Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Two University of Bath postgraduate students are attending Parliament to present their research to politicians and experts, as part of SET for Britain on Monday 17th March. This national competition aims to promote early-stage research and foster greater dialogue between researchers and parliamentarians. The competition offers prizes of £3,000, £2,000 and £1,000 for the gold, silver and bronze medals in the Engineering section, respectively. These three prizes for Engineering are sponsored by Essar, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Boeing. The other four sections are Mathematics, Biology, Biomedical Sciences and Physical Sciences; this latter category covers chemistry and physics. The overall winner gains the Westminster Medal in memory of Dr Eric Wharton.
Talini Pinto Jayawardena and Lu Ma are both PhD students in the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. Ms Jayawardena’s research explores the development of satellite instruments for space weather studies. Ms Jayawardena was part of the TOPCAT team, which built a space-bound device to measure the near-earth environment, called the plasmasphere. Ms Ma’s research concerns magnetic induction tomography – an innovative imaging technique for the inspection of industrial pipelines. Out of hundreds of applications in a unique national competition, Ms Jayawardena and Ms Ma were shortlisted to appear in the Houses of Commons Terrace Marque. Two other researchers also submitted their work for this event: Dr Alfonso P. Ramallo-González of the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, and Katerina Kumpan of the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology.
Ms Jayawardena said: “Space weather has recently been added to the UK’s National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies. SET for Britain provides me with a timely opportunity to present my research on its effects on satellite technology, such as GPS, to a wider community.”
Ms Ma agreed: “I’m excited to have such a unique opportunity to present my work, and to share my passion for the subject with those in such an influential position. As a researcher early in my career, I’m very pleased to have been given this chance and hope to gain a great deal from it.”
The Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, Andrew Miller MP, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.” Andrew Miller has organised the SET for Britain competition, which is supported by many learned societies, such as the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Council for the Mathematical Sciences.
Volker Schultz, the Chief Executive Officer of Essar Oil UK, said: “Essar Oil UK is delighted to be gold sponsors of the Engineering Section of SET for Britain 2014. The awards help to encourage and support young scientists, engineers and technologists, with the standard of entrants consistently impressive year after year.” Mr Philip Greenish CBE, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Chief Executive stated: “SET for Britain gathers some of Britain’s best early-stage researchers and politicians in the same room; this helps to create familiarity and a dialogue between two worlds that have very few occasions to touch.”
In 2013, Dr Valeska Ting of the Department of Chemical Engineering was awarded the Gold Award in Engineering for her work on nanomaterial systems. Nick Morant, who researched for the University of Bath in conjunction with GeneSys, received the Silver Award for his present on pathogen detection. Dr Ting had also earned the Westminster Medal, winning the overall SET for Britain 2013 competition.
Note: This article was written for bathimpact, before the event finished. The article may not be appearing in the next issue.