Sunderland engineer wins award for life-changing work on prosthetic limbs and dedicates it to her late dad

A young engineer has taken a top industry award for her life changing work on prosthetic limbs and has dedicated her success to her late dad.

By Tony Gillan
Saturday, 10th July 2021, 5:09 pm

Jennifer Olsen from Ryhope has been named in the 2021 “Top 50 Women in Engineering: Engineering Heroes” by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES).

Much of Jennifer’s research involves developing prosthetic limbs and testing them on amputees. She then publishes her results and informs clinicians and, when they like what they see, new limbs go into production.

Jennifer, 22, a former Ryhope Junior School pupil before being home schooled by her mother Angela Olsen, is working towards her PhD in biomedical engineering at Newcastle University. She explained how she became involved with the highly specialised industry.

Jennifer Olsen with her late dad Stephen when she was awarded her degree in 2019.

She said: “When I started sixth form it got me into engineering. When I was 16 I didn’t even really know what engineering was.

“I went on to study mechanical engineering and didn’t know if I wanted to be a Formula One engineer, or a biomedical engineer.

“Now I’m half way through my PhD in biomedical engineering. Covid has obviously got in the way, so I’ve got no plans yet for when I finish it.”

Motor Racing’s loss was biomedicine’s gain and Jennifer achieved her degree in mechanical engineering at Newcastle in 2019.

Jennifer Olsen from Ryhope has won a top engineering industry award for her life changing work on prosthetic limbs.

When she was awarded her degree there was no prouder father than Jennifer’s dad, Stephen Olsen. Unfortunately he passed away in 2020 at the age of just 61.

Jennifer knows that Stephen would have been overjoyed to see her win the award.

She added: “I’m just so happy. My dad was so proud when I got my degree; he was telling everybody. Unfortunately last year I lost him. Everything I’m doing now is for him. I like to think of him going into work and telling everyone.”

The awards were first given out by the Women's Engineering Society in 2016 in association with the Guardian newspaper and engineering group Assystem.

They honour “the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering, who recognise a problem, then dare to be part of the solution; who undertake everyday ‘heroics’ as much as emergency ones.”

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