A young female mechanical engineer who has successfully broken into the male dominated field of earthquake engineering has been identified as a future leader and honoured for her world-leading work in Canterbury.

Virginie Lacrosse Award winner

Virginie Lacrosse joined Tonkin + Taylor as a young mechanical engineer in the midst of the Canterbury earthquake.

Thirty-two year old Virginie Lacrosse of Tonkin + Taylor is the first recipient of the QuakeCoRE and New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE), ‘Women in Earthquake Engineering Award’.

In awarding the inaugural honour and $10,000 prize money at the four-yearly Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering, the judges were looking to recognise “an academic and professional woman for ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit who has been involved in industry leading innovative solutions”. 

In particular, the judges noted, “Virginie’s strong career to date and future potential. She met all three award criteria, not just one or two categories – pioneering research, leadership of earthquake risk mitigation and creative solutions in earthquake engineering”.

The judges also noted that Virginie had strong employer support, close connections to the New Zealand Centre for Earthquake Resilience (QuakeCoRE) and intends to put the prize money into furthering a career in leadership.

Virginie plans to use the money to develop a national roadshow that specifically targets female teens (15-18 years) to promote earthquake engineering as a career choice. “The importance of a fulfilling career choice is of particular relevance to me now that I have a daughter of my own”, she says.