Inspired innovation has won four engineers the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize). National Grid and other corporate donors hope they will inspire a new generation.
“I would strongly encourage any young person looking to make a meaningful difference in the world to consider a career in engineering”
John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid.
A picture is a “universal form of communication” that transcends time, language and borders. And this year, the simple picture is the focus of the world’s leading prize for engineering.
Four engineers working decades apart on digital imaging have received the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize), a prestigious international award worth £1 million that celebrates the engineers behind an innovation that has benefitted humanity.
The 2017 QEPrize honours the engineers credited with breakthroughs that led digital imaging sensors: Eric Fossum, George Smith, Nobukazu Teranishi and Michael Tompsett. Together, they’re responsible for three innovations over three decades that have revolutionised our visual world.
Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Chair of Judges for the QEPrize, said digital imaging “epitomises what the [QEPrize] stands for.”
“Everyone around the world, especially young people, understands the importance of images. This engineering innovation is inspirational, it is truly something that everyone can understand, and it has had a remarkable social impact worldwide.”
Inspiration for young people
The QEPrize was set up to raise the public profile of engineering and inspire young people to take up the engineering challenges of the future. It is funded by an endowment established with support from corporate donors including National Grid.
The same day the four winners received trophies from HRH The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, the QEPrize published its second biannual survey into the state of engineering, Create the Future 2017.
The report, based on an international survey into attitudes toward engineering across 10 markets, highlights the changing worldwide influence of engineering.
Commenting on the awards, John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid, said engineering is “an incredibly exciting” industry holding near-limitless opportunities for young graduates.
“As society seeks solutions to the greatest challenges of our times, increasingly it looks to engineers to innovate,” he said. Citing clean energy as one of those challenges, he said young National Grid engineers are working now on infrastructure capable of carrying clean energy to millions of people.
He said: “I would strongly encourage any young person looking to make a meaningful difference in the world to consider a career in engineering.
“I am proud of the work National Grid does to support the education, training and development of young engineers.”
More relevant to daily life
Create the Future 2017 said its survey suggested engineering and technology are becoming more relevant to daily life around the world. Trust is growing in engineers and engineering to solve major global challenges.
However, many respondents thought the cost of education, absence of positive role models and scarcity of opportunities for young people remained barriers to a career in engineering. Among the report’s highlights:
- Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) top the list of modern engineering innovations
- Demand for skilled engineers is rising as the perceived skills gap widens
- Diversity is the driver of modern engineering
- Governments, businesses and schools need a united approach to supporting those interested in the profession.
“Engineering improves lives,” said Professor Dame Ann Dowling, QEPrize trustee and President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
“However, to realise the potential of emerging technologies such as AI and autonomous systems, it’s vital that the profession continues to address the issues of diversity and inclusion.
“The world faces many challenges and it’s essential that engineering properly reflects the diversity of society for whom they are developing solutions, products and processes.”