Imperial College London

Clare Drysdale honoured with Student Academic Choice Award and President's Medal


Clare Drysdale

Clare Drysdale, our Teaching and Industrial Liaison Manager, was recently presented with the Student Academic Choice Award for Best Support Staff.

On the same day as the Student Academic Choice Awards (SACAs),  Clare learnt that she is to be awarded a President’s Medal for Excellence in Education: Supporting the Student Experience.

The SACAs are the Union’s flagship event to allow students to recognise, reward and celebrate excellence among College staff. All students were invited to nominate staff in eight categories including Teaching for Undergraduates, Best Supervision, Best Support Staff and Best Feedback.  This year there were an incredible 1,868 nominations for academic and support staff – more than double the previous record!

Clare at the SACAs

Clare is also to be presented with a President’s Awards for Excellence in Education in the Supporting the Student Experience.  Medals are the highest level of the President’s Award made to those who are judged to have made an exceptional contribution to the College.  Clare has been awarded a Medal for her ‘wonderful work to provide industrial experience for Electrical and Electronic Engineering students.’ Clare will receive a certificate at an awards ceremony before at the President’s Garden Party in June, and then she will be presented her medal at the Commemoration Day graduation ceremony in October.

Clare joined Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1991 from the competitive world of recruitment consultancy and immediately felt at home. She began as the administrator for the new ISE (Information Systems Engineering) programme – now known as EIE (Electrical and Information Engineering) - and then moved to supporting the Postgraduate Tutor as Postgraduate Administrator.  In 2001 Clare left with her family on an overseas posting to Oman. She returned to the Department in 2007 and the Undergraduate Office team. 

Clare served as committee secretary to our Strategic Advisory Group (StAG), and was able to build up an extensive network of industrial contacts.  Her great interests in providing the best experience for students, and how to provide students with the skills that industry wanted were brought together in our Six Month Industrial placement option.  Clare was the driving force behind setting this up, and built upon her connections to maintain and grow the number of placements offered, and the variety of industries they are offered in.   The Six Month Industrial Placement began in 2012 with just 42 placements, and it has now grown to 73 – with approximately half the cohort taking this option each year. The placement is an integral part of the degree, which takes place from April to September in the third year of our four year MEng course, and during this time, the student is employed to work on an industrial project which is directly relevant to their degree of study. It gives the student the opportunity to build on a rigorous academic and technical education by providing hands-on experience and insight into the industrial and commercial challenges of business today.  Realising that not every student would want an industrial placement, Clare also drove the development of the 3rd year MEng group project.  In this, our students act as technical consultants to a brief provided by an industrial client, which involves specifying and designing, implementing and testing a product or technical solution.

As Dr Kristel Fobelets, Director of Undergraduate Studies, says: Clare ‘relentlessly worked bringing the two communities of industry and academia together’ and that the placements ‘only became a huge success through the effort of Clare in setting up the whole system to manage the projects and ensure participation from a wide range of industry.’

Clare’s extensive knowledge is vital when advising the students about their placements. As one student said about his placement ‘it would not have been possible without all the effort and care Mrs Drysdale contributed’. Clare also spends a significant amount of time coaching individual students, preparing them for interviews for scholarships, internships and placements and helping them with CVs. 

Jon McNamara from IBM said
“If I may, I would like to take a little time to express my sincere thanks and gratitude for the incredible work that Clare has accomplished while working with me in her capacity as industry liaison. Thanks to Clare’s guidance and leadership we have been able to co-create with Imperial EEE MEng students, some truly astonishing projects which have caught the imagination of not only fellow IBM colleagues but Business Partners and clients across the world. In fact, I will be speaking at the IBM Think conference in Las Vegas, held later this year in March, where I will be focusing entirely on the projects that we have run with the Imperial Electronic and Electrical Engineering MEng course. This advocacy of cutting edge technology would not have been possible if it were not for Clare’s insight, guidance and focus.”

Clare is also the Department’s Disabilities Officer and always a point of contact for students requiring general advice and support. She has built strong relationships with the students needing support. Students have said she is ‘the person I go to in the department if I am not sure about anything.  She has genuinely been so helpful and caring the entire time I have known her, and ‘you can always count on her for solving problems thanks to her openness and expertise at her job’.  

Clare has always been a great promoter of women in STEM who encouraged and supported our students in setting up SparkEE Ladies – the Electrical Engineering Society for Women.

Clare says about the awards ‘It was a great honour to receive both the SACA award based on student votes and the President’s Award.  I take the utmost satisfaction from the work I do with students, checking CVs, helping them apply for industrial scholarships and steering them through the admin of the placement process.  It is great to have this work recognised and rewarded in this way – though I’m a little shy of the publicity. ‘

Congratulations to Clare!




Kay Hancox

Kay Hancox
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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