KATY COLLECTS TOP ENGINEER AWARD

Engineer Katy Linforth is making her way in a man's world – and has a national award to prove it.

Katy, of Cleckheaton, was one of four finalists in the Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award 2004, and came away the prized Mary George Memorial Trophy.

It is the first time that the award has been won by an entrant from a local authority – Katy works for Kirklees Council – and from within the building services industry.

The award seeks to challenge the perceptions of engineering that society holds – that is a male-dominated profession – and is a definitive date in the diary of all young women engineers.

Katy, who received her award from Baroness Hogg at a ceremony in London, said the feeling when she was announced as a winner was "amazing".

She said: "It was total shivers up my spine. It was absolutely amazing, and my family were there to share it with me."

To reach the final Katy had to give a presentation then attend an interview with a panel of eight engineers back in September.

"It was quite daunting, but thankfully it went well," she said.

Katy, who attended St Patrick's Junior School in Birstall, then St John Fisher in Dewsbury, and Greenhead College in Huddersfield, had always wanted to work in engineering.

"There's never been anything else I wanted to do. I did maths, physics, chemistry and computing for my A-levels and then got an apprenticeship at British Airways for four years.

"I just love it. I like getting a problem and using my knowledge, skills and things I have learned in the past to create a solution and produce something better."

As a child she was always peering under the bonnet of her father's car and playing with technical toys.

She demonstrated a 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.

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In 1998, Katy started her four-year apprenticeship placement and completed her HND in aeronautical engineering as part of her training. She was able to use her practical talents and gain first hand experience of working on an aircraft and the placement reinforced her desire to become an engineer.

In 2002, she completed her BEng (Hons) in airport transport engineering and joined Daletech Electronics as a technical support engineer.

Now employed as an electrical engineering assistant with Kirklees Council, Katy receives commissions for electrical systems for all types of council buildings. She designs electrical services, intelligent lighting systems, security systems, fire alarm installations, emergency lighting and CCTV. She is currently working on a project with Spen Valley Sports College to install a wind turbine.

In her spare time Katy is the District Explorer Commissioner for Spen Valley working with 14-18-year-old Scouts.

As a child she was a Brownie, and joined the Scout movement when she was 17.

"I just love going out and being active. I do a lot of Duke of Edinburgh work in Spen and teach younger people the skills I was taught. Seeing them achieve is brilliant and it gives them so many opportunities to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do," she said.

Katy thanked her parents Graham and Linda, sisters Joanne and Hannah and boyfriend Scott Deacon for their support, and wanted to particularly thank her manager Ashley Gatt for his help.

"It's actually down to him that I entered," she explained.

"Last year he fetched in a journal with the winners in and said 'you could do this, I want you to apply next year'. I was like, 'yes, whatever' but when the time came, he told me to apply and put in a lot of work advising me on my presentation. He's been absolutely fantastic."

By Margaret Heward