A Northumbrian Water worker has been awarded one of the highest grades of Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) membership that there is.

Carol Cairns, from Sunderland, has been a member of the ICE for nearly 30 years since she graduated from Sunderland University with a Civil Engineering degree.

Now, the 49-year-old has been awarded an ICE Fellowship, the most senior grade of membership reserved for senior civil engineers who have made a significant contribution to the profession.

She’s one of just nine females in the North East who have achieved Fellowship status, another being Northumbrian Water’s Chief Executive, Heidi Mottram, and they join a total of 99 Fellows from ICE North East’s membership.

Carol, who is married with two teenage children, was inspired to become an engineer by a teacher while in secondary school, and first began her career as a graduate engineer working for Northumberland County Council.

She joined Northumbrian Water in October 2012 as a Project Manager, and worked her way up to Strategic Planning Manager, where she now helps to plan some of the company’s biggest investment and improvement schemes to make sure the infrastructure is fit for the future.  

Some of the highlights of Carol’s career include leading work on many projects to reduce the risk of flooding across the North East, and helping to protect communities from the impacts of climate change.

She said: “To become an ICE Fellow really means a lot to me and I’m so proud. It’s recognition for my career to date, and the positive impact that I’ve had through my work.

“As a female, I’d like to hope that this achievement can inspire young girls who may be considering a career in STEM subjects and will encourage many more to follow their passion for engineering.

“I’d also advise anyone with a career in civil engineering to become part of the ICE as it provides a pathway for career progression, an opportunity to network and share learning, and helps you keep in touch with innovation in the industry.”

Carol will be presented with her Fellowship certificate at an awards ceremony in December.