Nine-year old Lily Hill, a pupil at Willowtown Primary School in Ebbw Vale, South Wales, has won a competition to design the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Christmas card for 2018. Her creative design was selected because it perfectly combined the themes of both Christmas and engineering with a technical drawing of a snowflake.

Lily Hill with her Christmas card design

The Academy will be sending the card to top engineers and business leaders across the UK. Lily was announced as the competition winner in her school assembly on Monday 10 December and presented with a pack of cards, one for each member of her class, and a letter of congratulations from Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The runner up, Leona, nine, from Pantysgallog Primary School, Merthyr Tydfil, designed a Christmas tree card inspired by the pattern of a printed circuit board.

Lily and Leona were invited to enter the Christmas card competition because their schools are involved in the Academy’s Welsh Valleys Engineering Project, which launched earlier this year. The project is designed to establish and run a network of primary and secondary school teachers who support each other and share good practice in incorporating engineering into their teaching. This is one of a number of local and national projects that have been developed by the Academy in response to the significant skills shortage in engineering – the latest figures from EngineeringUK indicate an annual demand for 124,000 engineers and a shortfall of 59,000.

Funding from the project supports involvement in national and regional engineering programmes as well as the purchase of kit and equipment to enhance and enrich the delivery of the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) curriculum in schools and colleges. It will provide up to 4,000 STEM learning opportunities for young people each year. Pupils from the Barrow Engineering Project running in the North West were also invited to enter.

At Lily’s school, Willowtown Primary School, the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project has provided support for a weekly Science Club, funding towards programmable robots, ideas for British Science Week and the opportunity to build links with local schools and higher education providers.

Paul Keane, head teacher at Willowtown Primary School, Lily Hill with her Christmas card design, Dr Anita Shaw, Welsh Valleys Engineering Project coordinator

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“I congratulate Willowtown Primary School, Ebbw Vale, for its winning entry to the Academy’s Christmas Card Competition 2018. We received some excellent entries from schools engaged in the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project, and I was particularly delighted to see Lily Hill’s creative design that showed nature’s engineering. In keeping with the Christmas theme, Lily’s card demonstrated the attention to detail, care and creativity that is needed to be an engineer.

“We are very proud to showcase the design on this year’s Academy Christmas card. Congratulations to Lily and Willowtown Primary School for your excellent contributions.”

Paul Keane, head teacher at Willowtown Primary School, said:

“I have found the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project to be a brilliant and highly timely initiative that is so well suited to the future that our community needs. It is quite simply the best way to inspire the next generation to understand their proud industrial past and think imaginatively about how science and engineering can be used to transform our community’s future. It has been a massive boost to us as a school in gearing our curriculum towards STEM and taking advantage of the increasing freedoms given under the new Curriculum for Wales.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Welsh Valleys Engineering Project is a Royal Academy of Engineering engineering education programme in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil developed to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education support for students and teachers and make connections with industry to provide career guidance. The Welsh Valleys has a long history of engineering and this project builds on that heritage, supporting the untapped engineering potential within local students to build a skills base for engineering companies in South Wales. This partnership approach draws together pupils from primary and secondary schools, further education colleges, employers, government and other key stakeholders to inspire and encourage more young people to study (STEM) subjects in post-16 education. The programme enriches the curriculum, stimulates interest, and will improve student attainment outcomes by bringing real-world engineering practice into the student experience.

The aim of the project is to encourage a diverse range of young people to progress towards the engineering roles of the future in local industry. Launched in 2018, the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project will establish and run a network of primary and secondary school teachers capable of supporting each other and sharing good practice. Funding will support involvement in national and regional engineering programmes as well as the purchase of kit and equipment to enhance and enrich the delivery of the STEM curriculum in schools and colleges.  It will provide up to 4,000 STEM learning opportunities for young people each year. Students will also be able to apply for a bursary to support them during engineering-related A Levels or vocational/technical qualifications.

The project will work in close collaboration with local STEM providers Engineering Education Scheme Wales (STEM Cymru), See Science and other education and skills partners and will run for a minimum of five years. It is based on the template of successful Academy engineering education projects in Barrow-in-Furness, Stoke-on-Trent, and Lowestoft, Suffolk, which have delivered more than 100,000 STEM learning opportunities for young people since their launch. The Welsh Valleys project builds on this model and is the first such programme to include a bursary scheme that provides a clear and continuous pathway to local engineering careers through further education.

The project has been made possible by funding from the Panasonic Trust, which has committed to a minimum of five years of support. The Trust has worked in partnership with the Royal Academy to develop the programme, supported by staff working at Panasonic’s operations in Cardiff and Bracknell.

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession. 

We have three strategic priorities:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
  • Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
  • Position engineering at the heart of society

We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.

For more information please contact: Victoria Runcie at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0620; email: