Faculty of Engineering

Alumni success

Professor Karen Willcox

Professor Karen Willcox has been honoured with a 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.

She earned her Bachelor of Engineering in Engineering Science at the University of Auckland in 1994, followed by Masters and PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a true demonstration of an exciting engineering career, her research collaborators have included Boeing, NASA, and the FAA. Her commitment to becoming New Zealand’s first astronaut, and the significant impact she made through her research and teaching earned her a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2010. She is currently a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.

Recipients are due to receive their award at the Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner on March 2016. Read more about Professor Willcox here.


Award-winner Sarah Neill (second from left)

Faculty of Engineering Alumna Sarah Neill earned a National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Excellence Award.

A ceremony was held at the Rydges Latimer in Christchurch to celebrate and honour the achievements of women in construction and affiliated industries. According to Neill, a recent graduate in Civil and Environmental Engineering, “Winning this award really showcases the opportunities available for recent graduates at Beca. It’s about showing support for women in the industry.”

Neill has achieved plenty at her young age – she started in Fletcher Construction as part of her university work experience, where she was involved in the Eastport Golden Bay Cement buildings project in Quay Street and the Victoria Park Tunnel Project. Following her graduation, she joined Beca and went on to impress colleagues and industry leaders with a raft of notable projects to her name. She currently works in the company’s structural team.

A notable highlight was her role as lead structural engineer for the Wiri Correctional Facility, where she designed 75% of the project and led the design and construction of 29 buildings within a 17ha. Site in Auckland. Judges dubbed her as “a superstar graduate”, stating that the award reflects her outstanding achievements in design and remarkable progress from graduate to leader in a short space of time.