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British engineer follows astronaut Major Tim Peake to win prestigious award

An engineer championing underrepresented views in his industry has won a prestigious award.

Dr Mark McBride-Wright, who founded company EqualEngineers to spearhead rapid cultural change in the engineering and technology sector while tirelessly promoting diversity and inclusion, was honoured with the Rooke Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The award, previously won by astronaut Major Tim Peake, is presented to people who have brought engineering to life for the public. Mark will receive the medal at the Academy’s awards dinner in London on July 12.

Driven by a vision and understanding that better equality, diversity and inclusion programmes are essential to improve individual and organisational performance, Mark has worked to engage thousands of people through EqualEngineers through events, public speaking and training to ensure organisations across the engineering and technology sector are truly inclusive environments.

He said: “It’s a massive honour to receive this award as it is so vital we engage people from all walks of life to consider a career in engineering. This sector is so important to society, helping us find solutions, drive innovation and improve quality of life.

“And I have the ambition to now take my work forward, evolve and elevate to a place that will help the engineering sector to improve exponentially for the generations to come.”

Mark explained that he wants to establish a national engineering mentoring programme, whereby every engineering student has the opportunity to gain a mentor from industry.

Already, his company EqualEngineers runs a Pathways Programme which involves the likes of McLaren Racing and Rolls-Royce. Through this pioneering diversity employment scheme, Mark helps to address inclusion issues among the sectors which are prominent and disproportionately affect engineering students from underrepresented groups.

The purpose of this programme is to provide students with a variety of supportive elements – including mentors – to ensure greater employability outcomes after graduation, and to improve their sense of inclusion and belonging within the engineering and technology industry.

Mark says he is now working to elevate this in the future, to ensure all students are able to have access to mentors – drastically improving future candidates for job roles in the sector.

He added: “The vision I have for a mentoring campaign would be a huge step in the right direction for engineering, construction and technology.

“Not only this, I want to create a national engineering careers website, similar to the NHS, with any route and any career type listed here.

“So, as you can see, this Rooke Award is only the beginning!”

As a gay safety engineer, Mark is also the chair and co-founder of InterEngineering, a non-profit industry body that connects, informs, and empowers LGBTQ+ engineers and supporters.

Set up in 2014, the organisation has grown to become the leading voice in amplifying the work of LGBTQ+ engineers and addressing inclusion within the engineering and construction sector.

Now boasting a membership of 1,000 members, InterEngineering has allowed LGBTQ+ engineers to become increasingly recognised through presence at national Pride parades, producing open-source support materials on a range of topics (including Transitioning in the Workplace and Embedding Diversity in the Supply Chain).

Professor Sarah Hainsworth OBE FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Bath, said: “Mark has shared his personal story of being an openly gay engineer and has spoken at numerous high-profile events sharing the work he has done on providing a spotlight on sexual orientation and gender identity in the engineering sector.

“He has interwoven his experience as a technical safety engineer exploring linkages between psychological safety, physical safety and engineering culture.”

Mark is the recipient of numerous accolades including being listed #2 in the 2015 Financial Times Future LGBT Leaders list and named “Corporate Rising Star” at the 2016 British LGBT Awards.

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Dr Mark McBride-Wright, founder of EqualEngineers

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