Aston student wins Engineering Award


21 April 2011

Matthew Hirst, EAS student on BSc Construction Management (with placement year), won The City of Birmingham Queen's Silver Jubilee Engineering Award last Thursday, 14 April.

Awarded annually to a final year student in any field of engineering at a Birmingham Institution of Higher Education, Matt was one of four candidates put forward, including fellow Aston construction student Gregg Warwick. The 40 minute interview took place at the Council House before a Judging Panel consisting of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and representatives of the IMechE, IChemE, CBI, ICE, IET, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the University of Manchester.

Candidates are judged in the areas of: 

  • community contribution with an engineering slant
  • industrial placement
  • academic achievement
  • overcoming adversity/challenges
  • communication - personal, professional and social
  • ambitions and future aspirations.

Matt showed an interest in the built environment from a young age, spending hours constructing buildings with Lego blocks! Helping his father in a small valve manufacturing factory in Huddersfield after school and during the holidays added to his passion for industry and consolidated the desire to study construction. He was selected as a sponsored student by the Birmingham based contractor Interserve Plc. during sixth form college, when he attended a series of interviews with senior management at Interserve and the Construction Skills Board. As part of the sponsorship agreement he is expected to be an ambassador of the company at recruitment events and complete work placements alongside his studies. These commitments have included a summer placement in 2008 as a project engineer on the installation of photovoltaic panels onto the roof of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, and a year in industry, where he worked as a site engineer on the £32 million HMP Forest Bank extension and the £45 million St Helens College campus redevelopment.

Matt said of his day at the Council House “I was very pleased to be selected by the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston University to be put forward for this award, though facing challenging questions from a panel consisting of representatives from Chartered Institutions and from Trade and Industry was a little daunting! It was a great experience - winning the award means a great deal to me and simply reinforces my enthusiasm for construction”.

Particularly interested in green building technologies, Matt sees his future in retro-fitting buildings with regard to energy efficiency, and is thinking of eventually studying part-time towards a PhD in this field, although the members of the Judging Panel were keen that he should set up his own business!

Matt’s success follows the presentation of the Award in 2009 to EAS student Mamoon Zaheer, BEng Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, who started at Aston on the Engineering Foundation programme and graduated with a first class degree.