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Alex Lyness

Loughborough researcher wins engineering X Factor

Dr Alex Lyness, an Enterprise Fellow from Loughborough University, has been voted a winner in the national ‘I’m an Engineer, get me out of here!’ competition.

‘I’m an Engineer…’ and its sister event ‘I’m a Scientist…’ are national competitions which allow school students from around the UK to engage with engineers and scientists. They are free, online X Factor-style contests, where the students are the judges. The students challenge the engineers and scientists through fast-paced live online chats and then vote for their favourites.

The ‘I’m an Engineer…’ competition is split into four zones – Apprentice, Cities, Food and Health. Alex, who works in the University’s Centre for Biological Engineering, was voted winner of the Health Zone.

“I’m an Engineer…’ allows curious school students to ask all different types of engineers about their work, career, and how and why they became engineers in the first place,” explains Alex. “It was a frenetic two-week event, which included daily live chats lasting 30 minutes, when we had whole classes of students asking us questions. They could also post questions offline on a noticeboard at any time.

“The questions were on absolutely anything. I really enjoyed dispelling myths about how clever you need to be to be an engineer, and sharing my journey of how I went from playing with Lego to designing medical devices that deliver stem cells. My two favourite questions were the beautifully blunt ‘If you’re so clever, how come you only did 3 A levels?’ and the ambitious ‘What would you do with £1bn?’”

As a winner Alex received a cheque for £500 to spend on an engineering outreach event of his own design and an ‘I’m an Engineer…’  mug.

“I really enjoyed “I’m an Engineer…’,” Alex said. “I would urge anybody to try it or ‘I’m a Scientist…’ to help engage and inspire more children into careers in science and engineering.

“Since the event finished I have signed up to be a STEMnet Ambassador – a scheme which aims to encourage children to enjoy science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I’m also looking forward to planning my own engineering outreach event, with the prize money from the competition!”

Further information about ‘I’m an Engineer, get me out of here’ is available at imanengineer.org.uk/