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The University of Southampton

Southampton professor named one of the top 50 women engineers

Published: 23 June 2023
Professor Nicola Symonds
Professor Nicola Symonds

Professor Nicola Symonds, of the University of Southampton, has been named as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering (2023) in the UK.

Organised by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) on International Women in Engineering Day (23 June), the awards this year are focussed on engineers involved in safety and security.

Professor Symonds is Director of nC 2 , an engineering consultancy at the University which provides services to industry, supporting safer and more efficient products. She is a leading expert in her field, a successful enterprise builder and a champion for women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Early in her career, Nicola worked for the MOD on ‘failure analysis’, conducting component failure investigations, discovering the causes of aircraft accidents and recommending changes to prevent recurrence. During this time she worked across the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

As founding member and head of nC 2 , safety improvements have remained her passion. The consultancy has conducted investigations for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

Nicola is a strong supporter of women in engineering and 50 percent of her staff at nC 2 are women. As part of her work, she encourages women engineers of the future – participating in outreach activities, such as school careers fairs and Dragonfly Days at the University, where girls from under-represented backgrounds are encouraged to stay in education.

Professor Nicola Symonds with her team.
Professor Nicola Symonds (third from right) with her team.

Commenting on her success, Professor Nicola Symonds said: “I'm very excited about this honour. It represents the work I do in safety and security, but also my work to help pave the way for other women in STEM and inspire girls to want to work in the engineering industry, like myself.

“As a proud Mum of two children, I know how hard it can be to juggle home-life and work. However, it is crucial we find ways to have a balance and a range of perspectives in the work place. In a diverse, gender-balanced workforce, everyone brings something different to the table to help solve problems.”

Professor Mark Spearing , Vice-President (Research & Enterprise) at the University of Southampton, said: “I’m thrilled to hear Nicola has been recognised with this honour and congratulate her for what is an amazing achievement. She is a great advocate of the importance of women working and progressing in engineering, both through her own leadership at nC 2 and through outreach work with young people in local schools. I’m certain her work and example will continue to have a very positive impact and help encourage more women into the industry.”

Nicola graduated from the University of Southampton in 1996 with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics, staying on to complete a PhD in tribology. She is a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and is one of the UK’s few female Chartered Engineers.

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