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Big Bang North West 2016: The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition – Meet The Judges!
The Big Bang North West 2016 is coming and with it, The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition (formerly The National Science + Engineering Competition). We would like to introduce you to some of the amazing judges who will be selecting our finalists and award winners.
Meet the professionals who will be asking the questions, there’s fun facts from them and fantastic advice too!
The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition is open to all 11-18 year olds living in the UK and in full-time education. The Competition aims to recognise and reward young people’s achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Occupation: Research Assistant at the University of Liverpool
Background: After doing science A-levels I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Southampton. By the time I was in the last year of my degree I knew I wanted to work in a laboratory so I applied for any lab jobs going! I was offered a Research Assistant post at the University of Liverpool and moved up here two weeks after graduation. I’ve been in this job for just over 6 years now and I’ve also completed a masters degree whilst working. A lot of my time is spent doing research in the lab, it can be a very challenging job but also extremely rewarding!
Why have you offered to return as a judge at The Big Bang North West 2016?: This will be my forth year as a judge and I’m really looking forward to another year of great projects. Learning to communicate your experiment design and the results is such an important skill; it’s great that the competition gives students the opportunity to develop their presentation skills in a friendly and fun environment.
I spend most of my days in the lab, and I still love doing experiments just as much as I did when I was at school. As fun as the experiments are, learning to communicate the results is extremely important and it’s great that the competition encourages students to acquire and develop those skills. The energy and enthusiasm from the students showcasing their brilliant and innovative ideas is very inspiring and it’s always a really fun day!
What’s the best part of judging?: The energy and enthusiasm from the students, and the brilliant and innovative ideas the students present – it’s very inspiring and it’s always a really fun day!
Do you have any advice for the students who are entering this year?: Ask a friend or teacher to quiz you on your experiment design and results – try to think about what questions the judges are going to ask you so you’ll feel prepared on the day!
Fun fact about yourself: I absolutely love baking, especially cupcakes!
Occupation: Head of Division of Innovation & STEM at Preston’s College
Background: I served for 16 years as an Engineering Officer in the RAF. On leaving I joined BAE Systems (so I know lots about aircraft and the aerospace industry), but gradually became more interested in people development than engineering development. So I joined STEMNET as Regional Director for the North of England. Having spent 10 years in STEMNET advising teachers and tutors about the benefits of STEM I decided to have a go myself, and since September last year have been leading the STEM departments at Preston’s College.
Why have you offered to return as a judge at The Big Bang North West 2016? I have been a judge at Big Bang events since the events first started, and every year I have been amazed by the quality, standard and depth of understanding that young people have about their project, and the genuine interest they have in science and engineering. There is some fantastic new talent out there and I want to be amongst the first to see it!
What’s the best part of judging? Listening to enthusiastic, articulate young people describing their projects – it really is very inspiring and uplifting (and also seeing their teachers stood in the background beaming with joy!).
Do you have any advice for the students who are entering this year? You will only have a few minutes with the judges, so practice, practice and practice again your ‘pitches’, and make sure any ‘demo’ will work perfectly – so that you really impress them.
Fun fact about yourself: I can play the mandolin (badly), and have double jointed thumbs (these two facts are not related!)
“I have a PhD in mathematics, 12 years in the defence industry working in an engineering/advanced technology environment and more than 15 years STEM/outreach experience including careers talks, workshops, mock interviews and judging at various competitions. I have been a judge at the Big Bang North West and at the National finals, and this year will be my fourth year as one of the head judges at the Big Bang North West. The extremely high standard of the projects at the competition always makes it extremely difficult for us judges, I look forward to it being another difficult year!”
Occupation: Senior Engineer in the nuclear industry
Background: I enrolled on an apprenticeship after I left school. I worked as a technician (on a chemical manufacturing site) while studying part time (HNC/HND and Degree – paid for by my employer). I went into a technical role and now working as a Senior Engineer for a consultancy firm in the nuclear industry
Why have you offered to return as a judge at The Big Bang North West 2016? I liked judging at previous Big Bang North West events and l am interested in encouraging the students.
What’s the best part of judging? The diversity of the projects presented
Do you have any advice for the students who are entering this year? Enjoy the project and presenting on the day
Fun fact about yourself: I have always enjoyed taking things apart (but not always putting them back in the same way!).
Dr Daniel Harvey
Occupation: R&D Scientist – High-throughput Industrial Chemist
Background: I studied at the University of Liverpool for just over 7 years and have worked with [and for] Unilever for the past 7 years. I worked in an endotoxin testing laboratory for a year in industry during my undergraduate degree, testing prototype pharmaceuticals and sterile artificial replacement body parts.
