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Insights Mandy Lester receives WES award

split image of Mandy receiving an award and of her presenting

01 November 2019

Mandy Lester, a senior process engineer in Bristol, has been awarded the Karen Burt Memorial Award during the centenary year of the Women's Engineering Society (WES). Mandy was nominated by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) for the accolade, which is presented in recognition of the best newly chartered female engineer in the UK.

Now in its twenty-first year, this prestigious title recognises the candidate's excellence and potential in the practice of engineering. It highlights the importance of having chartered status and recognises contributions made by the candidate to the promotion of the engineering profession.

“I’m beyond thrilled to receive the Karen Burt Award, which is an unexpected but deeply gratifying endorsement, having transitioned into engineering with a scientific degree. I’m proud to be part of a profession that has the power to affect real, positive solutions to the dual challenges of climate change and growing populations, says Mandy.

“Engineers aren’t born, they’re made. In my case, with the support of IChemE along with the many individuals who’ve inspired me to pursue this hugely enriching career and achieve this gold standard of competence. We need engineers - and those engineers to be from diverse walks of life - now more than ever, so I look forward to working more with IChemE and WES to encourage more women to choose a career in engineering.”

After achieving a Masters in Physics at The University of Manchester in 2010, Mandy joined a two-year nuclear graduates programme where she took part in secondments to Rolls-Royce, the Ministry of Defence, Magnox and Nuvia. Following this, she spent the next two years working as lead process engineer at Nuvia. She also managed the undergraduate and school placements programme for Nuvia's southern region.

Mandy subsequently joined the Atkins business as a senior process engineer in early 2015. Now with nine years’ experience in the water, wastewater and nuclear sectors, she is the lead engineer on design projects with responsibility for the safe and efficient design of water treatment systems and the management of multiple stakeholder inputs. She undertakes quality assurance checks and is a HAZOP (Hazard & Operability) study facilitator, which involves leading expert teams at functional safety reviews.

Mandy is also the Chair of the Atkins process engineering knowledge network working groups on raw water management, oxidation and emerging contaminants, which collate industry best practice. In addition to this, she manages junior chemical engineers by supporting their development and progression. In 2018, she completed her chartership through IChemE.

WES was founded in 1919 and is a professional not-for-profit network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration, support and professional development. WES works in a number of ways to support women in STEM, to encourage the study and application of engineering, to promote gender equality in the workplace, and to award excellence and encourage achievement through their awards.