Phebe Mann

Oration given by Anita Lall, Programme Manager for Science and Maths at Bradford College, on 11th December 2013

"Principal and Chair, the Corporation has resolved that the Honorary Fellowship of Bradford College be conferred upon Eur Ing Dr Phebe Mann. She is an outstanding engineer, an innovative teacher and a potent role model for women in science and engineering.

Phebe’s father worked in construction and was involved in scouting and she inherited both these interests. From a young age she was curious about how things worked; she loved making things and enjoyed outdoor pursuits.

Her determination to keep improving and advancing knowledge has resulted in her exceptional academic attainments. She has a BA and MA in Computer Science from Cambridge University, a law degree from Buckingham University, an MSc Construction (Management), from Loughborough University, an MSc Bridge Engineering (Management), from Surrey University, Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice from Reading University, an MSc Research Methods and a doctorate from The Open University with an Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award from Phi Delta Kappa.

She is a true pioneer – the first and only woman to hold five professional engineering qualifications concurrently in the UK. She is a Chartered Civil Engineer, Chartered Surveyor, Chartered Builder, Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and European Engineer. Phebe became the first female chair of the Leicester Centre of the Chartered Institute of Building. She is an Ambassador for STEM, which is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and a Talent2030 Hero; she works tirelessly to encourage girls to pursue civil engineering careers.

Following her science and engineering degrees, Phebe worked for Westminster City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Atkins before becoming a university lecturer. During her impressive career, Phebe researched and designed many highway bridges including those along the A11 Stump Cross to Four Went Ways, the A1(M) Alconbury to Peterborough and Little Venice Canal Wall at Westminster. She is a former course director at the University of Reading, associate lecturer at The Open University, and she is currently senior lecturer in civil engineering, highway and transportation, and construction law at the University of East London.

Phebe has made an important contribution to the development of engineering and legal education and practice. She has published widely and presented many papers at international conferences about  her research on  subjects including computer-supported collaborative working in design for the built environment, copyright issues on the protection of architectural works and designs, computer modelling of the construction and load testing of bridges, enriching learning by innovative use of vodcast (video podcast), how student designers can use a shared virtual synchronous environment when engaged in conceptual design, and using the latest technology for student personal development planning.

Phebe has been recognised as an innovative teacher. In recognition of her excellence in her contributions in engineering and legal education, Phebe was awarded a Practice Based Professional Learning (PBPL) Teaching and Learning Excellence Award from The Open University. She received a commendation for the EUNIS Dørup e-Learning Award for enhancing learning in the Structures Laboratory at the University of Reading.

She was also shortlisted for the Public Sector Award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards in 2010 and a finalist in the Woman in Property / Construction Award at the Achiever Academy for Women Awards in November 2012.

In recognition of her extraordinary achievements and leadership qualities she had displayed in her career, the UKRC (now WISE) chose her as one of their Women of Outstanding Achievement in 2011, in a prestigious campaign to increase the visibility of the most influential women in science and engineering, so that they could be role models for young women considering their career options. Phebe was very proud to accept the award as she is passionate that women know that engineering offers them interesting and rewarding careers at the very highest level.

As winner of the Tomorrow's Leader Award, a photographic portrait was commissioned and displayed in various universities and institutions throughout the country. Phebe kindly donated this portrait to Bradford College in December 2012, when she came to give a lecture to students in construction and engineering about the nature of civil engineering. Reflecting on the impact of her visit, John McCallum, Programme Manager for Construction, remarked that he always judged the success of speakers by the quality of questions asked by students, and that Phebe’s audience had expressed real interest and understanding in their queries. Phebe responded with some very pertinent examples to contextualise her answers which had made a lasting impression on the students. Afterwards, half a dozen students remained to ask Phebe’s advice and she was happy to talk to them individually. She also offered to return at a future date as she could see the commitment to construction and engineering shown by Bradford College.

Although Phebe does so much to promote science, engineering and technology education at generally, she is also devoted to helping individuals attain their potential. Indeed, despite her own extraordinary academic performance, she takes the greatest pride in supporting others break through the barriers to achievement. Whilst working for the Open University she found that helping science, engineering and technology (SET) students, who struggled in the face of adverse circumstances, particularly rewarding. She was delighted that her intervention made a difference to many students, including a single mother who passed a crucial final year computing module, a severely dyslexic student who passed his Computing degree and a prisoner receive first class honours in his design degree. Phebe is a Warranted Adult Leader of the Guide Association, where she designs fun activities based on engineering which help develop girls’ confidence and abilities.

Phebe is an exceptional academic and engineer. Her contribution to construction, engineering and education has been such that she deserves the highest honour we can bestow.

Principal and Chair, I present to you Eur Ing Dr Phebe Mann"