Former WFEO President Dr Marlene Kanga AO was awarded the prestigious Ada Lovelace Medal at the University of New South Wales, Sydney on 21 June 2023.
The Ada Lovelace Medal recognises the outstanding achievement of women engineers and is awarded by the University of New South Wales. It is named for Augusta Ada Byron, daughter of Lord Byron and later Countess Ada Lovelace, a pioneering woman mathematician who is credited for writing the first computer program to calculate Bernoulli numbers in the 19th Century. Countess Lovelace provided commentary on the first computer, the “Analytical Engine” developed by Charles Babbage which she said, “weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves.”
Dr Marlene Kanga AO addresses the audience after being presented with the Ada Lovelace Medal at the recent UNSW Women in Engineering Awards. Photo: UNSW/Ken Leanfore.
The award acknowledges Dr Kanga’s leadership and impact on engineering in Australia and internationally, as a former President of WFEO and former National President of Engineers Australia, as a board member of some of the largest organisations in Australia in water, energy, aviation and innovation and as Chair of the international IChemE Safety Centre for systematic approaches to process safety.
She was recognised also for her successful leadership as WFEO President, in leading the proposal for UNESCO to declare 4th March as World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development and for her success in initiating and leading the review of the international engineering education benchmarks, with the International Engineering Alliance that is transforming engineering education to meet future challenges, as well as for her efforts in capacity-building in Africa and Asia, and finally for her leadership in establishing and growing the WFEO Academy.
In receiving her award, Dr Kanga commented that “the work of Baroness Lovelace in the 1840s shows that women have been in engineering for a long time, and making vital contributions. Her work is a reminder to all engineers, that our work is far-reaching and can have an impact on people and the planet today and a long time into the future. The impact of engineering and the sense of purpose that this provides has sustained me in my career, and I hope will inspire all engineers, especially women engineers.
The message is clear – engineers have the skills and the capacity to make the changes we need and to address the challenges we face.”
She cited the example of how engineers innovated to develop alternatives to CFC refrigerants that were depleting the ozone layer. These alternatives have resulted in a reduction in the size of the hole in the ozone layer which is set to disappear by 2066.
She said “This is an example of how success can be achieved in advancing sustainable development, reducing carbon emissions and addressing global warming. Engineers and engineering will be at the forefront of the solutions that will be developed.“
“I hope that this Award and the message of the contributions of Ada Baroness Lovelace, which is having an impact after nearly 200 years, will inspire more young people to consider a career in engineering and for engineering students, to remain in engineering after graduation. This is the career that will provide lifelong opportunities and fulfilling challenges and enables like no other profession, the opportunities to make a difference for a better world.”
The speech by Dr Marlene Kanga is available by clicking on the below image.
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