No barrier to young genius

Students on work experience at South Yorkshire firms have triumphed in a design and innovation contest.

The students, who came from a number of different universities, were working with local companies such as Sheffield Forgemasters, TATA Steel Speciality and Eldon when they took part in the competition organised by AEM Futures – part of the Rotherham-based National Metals Technology Centre, NAMTEC.

The students were given four weeks to identify, design and demonstrate a new application for stainless steel and Tomas Katafiasz, Lucy Smith, Adam Jones-Bradburn, Peter Halls, Nick Carrier and Saffiya Osman triumphed with their Bespoke Barriers invention.

The barrier is a thin piece of stainless steel, which slots into two posts, that can be used to separate people queuing to gain entry to bars and clubs and can also display changing advertisements.

One Sheffield bar is interested in using the barriers and Rotherham-based INOX Solutions, which supplies customised stainless steel products to the infrastructure, medical, security and petrochemical sectors, is in talks with others with the aim of starting production.

The students received their prizes at the Special Metals Forum's annual awards dinner at the Cutlers' Hall.

The event, which was sponsored by law firm Nabarro and raised funds for Sheffield Children's Hospital, recognises the talents and achievements of undergraduate engineers and metallurgists in the South Yorkshire region.

Other prize winners included Ross Walker from Tata Steel Rail Technologies, and Barrie Dowell, manufacturing manager at Tata Steel Speciality in Stocksbridge.

Ross Walker won the Sheffield Metallurgical and Engineering Association Prize for Dissertation of the Year, while Barrie Dowell received the Tata Steel UK Student of the Year Award for his evaluation of the effectiveness of the communications used during the restructure of the company's Rotherham business in 2009.

Mr Dowell was commended for having advanced himself through his own hard work, without the benefit of holding a BEng degree.

NAMTEC chief executive, Dr Alan Partridge, said: "It is really important that engineering and manufacturing businesses continue to invest in new talent to ensure they remain competitive on the world market.

"Events like this really do show just what huge potential lies within the next generation of young engineers in this region."

Speakers at the event included Siemens VAI technology manager Mick Steeper, SMEA president Mark Sexton and EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler.

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