President’s Prize announced: Mary Curnock Cook CBE honoured by the engineering academic community

The Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC), the representative body of UK engineering academics, has announced that its annual President’s Prize has been awarded to Mary Curnock Cook CBE, for her exemplary contribution to the world of engineering education.

Mary Curnock Cook is an independent education expert with a wealth of experience serving in non-executive roles on a number of Boards. From 2010 to 2017, Mary was the Chief Executive of UCAS. Earlier in her career, she held both executive and non-executive positions across the education, hospitality, food, and biotech sectors.

Among her current roles, Mary chairs the governing body of the Dyson Institute of Engineering & Technology and has helped steer an innovative provider in Engineering higher education to graduate its first cohorts of students, achieve degree awarding powers and be recognised as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Mary’s leadership has helped provide challenge to both the Dyson Institute and to Engineering education more broadly.

Other roles include non-executive directorships with Pearson Education (chairing its Qualifications Committee), the London Interdisciplinary School, the Student Room and Education Cubed, and acting a Trustee at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the River Learning Trust. She recently served as a non-exec on the Student Loans Company Board.

In the immediate aftermath of the Covid pandemic, Mary was appointed as Chair of the Student Futures Commission, an initiative to support students and the higher education sector to emerge stronger through drawing from the pandemic experience and refocusing on teaching and learning, students’ wellbeing and experience, and employability.

She has the role of Network Chair for Emerge Education, the leading edtech investor in Europe and holds several advisory roles with education technology companies. She is a regular speaker and commentator on education issues and edtech and is a recognised champion of the student interest.

Mary holds an MSc from London Business School and has been honoured with an OBE in 2000 and a CBE in 2020 for her contributions to further and higher education. She is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck and Goldsmiths and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire.

Mary’s career is a testament to her passion for education and her unwavering commitment to making a positive impact. Her leadership, vision, and dedication have left an indelible mark on the educational landscape, inspiring countless individuals and driving meaningful change. As she continues her work, Mary remains a powerful advocate for educational excellence and equity.

Mary, who received her award at the Engineering Academics Network’s annual Congress on the 10th of June commented: “Engineering education has a pivotal role to play in individual, societal and economic success in this country so it was a real honour to receive the 2024 EPC President’s Prize and to be welcomed into the engineering education community.”

Presenting the prize, Professor John Mitchell, President of the Engineering Professors’ Council: “Mary’s contribution to our sector is immensely valuable. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a profound passion for education and brings a wealth of eperience. Her unwavering dedication to engineering education makes her truly deserving of this prestigious award.”

Previous recipients of the President’s Prize in recent years include Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE RAEng (2022), Professor John Perkins CBE FREng (2020), Dame Anne Dowling (2018) and Sir William Wakeham (2016).

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