Roma Agrawal

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Roma Agrawal

Roma Agrawal at the Nasa Goddard Centre (cropped).jpg
Mumbai, India
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
Imperial College London
OccupationStructural Engineer
Known for
  • The Shard London
  • Innovations in Construction
  • Women in Engineering

Roma Agrawal, MBE FICE is an Indian-British-American chartered structural engineer based in London. She has worked on several major engineering projects, including the Shard. Agrawal is also a diversity campaigner, championing women in engineering.

Early life and education[edit]

Agrawal was born in Mumbai, India before moving to London.[1] She also grew up in Ithaca, New York for over five years becoming an American citizen,[2] and returned to London to complete her A-Levels at North London Collegiate School. In 2004, she gained a BA in physics from the University of Oxford, and in 2005, an MSc in Structural Engineering from Imperial College London. Agrawal attributes her enthusiasm for engineering to her love of making (and breaking) things, cultivated by playing with Lego as a child.[3] Agrawal attributes her entry into engineering to a summer placement at the Oxford Physics Department where she worked alongside engineers who were designing particle detectors for CERN.[4]


The Shard from the Sky Garden

In 2005, Agrawal joined Parsons Brinckerhoff (later called WSP) on a graduate program, becoming a chartered engineer with the Institution of Structural Engineers in 2011. She spent six years working on the tallest building in Western Europe, the Shard, designing the foundations and the iconic spire.[5][dubious ] She describes the project as a career highlight: "I think projects like that only come once or twice in your career, so I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on this".[6] The 1,016-foot (310 m) tall structure required a top-down construction methodology, which had never been done before on a building of this scale.[7] The spire required modular construction that could be built and tested off-site, enabling quick and safe assembly at height in central London.[8]

Alongside the Shard, Agrawal worked on Crystal Palace Station and the Northumbria University Footbridge.[citation needed] She worked for WSP for ten years before joining Interserve as a Design Manager in November 2015.[9] In May 2017, Agrawal joined AECOM as an Associate Director.[10]

In 2018 Agrawal was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).[11] She was appointed a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2018.[citation needed]


Public engagement[edit]

Following her six years working on The Shard, Agrawal found herself presenting on her work to children at school and students at university and found a passion for raising awareness of engineering.[17] She has since presented to over 15,000 people worldwide.[citation needed]

Agrawal's career has been covered extensively in both online and print media.[18] She was a founding member of the Your Life Campaign, designed to change school children's perception of science and engineering backed by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.[19]

In 2014, she was part of Marks and Spencer's Leading Ladies campaign, alongside Annie Lennox, Emma Thompson and Rita Ora.[20] Later that year, she was chosen as one of six women engineers to follow on Twitter by The Guardian.[21] She has given two TEDx talks, "City 2.0" (2013)[22] and "Three Moments that will Change the World" (2015).[23] She has featured on several BBC, Channel 4, and Science Channel television programs. Since 2017, she has appeared as a judge on the Channel 4 reality programme Lego Masters[24] and as a structural engineer expert on Mysteries of the Abandoned.[25] She judged the trophy design competition for the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering in 2015 and 2017.[citation needed]

Agrawal's book, titled Built: the Hidden Stories Behind our Structures, an introduction to structural engineering, was published in 2018.[26] The IET E&T magazine described it as a "a treatise on structural engineering". They went on to say

Roma Agrawal has a knack for taking complex concepts, stripping them down and reducing them to their most basic form ... What makes 'Built' so enjoyable is the way Agrawal applies her enquiring mind ... to an engineering world that she finds simultaneously invisible while being no less than fundamental to modern society.[27]


In 2013, Agrawal was voted one of Management Today's Top 35 Women Under 35.[28] She raises awareness through social media, podcasts and interviews.[29][30][31][32] After being a finalist herself in 2012,[33] she was a keynote speaker at the IET's Young Women Engineer of the Year award ceremony in 2016, and in 2017 was listed as one of the "Inspiring Women in Engineering" by the Women's Engineering Society.[34]


  1. ^ "Roma Agrawal on bridging the diversity gap in engineering and inspiring a future generation : Soapbox Science". Nature. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  2. ^ Susannah Butter (31 March 2014), "Woman on top of the world: the M&S leading lady who helped build the Shard", Evening Standard
  3. ^ "Structural Engineer Roma Agrawal talks about STEM careers". Womanthology. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Once a physicist: Roma Agrawal". Institute of Physics. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Inspirational Woman: Roma Agrawal | Structural engineer who helped design London's Shard skyscraper". 23 June 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Roma Agrawal, IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year finalist". Women in STEM. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Roma Agrawal – The Shard". 8 August 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  8. ^ Agrawal Roma; Parker John; Slade Ron (1 March 2015). "Building on the Edge". Civil Engineering Magazine Archive. 85 (3): 60–67. doi:10.1061/ciegag.0000979.
  9. ^ "Aecom hires Shard engineer Roma Agrawal". Building. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Shard engineer moves to Aecom". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  11. ^ Maddock, David (8 June 2018). "Queen's Birthday Honours full list for 2018 - from celebs to unsung heroes". mirror. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Roma Agrawal". Women's Engineering Society. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Winners 2014 – Women in Construction Awards". Women in Construction Awards. Archived from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Engineering Excellence Awards 2014 – winners revealed". Infrastructure Intelligence. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Lewis Kent Award Winners". Institution of Structural Engineers. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Designed to inspire: Roma the Engineer wins top Academy Award RAEng". Royal Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Structural Engineer Roma Agrawal talks about STEM careers". Womanthology. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  18. ^ Kasumu, Barbara (4 July 2013). "From India to London Bridge: How the UK's rising engineering star Roma Agrawal helped build The Shard". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Over 2000 new jobs and apprenticeships from leading STEM organisations – GOV.UK". Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  20. ^ "In The Moment: The Leading Ladies | Style & Living | M&S". Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  21. ^ Minter, Harriet (23 June 2014). "National Women in Engineering Day: six Twitter accounts to follow". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  22. ^ TEDx Talks (20 December 2013), Roma Agrawal at TEDxLondon, retrieved 29 September 2017
  23. ^ TEDx Talks (17 December 2015), Three moments that changed the world | Roma Agrawal | TEDxRoyalHolloway, retrieved 29 September 2017
  24. ^ "New Channel 4 series to find the most talented LEGO builders". Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  25. ^ Mysteries of the Abandoned (12 May 2017), Soviet Doomsday Device | Mysteries of the Abandoned, retrieved 4 April 2018
  26. ^ "Built". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Book review: "Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures" by Roma Agrawal". 12 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  28. ^ "35 Women Under 35: Meet your next boss". Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  29. ^ Agrawal, Roma (23 June 2015). "Why stereotypes are causing a skills gap in UK engineering". Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  30. ^ "Spotlight on Women in Science with Roma Agrawal : Naturejobs Blog". Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  31. ^ "Careers". Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  32. ^ "Roma Agrawal, IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year finalist". Talent 2030. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  33. ^ IET (19 July 2013). "IET 2012 Young Woman Engineer of the Year award finalist Roma Agrawal". Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  34. ^ "Role models | Women's Engineering Society". Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.

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