Dr Patricia Perez Esteban, a chemical engineer from the University of Bath, won the top engineering prize at the SET for Britain competition at Parliament on 7 March.

Dr Esteban’s poster, presenting her research on developing an animal-free cosmetic testing model to better predict how compounds enter the blood stream, was judged the best of the 60 engineering posters on display at the event, earning her a gold medal and £3,000 prize.

SET for Britain is an annual poster competition aiming to help parliamentarians understand more about the UK’s thriving science and engineering base, and rewards some of the strongest scientific and engineering research being undertaken in the UK. A panel of expert judges, including Academy Fellows, shortlisted 60 exhibitors from nearly 300 applicants, representing different engineering disciplines and institutions around the UK. The judges then selected gold, silver, and bronze prize winners on the day of the exhibition in Parliament, which saw the researchers engaging with MPs and Peers as well as other engineering experts.

The silver award, and £2,000 prize, went to University College London’s Thomas Rogers for his work automating and streamlining cargo inspection. Dana Al Sulaiman, of Imperial College London, won bronze and £1,000 for her engineering research on non-invasive early cancer diagnosis.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said “I’m delighted that so many engineers attended Parliament as part of SET for Britain.

“Engineers make a difference in all our lives. They create solutions to the issues we face as individuals and as a society. SET for Britain provides a great opportunity for these innovators to connect with the decision makers in Parliament, to showcase the superb engineering research  being carried out in the UK, and the new technologies that can help improve our lives and drive new growth in our industries. 

“From new materials that ensure safe drinking water to novel uses of 3D printing for efficient energy storage, the research exhibited at SET for Britain provides a glimpse of the talent at work in the UK today. We need many more young people to be inspired to take up an engineering career and follow in these footsteps. I hope the MPs and Peers who met the engineers are inspired by what they have seen, and I am sure they will join me in congratulating all the exhibitors on their excellent work.”

L-R: Dr Stephen Benn, Royal Society of Biology Director of Parliamentary Affairs and SET for Britain Master of Ceremonies;
Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering;
Engineering gold medal winner Dr Patricia Perez Esteban, University of Bath;
Colin Dixon, Head of Marketing, Essar Oil UK - gold medal sponsor;
Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

Notes for editors

  1. SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons - involving approximately 210 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), the physical sciences (physics), or the mathematics session, depending on the researcher’s specialism.

    Each session results in the reward of bronze, silver and gold certificates.  Bronze winners receive a £1,000 prize; silver, £2,000; and gold, £3,000 and a medal. There is also be an overall winner from the five sessions who receives 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 Royal Society of Biology, the Royal Society of Chemistry and The Physiological Society, is working to further his legacy.

    The event is made possible this year by the prize sponsors, who are Essar, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), the Institute of Biomedical Science, the Bank of England and the Society of Chemical Industry.

    The competition is open to early stage or early career researchers, which includes 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. 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:

Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0655
Aaron Boardley