Inspirational Academics: Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon

Our staff are experts, respected by their peers all over the world from Harvard to Tokyo. In this edition of Reach we thought we would share some insights into the range of international academic talent we benefit from in the University, starting in Engineering.

Elena Rodriguez-Falcon is Professor of Enterprise and Engineering Education in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Sheffield. Elena joined The University of Sheffield in 2001 having previously worked in industry for seven years in project management, product development and quality control.

In the last thirteen years Elena has developed degrees which aim at embedding enterprise in engineering. She is the founder of the Enterprise-lab, which was the model for the White Rose CETLE Enterprise Zones, now known in Sheffield as University of Sheffield Enterprise (USE) .
Until 2008, Elena was also Director of Learning and Teaching Development for one of the four Institutional Learning Priorities of the University: Inclusive Learning and Teaching.

In 2011, Elena became the University of Sheffield's Director of Enterprise Education and also the Faculty of Engineering's Director of Women in Engineering.
Elena has been awarded the status of Principal Fellow at the Higher Education Academy - one of the first twelve in the UK.

Elena is world renowned for her passion and activity in matters of gender and equality in engineering. In 2014 The Guardian named her as one of the six influential women engineers who stand out from the crowd in promoting their profession to follow on Twitter. In the same year, Elena was Highly Commended,by the Princess Royal for her work promoting women in engineering.

Elena lectures on enterprise, business planning and professional responsibilities of the engineer, using innovative teaching techniques which have merited recognition by the Higher Education Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK) and as a Northern Champion by the Institute of Public Policy Research in 2012.

In August 2017 Elena has been shortlisted in the inaugural Gay Times Honours for The Barbara Burford Award. The awards are a brand new initiative to honour those who have had a tremendous impact on what it means for LGBT+ people to live openly and freely in modern Britain.

The Barbara Burford Honour recognises notable LGBT+ people to thank them for remarkable advances in Science, Technology and Engineering. Professor Rodriguez-Falcon is a passionate supporter of raising the profile of LGBT+ people in the engineering and education sector and has been featured in the Guardian for her blogs on this subject.

“I am extremely honoured to be shortlisted for this prestigious award for my work in helping remove the stigma of being LGBT+ and an engineer.

“I believe that in order to make our society more inclusive, we all have the responsibility to be open, sincere and honest. Of course, answering what often are very personal questions is scary, for sure, however, the only way to achieve normalisation is when we all stop seeing 'difference' as something we have to hide or be ashamed of."

The final award winners will be announced at an event on Saturday 18th November.