Engineer Kate turned into a superhero

Kate Cairns as superhero Enviro.
Kate Cairns as superhero Enviro.

A Northumberland woman has been selected as one of 12 invisible superheroes that are helping to shape the world we live in here in the north.

Kate Cairns, who is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, has been turned into Enviro, as part of the Great North Engineering Experience, in Newcastle.

Kate Cairns without her superhero get-up.

Kate Cairns without her superhero get-up.

A poster shows an animated Kate wearing a green cape and blue suit, standing in front of Grey’s Monument.

The aim of the quirky superhero initiative is to show how engineers transform lives and shape the world around us – often out of the public eye.

Former Northumberland county councillor Kate, from Newton by the Sea, has more than two decades of experience in the construction and engineering sector.

She has led on the inception and development of industry tools for improving sustainability and safety in civil engineering, infrastructure and the public realm.

Following the death of her sister, Eilidh, who was run down by a tipper lorry, Kate has overcome adversity to bring changes to EU law, UK policy, and introduce new industry standards to eliminate lorry danger and protect the lives of others.

Kate said: “It is an honour to be chosen as one of the 12 invisible superheroes.

“The public is not always clear about the role of civil engineers and the younger generation is at risk of missing the enormous and diverse career opportunities available to people from all backgrounds.

“We are often the invisible masterminds behind exciting projects and complex infrastructure on which families, communities and businesses rely on every single day.

“It is wonderful that the Great North Engineering Experience is highlighting these engineers – here today and those gone – showing we need diverse teams to design and build to meet the needs of communities today and in the future.”

The exhibition, organised by local civil, mechanical and electrical engineering institutions, will offer fun, hands-on activities for children, along with a series of talks and family-friendly lectures and will include interactive displays featuring virtual reality headsets, displays by northern engineering companies and a chance to find out about careers in engineering.

The event will run from tomorrow until September 9, at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineering, on Westgate Road, in Newcastle. It will be open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10am to 6pm, and is suitable for all ages. For more details, visit
As part of the free experience, enjoy a LEGO Timeline of Northern Innovation which will be located in the Mining Institute. Local LEGO artist, Steve Mayes, of Brick This, will tell the story of northern innovation in more than 40 intricate models, using 50,000 plastic bricks. And you can make your own.

Kate started her career with a BEng in civil engineering and an MSc in engineering technology. Among her many achievements, the chartered civil engineer has won a highly commended Northern Power Woman award and was shortlisted for the WISE Health and Safety award.

She is also a national independent sustainability adviser, professional speaker and an advocate for diversity and inclusion.