Bournemouth University’s Tania Humphries-Smith has been honoured at the Dorset Venus Awards by winning the Inspirational Woman in Technology Award.
Tania Humphries-Smith, Associate Professor within the Department of Design and Engineering at BU, received the award at the ceremony which took place at Bournemouth International Centre.
The awards, which seek to recognise and reward local business women, take place throughout the UK and are now in their seventh year in Dorset, where there were 785 nominations across the 15 categories.
On her award win, Tania said, “I was delighted to have been shortlisted, then to have got through the semi-finals, the finals, and to have won. I had absolutely no idea that I was going to win. The awards were something I was nominated for, I was interviewed on two occasions by the sponsor [Atlas Elektronik UK] but I had no idea who else had been nominated and technology is a wide area and I didn’t have any idea about the competition. I was really delighted to have won.”
Tania continued, “From my perspective it is something which I feel will help me to communicate technology when I do some of my outreach activities and the work that I do, to try and encourage woman and girls to consider technology, it is something that is a bit more accessible to young people when you introduce yourself, and it gives me a chance to explain why I won the award.”
As winner of the regional Inspirational Woman in Technology award, Tania has now been automatically shortlisted for the national award of the same name, which will be announced later in 2016.
As well as her role as Head of Department at BU, Tania is also the Chair of the Institution of Engineering Designers and has a background in industry as a product design engineer.
Among the reasons that Tania collected the prize on the night were her commitments to driving young people into engineering, both through her outreach work in schools and the engineering pathway that Tania set up five years ago with Bournemouth and Poole College. Tania explains, “It is my hope that this recognition will have internal benefits in terms of getting a wider idea about what this university does in terms of technology, not just in terms of the courses that we deliver, which are well known, but some of the other activities that we do.
“My understanding from the sponsor is that one of the reasons they were particularly keen for me to get the award is for the extra work I have done with young people; the outreach work that I do with young people and going into local schools to do hands-on activities around engineering and design work.
“The other thing which I would like to get more awareness of is a pathway we run with Bournemouth and Poole College, and have run for five years. I set this pathway up, the idea being that you can start at Bournemouth and Poole College as an apprentice at 16 with a local company and you can work through areas and qualifications, BU awards taught at Bournemouth and Poole College, before coming to the University to study engineering at a degree level. This is a relatively unique integrated pathway to get a complete set of qualifications accredited by professional bodies.
“We have about 50 companies who are engaged in this programme and I think it would be good for as many people as possible to know about this initiative because it is really good for students."
Tania also believes that this award is a good starting point in encouraging young women to think about a career in technology locally too. She said, “Dorset has a very high number of advanced manufacturing companies, which is great, and there is actually huge opportunities in technology in this local area, with quite a lot of shortages, so I think this award, and similar initiatives, in this local form, could be used to promote to women and girls that there are a number of local opportunities in technology too.”
For more information about the Venus Awards, visit www.venusawards.co.uk/dorset