As a child, society’s traditional gender roles told Honor Powrie that engineering and English football were not for girls. Nevertheless, her passion for both grew exponentially.

Nearly 30 years later, Honor has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Reserved for the best and brightest engineers, inventors, and technologists in the United Kingdom and around the world, being recognized as a Fellow is dedicated to those who have made exceptional contributions to their field. Honor completes her induction to the Fellowship in November, when she will be presented with her Scroll by HRH The Princess Royal, at the Scroll Ceremony in London. Honor is currently the only person within GE Aerospace known to hold this position.

“I honestly never thought this would happen to me,” Honor said, who is the Senior Director for Data Science and Analytics at GE’s Southampton facility. “This is a lifetime achievement; to have such a distinguished body of engineering professionals scrutinize my accomplishments and say that I am good enough to become part of the Fellowship, means everything. When my nominator sent me the notification email, he should have told me to make sure I was sitting down when I read it!”

This isn’t the first time Honor has been recognized for her role as a leading technology expert in the Aerospace industry. In 2020, she was made a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the highest title awarded to those with a degree in Physics or a related subject within the Institute. In 2019, Honor received the highly prestigious GE Edison Award, which recognizes the technical excellence, customer impact and organizational citizenship of GE employees. She is also the Deputy Chair of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers’ Tribology Committee and a Member of the IOP Tribology Committee.

Honor is known for her technical innovations that have led to improved business performance, her leadership in complex projects and for her research work that contributed to significant advancements in physics and technology. Her success in engineering stems from her passion for understanding how things work.

“My first degree was in physics, but I was always more interested in macro-scale applications” she says. “There was not a lot of emphasis on girls doing engineering at the time, and I think that’s why I didn’t really engage with studying engineering at first. For my Bachelor’s project I investigated the aerodynamics of car shapes, and that’s when my career in engineering and aeronautics really started. I love being able to understand the physics of how something works. Having a logical explanation for machines and why they interact the way they do is fascinating.”

When Honor joined GE, Data Science was not a subject that one could study in school. Today, Honor and her team have become Data Scientists and continue to adapt to the demands of advancing technology. She said her career has paralleled the way the industry has evolved through decades of technological advances.

Honor Powrie, Senior Director for Data Science and Analytics at GE’s Southampton facility.

“I’ve been very privileged to work with condition monitoring and data science technologies from relatively immature stages to where they are today,” she said. “I started out as an applications and development engineer, pioneering new monitoring systems, sensors and data collection. This whole technology field has changed during my lifetime. If you told me 30 years ago that I would be a Data Scientist, I would have been quite surprised. It’s such a 21st-century concept that GE is embracing, and I’m so proud to be a part of that.”

In addition to her work with GE Aerospace, Honor is a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton, specializing in data and analytics, asset condition monitoring and management. She will soon partner with the University’s Business School to lecture on the use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) data to inform the supply chain and provide significant business benefits.

“I think working with the Business School will be a really nice parallel with the work we’re doing with GE Aerospace’s Systems business, looking at their Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) data to help drive insights on how facilities can automate processes and become more cost-efficient,” she said.

Honor said she is fortunate to have had great mentors that encourage her professional growth, from her early days and as an engineer to today. If she could give any advice to young engineers, it would be “to be passionate, genuine, and invest in mentoring early on.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask people to mentor you, getting someone on your side who understands you and can represent you on a different level can give you benefits and learning experiences you may not receive otherwise. The value of mentorship cannot be understated, and it works two ways. If you’re mentoring someone, you will learn as well.”

In her free time, Honor plays the baritone saxophone in a jazz quartet, which she joined when her husband, who conducted a brass band, learned of a quartet that was looking for the fourth musician. Honor said music has always been a passion of hers.

And although she never got to fulfill her dream of playing professional football for the England team, she loves to cheer on the ‘Lionesses’ – England’s National Women’s side – a reflection of women, who like her, continue to push boundaries in their field.