International Women in Engineering Day 2023 was celebrated alongside Arup's Dervilla Mitchell.
To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2023, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering were delighted to host Dervilla Mitchell, Deputy Chair of Arup Group and Global Ethics Director. Dervilla reflected on her career and how it has evolved, with a particular emphasis on Terminal 5 at Heathrow, as it was such a pivotal and career enhancing project.
From inception to completion Terminal 5 took 20 years, and at the time of construction was the largest construction project in Europe and was innovative in having a behavioural contract across all first tier suppliers and using a digital model for the design and construction. The T5 programme was designed to enhance the capacity of the airport by 35 million passengers and in 2018, 10 years after opening it handled just over 32 million passengers on 211,000 flights.
In her presentation she reflected about the role of engineering in a more technology enabled world and how we might deliver transformational societal change.
Trained as a civil engineer and following her early career years in Dublin and Boston, she has spent most of her working life in the UK where she has been involved in a wide range of projects starting as a structural design engineer, moving to be a design manager of multidiscipline teams, and laterally leading the design of major building projects. Within Arup she has held Board and Executive positions, been responsible for staff groups, business leadership and has developed new business offers. Prior to her current role as Deputy Chair, she was Executive Chair of the UK, India, Middle East and Africa Region of Arup responsible for over 6000 people.
A large part of her career has been involved with aviation, designing terminal buildings including T5 Heathrow, T2 Dublin and more recently Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal. Other notable projects include Portcullis House, Westminster, and the Athletes Village for London 2012, but she has also found challenge and enjoyment in smaller projects such as the Saga HQ in Folkestone and the Goodwood Paddock redevelopment working with Michael Hopkins and Partners architects.
Dervilla is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Irish Academy of Engineering, Engineers Ireland, and the Royal Academy of Engineering where she was appointed as Vice President and served on Awards and Diversity committees.
She has been active in championing diversity in the construction sector and supported initiatives to encourage young people to consider engineering as a career. She speaks each year at the 1st year Civil Engineers at Imperial College as part of the Professional Engineering practice talks and is delighted to have joined the Department’s Industrial Advisory Board this year.
She was a member of the Prime Ministers Council for Science and Technology for the last decade which has led her into greater involvement on the Net Zero agenda. She now chairs the National Engineering Policy Centre’s decarbonising UK working group and has overseen a range of publications and engagement with Government.
Alongside a number of industry awards, Dervilla has received a CBE for services to engineering in 2014 and been awarded honorary doctorates from University College Dublin in 2016 and Imperial College, London in 2021.
Dervilla is a mother of three and beyond her roles at Arup she has been involved in her community acting as governor at two different schools, a trustee of a local alms house and helping with the brownie pack on occasions.
Dervilla Mitchell CBE FReng FIAE FICE FIEI
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