Professor Elena Gaura recognised as one of the UK’s Top 50 Women in Engineering
Coventry University Professor, Elena Gaura has been given a prestigious place in the UK’s Top 50 Women in Engineering (WE50) for 2021, awarded by The Women’s Engineering Society in association with The Guardian newspaper and Assystem.
The WE50 ‘Engineering Heroes’ award celebrates women like Elena who have made a significant contribution to tackling global challenges, helping organisations and communities through their vital work in engineering.
Announced on International Women in Engineering Day, 23rd June, the society describes the award as honouring “the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering, who recognise a problem, then dare to be part of the solution”.
Elena’s dedication and commitment is a testament to women who operate within STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the contribution their work makes. She currently directs both the Fluid and Complex Systems and Computational Science and Mathematical Modelling research centres.
Elena said: “Receiving this award was a surprise, but I am extremely grateful. Growing up in Romania, the only branch of engineering accessible to girls was electronics. Since then, I have sought to ensure no person is limited by their gender when deciding what brand of engineering to pursue. If we strive for 'best science' and thus, make a positive difference within society - then all engineers at every level need to commit to supporting respectful, inclusive and equitable technology solutions.”
Elena is determined to ensure that the legacy of a ‘voice for all’ within STEM subjects is communicated at mass. Here, she has successfully provided training to over 300 female scientists in India, delivering systematic and cultural change in an ordinarily male-dominated STEM environment.
Elena added: “If we are to have greater representation for women from diverse backgrounds, we need to be braver and bolder by pushing back against gender inequality in engineering and work towards fairer, kinder, and more inclusive workplaces.” In addition to her university positions, Elena continues to deliver vast multi-disciplinary international projects within the realms of cyber-physical systems, energy engineering and social sciences.
She is passionate and committed to a number of causes and is part of many international projects, including ‘ energy-for-all’ initiatives, currently taking place in the UK, the Brazilian Amazon, Philippines, Nepal and Rwanda, all centred on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and focused on affordable and clean energy.
The WE50 award follows Elena’s success in leading the Humanitarian Engineering and Energy for Displacement (HEED) project, which, over the past four years, has piloted solar energy aids for refugee camps in Rwanda and Nepal. The project also advocates for women refugees and the vital role they play in long-term energy solutions, by liaising with international stakeholders, including through presentations at worldwide United Nation’s debates.
Elena also leads the Cyber-Physical infrastructure strand in the EnergyREV ’s project, one of the most significant international academic programmes within the UK’s Smart Local Energy Systems eco-system.
Elena’s leadership, throughout her projects, has enhanced outcomes for women through various initiatives: from the delivery of additional security offered by solar lighting interventions, reducing the risk of gender-based violence, to providing technology learning experiences for young refugee children and aspiring women scientists.