Tim Peake, the UK’s first European Space Agency astronaut, yesterday received one of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s top accolades at a special event for 400 school pupils at the Science Museum IMAX in London. Tim shared with the pupils his experience of travelling into space aboard a Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station and how his successful mission depended on engineering and science.

Academy CEO Dr Hayaatun Sillem presented Tim with the 2019 Rooke Award for public engagement with engineering, in recognition of his nationwide promotion of engineering and space. He personally spearheaded the Principia mission’s education programme, the largest and most successful educational campaign supporting a European astronaut mission.

Eighty lucky pupils then attended a special space-themed CoderDojo session in the Flight Gallery, where they had an introduction to programming. This session was led by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a charity with a mission to put the power of technology in the hands of young people all over the world. At the core of this is the Raspberry Pi, the world’s most affordable computer, and their free educational programmes, such as CoderDojo and the Astro Pi challenge, run in partnership with the European Space Agency.

Raspberry Pi formed an integral part of Tim Peake’s space mission as two Raspberry Pi computers travelled to the ISS with him on their own mission. These tiny computers, called Astro Pis, were used to measure the environment on board the ISS, and give schoolchildren the chance to have their code run in space. The Astro Pi challenge continues to allow schoolchildren the opportunity to run their programs in space.

Tim Peake started his career as a British Army Air Corps officer. In 2005, after being selected for test pilot training, he went on to graduate from the Empire Test Pilots’ School at Boscombe Down and, in 2006, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in flight dynamics and evaluation from the University of Portsmouth.

After nearly 18 years of military service, Tim left the British Army, beating over 9,000 other applicants for one of six coveted places on the European Space Agency (ESA) new astronaut training programme.

In May 2009, he was selected as an ESA astronaut and graduated from astronaut basic training in November 2010. Tim spent a further three years in training, working as a communicator with the International Space Station before his assignment to a long duration mission in 2013.

Launching in a Soyuz rocket on 15 December 2015, Tim became the first British ESA astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) and conduct a spacewalk during his eventful six-month mission. He has since taken part in over 250 scientific experiments for ESA and international partners during his mission.

Tim was determined to make Principia an exciting and engaging adventure for young people and has used the opportunity to inspire them in the science and engineering of human spaceflight. Through an educational outreach programme of more than 30 projects, to date, Tim’s Principia mission has inspired and engaged more than two million school children in 10,000 schools – a third of all the schools in the UK.

Tim Peake said:

"It’s a huge honour to receive the 2019 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Award for promoting engineering to the public. Engineering is so incredibly important to our lives today, it can help us find solutions to many of the challenges that we face, as well as drive innovation and improve the quality of life for people around the world.

“That is why it is vital to inspire and engage young people from all backgrounds and encourage them to consider a career in engineering."

Pete Lomas FREng, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a founder of Raspberry Pi, said:

“As a founder of Raspberry Pi, I was thrilled that Tim acted as a personal ambassador for the Astro Pi programme. This gave young people across the UK the opportunity to develop their computing skills by writing code that ran on the specially engineered Raspberry Pi computers onboard the ISS.

“Thanks to Tim’s enthusiastic support for all Principia educational programmes and his passion for space exploration, over two million young people positively engaged with science and engineering across the various programmes.  I’m delighted that Tim is the recipient of the 2019 Rooke Medal.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Rooke Award for the public promotion of engineering is awarded to an individual, small team or organisation who have contributed to the Academy's aims and work through their initiative in promoting engineering to the public. The award is named in honour of the late Sir Denis Rooke OM CBE FRS FREng, a former President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and one of the UK's most distinguished engineers. As Chairman of British Gas, his legacy was to build the UK's gas distribution network and unite the gas industry, making domestic gas a cheap and convenient fuel source for millions of people. He later became Chancellor of Loughborough University and served on many national advisory committees on both energy policy and education.
  2. 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.

  1. Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. We do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively.

We provide low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun. We provide outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making. We develop free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.

  1. The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space. ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member. ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions. ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications. www.esa.int.

For more information please contact:

Beatrice Cole at the Royal Academy of Engineering

Tel. 0207 766 0645; email: beatrice.cole@raeng.org.uk