Pupils attend the Royal Academy of Engineering Queen Elizabeth Prize announcement
As a result of Glan-y-Môr’s reputation as a sector leading school for STEM, we were invited to attend the announcement of the winner of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Innovation at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London on Tuesday 12th February. Pupils from Glan-y-Môr were joined by 5 pupils from one of our family of schools; Ysgol y Castell, who have also been recently involved in STEM projects. Together we were invited to represent the next generation of potential “ground breaking” engineers and this was a huge honour for the schools, as we were only schools represented at the event.
The event was held at the Royal Academy of Engineering in central London and was attended by many high ranking engineers responsible for major engineering projects across many disciplines from around the globe. It was inspiring to see our pupils engage with and impress many of these experts with their knowledge and enthusiasm for Engineering and STEM projects. Scott Atkinson, Education Programme Manager for the Royal Academy of Engineering commented “I was very impressed with their enthusiasm and the questions they put to our guests. I do hope they have taken something valuable from the experience, something that will inspire them in the future.”
The Queen Elizabeth Prize is a global biannual £1 million prize that celebrates a ground breaking innovation in Engineering, previous recipients have included “inventor” of the internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee. This year’s winners was a closely guarded secret (a bit like the Oscars or Baftas) so it was exciting for the pupils to be present when the announcement was made that the four engineers who were responsible for creating the Global Positioning System (GPS) had won. It was inspirational for them to hear how the team had spent many years trying to develop the system and how they had received several knock backs along the way, but never given up. GPS is of course something that we all take for granted these days and it is certainly something the pupils could relate to, as they use it almost daily on their phones. It was also quite fitting, as GPS had helped us navigate the busy central London streets to arrive safe and sound and on time.
Amongst the highlights of the day for some of our pupils were Bethan Pugh’s chance to meet with Zoe Laughlin from the Institute of Making, who has recently made several TV programmes about the science of materials. Bethan was able to talk to Zoe about material ideas for her TeenTech project which is about developing sustainably edible cups to resolve some of the issues around plastic waste. William Evans from Ysgol y Castell also had a lovely surprise, after talking excitedly about his favourite building the Shard and would we get a chance to see it whilst in London; to actually meet the structural engineer Roma Agrawal who was responsible for designing the Shard structure.
In addition to attending the prize announcement we managed to squeeze in a whistle stop tour of London sights, visiting Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and the Royal Academy where pupils had a chance to see paintings by Constable, Van Gogh and Monet. To finish off a great day, after the event had finished we even had time to walk down the Mall in the afternoon sunshine to see Buckingham palace. As one of the pupils commented, “it is not every day you can say that you have strolled down the Mall to visit Buckingham Palace”.