Alison Watson, chief executive of Class of Your Own (COYO), has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list with an MBE for her services to education. Alison founded COYO to create and inspire the next generation of built environment professionals through project-based learning in schools and colleges.

As founder of COYO in May 2009, she developed the Design Engineer Construct! ® (DEC) learning programme and the Adopt A School scheme. Topcon, the positioning partner for construction and geo-businesses, has been working closely with COYO for over five years to support the DEC programme in a number of different ways, including adopting schools and providing specialist surveying equipment and training sessions for teachers and students.

Alison commented on her recognition, “I’m thrilled to receive this honour in the UK Year of Engineering. The skills gap is a major challenge to the industry – it’s imperative for us to ignite a passion for careers in design, engineering and construction among young people. My work with the fantastic team at COYO has been tackling this by bringing a 21st Century, engaging curriculum into schools and colleges. I’m so grateful for the support of companies such as Topcon; their involvement is essential if we are to provide the knowledge and technology needed to bring education to life for students.”

To find out more about the DEC programme visit: