Roma the engineer wins top academy Award

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Engineer and broadcaster Roma Agrawal has won one of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s most prestigious awards in recognition of her tireless efforts to promote careers in the profession.

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The Rooke Award for public promotion of engineering, named after industrialist and past Academy President Sir Denis Rooke, honours people who have brought engineering to life for the public.

Previous winners include TV engineering experts Professor Danielle George and Professor Mark Miodownik FREng.

Agrawal, a 33 year-old chartered structural engineer, combines broadcasting and promotional work with her full-time role as an associate director at AECOM. Having studied physics at the University of Oxford, she decided to do an MSc in structural engineering at Imperial College London, which set her on course for a career in construction.

Her experience includes the design of what she calls ‘the cool steel’ at the top of the Shard, and she had the unique distinction of becoming the first engineer to act as a style ambassador for retail giant Marks & Spencer.

Her latest project is a new book called BUILT: The hidden stories behind our structures, to be published in February next year, which explores how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to skyscrapers of steel that reach hundreds of metres into the sky. In it, Roma will look at how humans have tunnelled through solid mountains and beneath the sea; how we’ve walked across the widest of rivers, and tamed nature’s precious water resources.

Commenting on Agrawal’s award success, previous Rooke trophy winner Professor Mark Miodownik said: “Many engineers are committed to changing how school children view a career in engineering, but few are as effective as Roma Agrawal. The impact of her work was most potently demonstrated on the 20th June 2016 when students from the Arc Chamberlain inner-city academy in Birmingham voted to have their new building named after Roma. It is now the Agrawal Building – a lasting legacy from years of speaking with children and families from different backgrounds about her work as a structural engineer.”

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