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As this year’s engineering graduates from Ulster University’s Magee Campus embark on their future careers and studies; a future generation of engineers, from Primary and Secondary schools across Northern Ireland, have had national recognition for their innovative projects.

The competition which attracts over 48,000 entries from throughout the UK, held its Northern Ireland awards event last week and entries from local schools included a health monitoring system for pets and a smart car that alerts emergency services if involved in an accident.

The Leaders Award, in partnership with Ulster University, Thales and Royal Navy, forms a key element of Primary Engineer Programmes – a not for profit organisation that offers schools, teachers and pupils projects to embed engineering in their curriculum and develop skills. The competition challenged pupils from 3-19 to answer the question; “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”.  Pupils were required to interview an engineer, ask questions that help to develop a seed of an idea, then draw and annotate their design.

Judges from academia and industry crowned Caelan Monaghan  and Niamh O’Donnell from St Mary’s Primary School (Dechomet) in the Primary 4 category, George Patterson from Ballinderry Primary School and Sean McEvoy from St. Mary’s Primary School (Dechomet) in the Primary 5 category and Erin Dunlop from Dumachose Primary School and Ellie Curran Bingham from St Mary’s Primary School (Dechomet) with Erin’s design scooping the additional, prestigious Thales Award.

Beating off stiff competition Ava Connolly, a year 8 pupil at St Mary’s College (Derry-Londonderry) secured the additional and coveted Royal Navy Award for her design, ‘The Digital Curfew’.  There were a further four winners from St Mary’s College; Niamh McCallion (Year 8), Angel Breslin (Year 9) and Kate Nicholas McMonagle and Daisy Matthews (Year 10). The school also achieved six distinctions and eight Judges Highly commended Awards in their submissions to the competition.

Following the awards ceremony, Clare Doherty, Head of Technology at St Mary’s College commented:

"We were pleased to offer our Key Stage 3 students the opportunity to enter this year’s Leaders Award ‘If you were an Engineer  what would you do?” competition. Our students grasped the opportunity and we are delighted their innovative ideas were so successful.Preparing students for the challenges of tomorrow is central to our thinking at St Mary’s College. This competition gave our students the chance to explore the many diverse and rewarding careers paths engineering offers.”

Dr Susan Scurlock, Chief Executive and founder of Primary Engineer said:

"We are delighted to partner with Ulster University, Thales and the Royal Navy to introduce the ‘if you were an engineer, what would you do?’ competition in Northern Ireland and to be working with the Engineering Professors’ Council to see this end-to-end vision have a real impact on the numbers of engineers finding careers in UK industries and.  Ulster University’s engineering students and staff will inspire the next generation of aspiring engineers and problem solvers.  We hope that our entrants, finalists and winners will be encouraged to follow a career path across a wide range of sectors.”

Ulster University’s Professor Colin Turner, President of the Engineering Professors’ Council added:

“The Leaders’ Award is a great opportunity to engage children and pupils of all school ages in tackling problems through innovation, giving them a glimpse into industry and the many ways in which engineers transform lives, from every-day experiences to life saving inventions.

“The high standard of entries for this first year of competition in Northern Ireland has been truly impressive across the age groups and clearly demonstrates strong potential for the future of engineering locally as we build further on Northern Ireland’s rich engineering heritage and imagine the careers of the tomorrow."

For further information on engineering at Ulster University and details of the ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ competition 2020 visit the School of Engineering webpage on Ulster University’s Website or