Wing Commander Gemma Lonsdale is an RAF Engineering Officer.  Gemma’s own route into engineering was not an easy one.  She can therefore directly relate to students who struggle at school and doubt their ability to pursue a technical future.  As a role model she embodies achievement through adversity and is living proof that engineering is not only for those who pass exams with ease.

Gemma has been a supporter of the RAF Youth STEM programme for over 10 years. In that time she has led youth activities directly; supported the national programme as a role model and particularly a woman in engineering; given talks and seminars to young people; assisted in the delivery of STEM residential courses and provided specialist assistance to others.  She has supported a series of virtual STEM engagements delivered by The Smallpeice Trust during the COVID-19 pandemic, judged the Young Woman Engineer of the Year award for the Institute of Engineering and Technology, helped develop STEM box resources for the Royal Academy of Engineering, mentored Arkwright Engineering Scholars and taken on numerous engagements as a STEM Ambassador for STEM Learning.

Her engaging personality and genuine openness have proved an inspiration to dozens of young women, many of whom have now taken up higher level courses in STEM subjects or careers in STEM fields.  Gemma’s open and encouraging manner has proved instrumental in a significant number of cases with teachers and parents writing to her and to the organisations she has supported to explain how valuable her contribution has been in the career choices of so many. Her dedication to the support and encouragement of young people into an engineering career is truly inspirational.

Sheriff-elect Andrew Marsden and Master Engineer Audrey Canning presenting Wing Commander Gemma Lonsdale with the Stephenson Medal and £1000 prize. photo courtesy of Mark Witter Photography

The Stephenson Award is for those who have been particularly successful in encouraging young people to study engineering with an emphasis, but not exclusively, on mechanical engineering. In 1997, members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers made donations to fund a Worshipful Company of Engineers Loving Cup to mark the Institution’s 150th Anniversary. Donations in excess of those needed for the Loving Cup were used to establish the Stephenson Award and further donations were received from members in later years, supplemented by a substantial grant from Rolls-Royce plc. The Engineers’ Company acknowledges the assistance of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the EDT (formerly the Engineering Development Trust) with nominations for this Award.

The Worshipful Company of Engineers Charitable Trust (the Engineers Trust) acknowledges excellence in engineering, supports engineering education and research, gives grants and assists in the relief of poverty.