Celebrating Women in Engineering

June 23, 2024 marks the 11th annual celebration of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). INWED was established in the United Kingdom in 2014 and later, in 2017, it spread internationally to highlight the achievements of women engineers worldwide.

Women engineers in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial are internationally recognized in their respective professional engineering societies. Their commitment to research, innovation and pedagogical activities positions them in various leadership roles such as director, research chair, fellow of a society, editor-in-chief and recently, in 2022, the first female dean.

Our faculty is proud of its own and their exemplary undertakings. It is essential to share a few profiles of our women engineers to inspire future generations. They are recognized and esteemed for being true role models to current and future students in all fields of engineering.

Octavia A. Dobre, PhD, P.Eng.

Dr. Dobre is the interim dean, professor, and Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier 1 in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Dobre was a Royal Society and a Fulbright Scholar, as well as a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research interests include technologies for future wireless networks, optical and underwater communications. She has published over 450 refereed papers in these areas. She has received various distinctions, including Best Paper Awards at leading conferences, Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and was elected as a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Dr. Dobre serves as the director of Journals of the Communications Society (ComSoc). She was the founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society, editor-in-chief of the IEEE Communications Letters, inaugural Chair of the Women in Communications Engineering standing committee, as well as a member-at-large of the Board of Governors of the IEEE ComSoc, among other leaderships roles. 






Kelly Anne Hawboldt, PhD, P.Eng.

Dr. Hawboldt is a professor in the Department of Process Engineering working in natural resource development. She received her undergraduate from the University of Saskatchewan and M.Eng. and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on creating innovative “green” processes and products from biomass (forestry, fishery) and industrial processing by-products. By monetizing these residues, remote and rural regions are engaged in the circular economy. She has supervised over 80 graduate students and published more than 110 articles in refereed journals. She has led or been part of a number of multi-disciplinary successful grants including: Ocean Frontier Institute, BioFuelNet, Forestry Based Bioeconomy Development in NL, International Energy Association Bioenergy, Large Scale Research Project (Genome Canada), among others. She has held NSERC Discovery Grant since the start of her academic career.

Dr. Hawboldt is/has served on NSERC Discovery Grant/RTI review committee, Industrial Research Chair review committee, Strategic Grants committee, Strategic Network Review Committee, and Banting PDF Fellowship review committee among others.






Baiyu (Helen) Zhang, PhD, P.Eng.

Dr. Zhang is a professor and Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in the Department of Civil Engineering. She is an internationally respected leader handling coastal oil and emerging contamination. Her research program explores a new dimension of coastal environmental engineering to achieve a shift towards improved engineering knowledge, eco-friendly technologies, and novel bio-products. She has led/co-led over 50 research grants and has (co-)authored more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Dr. Zhang has held prominent leadership roles and significantly contributed to Canada’s civil engineering profession. She has served as Chair of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) Newfoundland and Labrador Section, Senior Advisor of United Nations Development Programme, and Atlantic Region Director of Canadian Association on Water Quality. She is a Fellow of CSCE, Fellow of Engineering Institute of Canada, and Member of Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.






Hongxuan (Heather) Peng, PhD, P.Eng.

Dr. Peng is an associate professor in the Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering at Memorial University. She also serves as director of first-year engineering. Currently, she is a Member of the Maneuvering Committee of the International Towing Tank Conference (ITTC) and serves on the board of the CFD Society of Canada. Before joining Memorial University, she worked at Martec Limited in Halifax and Oceanic Consulting Corporation in St. John’s as a senior hydrodynamicist.

Dr. Peng’s research is in the area of marine hydrodynamics. She led numerous projects with the marine and offshore industry, government agencies and private sectors, including nonlinear wave/body interactions, maneuvering of ships in ice, hull form optimization, propeller hydrodynamics, renewable wave energy conversion and underwater noise. She has secured more than $2 million from funding agencies to support the research and graduate students with over 100 papers published in international journals and conference proceedings.