Pioneering female engineering educator, Dawn Fitt, of Bedford College, has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Years Honours list.
Dawn is training co-ordinator at the Bedford College Brunel Engineering Apprenticeships Centre, off Barker’s Lane, Bedford.
She is a former Young Woman Engineer of the Year and is a Past President of the Women’s Engineering Society
Dawn has been encouraging girls to consider careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) for more than a decade and has chaired the adjudicating panel for The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Young Women Engineer of the Year Award.
Dawn began her career with an electrical/electronic apprenticeship in Worcestershire before working her way through digital control systems and on to project management.
“I did an apprenticeship and wanted to put something back by encouraging others to follow that path,” said Dawn.
“As President of the Women’s Engineering Society I wanted to show how important the apprenticeship route is to encouraging people into the industry.”
To that end she has established an Apprenticeship Conference for Women, chairing the inaugural meeting of the event in 2018 at the EEF Technology Centre in Birmingham and again in Bristol in 2019.
Of being awarded an OBE, Dawn said, “It was such a shock, I am still getting over it!
“I have pushed to see female apprentices in engineering enjoy the same access to networking and industry contacts as those enjoyed at university and on HE courses.
“There is no easy way for apprentices to access and be inspired by trail blazers in the industry. This conference is the start of that journey.
“Women in engineering can collaborate and share ideas which is vital to the new wave of horizontal innovation – putting techniques developed in one industry to work in another. An example is how innovations in Formula 1 racing were used in medicine.”
Ian Pryce CBE, principal and CEO of The Bedford College Group said: “I’m delighted for Dawn and it is a very fitting honour.
“She is a very modest person but this is definitely a personal achievement. Her role in championing and promoting women in engineering both nationally and locally has been exceptional.”
Astonishingly, just over 100 years ago it was illegal for women to be engineers. That had to change when women stepped up to take over jobs in factories and more whilst then men were away fighting in the First World War.
The Women’s Engineering Society was formed in 1919 by Dame Caroline Haslett and in 2019 that centenary was being celebrated on 23rd June with the National Day of Women in Engineering.
The Bedford College Group leads the region in engineering links with employers and recently opened an Advanced Engineering Centre Buchanan Centre at its riverside campus in Bedford.