For the first time in its 100-year history, Brazil’s Institute of Engineering in São Paulo has bestowed its greatest honour on a female engineer.

Presented every year since 1963, the Engineer of the Year award goes to professional engineers in recognition of outstanding performances in the area, or whose careers have been marked by continuous contributions to the advancement of engineering.

Civil engineer, Monica Ferreira do Amaral Porto, received the 53rd annual award for her work in managing water resources and quality. Currently the Assistant Secretary of Sanitation and Water Resources of the state of São Paulo, Monica is also a professor in environmental engineering at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli-USP). In 2005, she became the first woman to take up the position.

Monica said when collecting her award: “It is a great joy to receive the title, especially in commemoration of the 100 years of IE- an institution whose contribution to the profession of engineer and to the country, is invaluable. To become part of the gallery of distinguished engineers previously honoured with this title is for me cause for great satisfaction and honour.”

When she started out as a bright eyed civil engineering student in 1973, Monica was one of just 14 young women in a class of 150. Today, she is pleased to see a significant rise in the number of female engineering students attending her classes. Over the course of her 44 years working in civil engineering, Monica notes she has never experienced any obstruction, whether on the part of colleagues or teachers, in studying her chosen career.

“I can count on one hand the times I have suffered any kind of prejudice by the fact of being a woman,” she added.

Monica is honoured for her achievements in the field of water resource management in Brazil, specialising in integrated water-resource management systems and water quality. In 1996, she was elected as President of the Brazilian Association for Water Resources, and two years later, appointed as Director of the International Water Resources Association. From 2008-2014, Monica held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation Hydraulic Technology Centre in Brazil.