Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Role Models

Hannah Sykulska

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Hannah Sykulska

Awards: IET - YWEotY 2008


Hanna Sykulska was announced the winner of the IET Young Woman Engineer of the year 2008, the prestigious awards ceremony.
The then 26-year-old was lost for words when she was announced the winner of the IET Young Woman Engineer awards ceremony. After the initial shock, she said, “I am really delighted to win such a prestigious award. It’s a great honour and privilege and I look forward very much to sharing my experiences as an engineer and hope to inspire many talented young women to enter this exciting field.”

Hanna was destined to be an engineer. As a baby, her first word wasn't “mama” or papa” but “matykmatyk” - her way of saying 'mathematician' and then came the growing obsession for LEGO and Rubik's cube which she confessed is an obsession very much alive today.

When it was time to choose her career path, it came as no surprise that Hanna decided to study engineering at Oxford University and ended up working for Imperial College in the Electrical Engineering Department for four years. Last year, she jumped at the chance of going to Arizona to work on the Phoenix NASA mission as an instrument downlink engineer - making her the youngest female member of the team.

Although she had been formally registered as a PhD student (who was writing her thesis while working also on the NASA mission), Hanna was a full time member of the Phoenix team with responsibilities of checking the health of the instrument from the telemetry and making decisions on engineering parameters for next day's operations. Her list of responsibilities does not end there: attending team meetings and advising the science team on how to proceed with long term planning.

As a field that is rarely studied directly as a subject at school, the winner of the IET Write Around the World 2006 competition feels that it is important for younger people to understand what engineering involves and how stimulating it can be.
She adds: “Further to this, women might be discouraged by the stereotypes attached to engineering and it is important to demonstrate how women can be successful in this field too.”

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