Katherine Kawecki: Runner Up And Judge In The James Dyson Award

By Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 10 May 2017

James Dyson Award is an international annual competition to inspire the next gen of Engineering and Design students or graduates to enter their ideas for solutions of real world problems.

They compete to win monetary prizes and recognition in the industry.

Following 2016’s amazing Australian (and women!) progress in the international James Dyson Award, this year is set to be even more competitive.

This year, Katherine Kawecki, who was the international runner up in 2016, with her asthma entry Respia, is amongst the national judging panel.

We asked her a few questions about the tech industry and the women that inspired her in this field.

Women in design and engineering, what’s the perception and stigma?

There’s been such vast media attention on this subject especially this year and generally in the tech industry in the last couple of years. When I first graduated it was difficult to find a job in the industry, employers that required hands on workshop tasks specifically didn’t believe I’d be able to do, or enjoy, the work.

Katherine Kawecki, was the international runner up in 2016, with her asthma entry Respia, at 22 years old.

But even in the last year, equality in these types of roles has improved. There is simply no room or time for sexism. I believe, in my generation, we have vastly improved in that aspect, women are empowering each other every day and achieving their goals, it’s 100 per cent possible to be a woman and succeed in this industry. The attention has simply spurred more women to take an interest, and the industry to think differently too.

What do you think about available grants and recognition for startups in Australia?

If you take initiative at university and as a graduate, there is quite a lot of support available out there. From university help such as UNSW Innovations, Start Up Games, through to entering national level competitions like the Young Australian Design Awards and then bigger international competitions like the James Dyson Award which encourages young designers and engineers to enter ideas that can solve real world problems. It’s the chance to get the exposure you need to attract funding opportunities and the right industry connections. It’s a great starting place to make contacts. There are a number of incubators and crowd funding options available as well.

Who are some women trying to make a difference in the tech and health space?  

I was personally inspired by people like Shanshan Wang, CEO of Roam and Alfred Boyadgis, CEO of Forcite, to develop Respia, an asthma management system that tracks and records the user’s respiratory health and medication use. It is the complete redesign of existing aerosol inhalers coupled with a world first wearable patch that tracks respiratory health.

Other women who I’ve followed the journey of and make a difference in industry are esteemed UX designers Silka Miesnieks and Kristina Zlomislic. Women who inspire me in life and related fields include marketing guru Janine Fuller, architect Zaha Hadid and of course my mum and grandma.

For more information and to enter the James Dyson Award, which Katherine is on the judging panel this year, enter here.

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