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Faith Wainwright MBE: oration

Read Professor Pete Walker's oration on Faith Wainwright MBE for the honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering in June 2014.


Faith Wainwright MBE, BA (Hons), CEng, FREng, FIStuctE, FICE, FRSA is one the UK’s leading engineers, who, as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Director for Technical Skills at the global consulting firm Arup, continues to be an inspiration to built environment and engineering professionals worldwide.

In 1983 Faith was one of the first two women to graduate from St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford (BA in Engineering). Following graduation Faith joined Arup, and her stellar career in structural engineering began.

Faith has contributed to a truly impressive list of projects, including the following prize-winning schemes: The Shard; Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Headquarters; the transformation of Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern; American Air Museum (Duxford); Berlin Olympic Velodrome and Swimming Pool Complex; and the Lycée Albert Camus (Frejus, France). In delivering these and other successful high profile projects, Faith has had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most respected architects (including: Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Ken Shuttleworth), and pioneering contractors, including Ray O’Rourke.

In 2009 Faith led the establishment and became the inaugural Dean of Arup University. A unique initiative, the university was established to advance technical excellence through learning, research and knowledge sharing. In particular, Faith established the Arup University Masters Programme, and innovative collaboration with academia. Through Faith’s pioneering leadership Arup University has grown from strength to strength and is now a very highly regarded role model for our industry.

Faith’s contributions in the field of structural safety are also highly respected by leaders in the construction industry. She was a strong influence in establishing the scheme ‘Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety’ which encourages lessons learned to be shared across the construction industry. Following the extreme events of 9/11 in the USA, Faith was a lead contributor to the work of Arup, and of the Institution of Structural Engineers which led to changes in industry best practice and collaboration with clients on improving design of building to minimise the impact of such events. Faith is currently a Vice-President of the Institution of Structural Engineers.

In her career Faith has also blazed a trail for women in engineering. In 2004 Faith became the first-ever woman member of the Joint Board of Moderators, the professional body that oversees the accreditation of university degree programmes in civil engineering. Her leadership skills, ‘can do’ and ‘people focussed’ attitude has attracted huge respect. It is not surprising that colleagues actively seek out opportunities to work with Faith.

For her significant contribution to the Built Environment and Engineering Professions Faith was awarded an MBE in 2012.

Throughout her long and distinguished career, Faith has always found time for her family, who join her here today. Despite many work commitments Faith finds time to travel around the country to support her children (Brian, Eleanor and Finola) in their competitive pursuits. Her son Brian, an elite triathlete, graduated earlier in this ceremony (BSc Sports Performance). Faith has also employed her leadership skills at her local church in Northwood, London. In her spare time, Faith enjoys sailing solo, or with her husband Kieran, learning to play the piano, has taken up running and is herself keen to tackle a triathlon soon!

Faith is highly deserving of the award for her outstanding contributions and to the engineering profession. She is a role model for her outstanding projects, various leadership roles, and wider contributions to the engineering profession.

Chancellor, I present to you Faith Wainwright who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa.

Professor Pete Walker

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