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Honoring engineering heroes

Opinion | Researchers
Honoring engineering heroes

In honor of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day, our community of women engineers tell us who deserves to be recognized for the extraordinary impact they have had on not only the wider field, but also on our engineers’ personal development.


Celebrated annually on 23rd June, International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is an awareness campaign that aims to shine a spotlight on the incredible achievements of women engineers across the globe. 

In support of INWED 2021, we asked our authors and editors one simple question: who is your engineering hero? 

Here’s what they had to say about the people who ignited their passion, inspired their career path and fundamentally shaped their experience as an engineer: 

“One of the women that I found inspirational when I started out in my field of adsorption in carbonaceous materials was Mildred “Millie” Dresselhaus, also known as the “Queen of Carbon Science”. She was a keen advocate of women in STEM and just a genuinely down-to-earth person, demonstrating that you can be a supportive and genial member of your community and still be highly successful.”

Professor Ashleigh Fletcher - Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Strathclyde, UK. Chief Editor of Adsorption Science & Technology.

“After going through the co-authors of all my research papers, I discovered that, since 2015, I had only written conference papers and articles with men. Luckily this period was interrupted by Qianqian Lu from Zhejiang University City College, China in 2020. I am honored to call this brave, curious, diligent, multi-skilled researcher, teacher and mother my engineering hero.”

Dr Jonna Tiainen - School of Energy Systems, LUT University, Finland. Author of ‘Validation of the Axial Thrust Estimation Method for Radial Turbomachines’, published in International Journal of Rotating Machinery

Lillian Gilbreth: the first woman professor at the Engineering Department of Purdue University. She was an early pioneer in emphasizing personality analysis when delegating tasks, to improve efficiency as well as happiness, such as in a family.”

Professor Sandra Costanzo - Department of Computer Engineering, Modeling, Electronics and Systems; University of Calabria, Italy. Author of ‘Phaseless Microwave Tomography Assessment for Breast Imaging: Preliminary Results’, published in International Journal of Antennas and Propagation.

“So far in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to boundlessly follow my interest in engineering and merge my passion for research in STEM with my full-time working activity. I recognize that several women supported my decisions and hard work, starting with female mathematics teachers, friends and family. I believe that the number of women in STEM (structural engineering, in my case) is still too small. I will always encourage young women to pursue a career in engineering.”

Professor Chiara Bedon - Department of Engineering and Architecture, University of Trieste, Italy. Associate Editor of Advances in Civil Engineering

“My engineering hero is my father, Manolo. Although this may be somewhat of an odd choice for INWED, my father had a profound impact on my aspirations while growing up. As a young girl, he awakened my interest in how things work when repairing objects at home. His knowledge and know-how led me into the engineering world and I achieved it by considering his determination and effort as a model. I wouldn’t be where I am today - an engineer - without my father’s influence and support.”

Professor Ester Martínez-Martín - Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, University of Alicante, Spain. Author of ‘Deep Learning Techniques for Spanish Sign Language Interpretation’, published in Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience

Celebrating the outstanding success and legacy of women engineers is one way that we can help foster a more inclusive, open and diverse world in science and research. Hear what our editors are doing to advocate for increased equality in the sciences in our International Women’s Day 2021 blog.


This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.

Article of the Year Award: Outstanding research contributions of 2020, as selected by our Chief Editors. Read the winning articles.