Roma Agrawal grew up in India and the US and it was her childhood in New York that was to bring with it a fascination for buildings. With an MSc in Structural Engineering under her belt, the 39-year-old UK-based engineer is now best known for her work on The Shard – the tallest building not only in the UK but also Western Europe at 95 storeys high.
As well as delivering hundreds of talks in schools, universities and organisations, she also hosts her own podcast and has published books for adults and children telling fascinating stories of how some of the world’s most famous buildings were built.
“I've always loved science and design and found engineering to be a great combination between the two,” said Agrawal, the author of ‘How Was That Built? The Stories Behind Awesome Structures’.
More recently, the talented engineer was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the university in recognition of her "outstanding career" as a leading female structural engineer, as well as for her work in striving to promote engineering, scientific and technical careers to young people and under-represented groups.
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Agrawal said: “It’s a real honour and joy to receive this award from Northumbria University, a place that I hold close to my heart.
“I often refer to the footbridge, which was my first ever engineering project, as my baby, so it means a lot to me to come back here and receive this generous recognition.”
She was referring to her very first job after graduating from university – designing and building a distinctive footbridge that crosses Newcastle Central Motorway. The bridge was installed in 2007, linking Northumbria University’s east and west city campuses and providing a safe pedestrian and cycle route into the centre of Newcastle.
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Agrawal received her honorary degree during the university’s winter graduation ceremonies, which were held on Northumbria’s Newcastle City Campus. The university said honorary degrees are awarded each year to inspiring people who merit special recognition for their achievements, their links to the university and for inspirational qualities.
Agrawal is a role model as a Fellow of the UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and was awarded an MBE by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2018 for services to engineering. She has several honours and awards under her belt, including a Women in Construction Award, Lewis Kent Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Rooke Award for public promotion of engineering from the Royal Academy of Engineering, among others.