A talented team of pupils from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, Kent, is celebrating after receiving the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize at the UK's prestigious National Science + Engineering Competition. The pupils were awarded the prize for an impressive project that made their school's telescope accessible robotically to other schools over the internet.

Matt Harrison, Dimitrios Theodorakis and Ellis Skinner were announced as winners of the prize after showcasing their work to a world-class panel of judges. The team captured the judges' attention with their rigorous application of engineering principles in their project called 'Opening up the universe - radio optical astronomy for all'. Thanks to the system developed by the young team, anyone will be able use their school's instruments to conduct astronomical research in both visible and radio wavelengths. The pupils are also restoring an old 3.5m university radio telescope to be a part of their robotic system.

The result was announced at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, the UK's largest celebration of science and engineering for young people, at The NEC, Birmingham. At the fair, Matt, Dimitrios and Ellis's shortlisted entry was showcased to over 60,000 visitors and they went face-to-face with top celebrity judges in a Dragons' Den-style pitch process.

By winning the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize, Matt, Dimitrios and Ellis have put Kent on the map as a region of rising young talent. As well as receiving £500, they will win the opportunity to visit a cutting-edge engineering business or research centre and to meet some of the UK's leading engineers.

Philip Greenish CBE, Chief Executive of the Academy said, "Matt, Dimitrios and Ellis are innovative problem-solvers - just the sort of young engineers who will succeed in a world that needs such creative skills. They should be commended not only for their knowledge, initiative and collaboration, but also for the positive impact their project is having on their school and the wider community. These students' work will have a genuine legacy - and they are brilliant role models too."

Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, which runs the National Science + Engineering Competition, said, "We're thrilled that Matt, Dimitrios and Ellis have been awarded this prestigious honour at The Big Bang Fair this year. This project really caught our imagination and we hope that it inspires other young people to enter the competition.

"Now in its sixth year, our contest has become renowned for recognising, rewarding and inspiring thousands of talented youngsters in all areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We need to nurture a new generation of bright sparks, and the competition offers a great incentive to get youngsters experimenting and having fun with science and engineering."

The National Science + Engineering Competition is an annual event open to pupils aged between 11 and 18, and gives participants the chance to compete for top prizes and international experiences worth over £50,000. Visit www.nsecuk.org for more information about next year's competition.

Notes for editors

  1. 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.
  2. About the National Science + Engineering Competition and The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair

    The National Science + Engineering Competition 2014 is open to 11-18 year olds from across the UK who have completed a project or activity in any field of science, technology, engineering or maths. Entries can come from teams or individuals.

    Finalists are invited to present their project at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair. As well as the prizes in all age categories, winners in the senior categories are crowned the UK Young Scientist(s) of the Year or the UK Young Engineer(s) of the Year at the National Awards Ceremony. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair took place from 13 - 16 March 2014 at The NEC, Birmingham, to celebrate and raise the profile of young people's achievement in science and engineering and encourage more young people to take part in science, technology, engineering and maths initiatives with support from their parents and teachers.

    The Big Bang Fair hosts the finals of the prestigious National Science + Engineering Competition and is also the flagship event of National Science & Engineering Week 2014.

For more information please contact:

Manisha Lalloo at the Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel: 020 7766 0683
Email: Manisha Lalloo

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