As the UK’s no.1 engineering recruitment agency, we take great interest in the future of the UK engineering industry. Our confidence index, launched in October 2012, indicated that engineers lacked confidence in the future of the UK’s engineering industry; not enough was being done to encourage innovation, and this was our call to action.

To reignite UK confidence, the Matchtech Engineering Showcase was launched. This new initiative was designed to celebrate the best in engineering innovation, spanning all sectors of the industry and all regions of the UK. We also hoped to highlight inspirational projects and outstanding achievements to the next generation, to further promote engineering as a career of choice.

We received a great number of innovative and compelling entries, from which 3 finalists were shortlisted:

  • Houlder: ‘Fast track’ Reel Skidding and Drive system
  • Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER): Resolution Eco Racing Car
  • University of Sheffield: Robot Swarm

Paul Jackson, CEO of EngineeringUK, Jon Excell, Editor of The Engineer and I had the privilege of reviewing these entries to select the winner. All were of an extremely high standard, with unique aspects that meant all could have been worthy winners. In judging the finalists, we looked at the cost effectiveness of the project, the resourcefulness of those involved, innovation used to make it successful and the impact the project has within its relevant sector.

I am extremely pleased to announce that the winning entry was the Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) car. Submitted by a team of 60 students (both undergraduates and postgraduates), the eco car has been designed and built to take part in the World Solar Challenge – an impressive 3000km solar marathon across the Australian outback.

The team has taken a bold move by taking a fundamentally different approach to solar car design that focussed on aerodynamics rather than maximising surface area, which is a great demonstration of innovation. In addition, the team worked hard to raise funds in order to enable them to compete and arranged all logistics and promotion themselves.

I am really looking forward to hearing more from the team in our upcoming interview. I feel, as young engineers, they have demonstrated great skill in producing such a unique piece of engineering. It is not something currently seen in the industry on a large scale, but is something that catches a lot of attention with the increasing need for the world to find more sustainable ways to manage our infrastructure and transportation.

As with all our shortlisted entries, the winning project is undoubtedly inspiring, demonstrating how much scope there is within the field of engineering with new techniques and designs yet to be discovered. This opportunity is placed in the hands of the next generation and by putting the spotlight on engineering talent such as this, I hope we have encouraged future engineers to pursue careers in this field, whilst sufficiently celebrating the achievements happening within our UK industry today.

I speak on behalf of my fellow judges when I say that we are very much looking forward to following the CUER team’s progress in the World Solar Challenge; 6th-13th October 2013.

Lastly, I urge you, if you haven’t already, to visit our community site to take a look at the profiles of our 3 finalists and interviews with the winners. This will give you a great insight into the nature of the projects entered and the skill involved in producing them.

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