Sustainable Development Innovators Honored by ASME

Fourth annual Impact.Engineered awards recognize those who are improving life in underserved communities.

Fourth annual Impact.Engineered awards recognize those who are improving life in underserved communities.

Image courtesy of ASME.


The fourth annual Impact.Engineered Awards has named this year’s “best of the best” winners in the following categories:  

  • Women Leading in Technology and Impact
  • Connecting the Unconnected
  • Industry Driving Social Impact
  • Hardware Trailblazer 
  • Rising Star

The awards ceremony took place Dec. 4 at the fourth annual Impact.Engineered forum, held virtually. Hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)’s Engineering for Change, the event convenes leading engineers, impact investors, scholars and social entrepreneurs to cultivate and accelerate engineering driving sustainable development. ASME Foundation Executive Director Kathleen Lobb and ASME Past President Madiha Kotb co-emceed the awards ceremony.

This year’s Impact.Engineered Award winners are: 

Women Leading in Technology and Impact Award

Dyan Gibbens, founder and CEO, Turmbull Unmanned, a Forbes Top 25 veteran-founded company, focusing on autonomy and data in energy and government—A U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, Gibbens leverages technical leadership in Department of Defense acquisitions and aerospace program management. In addition, she created a free drone camp with BP and Rice University, and partnered with Intel for Innovation Generation, a global STEM initiative. In 2018, Dyan founded autonome.org to support digital ethics, human-centered artificial intelligence (AI), and STEM empowerment for underserved youth, young girls, children of military families at Yale University, NASA JSC Space Center Houston and Workshop Houston. 

Jackie O’Brien, CEO of Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-USA presented the award to Gibbens.

Connecting the Unconnected Award

Digiduka—digital and financial services for small businesses in Africa, based in Kenya; the platform has potential to scale and can be reproduced easily in other countries and regions. These financial solutions offer effective ways to invigorate small business and the economy. The company’s social impact and potential is significant as it bridges a gap to compete with e-commerce giants and at the same time align with a global digital economy, according to ASME.

Phyllis Westerman, senior manager of Red Hat’s global services knowledge management organization presented the award to Roy Njoka, co-founder of Digiduka.

Industry Driving Social Impact Award

Black & Veatch Corporation—an employee-owned engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company with a 100-year legacy of innovations in sustainable infrastructure, for its potential to reduce CO2 emissions in its operations and manage water resources more effectively and efficiently. The company leverages its engineering expertise and value proposition by embedding impact into its client projects overall. 

Joe Speicher, executive director of Autodesk Foundation presented the award to Brian Sifton, sustainability program manager of Black & Veatch.

Hardware Trailblazer Award

New Leaf Dynamic Technologies—makers of GreenCHILL refrigeration systems powered by biomass or farm waste; the judges “were thoroughly impressed with their technology and the innovation involved…they have the potential to greatly impact society by providing technological solutions in the post-harvest management space and creating better market linkages for farmers.” New Leaf was a 2015 ASME ISHOW winner for its GreenCHILL prototype.  

Shaun Stewart, CEO of New Lab, presented the award to Anurag Agarwal, co-founder of New Leaf.

For the Rising Star Award

Hydroquo+ founder Zahin Razeen—“Razeen is a computational mathematician by training and a passionate deep-tech entrepreneur,” say his nominators at The Resolution Project, where he is currently a member of Fellow Class 11. His company leverages AI and machine learning to clean and purify water in the urban and rural areas of Bangladesh. He is currently undertaking a double degree in mathematics and statistics at the University of Glasgow.   

Heather Fleming, co-founder and executive director of Change Labs and past member of the ASME Engineering Global Development Committee, presented the award to Razeen.

The awards ceremony capped off a two-day program that included interactive workshops and presentations, a technology showcase, and networking opportunities focused on “partnerships advancing the decade of action,” in recognition of the 2030 agenda for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and acknowledging that global challenges from climate change to COVID-19 and economic downturn require technical solutions, workforce development, resilient infrastructure and public leadership to drive implementation. 

Keynote speakers Asha Varghese, president of The Caterpillar Foundation, and Jenny Frankel-Reed, climate adaptation strategy lead for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, opened and closed the event with their remarks. Varghese, a thought leader in workforce readiness, international business development, and sustainable infrastructure, and Frankel-Reed, an advocate of technology enabling climate resilience, shared their perspectives on engineering pathways to achieve the SDGs.

This year’s cohort of ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) companies  from Canada, India, Kenya, Nigeria and the United States, and two Innovate for Impact: Siemens Design Challengewinners were also honored and featured for their important contributions.

Impact.Engineered is made possible by sponsors United Engineering Foundation, Red Hat and ASME’s Journal of Engineering for Sustainable Buildings and Cities, program partners including Citypreneurs, Engineering Change Lab USA, Engineers Without Borders Australia, Futureworks NYC Incubator, Global Business Inroads, The Resolution Project, SecondMuse, Siemens Stiftung, Society of Women Engineers, Techstars, U.S. Department of Energy, and Wingu and academic partners Australian National University College of Engineering & Computer Science, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, Cornell Tech, Lehigh University Office of Creative Inquiry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology IDEAS Social Innovation Challenge, New York University Tandon School of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley Development Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder Mortenson Center in Global Engineering, and University of Toronto. 

For more information, click here.

About Engineering for Change (E4C)

Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, Engineering for Change (E4C) is a knowledge organization dedicated to preparing, educating, and activating the international engineering workforce to improve the quality of life of underserved communities worldwide. E4C provides access to resources, talent and platforms that accelerate the development of impactful solutions and infuse engineering rigor into global development.

Jointly founded by ASME and other leading engineering societies, E4C has attracted the support of a variety of partners and sponsors ranging from industry, academia, non-profits and multilateral organizations, and corporations including Siemens.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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