A Research Fellow in smart nanomaterials at the University of Bath has struck gold at the House of Commons for the excellence of her engineering research and her communications skills.

Dr Valeska Ting presented her research on hydrogen storage materials to dozens of MPs and Peers and a panel of expert judges to win the £3,000 first prize, as part of the poster competition, SET for Britain, on Monday 18 March. She faced stiff competition from 59 other researchers whose work was shortlisted.

SET for Britain aims to help parliamentarians understand more about the UK’s thriving science and engineering base as well as acknowledging and rewarding outstanding research.

As Gold Medal winner in the Engineering Section, Dr Ting was entered to compete for the Westminster Medal – a competition between the four winners of each section based on their ability to communicate their research – for which she also came out on top, making her the overall winner of SET for Britain 2013.

Dr Paul Richmond, a Research Associate in the Department of Automatic Control Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield, won the Engineering Section silver medal and a £2,000 prize for the presentation of his research on software that facilitates high performance real time simulation of large complex systems, such as the simulation of very large pedestrian crowds.

George Gordon, a final year PhD student in optical communications at the Department of Engineering in the University of Cambridge, won bronze and the £1,000 prize yesterday, which he shares with his researcher partner, Dr Joel Carpenter.

George presented their research on increasing the data capacity of optical fibres. The duo’s research seeks to address our rapidly increasing appetite for data through the development of a holographic mode multiplexing system that can simultaneously transmit multiple specially shaped light beams down an optical fibre.

Philip Greenish, Chief Executive Officer of The Royal Academy of Engineering, said, “Innovation, based on engineering research is key to our economic revival and recovery. As such, the Royal Academy of Engineering is delighted to support the SET for Britain event, which showcases the work of some of our very best young engineering researchers. I am especially pleased that the winner of the engineering section, Dr Valeska Ting, went on to win the Westminster Medal.”

Neil Scott, Vice President Engineering at Airbus in the UK, which sponsors the Gold Medal in the Engineering Section, said, “High quality engineering is the lifeblood of the global aviation industry and it is only through the efforts of our teams of highly skilled and qualified engineers that we are able to stay ahead of our competitors and ensure that the UK aviation industry maintains its position as a world leading centre of engineering excellence. It is absolutely vital that we continue to invest in high quality training and in research and development and I’m delighted to say that we continue to work closely with the UK government to ensure this is happening.”

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. These early career scientists and engineers are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Notes for editors

  1. SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons - involving approximately 180 early stage or early career researchers - judged by professional and academic experts. All presenters are entered into either the engineering, the biological and biomedical sciences, the physical sciences (chemistry), or the physical sciences (physics) session, depending on their specialism.

    Each session will result in the reward of Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates. Bronze winners will receive a £1,000 prize; Silver, £2,000; and Gold, £3,000. There will also be an overall winner from the four sessions who will receive the Westminster Wharton Medal.

    SET for Britain was established by Dr Eric Wharton in 1997. Following his untimely death in 2007, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, with support from The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Physiological Society and the Society of Chemical Industry are working together to further his legacy.

    The event is made possible this year by industry sponsors BP, Airbus/EADS, INEOS, AgChemAccess, Essar, the Institute of Biomedical Science, GAMBICA and WMG.

    Early stage or early career researchers include university research students, postgraduates, research assistants, postdocs, research fellows, newly-appointed lecturers, part-time and mature students, returners, those people embarking on a second career, and their equivalent in national, public sector and industrial laboratories, and appropriate final year undergraduate and MSc students, all of whom are engaged in scientific, engineering, technological or medical research.
  2. Founded in 1976, the Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Joe Winters, Head of Media at the Institute of Physics Tel. 020 7470 4815; email: Joe Winters

Sarah Griffiths at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0655