A group of inspiring women in science gathered at the NCUB offices in London recently to judge the great entries shortlisted for our Talent 2030 National Engineering Competition for Girls.

The competition, powered by the National Centre for Universities and Business and sponsored by Rolls-Royce, PepsiCo and Centrica, called on female students in secondary education to solve the major challenges of the 21st century, showing how engineering makes a difference to people and planet.

Nearly 750 girls from over 100 schools entered the competition in 2019, bringing the total number of participants since the 2012 launch to almost 3,000.

It’s great to see this growing interest in the competition. Despite our dashboard showing gender parity at GCSE physics in 2017, and the number of female postgraduates in engineering and technology having hit the 25% target set out by our campaign, the needle has barely moved in the number of girls studying physics A-Level and at undergraduate level. At present less than 12% of the UK’s professional engineers are women; this leaves the UK engineering sector vulnerable to its talent pool.

There’s no question about it – we need to encourage more girls to study engineering-related subjects and the Talent 2030 competition, now in its 7th year, has set out to do just that.

From the innovative use of solar energy to solving our plastics problem with the help of seaweed, there was no shortage of creativity in this year’s winning entries.

11-14 age category winner Khadija Dilnawaz from Denmark Road High School looked at how to tackle the problem of decreasing energy resources by using solar energy.

In the 15-16 age category, Imisi Fakunle (St George’s High School for Girls) and Anjola Awe’s (Devonport High School for Girls) winning project looked at how to improve the lives of people living in poverty by exploring different ways plastic waste can be reused.

17-18 age category winners, Hazel Lu, Ellie Krefting, Celeste a Brassard, Sofia Ispahani (Wycome Abbey School) considered seaweed as a plastic alternative to eliminate pollution and save our planet.

And what’s next for the winning teams? They get to take home £500 for themselves and £500 for their schools, and along with the shortlisted finalists they’ve been invited to display their projects to thousands of visitors at the Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair in March. After this, our winners are invited to an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at Rolls-Royce, while our finalists will get to chance to explore the Walker’s crisp factory at PepsiCo!

Congratulations to the winners and a huge thank you to the judges.

The 11-14 age category was judged by:

  • Jodie Howlett, MEng Mechanical Engineering Student, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Liz Butler, Process Engineering Manager, PepsiCo
  • Professor Haifa Takruri-Rizk, Associate Head Engagement at the University of Salford
  • Yewande Akinola, Principal Engineer at Laing O’Rourke

The 15-16 age category was judged by:

  • Donka Novovic, Engineering Associate Fellow for Manufacturing, Rolls-Royce
  • Kira Iaquinta, Transformational Productivity Engineer, PepsiCo
  • Myrtle Dawes, Member of Board of Governors, University of Lincoln

The 17-18 age category was judged by:

  • Dr Jess Wade, Research Associate, Imperial College London
  • Sophie Harker, Aero Engineer, BAE systems
  • Denise Bower, Professor of Engineering Project Management, the University of Leeds


On the photo (L-R): Liz Butler, Kira Iaquinta, Donka Novovic, Myrtle Dawes, Jodie Howlett, Haifa Takruri-Rizk