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Student champion of diversity wins national engineering award May 24, 2018

Materials Engineering student, Vanessa Raponi, is among eight outstanding engineers from across Canada who will receive top honours for their contributions to the engineering profession at a gala event held in Saskatoon tonight.

Presented by Engineers Canada, these awards acknowledge outstanding community and professional involvement, contributions to engineering education, support for women in engineering, contributions by engineers and engineering students to Canadian society, and remarkable engineering projects or achievements.

Raponi received the 2018 Gold Medal Student Award and was recognized for her work as the founder of EngiQueers, a student-led organization that promotes intersectional diversity and inclusion within the engineering profession. 

Under Raponi’s leadership, EngiQueers has expanded across Canada, with 31 chapters in 9 provinces.

“EQ reminds us that in order to talk about women in engineering we need to talk about queer women, women of colour, women with mental and physical disabilities,” says Raponi. “People are complex and it’s too simple to say we need more women in engineering. We need to get deeper than that.”

Raponi was also praised as a voice for change, promoting diversity in engineering at dozens of conferences and organizing events such as the Conference on Diversity in Engineering.

"This year's distinguished award recipients are exceptional," says Engineers Canada president Russ Kinghorn, MBA, FEC, P.Eng., IntPE. "As innovators and entrepreneurs, they've helped the Canadian economy thrive; as caring members of our communities, they've volunteered their time to advocate, educate, and inform us about the importance of inclusion and diversity."

At her upcoming graduation on June 15, Raponi will be honoured once again with the President’s Award of Excellence in Student Leadership. Raponi was selected for her outstanding contributions to the McMaster University community through excellence in student leadership.

“McMaster Engineering and McMaster University has given me so much that I would not be person I am today without it," adds Raponi. “Over the past 6 years, I have had the opportunity to witness an immense culture change at the student level, and it has made me more proud every single day to say that this was my school, and my home for my undergraduate career.”

Meet all of the Engineers Canada Award winners.