Primary Engineer MacRobert Medal Award Ceremony

On Tuesday 7th November 2023, school pupils, university students and engineers travelled to London for the highly prestigious Primary Engineer MacRobert Medal Award Ceremony to receive recognition for their work in creating a Prototype based on a school pupils engineering idea.

The Primary Engineer MacRobert Medal is part of the wider Leaders Award competition which asks the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. School pupils from the ages of  3-19 are asked to identify a problem in the world around them and come up with a creative solution to that problem. These ideas are then selected by Primary Engineer’s university and industry partners to turn into working Prototypes.

The event, which was hosted at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, is designed to celebrate the people who have turned the ideas of school pupils into reality. School pupils who took part in the Leaders Award competition answered the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”, and partners of Primary Engineer select ideas each year and to build into working prototypes.

The ceremony consisted of 2 Bronze Medals, 2 Silver and 3 Gold. The Gold Medallists where the Flat Pack Wind Turbine, developed by Glasgow Caledonian University, which is used to generate power in refugee camps. A Unicorn Health Bot, developed by the University of Sunderland, designed to calm sick children while they receive treatment in hospital, and a Face For a Plant, developed by Thales, which monitors the soil and displays what the plant needs in the form of an emoji.

Dr Susan Scurlock MBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Primary Engineer, spoke at the award ceremony and said:

“The young people who entered the competition at the outset may not have known what engineering is, but now they know what engineering does – it helps people, saves the planet and makes the world a better place. The quality of the ideas and designs has completely blown us away this year, with it being an exceptionally tough job for the judges to decide the winners from our shortlisted prototypes, all of which have incredible potential to impact the real world.

What these inspiring school pupils, university students and engineers have shown us above all else is that “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” is a question that has the potential to change more than we know!”

The award is supported by The MacRobert Trust and Weir Group, and Jon Stanton – Chief Executive Office at WEIR Group PLC – was part of the judging panel, as well as presenting the gold medals at the award ceremony. He said:

“It’s a fantastic initiative that harnesses the imagination and creativity of school children and showcases what can happen when you engage children in engineering from a young age. Weir is a longstanding industry partner of Primary Engineer, and I was honoured to be part of the judging

panel. We’re delighted to celebrate the winners who have demonstrated the very best in engineering and the potential to make an impact in the real world. Congratulations to you all.”

School pupils from Edinburgh, Kinross, Linlithgow, Livingston, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sevenoaks made the trip to the ceremony as well as the ProtoTeams which consisted of engineers and students from Edge Hill University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Thales, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sunderland.

The event also marked 10 years of the Leaders Award competition, with Primary Engineer launching have released a book showcasing some of the hundreds of thousands of ideas that have been submitted across the years. Thanks to partnering with InnovateUK, the book was officially launched at the event.

This year marked 10 years of the Leaders Award competition, and at this event Primary Engineer launched the book they have published to celebrate a decade of asking the question. “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. The book, which was done in partnerships with Innovate UK, showcases some of the hundreds of thousands of ideas that have been submitted by school pupils.

You can find a full list of the winners and learn more about each prototype here, or by expanding the sections below.

Bronze medals

Anti-Waste Fridge

Anti-Waste Fridge

ProtoTeam: Edge Hill University,
Spencer Asamoah, Samuel Molyneux, Madan Bhandari, Maz Khleel, Prof. Ray Sheriff, Sarah Trafford, Dr Xutao Deng, Dr Thomas John, and Michael Boyle

Pupil: Leonardo Trivedi

School: Liverpool College

How do you solve the problem of food waste? Well Leonardo, from Liverpool College in Liverpool wanted to find a way for families to be reminded they have food to eat before it expires. Using a scanner in the Anti-Waste Fridge, you scan the fresh food you buy and the fridge stores information about expiry dates.

Edge Hill University selected this idea because it posed a number of interesting technical challenges for their engineering students and loved being able to invite Leonardo back to campus to show him the working prototype.

