Award-winning Katy makes it in a man's world

CLECKHEATON'S Katy Deacon is living proof that women can make it in a man's world.

For the 27-year-old has just been named the Young Woman Engineer of the Year.

The award was presented to Katy last Thursday by The Institution of Engineering and Technology - Europe’s largest professional engineering body.

The judges were particularly impressed by her work on green energy; as an electrical engineer for Kirklees she has worked on numerous projects such as implementing wind turbines and solar power for schools and colleges including Spen Valley Sports College.

Most notably, Katy has created a renewable energy tool kit to aid architects, engineers and developers to make best use of integrated renewable energy technologies in building development. This project proved so successful that it was nominated for the Best Environmental Initiative of the Year 2006 at the NICEIC Electrical Industry Awards.

After receiving the award at the BT Centre in London, Katy told the Guardian and Herald: “I’m overwhelmed. It’s such an honour. The other finalists were so good that I really didn’t think I’d win.”

Cheering her on were her manager Ashley Gatt, parents Graham and Linda and husband Scott.

Katy, who attended St Patrick’s RC Junior School in Birstall, St John Fisher in Dewsbury, and Greenhead College, had always wanted to work in engineering. As a child, she was always peering under the bonnet of her father’s car and playing with technical toys.

Flair

She said: “I was one of three girls, but I was always the one that got the Lego. I’ve always been technically minded, but the difficulty was deciding which branch of engineering I wanted to do.”

She demonstrated her flair for the subject when she took part in the Engineering Education Scheme and Crest Awards at sixth form and won the Engineering prize at Greenhead.

In 1998 she began a four-year apprenticeship placement and completed her HND in aeronautical engineering as part of her training.

In 2002 she completed her BEng (Hons) in airport transport engineering and now works for Kirklees Council having recently completed her MSc in engineering.

Katy is all too aware of the shortage of young people opting for sciences and hopes she can inspire them to reconsider.

“I’d like to go into schools, colleges and businesses to encourage them into engineering and raise its profile. If I can be a role model not just for girls, but boys as well, I’d be delighted,” she said.

“I really believe you can do anything you put your mind to.

“If you have a dream, just go for it. The only person that puts limits on you, is you. If you never try, then you’ve failed to start with.

“Engineering is male dominated - the statistics speak for themselves - but when you’re at work, you’re just part of the team. I’ve never been made to feel inferior, or not up to the task because I’m a woman.”

Katy, who is a leader at the 5th Spen Valley (Gomersal) Scouts in her spare time, added: “I’d like to thank my family, my manager and everybody at Kirklees Design and Property Services because they’ve been really supportive. I couldn’t have achieved this without them.”

Robin McGill, chief executive and secretary of the IET, said: “Katy has made some very admirable achievements throughout her career to date and is a very worthy winner of the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award with a wonderful future ahead of her. Katy is a great role model for other young women considering a role in engineering.”