Big Bang North West: The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition – Meet the Judges!
June 30th 2017

Big Bang North West: The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition – Meet the Judges!

The Big Bang North West 2017 is coming and with it, The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers 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).

victoria harman

Victoria Harman

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 7 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?: This will be my fifth 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!


Richard Hadji

“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 fifth 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!”

Lee Sweetman

Lee Sweetman

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? 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!).

roger todd

Roger Todd

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? I’ve enjoyed the event each 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!


Tom Goodale

“I have been passionate about science all my life.  When I was a teenager I decided I wanted to build a starship, and that shaped my academic path.  Once I got into research and was modelling black holes and neutron stars I realised I’d never actually be able to find the exotic matter needed for faster than light travel or to create wormholes, but the universe is still a marvellous place.  A few years ago I left academia to become a storyteller, but remain passionate about science;  I bring science into my storytelling, and also tutor GCSE and A level physics and maths.  Judging at the competition brings it all together – I get to talk to people about the science they are interested in, and to advise them on ways to communicate their science more effectively.”

Katherine Allen

Katherine Allen

“I am a research ecologist at the University of Liverpool. My job is to try to answer questions about nature and help to protect it. I have worked on dragonflies, forests, moorlands and coral reefs and visited some amazing places. I love my job, but I didn’t always know this is what I wanted to do. When I was at school, the options seemed very limited and I wasn’t aware of the vast range of jobs you could do with science and a love of nature. The Big Bang is a great opportunity for young people to meet scientists and find out more about careers and opportunities. It is also a great opportunity for us to meet the scientists of the future and be inspired by their enthusiasm and ambition, and be challenged by their questions! Judging is a highlight of my year and I am very excited to be invited back to meet the 2017 entrants!”

glynn robinson

Glynn Robinson

“I left school at 16 to become a student apprentice at Fodens (truck manufacturers). I gained HNC’s in Metallurgy, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, going on to take professional qualifications. I started at North Staffs CAT (College of Advanced Technology) and ended up at John Dalton/UMIST in Manchester. I was in industry for 15 years – Chief Metallurgist at Bamfords at 23 and my last job in industry was group engineer for Dubilier.

I then went into education, starting off as schools liaison for STEM (Science and Technology Education on Merseyside) whilst teaching at Speake Comprehensive. I did my 12 month PG Diploma in Education and went to work at Sandbach School. I was there for 18 years and then moved to St Dominic’s School as Head of Science and Mathematics. I took early retirement but went to South Cheshire College as a Physics Lecturer (plus Metallurgy/materials for the engineers). I even taught physics to the Beauty Therapy students.

During all of this I was a VR instructor with the RAF, teaching cadets to fly with 632 Sqn RAF Tern Hill (then RAF Shawbury) – this was, and still is, CFS(H). This is why I can use the title Wing Commander.

I was an examiner in 1973, starting of with the JMB in Manchester and finally with Oxford and Cambridge – more lately Cambridge International “A” Level Physics.

My qualifications  – Wg Cdr Glynn Robinson BSc., CPhys., CSci., CEnv., FIMMM., FInstP., FRSA., MCollP., PG Dip Ed., PG Dip Mgt.”

Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition – Award Sponsors
Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition – Competitors & Projects
Enter the competition…

The Big Bang North West 2017
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