Celebrating early career engineers and exceptional employers at the CIBSE Young Engineers Awards 2022

Last month, I had the pleasure of opening the CIBSE Young Engineers Awards. This event has long been a highlight of my year, celebrating the achievements, insights, and innovative ideas of those in the early stages of their careers. In fact, my personal experience of the Young Engineers Awards had a big sway on the theme for my presidential year, to inspire the next generation.

In providing a platform for early career engineers, entering the industry from a variety of routes, the Young Engineers Awards complement the #CIBSE125Challenges perfectly. They shine a light on the future thought leaders within our industry, giving insight into the priorities, direction, and innovative approach that we need to overcome the urgent challenges that we face. It is an opportunity to celebrate the young engineers that are already making a difference, to highlight the various routes into a career in engineering, and to celebrate those employers that prioritise and see the benefits of boosting the development of their employees.

The first award of the evening was the CIBSE Apprentice of the Year 2022. Now split into two, this recognises apprentices both at the technical level (level 3-4) and degree (level 5-7). Scooping the award for Apprentice of the Year (level 3-4), Harvey Hudson outlined why teamwork is important to building services engineering, placing effective communication as central to improving building safety by introducing integrated systems, and working collaboratively with other specialists.

Louis Kimber was named CIBSE Apprentice of the Year (level 5-7) and impressed the judges by presenting what he feels are the priorities for building services engineers in the next 5 years. Louis recognised the gravity of the challenges faced by the building services engineering industry, and society more generally, regarding climate change and the transition to net zero carbon in the built environment.

The next award was for the CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year. As I mentioned in my presidential address, this award is close to my heart, being named the first-ever Graduate of the Year back in 1996. This recognition was a huge motivator in my early career, contributing to a feeling of being valued, inspired, and supported.

This year, I had the honour of joining the judging panel for the Graduate of the Year category. I could clearly remember how nervous and excited I felt before having to deliver my presentation. It is safe to say that the quality and passion demonstrated by this year’s shortlisted entrants made judging challenging.

This year’s Graduate of the Year finalists was asked to present on how we can inspire engineers to work holistically and collaboratively to deliver high performance buildings. They all clearly demonstrated their desire to have a positive impact on the world around them through engineering. I felt that each of the presentations resonated with the fifth #CIBSE125Challenge, as each finalist shared their experience of engaging with others to fight climate change.

Eyob Kibrom was awarded third place. Eyob spoke about the role of education and interdisciplinary collaboration to deliver truly high-performance buildings. It was wonderful to hear Eyob reference the #CIBSE125Challenges throughout his presentation, encouraging employers to boost and support the development of their early career engineers.

Second place went to Conor Deane. During his presentation, Conor placed engineers as mountaineers, leading us to the summit of high performance. By uniting our shared skills of problem solving, analysis, creativity, and innovation, building services engineers can lead other disciplines in overcoming the obstacles that we face. This includes climate change, in leading on embodied and operational carbon; in ensuring thermal comfort; and in changing the narrative around cost by looking at the whole life cycle of a project.

After much deliberation, we agreed on the CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year, Sana Hafsa. Sana prioritised communication from the initial stages of a project, enabling the relevant disciplines to work collaboratively to meet the needs of the occupant, a priority shared by all the finalists presenting. Sana asserted that with effective communication between built environment professionals and stakeholders, there would be no need to distinguish between high-performance buildings, as there would be no alternative.

The final category of the evening was the CIBSE Employer of the Year. I feel extremely fortunate to have received support and encouragement from my employer at the early stages of my career, and this is something that I strive to pay forward in my professional life. It is extremely encouraging to see companies of varying sizes leading by example in the support and development opportunities that they are providing for early career engineers. Within this category, CIBSE recognises small, medium, and large companies, before naming an overall Employer of the Year.

FairHeat were named overall Employer of the Year, along with being named the winner of the Employer of the Year – Small Company (<50 employees). They demonstrated their commitment to supporting graduate engineers, highlighting that 70% of their staff have been through their graduate programme in the last 5 years. FairHeat’s graduate scheme is structured around a 6-month rotation, providing an insight into their four core business areas. They also demonstrated excellent retention and clear progression for their existing graduate, consulting, and lead engineers.

Alongside FairHeat, CWP received the award for medium company (51 – 300 employees) and AECOM received the award for large company (>301 employees). RYBKA, Elementa, and Hoare Lea were also shortlisted. These companies are leading by example, providing support networks which enable engineers to share their experience, learn from each other, and boost each other’s development.

This year, CIBSE is focusing on celebrating and sharing our experiences as engineers, and the Young Engineers Awards certainly continued this celebration. It was a fantastic evening and I wish my heartfelt congratulations to all the shortlisted entrants and winners. I am excited to see how they grow over the next year and beyond, and how CIBSE can continue to support them in their journey as building services engineers.

Finally, I would like to thank this year’s sponsors ACV, Ideal Heating, Lochinvar, Swegon, Viega and CIBSE Patrons for their continued support, and their help in inspiring new people to join our industry.

You can find out more about the CIBSE Young Engineers Awards via https://www.cibse.org/what-s-on/cibse-young-engineers-awards 


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