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Aston engineer takes his research to Parliament

Graham Lee

13 March 2014

Graham Lee, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Aston University, is attending Parliament to present his engineering research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of SET for Britain on Monday 17 March.

Graham from Northumberland was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament. His poster on research about femtosecond laser inscribed microchannels in standard single mode optical fibres for liquid and gas sensing, demonstrates the capabilities of extremely short light pulses that can be used to produce novel devices for sensing, electronics and telecommunications will be judged against dozens of other engineers’ research in the only national competition of its kind.

On presenting his research in Parliament, the 26 year old said, “I applied for the competition as I believe it will be an incredible opportunity to communicate my research to a wider audience as well as to members of Parliament who play a key role in determining the research direction for Britain.”

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. 

“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Graham’s research has been entered into the Engineering session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.

Judged by leading academics, the gold medalist receives £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.

Volker Schultz, Chief Executive Officer, Essar Oil UK commented: “Essar Oil UK are delighted to be gold sponsors of the Engineering Section of SET for Britain 2014.  The awards help to encourage and support young scientists, engineers and technologists, with the standard of entrants consistently impressive year after year.  As a company that employs so many talented people across these different disciplines we take a tremendous interest in the excellent work the competition is promoting.”

Mr Philip Greenish CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering said: “SET for Britain is a unique occasion for young researchers to showcase the best of their work directly to MPs.

“It gathers some of Britain’s best early-stage researchers and politicians in the same room, this helps to create familiarity and a dialogue between two worlds that have very few occasions to touch.”

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with the Council for Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Essar, INEOS, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Germains Seed Technology, Boeing, the Bank of England and the Institute of Biomedical Science.

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1.  Contact

For further information about the event, images, or interview opportunities, please contact Joe Winters:

Tel: 020 7470 4815
Mob: 07946 321473
E-mail: joseph.winters@iop.org

2.  SET for Britain

SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons - involving approximately 210 early stage or early career researchers - judged by professional and academic experts.  All presenters are entered into either the engineering, the biological and biomedical sciences, the physical sciences (chemistry), the physical sciences (physics) session, or the mathematics session, depending on the researcher’s specialism. 

Each session will result in the reward of Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates.  Bronze winners will receive a £1,000 prize; Silver, £2,000; and Gold, £3,000.  There will also be an overall winner from the four sessions who will receive the Westminster Wharton Medal.

SET for Britain was established by Dr Eric Wharton in 1997.  Following his untimely death in 2007, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, with support from The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Physiological Society and the Society of Chemical Industry, is working to further his legacy. 

The event is made possible this year by the prize sponsors, who are BP, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Essar, INEOS, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Germains Seed Technology, Boeing, the Bank of England and the Institute of Biomedical Science.

The competition is open to early stage or early career researchers, which includes university research students, postgraduates, research assistants, postdocs, research fellows, newly-appointed lecturers, part-time and mature students, returners, those people embarking on a second career, and their equivalent in national, public sector and industrial laboratories, and appropriate final year undergraduate and MSc students, all of whom are engaged in scientific, engineering, technological or medical research.