Three of the UK’s most talented engineers are to receive the Royal Academy of Engineering’s coveted Silver Medal for remarkable technical achievements in their fields, coupled with commercial success.
They are the inventor of 3D printed surgical instruments, an indoor location-tracking technology pioneer, and the creator of the F# computer programming language.
For over two decades, the Academy’s Silver Medals have recognised exceptional personal contributions from early- to mid-career engineers who have advanced the cause of engineering in the UK and achieved significant commercial success.
The 2015 Silver Medallists are:
Dr Susannah Clarke: Co-founder of Embody Orthopaedics, and pioneer of new medical techniques using 3D printing
Dr Andy Ward: Founder and Chief Technology Officer at UbiSense, developing intelligent location solutions for smart factories
Dr Don Syme: Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, and creator of the F# computer programming language
The three medallists will receive their awards at the Academy’s Awards Dinner in London on 16 July.
Professor Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said “This year’s Silver Medallists are testament to the strength and diversity of UK engineering and demonstrate the breadth of exciting careers that engineering offers. They also demonstrate the power of university/industry collaboration and the importance of innovation to the UK economy. Engineering research generates almost half the value of all UK exports.”
“The winners are true leaders in their respective fields, having all succeeded in turning their cutting edge research into commercial success stories. It is this critical market exploitation that enables society and the economy to benefit from the world-leading innovation coming out of UK research and development.”
2015 Silver Medallists in detail:
Dr Susannah Clarke
Inventor of 3D printed customisable surgical instruments
Dr Susannah Clarke is Founder and Director of Embody Orthopaedic, a spinout from Imperial College London, which is pioneering a new type of 3D printed technology to revolutionise joint replacements.
In England and Wales there are approximately 160,000 total hip and knee replacement procedures performed every year. Current instrumentation is standardised, using a one-size-fits-all approach, despite the fact that bone shape and size can vary widely between individuals.
Susannah came up with the idea of using a 3D printer to make fully customisable surgical instruments at the click of a button when she was completing a PhD in orthopaedics at Imperial College London and studying the ways that hip implants fail due to being poorly positioned in patients. Susannah set up Embody Orthopaedic to develop surgical instruments tailored to the individual patient in 2012. Each instrument produced by Embody is designed specifically for a single surgical intervention and printed in nylon, a low-cost, robust material that can be readily sterilised. The minimally invasive device assists surgeons to position joint replacements precisely, potentially increasing functional outcomes, reducing the risk of revision of the implant, and improving recovery times.
Based at the Musculoskeletal Laboratory at Charing Cross Hospital, Embody already has four full-time employees and other scientists and engineers working on a contract basis. In recognition of her previous work, Susannah has been awarded the Dyson award and New Designers most innovative product award. In 2012, she was recognised as one of the country’s most promising engineering entrepreneurs with an Enterprise Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Susannah is now already working on implantable devices which, following clinical trials, should be available to market in the next five years. Under Susannah’s leadership, Embody has supplied its customisable instrumentation into over 400 surgeries. Furthering plans to deliver a fully tailored joint replacement process, from surgical planning to recovery, Susannah is also launching a web-based surgical planning system. This allows surgeons to upload patient scans and trial different surgical scenarios preoperatively. In the next decade, Susannah plans to apply the technology in other fields such as maxillofacial, cardiovascular and dental surgery.
Dr Andy Ward
Pioneer of intelligent location solutions for smart factories
Dr Andy Ward is the inventor of an indoor location system now making car factories smart.
Inspired by the different uses that RADAR was put to after World War II and the unreliability of GPS indoors, Andy was an early proponent of ultra wide band (UWB) radio for accurate in-building positioning. Andy co-founded Ubisense, a location intelligence provider, in 2002 to develop a solution that could track individual items in a factory and automate the processes between them.
A critical application of this technology is the management of tools used to build cars, automatically configuring them with the right settings for the particular car each tool is working on at any time. Removing the need for production line workers to make changes manually for each product allows quick and easy customisation, improves productivity and reduces human error. As such, the technology presents a strong business case for automotive companies.
The technology is the culmination of almost two decades of development, starting when Andy did his PhD on sensor-driven computing at the University of Cambridge. Before founding Ubisense, Andy led research on location technology at AT&T Laboratories Cambridge, and over the past 10 years has been granted 13 patents based on his work on location systems. Andy is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
With Andy driving the technology forward as the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Ubisense has gone from strength to strength. It now counts large automotive companies like VW, Tesla, BMW and Honda as clients. In 2014, the company achieved total revenues of £35.1 million.
Although the automotive industry is the biggest user of Ubisense’s technology, it has also been used to track opera singers at the Royal Albert Hall and to give patients with brain injuries more independence in hospital.
Dr Don Syme
Programming language expert improving the foundations of the digital world
Dr Don Syme is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, where he works to improve the tools available to programmers worldwide, helping them create the building blocks of the virtual world more effectively.
Don joined Microsoft Research in the late 1990s, and has since achieved repeated success in bringing improvements in programming languages to millions of developers. His designs and implementations are essential knowledge for a generation of enterprise programmers, and the applications which use them have reached billions of users via desktop applications, mobile apps and web sites alike.
Keen to make what was possible at the forefront of research usable to industry, Don first made seminal contributions to the enormously popular C# programming language between 1999 and 2005. He then developed the F# language, reaching version 4.0 this year. F# is known for being a clear and more concise language that interoperates well with other systems, and is used in applications as diverse as analysing the UK energy market to tackling money laundering. It allows programmers to write code with fewer bugs than other languages, so users can get their programme delivered to market both rapidly and accurately. Used by major enterprises in the UK and worldwide, F# is both cross-platform and open source, and includes innovative features such as unit-of-measure inference, asynchronous programming and type providers, which have in turn influenced later editions of C# and other industry languages.
Before working at Microsoft Research, Don worked at Intel where, in 1997, he contributed to the ForteFL system used for verification of the Pentium 4, which went on to achieve massive worldwide adoption.
Most recently, Don has successfully tackled the growing problem of the scalable integration of data and metadata into programming languages. In recognition of his achievements, Don has reached the acclaimed “Partner” level at Microsoft Research. Don is also a highly active presence in the UK developer and research communities, and gives regular lectures to both academia and industry to help bridge the gap in this area.
Notes for Editors
About the Silver Medal
The Royal Academy of Engineering 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 the year of award and who will normally be Chartered. Up to four medals may be awarded in any one year. Previous recipients have included Dr Eben Upton, Founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation; Chris Young, Chief Engineer of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB – the fastest selling aircraft engine in the world; and Professor Máire O’Neill, one of Europe’s leading digital security experts, whose high-speed security chips are found in over 100 million television set-top boxes.
For more information, please visit: http://www.raeng.org.uk/prizes/silver/.
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.
For further information, please contact Alex Cloney at Proof Communication
T:| 0845 680 1872 and 07506 022 367
E:| Alex Cloney