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Home > News > Industry News > BrightSparks 2018: Be one to w.....

BrightSparks 2018: Be one to watch

  • Author:Ella Cai
  • Release on:2017-12-20
Having uncovered the industry’s brightest young talent last year, the search is on for the BrightSparks of 2018.

When Electronics Weekly launched the first BrightSparks programme, in partnership with RS Components, a year ago, the aim was to identify and celebrate the new generation of electronic engineers who are making a difference now and who could become the leaders of the industry in the future.

That aim was achieved – but what was surprising to the selection panel was both the quality and variety of the nominations that were received. The final selection of BrightSparks reflected that diversity – from start-up founders to influential vloggers; engineers working in areas from 5G to haptics, food manufacture to automotive; those who had come through top universities and others through apprenticeships.

But one thing united them: a passion and energy for engineering and its possibilities that was, for those who met them, an inspiration.

Moreover, they wanted to share that passion with the outside world and, in many cases, to help inspire more young people coming through education to get excited about engineering as a career.

Now, Electronics Weekly and RS Components have joined forces again to find a new group of BrightSparks. Once again, we are looking to identify engineers under the age of 30 – be they in school, college, university or in work – who personify the passion, energy and talent in the UK electronics industry.

If you are a young electronic engineer who is doing amazing things – or if you work with someone who you think could be part of this prestigious programme – nominations are open now for the 2018 BrightSparks programme.

Making a nomination, be it for yourself or a colleague, is easy and free. If you are selected by our high-profile selection panel, you will be invited to an event next spring and Electronics Weekly will reveal the 2018 BrightSparks in a special report in the summer of next year. Good luck!

The class of 2017

Meet the young engineers nominated as 2017 BrightSparks
John Alton, Lascar Electronics
Chelsea Back, AB Open
Robert Blenkinsopp, Ultrahaptics
Josh Boakes, Convert
Josh Bowen, He-Man Dual Controls
Daniele Capocci, Nissan Technical Centre Europe
Shuran Chen, Self-employed
Saloni Chhabra, Cadence Design Systems
Andrew Cowan, Cobham Antenna Systems
Alex Croucher, GB Electronics (UK)
Sherzaad Dinah, Nissan Technical Centre Europe
Ryan Dunwoody, Pi-Top
Josh Elijah, Engimake
Calum Finn, Nestle
Benjamin Fitzpatrick, Dyson
Rob Green, Loughborough University
Daniel Harryman, Science and Technology Facilities Council
James Hayman, Ametek
Keno Mario-Ghae, Imagination Technologies
Jacob Marsh, ModMyPi
Emilio Mistretta, University of Hertfordshire
Edward Nutting, University of Bristol
Lewis Osborne, JME
Sam Presley, University of Southampton/Dyson
Chris Shaw, Sensible Objects
Robert Smith, Plextek RFI
Roger Thornton, Raspberry Pi Organisation
Matt Timmons-Brown, The Raspberry Pi Guy
Tim Wiles, Peratech

How to make a nomination

Making a nomination is easy and free. Just visit www.electronicsweekly.com/brightsparks. Here you’ll find full details of the programme and you can read about and watch video interviews with last year’s cohort of BrightSparks.

To make a nomination, follow the link to the nomination page and fill in the form.

First, you’ll be asked some details about the nominee. Then you will be asked to describe your, or the nominee’s, greatest achievement in electronics so far. After that, you will be asked to explain why you think you or the nominee should be considered for inclusion in this year’s BrightSparks list. You can even include a link to a video submission if you wish.

Sparking points

Electronics Weekly editor Josh Brooks talks to RS Components CEO Lindsley Ruth (right) about the BrightSparks programme and his favourite engineering project of the past 12 months

We’re going into a second year of the BrightSparks programme. What are the qualities that you are looking for in this year’s nominees?

I’m looking for an entrepreneurial attitude and an innovative spirit. The nominees should not be afraid of taking a risk and should demonstrate how they are willing to push the boundaries to achieve their projects. A commercial appreciation is also important. Plus, I would like to see how they want to inspire and support other young people.

What, if anything, surprised or impressed you about the people who came forward in last year’s BrightSparks?

Last year’s BrightSparks were a truly gifted group of young people. I was particularly impressed by how altruistic they were; how they donated their time as STEM ambassadors, to run workshops from soldering to coding and how they developed products to teach basic computer programming.

Why is it important for RS to be involved in a programme like BrightSparks?

RS is a great believer in promoting engineering as a career for young people. The shortage of skilled engineers and the increasing demand for engineering expertise mean that there are so many opportunities out there. I believe that the BrightSparks programme is an inspiration to students; it demonstrates how young engineers can use their talent to influence future innovation in the electronics industry.

You have spoken in the past about the importance of developing an ecosystem to encourage young people into electronics and to develop new businesses. Do you think the UK is making progress on this front?

Yes, the UK is making progress but so much more can be done. We need to encourage that entrepreneurial spirit among the young and give them the courage, the support and the means to pursue their engineering dreams. I applaud the new initiatives that are being developed by many organisations across the country to inspire young people into engineering. I truly believe that working together as an ecosystem – schools, universities and businesses – we can make a difference.

What’s the coolest engineering project you’ve seen in the past year?

One of the coolest things for me has to be the achievements of HyPED, the University of Edinburgh’s Hyperloop team. Hyperloop has the potential to be the next great transformation in mass transportation and it has been incredible to witness first-hand the contribution that a team of students is making in bringing the ambitious Hyperloop concept closer to realisation.

The HyPED team made it through to the final 24 in the Space X competition, which is focused on the development of functional Hyperloop pod prototypes and specifically encourages student innovation. They were also a winner in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge where they were the only student group in the winning 10.

Do you think schools, universities and electronics businesses in the UK are getting better or worse at bringing young people into the industry? Why?

The shortage of engineers in the UK has been an issue for a number of years. There is still an annual shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates, plus too few pupils choose school subjects that are required to pursue engineering careers. However, I’m pleased to say that young people’s perceptions of engineering careers are growing more positive and, according to Engineering UK, the proportion of 11- to 16-year-olds who would consider a career in engineering has risen by more than 10% over the past five years.

What is most important is to influence pupils at school and show them that engineering is an exciting career option with real prospects. Fortunately, businesses, such as RS, are recognising the role they can play in reaching out to schools to connect with young people and improve pupils’ attitudes towards STEM.