Engineer among awards finalists

AT 24, Kimberley Abbott has already established a reputation as a young leader, entrepreneur and agent for change.

Now the Werri Beach resident has been named as a finalist in the 2014 NSW Women of the Year Awards.

She has been recognised in the Young Woman of the Year Award category.

Ms Abbott is an engineer at Thales, a multi-national company, where she has been recognised as an emerging leader in a male-dominated environment.

Her dedication to empowering other young women, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields, inspired her to start the 'Yes WE (Women Engineers) can!' program in 2010 while studying at the University of Wollongong.

The program inspires and supports women to consider a career in engineering and science.

It has since been incorporated into the curriculum at UOW.

During her five years of study, she gained two degrees with honours in science and engineering, completing a thesis whereby she helped develop the world's most advanced artificial heart.

Kiama's Young Citizen for 2012, Ms Abbott has also been an active humanitarian.

She previously travelled to India for a month with the 40k Foundation as part of a group of university students to educate disadvantaged children.

Together with a Sydney nursing student, she established Roka, which is Hindi for "stone", a social enterprise aimed at supporting Indian women working in granite quarries for $1.50 a day.

Jewellery is made by impoverished Indian women from granite dust, empowering them to take control of their futures.

Ms Abbott, who recently relocated to Sydney but spends her weekends at home in Gerringong, was honoured by the announcement.

"It's very humbling to be listed among those other young women," she said.

"I was reading about the others who have been nominated and I think it's incredible, the work they do.

"I don't do what I do for the accolades, but it is nice to be recognised for what you are trying to do.

"I can't wait to meet the other women at the ceremony; that's what excites me about it."

Ms Abbott was grateful for her upbringing.

"It's because of the support I've had from the local community that I've been able to do the things I've done," she said.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward encouraged the community to vote for Ms Abbott.

"Being a finalist out of a record 239 nominations this year is in itself a great achievement and I am very pleased that two finalists come from our region," he said.

Residents can help choose the winners by voting at the website women.nsw.gov.au.

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