Solar Powered Train

Solar Powered Train

ProtoTeam: University of Edinburgh,
Dr Andrew Firth, Iain Gold, and Steven Gourlay

Pupil: Sean Parry

School: Linlithgow Primary School

How can you power trains using renewable energy? Well Sean from Linlithgow Primary School in Linlithgow came up with the idea for the solar powered train, that would help the environment by using solar panels on top of the train to generate clean electricity.

The University of Edinburgh selected this idea to build in 2021 and have displayed to thousands of young people at the Royal International Air Tattoo in both 2022 and 2023.


Silver medals

The Hydro-Paddle 2.0

The Hydro-Paddle 2.0

ProtoTeam: Glasgow Caledonian University,
Adam Carlyle, Ronan McDowall, Louis Saez, Mollie Reid, Roel Doloiras, Jessica McCreath, Matthew O’Hagan, Matthew Duguid

Pupil: Heather Cox

School: Portmoak Primary School

How can you use the fact it rains a lot in Scotland to your advantage? Well Heather from Portmoak Primary School in Kinross came up with the idea for the Hydro Paddle which can fit in your drain pipe and spin when water passes through it, generating clean energy.

The Hydro Paddle was originally selected by Glasgow Caledonian University in 2019 and has been improved up to the Hydro-Paddle 2.0 you see today.

Shimmy, Shimmy Shower

Shimmy, Shimmy Shower

ProtoTeam: University of Edinburgh,
Steven Gourlay, Iain Gold, Alasdair Christie

Pupil: Erin Cameron

School: Bankton Primary School

What can you do to make it easier for people to adjust the shower head when they can’t reach it? Well Erin from Bankton Primary School in Livingston wanted to fix this problem for a specific reason – her gran couldn’t reach the shower head to adjust it, and Erin wanted to make it easier for her.

The team at the University of Edinburgh selected this design to build because Iain, Steven and Alasdair in the technical team found it particularly inspiring and carrying potential as a real-world invention.


Gold medals

Unicorn Health Bot

Unicorn Health Bot

ProtoTeam: University of Sunderland,
Abdu Shaalan, Spyros Fakiridis, Dave Knapton

Pupil: Francesca Mobberley

School: Dame Allan’s Junior School

How do you help keep children calm while they are in hospital? Well Francesca, a pupil from Dame Allan’s Junior School in Newcastle, came up with the Unicorn Health bot that is friendly to sick children, has a health scanner in its horn and a long mane to for children to stroke so they don’t get scared.

The team the University of Sunderland where moved by Francesca’s idea and wanted to involve both their engineering and nursing departments when creating the prototype.

A Face for a Plant

A Face for a Plant

ProtoTeam: Thales,
Thomas Blake, Pietro Casabianca, Harry Jones,
Angus MacInnes, Mark Gallacher

Pupil: Zavier Sankar

School: St Thomas’ Catholic Primary School

What do you do if your house plants keep dying, but you don’t know why? Well Zavier, a pupil from St Thomas’ Catholic Primary School in Sevenoaks came up with an idea – what if the plant could tell you what it needs? Through an LED screen displaying an emoji to communicate what is wrong with the plant, you can tell from across the room what needs to be done.

The ProtoTeam at Thales selected this idea, and they are our first Industry Partner to create a prototype.

Flat Pack Wind Turbine

Flat Pack Wind Turbine

ProtoTeam: Glasgow Caledonian University,
Jamie Whitehead, Rebekah Edgar, Adam Friend,
Scott McCulloch

Pupil: Douglas Macartney

School: The Royal High School

How do you solve a problem like powering a refugee camp. Well Douglas, a pupil at The Royal High School in Edinburgh was inspired by IKEA furniture to come up with the Flat Pack Wind Turbine that could be dropped into refugee camps and generate power.

Glasgow Caledonian University turned this idea into reality and continued to develop it, with the turbine currently in Kenya helping power rural communities in East Africa.

Primary Engineer®, since 2005, have developed an engineering curriculum that spans Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Further Education institutions. Its core aims include; the development of children and young people through engagement with engineering, the promotion of engineering careers through inspiring programmes and competitions, the development of engineering skills for teachers and practitioners addressing the inequalities in engineering.

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