The coveted Silver Medal award was established 20 years ago to recognise an outstanding personal contribution by an early or mid-career engineer that has resulted in successful market exploitation.

The 2014 Silver Medallists are:

Professor Dino Distefano: Software Engineer at Facebook since the acquisition of his start-up, Monoidics;

Chris Young: Director and former Chief Engineer at Rolls-Royce, responsible for the world's most efficient large aircraft engine;

Professor Maire O'Neill: Inventor of security chips used in over 100 million television set-top boxes and the youngest ever professor at Queen's University Belfast;

Peter Brewin and Will Crawford: Founders of internationally successful and multi-award winning company, Concrete Canvas.

The five medallists were selected from a long list of nominations, drawn from all areas of contemporary engineering. They were chosen by a panel of Academy Fellows who have expertise across the range of engineering disciplines, as well as personal entrepreneurial experience.

Dervilla Mitchell FREng, Chair of the Academy's Awards Committee, said, "The Silver Medals recognise individual excellence, not only technically, but also in the ability to turn knowledge and ideas into useful, wealth-creating products and services. This is essential to UK economic prosperity, and this year's winners are all excellent examples of the kind of world-class entrepreneurs that the Academy is championing through its Engineering for Growth campaign and supporting through its Enterprise Hub.

"The UK boasts world-leading expertise in digital security, computer programming, aerospace, and manufacturing, and our 2014 medallists demonstrate the strength of knowledge and skill in these areas that will enable us to maintain this position for years to come. They are outstanding role models for the next generation."

2014 Silver Medallists:

Professor Dino Distefano:

Software Engineer at Facebook since the acquisition of his start-up, Monoidics

Dino Distefano is the co-Founder and CEO of Monoidics, Software Engineer at Facebook, Professor of Software Verification at Queen Mary University of London, and a former Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow.

Dino is one of the world's leading experts in the process of automatically finding errors in software systems. This is only becoming more important as society becomes increasingly reliant on software-based systems, and less tolerant of errors.

Dino's advances in this field have contributed significantly to the UK research community being recognised as a world leader. The code-checking start-up Monoidics, which he co-founded in London's Silicon Roundabout in 2009, was acquired by Facebook in 2013. Prior to the acquisition, Monoidics' commercial products were utilised by major organisations in security, avionics, and consumer electronics.

The scale of technical advances that Dino has made in this field is striking. When he began in 2004, tools for verifying properties of pointers were applied to toy programs of tens or hundreds of lines. Now, Dino's ideas are being applied to industrial software systems of over a million lines of code.

Chris Young

Director and former Chief Engineer of the Trent XWB at Rolls-Royce, the world's most efficient aircraft engine

Chris Young is the brains behind the world's most efficient large aircraft engine ever invented, the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB. The next-generation engine will power the new Airbus A350 XWB aircraft, which will come into service later this year.

More than 1600 of the Trent XWB engines are already on order to power civil airliners for 40 customers, making it the fastest selling civil large engine ever. At peak production, almost one engine per day will be manufactured. The previous best selling Trent engine type took 18 years of service to reach 1,500 sales.

At just 45 years old, Chris is at the head of a multibillion-pound project for which turnover will be so high in 10 years that the project could be the equivalent of a FTSE 100 company in its own right.

Prior to the development of the Trent XWB, Chris' early work in energy, which developed concepts to enhance and replace industrial gas turbines, laid the foundations for the entire energy sector to start looking at cost reductions in innovative ways. Chris played a significant role in shaping the future of the energy sector, contributing to advisory panels working closely with governments to steer regulations in energy.

Professor Maire O'Neill

Inventor of security chips used in over 100 million television set-top boxes

At just 35 years old, Maire is one of Europe's leading digital security experts. The high-speed security silicon chips that Maire developed as a PhD student were incorporated into over 100 million television set-top boxes alongside ARM technology.

Maire's research on novel silicon chip architectures for encryption and authentication has also led to significant security improvements in many other applications, including electric vehicle charging and cloud computing. She is working on the development of the next generation of anti-counterfeiting technology, Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs), which is in the process of being incorporated into Electric Vehicle charging stations in South Korea to prevent man-in-the-middle fraud. PUFs could also potentially be used for a multitude of Machine to Machine (M2M) authentication applications as the Internet of Things becomes a reality.

Today, Maire is Professor of Information Security at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), Queen's University Belfast. She is the youngest ever professor at the University, and its first female professor in electrical and electronic engineering. Máire played a key role in the creation of the CSIT, which has attracted global security organisations to work with it, including Cisco, IBM, McAfee, Thales, BAE Systems and Altera.

Contributing to the future vision for digital security in Europe, Maire was also invited by the European Commission to become a member of the Young Advisors Group, which is shaping the future by lending expertise on how to achieve Europe's Digital Agenda.

Peter Brewin and Will Crawford

Founders of internationally successful and multi-award winning company, Concrete Canvas

At just 35 years old, the founders of Concrete Canvas are two of the sharpest young entrepreneurs in the UK today and already have a string of accolades to their name.

The pair invented Concrete Canvas - a rapid setting fabric impregnated with concrete that is activated simply with water - while at university and founded their business to commercialise the innovation. The canvas allows many construction projects to be completed faster, more efficiently, and with a lower environmental impact than conventional concrete. It is already used in over 40 countries worldwide.

Concrete Canvas's sales have doubled every year since the company was established, and tripled in 2013 with a turnover of £5m. 85% of its sales are exported.

In 2013, Peter and Will's intellect and dynamism captured the attention of the Academy's MacRobert Award committee, which is made up leading UK technology entrepreneurs, when Concrete Canvas was named a finalist for the UK's most prestigious engineering award. The pair has also won the R&D100 award; the BRE Insite Top Innovation award; the Saatchi & Saatchi World Changing Ideas award, a UK Rail Industry award, and many more.

Concrete Canvas' growth has provided valuable employment opportunities in its South Wales Valleys location during a recession, when many similar businesses have been making redundancies.

Notes for editors

  1. About the Silver Medal Award The Silver Medal was established in 1994 to recognise an outstanding and demonstrated personal contribution to British engineering, which is resulting in successful market exploitation, by an engineer with less than 22 years in full time employment or equivalent on 1 January in year of award and who will normally be Chartered. Up to four medals may be awarded in any one year.
  2. 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 four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.
  3. Engineering for Growth is a partnership campaign to promote the economic impact and societal benefits delivered by engineering and to raise debate on how engineering can make an even bigger contribution. Engineering for Growth is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering in partnership with Atkins; BAE Systems; EADS; Lucite International; Rolls-Royce; McLaren Group; National Grid; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Technology Strategy Board; Institution of Chemical Engineers; Institution of Engineering and Technology; and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
    Engineering for Growth website

For more information please contact:

Ellie Dobson at Proof Communication
Tel:  0845 680 1897 and 07989 176993
Email Ellie Dobson

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