Technology triumphs at The Engineer Awards

Groundbreaking research by UK universities and technology companies has been recognised at The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards, a new national awards scheme organised by The Engineer magazine.

Winners in eight categories received certificates from Declan Curry, business presenter for BBC Breakfast, at an Awards Lunch held at Imperial College London on 21 September.

Imperial College Spinout Ionscope won the University Spinout category for their work in high-resolution microscopy of cells and living tissues using a technique known as scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM).

Surrey University and its spinout Surrey NanoSystems triumphed in the Start-up and University Collaboration category. They developed a suite of technologies that allow the controlled growth of carbon nanotubes.

The SME and University Collaboration Award went to Newcastle company Kablefree Systems and Northumbria University. The partners worked together on a project to develop wireless emergency lighting systems for public buildings, removing the need for expensive and cumbersome permanent cables to be installed while still meeting stringent safety requirements.

The Argus project, run by a team with members from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Qinetiq and Oxford and Southampton Universities received the Large Company and University Collaboration Award. They joined forces to devise ways for computer systems to work together and make decisions where many variables are unknowable.

David Harbottle, a PhD chemical engineering student at Leeds University and director and chief scientist at Rheokinisis, was recognised as Graduate Innovator. He discovered an innovative use for the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) to monitor how complex mixtures of solids and liquids flow.

Ben Salter of Hertfordshire University was named 2007’s best Student Innovator for successfully leading a project to develop more effective hand controls for a disabled racing driver.

The Academic Innovator Award went Cranfield University’s Aircraft Engineering MSc course team for their industry-led post-graduate course designed specifically for engineers with experience in the aerospace sector. The course also received The Engineer Special Award.

The Engineer’s Special Award for Outstanding Achievement was awarded to Colin Caro, emeritus professor of physiological mechanics at Imperial College’s Department of Bioengineering. The award recognised Caro’s distinguished contribution to physiological and medical research and, more recently, the wide range of potential engineering applications arising form his work.

Andrew Lee, editor of The Engineer, said: ‘The UK’s universities are home to world class innovation in engineering and technology, a fact that is too often overlooked.

‘The academic world has been accused of being remote from the needs of the real economy. If that ever was true, things have changed and universities, their staff and students are working with companies of all shapes and sizes on any number of impressive and important projects.

‘As the UK’s leading magazine and website for technology and innovation, The Engineer is delighted to recognise some of the best of these through this new awards scheme.’