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Michael Murray, associate director at Kirby Group Engineering presents the award to Niovi Papanikolaou, a consultant at Northshore IO Limited

The data center skills gap is a well known issue, but solving it has proved a slow and difficult challenge. That's why the strength of the applicants for this year's Young Mission Critical Engineer of the Year at the DCD Awards 2022 was a cause for hope.

Michael Murray, associate director at award sponsor Kirby Group Engineering, said: "We've supported this category proudly each year for very good reason. We're nothing without the next generation of talent. Past winners have gone on to progress and advance their careers in many ways."

The winner this year was Niovi Papanikolaou, a consultant at Northshore IO Limited. "I'm thrilled. It's great to be recognized," she said.

During the submission process, colleagues raved about her enthusiasm, ability to ask the right questions, and rapid growth at the company.

After gaining an MEng degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MSc degree in Sustainable Energy from Imperial College of London, Papanikolaou worked at ENGIE as an Energy Analyst for Energy Centres, before becoming an Energy Performance Engineer at SSE.

Then she moved into the data center sector. "I decided to go into the industry because the impact you can have with energy efficiency in this sector is massive, I can't even put it into words," she told DCD. "It's nice doing something that you see in the end as an actual result."

At Northshore, Papanikolaou became the leader of data center energy modeling projects in three months, developing models that consider technical variables such as CRAC/CRAH and UPS performance.

"The impact that you can have on energy efficiency is why I think other young people should join this amazing sector."

Looking to the future, she said that in five to ten years, she hopes that she "will still be in the sector and making a difference from an environmental perspective, which is my true passion, and I know that this can be achieved in data centers."