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Bright sparks: Big Bang announces top teenage engineers

20 June 2024

The Big Bang Competition has crowned its UK Young Engineer of the Year and UK Young Technologists of the Year.

An inspiring student has beaten hundreds to clinch the coveted title of UK Young Engineer of the Year in this year’s Big Bang Competition and a group of teens from Liverpool have been crowned as the first UK Young Technologists of the Year.

Cardiff student, Pacha Pritchard, who is in Year 12 at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern School, was awarded the UK Young Engineer of the Year for her impressive portable pollution monitor designed to test air quality in schools and residential areas, reading local air pollution data and features emojis (happy and unhappy faces) to show if the pollution is good or bad. 

After receiving her Award, Pacha commented, “I’m a bit shell-shocked, I think I’m going to cry but I’m incredibly happy. My project is to help raise awareness of eco issues to younger people.”

Conservationist and TV presenter Megan McCubbin crowned the engineer and technology superstars at The Big Bang Fair at the NEC, Birmingham on 19 June. 

Pacha added, “I’m a massive advocate for promoting STEM to girls and getting all the opportunities out there, like the Big Bang Fair and Competition. STEM is the future and women are part of that future.”

She hopes to have a career in environmental engineering and sustainable legislation.

The Big Bang Junior Engineering Award went to St Aidan’s High School in Lanarkshire, Scotland for their project, a ‘Theme Park for the future’ using kinetic, solar and wind power.

Students Genevieve Brennan, Jamie McShane, Kevin McGuigan, Niamh Clarke, Rosa Hodge and Sam Brown impressed judges with their project to come up with ways to make a theme park more sustainable. 

They researched different eco-policies of British theme parks and found that not many of them had ambitious enough targets.

The students explained, “We planned, designed and modelled rollercoasters that used renewable and sustainable energy sources. 

“Our three main ideas were to use wind, solar and kinetic energy produced by park visitors. We also considered ways to minimise the park’s carbon footprint, for example, by looking into locally produced food for park goers.”

Judges were impressed with their research findings and working 3D printed model and commented: “Wow! This was a really interesting project. You clearly worked well as a team and identified key roles you could all undertake. 

“It was also great to see your tests and designs come to life through your models, sketches and proposals. 

“We have been impressed by the level of research you have done in the different areas from the waste, renewable energy and the weather forecast to show the viability of the site!”

The Big Bang Intermediate Engineering Award winner was Year 11 student Keon Robert, from Queen Elizabeth School in Barnet, for his project, ‘Green Pot, growing the future’. 

Keon’s design consists of a trough base, a dripline feature for automatic irrigation and LED lighting and uses a hydroponic technique (using water instead of soil) to grow plants.

This year, a new technology stream, supported by Siemens, was introduced. The Big Bang UK Young Technologists of the Year was won by a group of six teenage boys from Liverpool’s The Blue Coat School for their impressive solar panels project.

Archit Chinnari, Ayush Shah, Benedict Dooley, Ciaran Scanlan, Rakesh Vaddepalli and William Dan, all Year 12 from the school in Wavertree, Liverpool, hit on the idea when one of them was having solar panels fitted to their home, and he wondered why the panels were static and didn’t move to follow the sun.

The winning design, which uses an app to automate the panels, creates 16 percent more energy over a year than static models. The students believe their design ‘could have a massive impact’ on green energy.

One of the students commented, “We had a solid idea. Our teacher provided us with initial advice, but it’s been our own work. 

“Resilience was needed as we came across multiple hurdles, but we worked well as a team, using our unique set of skills, with three of us working on the software and three of us focusing on the hardware. Converting analogue to digital took a lot of dedication.”

Three Year 7 students from Olchfa School in Swansea scooped the Big Bang Junior Technology Award for their fast fashion project, entitled, ‘Remake the waste’. 

The students created a Remake the waste website that promotes sustainable fashion through tutorials on remaking old clothes with the goal of hoping to reduce waste and pollution.

Elisa Marsh-Lorenzo, Lorna Skippen and Rafaella Fasham, explained, “Together, we are working to raise awareness about the impact of fast fashion on the environment and mental health of those who work in the factory landfills.”

The Big Bang Competition Intermediate Technology Award was won by Akhilesh Karthikeyan, a Year 11 student at Queen Elizabeth School in Barnet, for his smart food storage idea. 

He conducted interviews with environmental health officers at his local authority as well as a local shopkeeper before embarking on his project.

He explained, “The product encourages customers in retail environments to purchase food close to expiry, to reduce the amount thrown out and wasted. The container stores produce and then constantly monitors the temperature to adjust a prediction for the time the produce will expire.”

The Big Bang Senior Technology Award went to a group of four London students in Year 13 from King's College London Maths School for their accessible chess design, entitled, ‘AutoMate – the chess board for everyone’.

The AutoMate design aims to create an accessible platform with integrated mechatronic systems, allowing users to play without touching the pieces, inputting moves through inclusive technologies, including eye-gaze-tracking and voice commands.

The UK Young Engineer of the Year and UK Young Technology of the Year Awards are the top engineering and technology awards in The Big Bang Competition, a nationwide competition for young engineers, scientists and technologists. 

The Big Bang Fair is the UK’s largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people held at Birmingham’s NEC from 19 June to 21 June.

Run by EngineeringUK, The Fair is supported by organisations across the education and STEM sector including Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, and new supporters Accenture, Zoolab, JCB, Johnson & Johnson and easyJet.

Dr Hilary Leevers, EngineeringUK Chief Executive said: “Huge congratulations to all of our incredible engineering and technology award winners. I know you will all be great advocates for STEM. Well done!” 
 
To find out more and discover all the winners of The Big Bang Competition 2024, visit the website


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