The Rooke Award for public promotion of engineering has been presented to technologist, entrepreneur and Google engineer Dr Larissa Suzuki BSc MPhil PhD CEng FRSA MIET AFHEA. Dr Suzuki is Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Practice Lead at Google Cloud and is working with Google internet evangelist Dr Vint Cerf to develop the Interplanetary Internet. In addition, she works on initiatives with University College London (UCL) and Google Cloud on sustainability and smart cities.
The Rooke Award is named in honour of the late Sir Denis Rooke OM CBE FRS FREng, a former President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and one of the UK's most distinguished engineers. The award, run by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) was presented at a special celebration in London, attended by the Academy’s Royal Fellow, HRH The Princess Royal.
Professor Sue Black OBE, Professor of Computer Science at Durham University, who nominated Dr Suzuki for the Rooke Award, said:
“I’ve known Dr Suzuki for many years now, she is a truly remarkable woman who has excelled not just in her own technical and entrepreneurial achievements but in contributing to wider society. Since 2003, alongside being a great engineer, she has devoted her life to developing innovative ways, notably in the use of digital technology, to help people realise their potential and overcome obstacles in their personal lives and careers.”
Speaking to the Engineering Council about her journey to professional registration, Dr Suzuki said:
“I care deeply about the future of AI, technology and smart cities, and I have a firm belief in the need for increasing ethical technology solutions, mentoring young people, and enabling people of all kinds to fulfil their potential in the technology sector.”
Aged just 17, in her native Brazil, Dr Suzuki initiated a weekend educational program teaching maths and computing to young people and their parents from economically deprived backgrounds. The programme grew to over 13,000 attendees annually. Her Masters project focussed on designing algorithms to improve early detection of breast cancer by enhancing medical images obtained during mammography. This work increased early detection of breast cancer by 15% and decreased false positive cases by 66%, enhancing healthcare even for people in remote locations using older X-ray equipment.
After moving to the UK to pursue a PhD in computer science, Dr Suzuki founded the UCL Society of Women Engineers and co-founded the London branch of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, among many other initiatives, bringing the joy of computer programming and engineering to thousands of women, minorities and young people. Dr Suzuki has personally mentored over 400 women over her 16 year career, and her initiatives have helped UCL’s Computer Department to receive the Athena Swan scheme’s Silver Award and the Minerva Informatics Equality Award 2020.
Dr Suzuki also draws on her own personal experience of autism to champion disability inclusion and promote the benefits of neurodiversity in workplaces. She is an active member of Google’s Disability Alliance, speaking openly about her autism and the need for companies to embrace neurodiversity and empathic leaders in their workforce. She has spoken to audiences of up to 6,000 people, and contributed to the company’s disability inclusion training, aimed at promoting inclusion and demystifying the stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities, especially invisible disabilities and neurodevelopmental disorders.
On receiving the Rooke Award for public promotion of engineering, Dr Larissa Suzuki BSc MPhil PhD CEng FRSA MIET AFHEA said:
“I am honoured to receive the 2021 Rooke Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering. To all the girls out there who dream about engineering as a profession - go for it - it is the most incredible job in the world. Receiving this award is a personal triumph, but I would also like to extend a thanks to those who have helped me along the way, from colleagues to my friends and family."
Watch: Dr Larissa Suzuki explains how Engineering Council Standards support individual engineers and technicians
For more information on Dr Larissa Suzuki’s work see her website.
Press enquiries: Kate Webster, Engineering Council – firstname.lastname@example.org, 07711 375709
The Engineering Council holds the national Register of Engineering Technicians (EngTech), Incorporated Engineers (IEng), Chartered Engineers (CEng) and Information and Communication Technology Technicians (ICTTech). It also sets and maintains the internationally recognised standards of competence and ethics that govern the award and retention of these titles. By this means it is able to ensure that employers, government and wider society, both at home and overseas, can have confidence in the skills and commitment of registrants. For more information visit: www.engc.org.uk