Five young engineers who have made a major impact in their respective fields very early in their careers will each receive a prestigious award this week at the Royal Academy of Engineering Awards Dinner at the Tower of London on Thursday 23 June.

All five are winners of the new RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year competition. Awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering with support from the Worshipful Company of Engineers, five prizes of £3,000 are presented to early career engineers whose achievements are recognised as outstanding.

Engineer, author and broadcaster Roma Agrawal will present the awards on 23 June. Roma says: “I’m delighted to present these exciting and important awards to five engineers who are a real inspiration both to younger engineers and to students who might be considering engineering as a career. They are each pioneers in their fields, driving change and innovation and leading critical projects across the profession."

The overall winner Dr Sithamparanathan Sabesan will also receive the Sir George Macfarlane Medal for excellence in the early stage of his career:

Dr Sithamparanathan Sabesan
Chief Executive Officer, PervasID
Non Stipendiary Fellow, Girton College, University of Cambridge

Since graduating with a degree in electronic engineering from Sheffield University, Dr Sabesan has excelled in both his scholarly work at the University of Cambridge, and his work as a technology entrepreneur through co-founding PervasID, a University of Cambridge spin-out company.

Dr Sabesan completed his MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he was elected to the Tucker-Price Research Fellowship at Girton College. He is internationally recognised for his work on research and innovation in the area of accurate battery-free radio frequency identification (RFID) tag tracking over wide-area.

He is also CEO of PervasID, for which he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship. The accurate wide-area RFID tag tracking system previously won him the Academy’s 2011 ERA Foundation Entrepreneurship Award with Dr Michael Crisp and the UK EPSRC 2011 ICT Pioneers Connected World Award. The RFID technology will allow airlines, retailers and other businesses to track inexpensively the locations of merchandise and passenger luggage over a wider area with greater reliability than conventional systems.

RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineers of the Year

Dr T Ben Britton
Lecturer, Department of Materials, Imperial College London

Ben completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2010 researching titanium for aerospace applications. In 2012, he joined the Department of Materials at Imperial College London as a Nuclear Metallurgy Fellow.

Ben’s work on the engineering and materials science of commercially important alloys is vital to the aero-engine, nuclear and energy industries in the UK and overseas. In 2014, he won the IoM3 Silver Medal for ‘Outstanding contribution to materials science, engineering and technology by an individual under 30’. Last year, he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship and was also appointed a lecturer at Imperial.

In addition to his research, Ben directs the MSc course in Advanced Nuclear Engineering, as well as teaching two undergraduate courses and supervising and advising graduate students. He also contributes to the College’s public engagement schemes through events, festivals and schools. 

John Collins
Senior Engineer, Arup

As one of the youngest top suspension bridge engineers in the country, John has applied his expertise to high profile and challenging projects including the Humber Bridge, Forth Road Bridge and the London 2012 Olympic Park. He obtained a MEng (Hons) from Durham University and joined Arup in 2007, becoming a Chartered Engineer just three years after graduating.

He played a key role when a fracture occurred in the corresponding element of Edinburgh’s Forth Road Bridge, working on the repair of the truss end link and monitoring and interpreting instrumentation during the load tests. The bridge re-opened to traffic ahead of schedule, and John remains involved with the project.

For his work on the complex scheme to replace the main span bearings of Humber Bridge, John received the IET’s Sir Henry Royce Medal for Young Professionals in 2012 and the project later won ICE Yorkshire & Humber’s Smeaton Award in 2015.

Orla Murphy
Acoustic and Audio Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover

Orla graduated with an MEng degree in Electronics with Music from the University of Glasgow in 2013. She first joined Jaguar Land Rover as a sponsored student in the Audio Team in 2012 and later returned as a graduate after completing her degree. During her time at the company, she has been an active and vocal advocate for STEM and for women in engineering.

She is now working as part of the Audio Equalisation team to tune JLR vehicle’s sound system and reacting to build quality issues at plant. Orla is particularly interested in the perceptions of sound, and researched the perceptions of 2D and 3D audio systems, which she presented a paper on at the Institute of Acoustics 40th anniversary conference. 

As well as speaking on behalf of the company at many engineering and education events and conferences, Orla has frequently been involved in JLR’s Young Women in the Know programme, talking to girls in schools about engineering and about Jaguar Land Rover's apprentice scheme. In 2015, she was recognised as the IET's Young Woman Engineer of the Year for her enthusiasm and suitability as a role model for young engineers.

Dr Paul Shearing
Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, University College London

Paul joined UCL in 2011 where he is now a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering and a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow and is internationally recognised as a researcher in the application of X-ray imaging to explore energy materials.

The tools and techniques that he has developed have not only improved fundamental understanding of materials engineering but are also enabling new materials design approaches.

Since joining UCL he has worked extensively with industry including General Motors, Johnson Matthey, Carl Zeiss and Praxair, as well as with numerous SMEs, and acted as expert advisor to the Air Accident Investigation Branch to help understand the Boeing Dreamliner battery failures.

Paul holds a MEng from the University of Birmingham (2006) and a PhD from Imperial College (2009) and is a chartered chemical engineer. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has developed a new course in electrochemical engineering for the UCL programme. Outside of the classroom, he has worked with charities and media organisations as a science communicator and has helped to establish a highly successful fuel cell outreach programme UCell, which interacts with schools and the general public.

Notes for editors

  1. RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year. With the generous support of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, the Royal Academy of Engineering is making five awards of £3,000 each year to UK engineers in full time higher education, research or industrial employment, who has demonstrated excellence in the early stage of their career (defined as less than ten years since graduation from their first degree in engineering). There is no restriction on the discipline base of the individual nominated.
  2. Sir George Macfarlane Medal. The Award is made in memory of Sir George Macfarlane (1916-2007), one of the founding Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Medal will be presented to the overall winner of the RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year awardees, as selected by the Academy’s Awards Committee.
  3. 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:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0636
Jane Sutton