After finishing my undergraduate finals, I worked at the Ultra-Mixing and Processing Facility at the University of Liverpool on a summer placement, before completing a PhD in formulation chemistry during which I developed a number of new methods involving high-throughput formulation, and subsequent bi-phasic reactions.
I worked as an appraisal technologist for three and a half years, quantitatively analysing the impact of hair care products on hair at Unilever R&D. I’m currently working in the Automation and Standardisation Team as a high-throughput formulation and characterisation expert on new prototype robotics platforms.
Why have you offered to return as a judge for The Big Bang North West 2016? I worked as a judge in 2015 at The Big Bang North West and found the role incredibly fun. I really enjoyed meeting the students, seeing their passion for STEM subjects and seeing the work they had been performing in their own time. I said at the end of the event I would love to do it again and have been given the opportunity to!
Since I can remember I’ve always wanted to create new things; from new constructions out of Lego, to new methods of analysis for multibillion pound companies. I have a PhD in Chemistry, have presented my research work at conferences in France and Singapore, and have spent the past 3 and half years working for one of the largest personal care manufacturers in the world finding solutions to their problems. To see the ideas and possible solutions to problems by the next generation of scientists genuinely excites me and is something I am looking forward to assisting in judging. I can only ever remember wanting to be a problem solver and have my own way of going about it, observing and judging other viewpoints is of great interest to me and why I am looking forward to judging again.
What’s the best part of judging? Seeing the passion students have for STEM subjects and what they have created for the Big Bang. As a judge part of our role is to ascertain how much the students really know about their work. Seeing first-hand how much they know and being able to go into almost degree level knowledge at such a young age is just brilliant!
Do you have any advice for the students who are entering this year? Take the time to know the area you are presenting on and enjoy it! STEM subjects are fascinating and the depth of knowledge behind them is vast. If you like the area you’re presenting in take the time out to find out a bit more about it
Fun fact about yourself: I love quizzes, puzzles and things that make the mind work. So much so that I have been filmed on, but can’t say how I did as it’s not been on yet, Pointless on BBC1.
Occupation: Retired Professional Engineer
Background: I started as an Avionics Technician in the RAF. I joined large international companies where I designed telemetry systems, headed into software development and then project management. I ran multi-million pound projects and eventually was asked to become a project trouble shooter. I worked on projects around the world and then started my own consultancy in trouble shooting. Eventually I decided to commercialise some of my inventions and formed Tekgenuity Ltd in Manchester and this company formed two others, Medipump Ltd and Chromasonic System Ltd. I’m now retired but still inventing!
Why have you offered to return as a judge for The Big Bang North West 2016? I enjoyed the event last year.
What’s the best part of judging? Seeing how enthusiastic the team members became as they explained their particular projects.
Do you have any advice for the students who are entering this year? Don’t download everything off the internet. It can be used for reference but you must show that you have carried out your own research and publish the bad results as well as the good.
Fun fact about yourself: I can’t stop inventing things!
Dr Marco Bertamini
Occupation: Academic Teacher and Researcher
Why have you offered to return as a judge for The Big Bang North West 2016? It’s lovely to interact with children about science.
What’s the best part of judging? Every project is different, so every time it is about something new.
Do you have any advice for the students who are entering this year? Forget about applications, go for what will provide a discovery of something that we did not know before, or that your project answers a question you wanted answering – applications will follow.
Fun fact about yourself: I like Japanese Manga.
Occupation: Retired Engineering Manager, Chemical Industry
Background: I always loved tinkering around with models, construction toys and electronics. My latest “toy” is a Raspberry Pi computer so I can do some coding! My favourite subject at school was Science.
I applied for an apprenticeship with a major chemical company as an “Instrument Artificer”. I attended college on a day release until I was 24 years old. After working as an instrument artificer, maintaining and installing measurement and control systems on large chemicals plants, I became a supervisor and then an engineer. I started my degree with the Open University at the age of 31 and 6 years later I had an honours degree and became a Chartered Engineer. I became more involved in project work including completing a major control system project in India, which was an experience of a life time. I have travelled widely as an engineer and have made friends from many countries through engineering.
Why have you offered to return as a judge for The Big Bang North West 2016? I was very impressed with last year’s event, especially with the enthusiasm and creativeness of those students taking part so it was a very enjoyable day. I have a wonderful career in the world of Engineering and am very keen to assist helping students to make their careers in the exciting world of engineering.
What’s the best part of judging? Taking to the teams taking part about the challenges they have faced with their projects and how they overcame them.
Do you have any advice for the students who are entering this year? Prepare as best you can; success often comes to those who have prepared the most thoroughly. On the day, take some time to look at other projects and see what interests and inspires you. You might find your future career!
Fun fact about yourself:
I write with my left hand but otherwise am completely right handed!!
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