Engineering has been stuck in a rut for a good few years now. Its image is a little dusty, and it st

You may have seen a new engineering prize in the news this week. The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a new global prize to recognise and celebrate outstanding advances in engineering. Advances that have changed the world.

Advances like the internet, for example. Tim Berners Lee, Louis Pouzin, Robert Khan, Vint Cerf and Marc Andreessen are the joint winners of the first QE Prize, honoured for their ground-breaking work on the development of the internet.

Tim Berners Lee: superstar engineer who invented the internet (together with four other engineers from around the world).

As with many advances that have changed the world, this one started off much smaller than it became… Far from connecting the world, their work began as a way to improve communications between a handful of colleagues. What they achieved, though, has altered the world beyond all recognition (and brought videos of cats doing funny stuff to billions).

As well as deserved acclaim and recognition, the prize is a hefty £1million.

Vint Cerf has been quoted as saying: “It’s like waking up from a dream and realising the geeks are winning.” Perhaps that is what this award is all about.

The future of engineering

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was devised to raise the profile of engineering and bring its image up to date. Today, engineering embraces a much wider range of activities than it used to. When we think of ‘engineers’, many still picture a mechanic or a builder; the truth is, engineering encompasses much more than that, as the first winners of this prize have shown.

Engineering is going to be key to Britain’s economic recovery, and we need to encourage more young men and women into the field. Lord Browne, who announced the winners of the QE Prize, said: “Without more engineers and innovation, the UK will be a backward-looking country resting on the laurels of the past, and will eventually decline in power.”

This sounds pretty bleak, but at Bytronic, we don’t believe that will happen. There’s plenty of young talent out there – we just need to give them some encouragement.

We take a student placement every year (most recently from the University of Surrey, but we don’t mind where they come from), and each one of them has been superb. In fact, we’re hoping that some of them will come back to us after they’ve finished their studies. So we know there’s talent out there, we just need to raise the profile of the profession.

While we’re at it – let’s encourage more women into the profession! We’ve never had a female applicant for our student placement. Let’s change that. If you’re a female engineering student with an interest in a small, exciting company, give us a shout. We’d love to hear from you.