping the future of STEM engagement,” he said.

Find out more about becoming a STEM Ambassador

Want a STEM ambassador to engage your students?

The ICE has over 2,000 active STEM ambassadors in a variety of roles

From constructing bridges, eco buildings, electric railways and smart motorways to increasing our clean energy supplies and water conservation – STEM ambassadors do it all!

The 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.

Alternatively, book a careers talk with an ICE STEM Ambassador.

  • Fatima Uddin, membership marketing executive at Institution of Civil Engineers