The social entrepreneur behind an innovative education programme that has inspired many young people around the world to pursue a career in construction has been recognised with an Honorary Degree.
Alison J Watson MBE, received a Doctor of Engineering from Heriot-Watt University on Tuesday, 10 December, for her immense contribution to the sector and for forging new links between industry, academia and young people.
In 2012, Alison launched the ground-breaking accredited learning programme, Design Engineer Construct! (DEC), for school students aged between 11 and 18. The programme, which takes a project-based approach and applies pure academic subjects, is now delivered in a number of schools throughout the UK and internationally. As a result, many more young people are gaining real-world experience and developing highly desirable specialist skills in areas including structural engineering, surveying, architecture and civil engineering.
Alison has made a truly astounding contribution to academia and industry that is producing a talented workforce, ready to meet the needs of the modern world, particularly around climate change.
Alison has partnered with Heriot-Watt University in developing and delivering DEC since its inception in Scotland.
After receiving her Honorary Degree, Alison said: “It's been a pleasure and a privilege to work with the wonderful staff and students at Heriot-Watt University. Scotland is a special place with special people who have a solid respect for innovation and determination. Some of my challenges have seemed enormous, however the support of the University has been constant and I owe a debt of gratitude to colleagues who have shown me such respect, kindness and faith.
“It is with great pride that I accept this award, especially in this, my tenth year working with hugely committed, dynamic teachers to safeguard the Future of Architecture, Engineering and Construction – our amazing students.
"I look forward to many more fruitful years with Heriot-Watt as the Design Engineer Construct! Learning programme expands internationally, offering an unprecedented opportunity to transform secondary education on a global scale.”
Alison is a former land surveyor and founder of the social enterprise, Class of Your Own, which has been delivering one-day workshops and related student engagement programmes to schools and colleges since 2009.
In recognition of her perseverance and dedication, Alison was awarded an MBE in Her Majesty The Queen's 2018 New Year Honours for services to education.
She is also a recipient of The Survey Association's President's Award and the Richard Carter Prize by the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors. In September 2019, she was elected Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, all in recognition of her commitment to raising awareness of the Built Environment and infrastructure sectors in schools.
Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: “Alison has made a truly astounding contribution to academia and industry that is producing a talented workforce, ready to meet the needs of the modern world, particularly around climate change.
“Through her entrepreneurial spirit and drive to affect change, Alison has helped forge new relationships across architecture and engineering to equip students with the skills they need to succeed in an extremely competitive environment.”
Graduations have taken place at Heriot-Watt's Edinburgh campus between Saturday, 7 December and Tuesday, 10 December 2019.
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