16 August 2013 - The first Muslim woman to hold office in an Australian parliament has been honoured by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Chemical Engineering at its annual Women in Engineering Awards, sponsored by Aurecon.
Dr Mehreen Faruqi, an environmental engineer and the newly appointed Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council, received the Judy Raper Award for Leadership in Engineering.
Dr Faruqi fled her native Pakistan in the early 1990s after the Soviet-Afghan war and moved to Australia with her husband, infant son, and just two suitcases. A civil engineer in Pakistan, she joined UNSW in 1993 as a researcher, and later completed her Masters in Engineering Science and her PhD at the University. After roles in industry and government, and starting her own consultancy firm, she returned to UNSW as a visiting fellow with the Institute for Environmental Studies and later as an Associate Professor in the Australian School of Business.
The evening's other award winner was Dr Megan Lord from the UNSW Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, who received the Maria Skyllas-Kazacos Young Professional Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Dr Lord played a role in the Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology, which developed the commercially available 30-day contact lenses, which are now used by more than 125 million people. She has also worked on developing wound-healing bandages.
In presenting the awards last week in Sydney, Louise Williamson, Aurecon’s Brand Manager, said this was the first year that Aurecon has sponsored the awards.
“Gender equality is a vital part of Aurecon’s commitment to making safety, diversity and people our passion,” Louise said.
“We are very proud to support these awards, and recognise the fantastic contribution of women, such as Dr Faruqi and Dr Lord, in engineering.”
The UNSW School of Chemical Engineering has a reputation for attracting and enabling talented female engineers. 44 per cent of undergraduate and postgraduate students are female and nearly one-third of academic staff members are women, including five full Professors - more than any other chemical engineering school in Australia.
The awards are named after influential female engineers with strong ties to the School. Emeritus Professor Maria Skyllas-Kazacos is the inventor of the vanadium redox battery – a rechargeable battery that allows electricity to be stored as chemical energy, offering a possible solution for energy storage.
Professor Judy Raper, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Wollongong, received her PhD from UNSW and was the founding Director of the Centre for Particle and Catalyst Technologies.
Image caption: L-R: Louise Williamson (Aurecon), Julian Briggs (Aurecon), Prof Mary O'Kane (NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer), Dr Mehreen Faruqi (Greens MP and recipient of the Prof Judy Raper Award for Leadership).