We were delighted to sponsor the High Sheriff Awards 2022, which celebrate the achievements of young engineers across Oxfordshire.

Taking place on Monday 27th June at Abingdon & Witney College, the awards aim to encourage and support young people to work towards engineering design solutions which will help our communities attain net zero carbon emissions.

The High Sheriff Awards were open to budding engineers aged 12-18 across three age categories, along with a Team Project Award, and an Overall Winner.

Competition was fierce this year, and it was a tough job for the judging panel to whittle down the finalists, all of which attend a school or college in Oxfordshire and are undertaking an engineering-related subject.

The winner of each category received a £400 Amazon voucher and a cheque for £1,000 for their school. Second and third places won £200 and £100 vouchers.

The awards were judged by our Chairman Richard Dick, Mark Beard, High Sheriff for Oxfordshire 2022, and Mark Vingoe, Chief Executive of The Engineering Trust.

Richard Dick said:

It is really important that we encourage and recruit these young people into the industry. It has never been more vital that we achieve net zero – the race is truly on to see whether we can recruit and train enough talented engineers in time.

The collaboration with Abingdon & Witney College is really important and we have a nice combination of sponsors – we need this kind of strong collaboration to keep going. Ideally, we would like more schools to be involved and this is what we are aiming to achieve in the future.

When we started the High Sheriff Awards eleven or twelve years ago, we only had male entrants. Then we started a category for females. Today, we don’t need a separate category for females because we have so many female entries.

There are always new opportunities to take and new skills to learn so my advice to young people is to talk to people who can help with your career – we hope to be employing some of these talented young people here tonight in the future.

With decarbonisation of the world as the main goal this is an exciting time to be in engineering. Don’t give up!

The High Sheriff Awards 2022 winners

Year 12 & 13 Award

Winner: Abdullah Abbasi, Abingdon & Witney College

Abdullah’s drone project – inspired by his passion for aeronautics and aerospace and which utilised his design skills using Solid Works to create his third product. The judges were impressed by his consideration of the materials used and their reaction during manufacture and his use of 3D printing as the more efficient and environmentally friendly option, hence his choice of FDM technology.

2nd place: Jamie Cockburn, UTC

The judges were extremely impressed by Jamie’s outstanding engineering skills, his approach to his work and his excellent project management skills. He has taken part in employer led projects such as BMW, Crown, CCFE and Network Rail, showing huge enthusiasm for each project.

3rd place: Hollie Stowell, Larkmead School

Hollie created an innovative desktop storage unit, showcasing her creative design work and her hands-on skills with her handmade pewter casted handles. She has shown great passion for engineering and hopes to pursue a career in the sector. She has taken part on various work experiences with RAF Benson/Air Bus and Reaction Engines.

Year 10 & 11 Award

Winner: Sydnie Dougan, Didcot Girls School

Sydnie designed and made an instrument that provides efficient monitoring for classroom air quality. She gave deliberate consideration to function and accuracy in the design of her carbon monoxide monitor which displays live data and also records trends to identify need for additional air management technology.

2nd place: Natalie Buxton, Burford School

Superb skills in processes such as surface treatments and finishes combined with a professional approach to planning projects and a keen understanding of the need for risk assessments.

3rd place: William Rippeth, Lord Williams School

A high level of skill in Design & Technology and adapts his techniques to effectively work with different material areas. His work is creatively designed, accurately cut out and well finished.

Year 8 & 9 Award

Winner: Zoe Forrester, Faringdon Community College

Excellent use and understanding of 2D Design and exceptional attention to detail and creativity. An example of her successes are apparent in her clock project, where she used CAD/CAM very successfully. She has an exceptional understanding of how things work and has demonstrated a promising pathway in Design Technology and Engineering.

2nd place: Felix Keeling, Chipping Norton School

Felix’s highly imaginative approach to his task lighting project using an LED/USB standard light unit and the innovative way he used his design to direct the light source.

3rd place: Maddy Palmer, Chipping Norton School

Truly outstanding design processes and a very high skill of presentation and detail in the design phase, particularly apparent in the very high quality of build and finish on her chosen design which featured dovetail joints – the first time Maddy had made these joints but she achieved a high degree of accuracy and a beautiful finish to her work.

Team Award

Gosford Hill School for their Dragster’s project, which had one objective only – using a CO2 canister -go as fast as you can!

Jake Shepherd, Charlie Harris and Josh Harvey impressed the judges with the excellent utilisation their CAD skills to produce and then evaluate their designs to understand the aerodynamics and how friction could reduce the speed of their Dragsters. As part of the process the models with launched with the CO2 cartridges, at which point the students found that the material was not strong enough to withstand the forces generated by the rapid acceleration. They then remade them in wood, learning the lessons from the prototype wheels and guide eyes were fitted – at which point, the most direct launch system, involving a large mallet and a sharp nail, fired each dragster across the school yard!

Overall Winner

Sydnie Dougan, Didcot Girls School

For not only her outstanding project design skills in delivering an outstanding project in designing an air quality monitoring device for the classroom but for her proactive approach to learning, enthusiasm to share her skills with others and her passion for Engineering.

Having taken the honours for Abingdon & Witney College in the Year 12 & 13 category, Abdullah Abbasi said:

As engineering students, we love to find more sustainable and efficient approaches to everything! My passion for engineering has grown more than ever in the last two years of studying the subject. Abingdon & Witney College has been super supportive and provided me with the material to excel in this Level 3 Engineering course. Winning this award has proven that hard work really does pay off. In the two years of studying engineering, I have overcome failures and learnt to take complete ownership of my actions. This is very important as an engineer since a lot of responsibility is required in any engineering role.

I love the fact that young people are being recognised, and the subject is growing more than ever (as it should be). The next generation of engineers are always the most important in this everchanging industry.

I would like to thank all the amazing staff at Abingdon and Witney college, and two lecturers in particular. Anthony Gleeson and Imran Khan have been very encouraging in gaining a great understanding in both the mechanical and electrical elements of engineering. Studying both areas has allowed me to be a multiskilled person which is always good.

Representing a strong female contingent of five out of nine in the individual award categories finalists, Sydnie Dougan of Didcot Girls School said:

I am delighted to have received such a prestigious pair of awards on Monday evening. It was such a lovely event celebrating so many inspiring, incredible young people and I am extremely honoured, proud and thankful to have been involved and additionally for the recognition of my work. I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me thus far and for everyone who will continue to do so.

The process of creating my CO2 monitor taught me so much and has only furthered my passion for engineering, especially for the problem-solving and learning opportunities that constantly comes alongside it. Although I am uncertain of specific plans, in the future I hope to end up in an area of Computer Science and Engineering that centres around these vital skills where I’m always challenged in my thinking and developing because the opportunity and possibility to change the world just by being involved in this sector are so exciting.

The advice I’d give to aspiring female engineers, and what I try to stick to myself, is: to speak up against bias and fight for what you believe in – your voice matters; to always work hard so you can continually put your best foot forward; and to just keep breaking down as many barriers as possible, no matter what setbacks you face, because we are intelligent, powerful, and just as capable as anybody else – no matter the preconceptions.

Thank you to everyone who entered this year’s High Sheriff Awards and congratulations to the winners!