UK Young Scientist and UK Young Engineer of The Year Honoured

Three of Britain’s brightest youngsters have scooped the most prestigious honours in science and engineering at the 2012 National Science & Engineering Competition.

Three of Britain’s brightest youngsters have scooped the most prestigious honours in science and engineering at the 2012 National Science & Engineering Competition.

Wasim Miah and Jessica Jones (both 17) from St David’s College in Cardiff have been named Young Engineers of the Year. The pair impressed with the creation of a new portable device that combines electronics and mechanics to measure the intensity of foetal contractions. The gadget called the ‘Contraction Optical Monitoring System’ provides a clear and simple indication when mothers are about to go into labour, thereby saving mad dash drives to the hospital in the middle of the night. 

Kirtana Vallabhaneni (also 17) from West Kirby Grammar School in West Kirby has been named the UK Young Scientist of the Year. She has she has been involved in some groundbreaking work helping to identify the harmful cells that cause pancreatic cancer. The overarching aim of the project is to isolate cells in the pancreas that can be targeted with chemotherapy rather than subjecting the whole body to the treatment.

They were among 360 shining young stars chosen to showcase their work to a world-class panel of judges, including Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Nobel Prize winning biochemist Sir Tim Hunt, and the Science Museum’s Inventor in Residence Mark Champkins.

Jessica said: “This is such a massive honour. It feels so strange and I can’t believe that we’ve actually won. The competition was so fierce. I can’t believe I’m the first girl to win the UK Young Engineer of the Year; it makes the achievement all the more amazing. It would be great to see more girls enter into the field of engineering as there’s no reason why we can’t. I think it offers brilliant career opportunities.”

Her co-winner Wasim said: “This is absolutely brilliant but we’re both still shell shocked. We didn’t even tell anyone that we’d entered the competition because we didn’t think we would be nominated. We thought we would get some useful contacts to help develop the project so to win is an amazing bonus. Hopefully it should be a fantastic launch pad for both our careers. There are a number of entrepreneurs in my family so hopefully I’ve made them very proud.”

Overwhelmed by being crowned the UK’s Young Scientist of the Year, Kirtana said: “Everything that I’ve worked for over the last year has come together. I’m so happy! The fact four finalists were female shows that there are really strong opportunities for women in science and it proves they don’t have to follow convention and stereotypes. I’m so passionate about what I do and I hope that with this success I can instil the same kind of passion I have for science in other young people. If I can do it they definitely can!”

Competition judge Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock said:  “The country’s science and engineering industry has an incredibly bright future ahead of it if Wasim, Jessica and Kirtana are anything to go by. Their projects are outstanding and they are truly deserving winners.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm and passion every finalist had for their projects – it’s talented individuals like these who will inspire others to think about science and engineering in a new and exciting light.”

11-18 year olds from across the UK were given the chance to enter the National Science & Engineering Competition by completing a project or activity in any field of science, technology, engineering or maths.

The finals took place at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, the country’s largest celebration of science and engineering for young people, at The NEC, Birmingham, and prizes were awarded by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.

He said: “Inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers is vital to our economy and society – that’s why the initiatives, such as The Big Bang Fair and the National Science & Engineering Competition are so important. The talented young people I’ve met today will not only have the skills and knowledge to work and live in an increasingly advanced world, but will make a real contribution to future growth.”

Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association commented: “The National Science & Engineering Competition continues to do an incredibly important job in encouraging young people to explore their interest in science and engineering.

“We’d encourage anyone with a project they’re proud of to take part in next year’s Competition which starts at the next round of Regional Fairs this summer.”

Visit for more information about this year’s competition.


Read the full release here.