Dawn Bonfield MBE, a celebrated engineer who campaigns to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry, has been awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of Bath.
She received the DEng (Doctor of Engineering) award today (Wednesday 11 December 2019) during this year’s winter graduation ceremonies at the Assembly Rooms in Bath.
Dawn is Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering and Director of Engineering Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Aston University. She has also served as President of the Women’s Engineering Society, where she founded International Women in Engineering Day, and runs Towards Vision, a consultancy which promotes inclusion in the engineering field.
Having attended the University of Bath, Dawn completed an undergraduate degree in Materials Engineering in 1987, achieving a First Class Honours. During her studies she was a keen athlete, playing netball and achieving a full blue for representing the University and the Wales national team in volleyball.
She remains involved with Bath today, serving as a member of University Court.
Speaking ahead of the award ceremony, Dawn said: “I have enjoyed a long relationship with the University of Bath, having studied there myself, so I am delighted to receive this Honorary Degree.
“I am very lucky to be in a position to tell young people about the ways they can make a difference in the world through a career in engineering. This is particularly important as we have so many global challenges to address, and we need as much creativity and innovation as we can get.
“I sincerely hope that more people, from all kinds of backgrounds, will join the industry as it addresses these future challenges and opportunities.”
Dawn began her career at Citroën before moving to BAE Systems and then into aerospace, where she worked on engineering composite materials.
She also manages the Magnificent Women project, which celebrates historic female engineers, and was this year placed second in a Financial Times list of the UK’s most influential women in engineering.
She received an MBE in 2016 for services to the promotion of diversity in engineering.
Dr Marion Harney, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering and the University’s Athena SWAN Leader, delivered the oration on Dawn’s Honorary Degree. She said: “Dawn is unrelenting in giving her time, energy, creativity and vision to the engineering sector, making a major impact in fighting the inherent prejudices, injustices, inequalities and lack of progression faced by under-represented groups.
“The conferment of this Honorary Degree further signals our commitment to diversity and inclusion in engineering and I am sure that Dawn’s passionate belief in her pioneering work will be strengthened by our recognition of her outstanding contribution to the profession.
“It is appropriate that the University celebrates its success through the work of our graduates, and Dawn – an inspirational role model for us all – is among the most distinguished.”