The Quite Spectacular Journey Of Former Young Woman Engineer Of The Year Winner Katy Deacon

From beginning her engineering career through her love of playing technic lego as a young kid, to becoming Young Woman Engineer of the Year winner and later overcoming the distress of being diagnosed with MS, Katy Deacon takes us on her quite spectacular journey...

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What brought you to engineering?

"I loved playing with technic lego as a kid and asking how things worked. I went to an all girls school where maths and science were encouraged. When I was 16, I wrote letters to all NASA bases in America asking them what I should study to become an aerospace engineer. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Ames Research Centre with my family to look around and speak to the engineers working there. It was a wonderful experience and I came home wanting to learn so much more! At Sixth Form College I joined the engineering education scheme which really got me interested in how to solve practical problems and there was no looking back from there. When I was applying for uni, I received a letter from British Airways asking me to apply for their new apprenticeship program. I was very lucky to be successful, so I began my engineering career as an aircraft maintenance apprentice".
 
Tell me about winning Young Woman Engineer of the Year (YWE) and how you promoted STEM to kids

"Winning YWE was such a massive achievement and an incredible privilege. It was a brilliant platform to get into schools and colleges and talk about being an engineer. I worked with colleges to develop group competitions for school kids. I talked at award ceremonies and visited lots of schools to get involved with project work. It was an amazing year".

Were you a trustee of the IET? What brought you to that position?

"Yes, I was voted onto the board of trustees in 2008 which was another great privilege. Working with so many experienced engineers when I was so new to my career was great fun. I look back and question the value I added as I was so young, but I definitely got a huge amount from the experience and would love to do similar roles in the future now I’m in a better position to make a valuable contribution".
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How would you encourage others to get more out of the IET?

"I would say read the E&T magazine, go to an event or find something that interests you and approach someone about getting involved. There’s so much pleasure, learning and positive feeling generated by getting involved and using your skills and knowledge in conjunction with others".

What has been your experience with IET Connect?

"IET Connect has helped me to get my life back. I’ve got MS and when I have a simple virus or fever my legs stop working.  It meant I was trapped in my bedroom upstairs when my family were downstairs carrying on with their lives. I worked with an architect to redesign the ground floor space into an inclusive space for me and IET Connect helped fund the works to make my dream a reality. Having these changes at home has given me my independence back. Walking with two sticks or using a mobility scooter to get around in a stepped, enclosed environment was impossible and it meant other people having to do all the things I took for granted before, whilst I sat and watched with ever increasing frustration and sadness. Being able to move the washing from the washing basket to the washing machine used to be impossible for me, but now it’s something I do regularly and with so much weird pleasure. Its little things like that which mean so much, as the changes to the house have released a burden from my husband and family. And it was only possible thanks to the support we received from IET Connect".
 
Interested in becoming an IET member? Apply here.


Tell me about getting your independence back and what that means to your family

"The works have meant I can be with my family both inside and outside. Before the works, I hadn’t made it down my garden with my kids for three years. Now we go exploring all the time, it’s been a life changing experience and one I will be forever grateful for".

How would you describe your journey with The IET (inc. IET Connect)?
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"My journey with the IET has been so positive and varied. It started when my boss nominated me for the Mary George
memorial prize in 2004. When I won, it introduced me to the great things the IET do. By networking with other members at events, I learned about routes for professional development and with the help and support from my fantastic IET mentor, I successfully negotiated the route to CEng. Winning YWE then the Karen Burt award were both a great opportunity for me to try and give back and get out to speak to people and promote our fantastic profession.

My life changed direction when my son was born and professional development gave way to changing nappies. Then I was diagnosed with MS, I changed my career focus to more of a desk based, managerial role. Having IET Connect there and fully ready to help when I needed it was an incredible boost, both to my emotional wellbeing and my physical security at home. 

I really enjoy being involved with the IET and all the great experiences it brings".
 



What’s next for you in terms of engineering?

Over my 20 year career my engineering focus has changed from aircraft to electronics, electrical design to building energy and renewables. Now I am a manager with a focus on cyber security and information management. I enjoy managing people, large projects, strategies and changes brought by legislation. I don’t know what’s next but I’m sure it’ll be a great adventure.
 

If you're an IET member and it has benefited you in your career then we would love to hear from you.

Simply contact Carl Resch with a brief explanation of how the IET has helped you in your career.
Posted by Carl Resch on Nov 3, 2017 11:22 AM Europe/London

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This IET blog provides you with real life experiences of IET members from around the world.  Hopefully these case studies will help to provide insightful ways of how the IET can help you in your career.