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Bristol students excel in Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership Awards

Jack Pearson, Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship winner and co-founder of EngX photo courtesy of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Joe McFarlane, one of the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders Scholarship winners, who is currently undertaking a one-year industrial placement with a civil engineering construction company in Africa photo courtesy of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Press release issued: 16 May 2018

Seven University of Bristol engineering students and recent alumni have achieved outstanding success in several prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) schemes designed to promote innovation and leadership.

Jack Pearson (MEng 2016) has been awarded a RAEng Enterprise Fellowship, a scheme aiming to support innovative, creative entrepreneurial engineers who have demonstrated an exceptional innovation in engineering which they want to develop further.

Along with three fellow Bristol alumni, Glen Cahill, Alex Michaels and Ed Cooper, Jack co-founded EngX, based on work conducted as part of his final year group design project on Bristol's Engineering Design course. The team has created a hybrid manufacturing process that integrates 3D printing, assembly and wiring of products in one unit. For example, in the case of a drone, it could 3D print the outer shell, insert electrical components and wire them together, using an automatic system to switch between tools during the manufacturing process.

Ben Crowther (MEng 2016), also a graduate from the Engineering Design programme, has recently been accepted onto another RAEng Enterprise Hub Programme, the SME Leaders Programme, which supports promising leaders of high-growth engineering SMEs.

Like Jack, Ben co-founded his company, LettUs Grow, and has been working on it since graduating alongside fellow Bristol alumni Jack Farmer (BSc 2015) and Charlie Guy (MEng 2016). The team has developed an improvement to a technology known as aeroponics, that allows plants to grow without soil by watering their roots with a fine mist. This can be applied in 'vertical farms', where crops are grown indoors, in vertical layers, giving potential for significantly increased crop yields. With a pilot research and development vertical farm being built in Bristol this year, the company plans to scale up with a view to accessing a global farming technologies market that is forecasted to grow 27 per cent annually in the coming years.

In addition to Jack and Ben's success, five undergraduates in the School of Civil Engineering, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering (CAME) were awarded RAEng Leaders Scholarships, which aim to support outstanding engineering undergraduates develop into leadership role models.

The five successful winners were: Alina Dragancea  (Year 2 - Civil Engineering); Ilham Said (Year 2 - Aerospace Engineering) and Ed Hanton, Joe McFarlane and Kai Chelliah (Year 3 - Engineering Design). They will each receive £5,000 from the RAEng towards training and experience, over a period of three years, to fast track their engineering careers. All have a strong interest in sustainable design and plan to use the award to attend a range of international conferences and courses, whilst also experiencing engineering in different cultures.

Ian Bond, Professor of Aerospace Materials and Head of the School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol, said: "Many congratulations to all our winners, both past and present.  Their success continues the University's excellent track record in the RAEng Leaders Scholarship scheme and the commitment of our students to becoming inspiring role models through their engineering careers."

One of the previous RAEng Leaders Scholarship recipients, Mareks Zevalds (Year 4 - Engineering Design), who gained the award in 2016, has just achieved further success by being accepted onto the New Entrepreneurs Foundation Programme. This is a scheme that looks for the UK's brightest, most entrepreneurially minded young people who can prove that they have either launched or have been actively involved in entrepreneurial ventures.

Mareks will be matched with an innovative, fast-growing host company during the summer, and will work with them for at least 12 months, whilst undergoing an intensive programme of entrepreneurship training sponsored by the scheme.

Further information

About the Royal Academy of Engineering
As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

We have three strategic challenges:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation;
  • Address the engineering skills crisis;
  • Position engineering at the heart of society.
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