The Karen Burt Memorial Award

Each year WES asks Professional Engineering Institutions to nominate their best newly chartered female engineer, from which a winner of the Karen Burt Memorial Award is chosen. This most prestigious annual WES award was set up to encourage more women to aim for and celebrate the achievement of Chartered Engineer status.

Our 2022 winner

The 2022 winner of the prestigious Karen Burt Memorial Award for the best newly chartered female engineer is Dr Emma Walton.

Emma was nominated for the 24th Karen Burt Award by the Institution of Physics (IOP), for her work in miniaturising the functions of an entire medical laboratory with her ‘lab-on-a-chip’. Her strong contribution to engineering coupled with a clear passion for her subject make Emma an inspiration for other female engineers to make a real difference in the world with the work they do.

Dr Stephanie Liggins (Institution of Engineering and Technology) and Dr Amy Nommeots-Nomm (Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) were both selected as Highly Commended nominees.

The other nominees were: Laura Cruz Garcia (Royal Aeronautical Society), Naiane Esteve (Institution of Fire Engineers), Kalita Patel (Institute of Chemical Engineering), Carmen Young (The Institution of Civil Engineers), and Teri Zdrojewski (Institute of Mechanical Engineers).

The Karen Burt Award was presented at the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Caroline Haslett Lecture and Awards ceremony, held at the Geological Society of London on the evening of 18 January 2023.


Nominations are made by Professional Engineering Institutions who may nominate one newly chartered engineer per year. Many have internal review processes to decide who to nominate. Please contact your PEI if you would like to be considered for the award. Details of how to nominate will be sent direct to the PEIs in spring 2023. If you have any questions about the award or the nomination process, please contact us at


What is the award and who is eligible?

Launched on 3 November 1998 by WES, the Karen Burt Memorial Award is made annually to a newly Chartered woman engineer in the following disciplines – engineering, applied science, IT.

The award recognises the candidate's excellence and potential in the practice of engineering and highlights the importance of Chartered status, as well as offering recognition to contributions made by the candidate to the promotion of the engineering profession.

Who are the judges?

WES would like to thank the judges of the Karen Burt Award:

Dr Kathy Critchley (Chair)

Fiona Scott

Helen Ramsay

Jo Strange

How are nominations made?

Each participating accrediting engineering Institution nominates one candidate annually, following the normal institutional review process, with final selection by a WES panel on the basis of further information provided by the candidate. This latter stage focuses particularly on the candidate's contribution to the promotion of the engineering profession. The collaboration strengthens links between WES and the engineering Institutions and helps raise the profile of women engineers and encourage them to attain Chartered status.

Further information on the Karen Burt Memorial Award

Individuals wishing to obtain further information about the award and the nomination procedure should in the first instance contact their own accrediting professional Institution. Institution managers who need further information should contact us at

Who was Karen Burt?

As an active member and Council office holder in The Women's Engineering Society, Dr Karen Burt was a Image removed.tireless campaigner for the recruitment and retention of women in science and engineering. From her own experience and her extensive research she was regarded as an expert in the management of career breaks and women 'returners' to engineering.

Karen graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge and obtained a PhD from Reading University in electron microscopy. She joined British Aerospace Systems at Stevenage as project engineer for scientific satellites and progressed to Senior Systems Engineer before developing an interest in management in the Total Quality Environment, and subsequently becoming Business Acquisition Manager.

Leaving BAe, she set up her own consultancy and was instrumental in establishing the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems within University College, London. She had just accepted a position on the staff of UCL when her career was abruptly ended by a devastating stroke.

Karen is remembered as a gifted communicator and her fight to recover speech and mobility following her stroke was an inspiration to all who knew her.