10th Anniversary of the BEEAs: A decade of excellence – 2018

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

The British Engineering Excellence Awards were launched in 2009 to champion and celebrate design innovation and excellence. Since then, the BEEAs has multiplied in stature, as has the number of companies entering to win the foremost engineering accolade for design.

The BEEAs has been highlighting the breadth and depth of the UK’s design engineering community and how it is competing on a global stage for the last 10 years. Winners of the Grand Prix, the best-of-the-best of each year, have ranged from individual engineers doing outstanding work both in their industries and communities, to small companies with staff numbers in the single-digits, to larger OEMs.

Each year, hundreds of entries are debated and analysed by a judging panel of industry experts, which includes the winners of the previous year’s Grand Prix and Design Engineer of the Year Awards.

National Instruments has been a sponsor of the event since 2009. Richard Roberts, senior customer marketing manager, National Instruments says: “The BEEAs always recognises a broad-range of innovative UK engineering firms, which align with the strong engineering and innovative heritage of the National Instruments brand. It also offers the opportunity to network with many eminent engineers and business leaders. National Instruments has sponsored the Young Design Engineer award to help celebrate British engineering accomplishments and support the industry’s most precious, valuable resource – the engineers of the future.”

The tenth British Engineering Excellence Awards ceremony took place at a gala luncheon on 4 October 2018 at etc.venues County Hall, London.

And the winners were…

Grand Prix

Sponsored by: Mark Allen Business
Winner: Aesseal

Consultancy of the Year
Sponsored by: Rutland Plastics
Winner: Stirling Dynamics

Small Company of the Year
Sponsored by: Mark Allen Business
Winner: Transmission Dynamics

Start Up of the Year
Sponsored by: Cambridge Consultants


Winner: Circuitworx

Design Team of the Year
Sponsored by: LG Motion
Winner: Imagination Technologies

Materials Application of the Year
Sponsored by:Goodfellow
Winner: Nylacast Chock Liner

Electronic Product of the Year
Sponsored by: TÜV SÜD
Winner: Xilinx

Mechanical Product of the Year
Sponsored by:Minitec
Winner: Aeristech

Engineering Ambassador of the Year
Sponsored by: John Guest

Winner: Aesseal

Young Design Engineer of the Year
Sponsored by: RS Components
Winner: Brent Brakeboer, Surrey Satellite Technology

Design Engineer of the Year
Sponsored by: Maxon Motor
Winner: Orla Murphy, Jaguar Land Rover

Where are they now?

Since joining Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) in 2012, Orla Murphy – who won Design Engineer of the Year – has progressed through different roles in the business, in both the Electrical Engineering and Vehicle Engineering departments.

Murphy has worked in the audio team, calibrating vehicle sound systems using analytical, acoustic and both objective and subjective testing skills. In the quality team, she works in complex problem-solving for warranty issues.

This variety of roles is emblematic of a conscious effort to broaden her skill set. “Some people like to be an expert and will spend their whole life specialising in that field. Others are a bit more broadly focused and more interested in bringing all the parts together not only on the technical side, but also in terms of bringing the project together start to finish. You learn to be a good problem-solver and that’s a skill you can apply to almost any project. You can work in any company, any industry.”

Outside of work, Murphy is a STEM ambassador and public speaker, and gives technical lectures on her work for all ages, from schoolchildren up to retired engineers. “I’ve always been involved in teaching and coaching,” she says. “I’m now a fully-trained coach; I’m a fully-trained mentor; I’m a black belt sigma coach. I also deliver internal training courses on problem-solving.”

As a result of her work, Murphy was the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year in 2016, the Royal Academy of Engineering Engineer of the Year in 2016 and was listed in the Telegraph and Women’s Engineer Society (WES) as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering in 2017. She has given technical evening lectures for the Institute of Physics, IMechE, IET, and for Glasgow University. Orla is also the vicechair for the IET Coventry and Warwickshire Committee and is a qualified coach and mentor.

Sheffield-based AESSEAL won the Engineering Ambassador of the Year Award and Grand Prix in 2018 for its work engaging young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and how promoting careers in engineering.

The company’s promotion of engineering as a study path typically starts at Year 6. This is less explicit than its work with secondary schools and colleges and often takes the form of sponsorships, ranging from sponsoring local Laughton Junior and Infant School to turn its £150 ‘loan’ into a profit in the ‘Make £5 Blossom’ initiative; to giving the Wacky Wobots team at Our Lady St Joseph’s Primary School a £5,000 grant to build and programme their robot Stevie 2.0 - which earned them a place in world finals of the Vex Robotics Championships in Kentucky, USA.

Every sponsorship or grant comes with an invitation to visit the AESSEAL global headquarters, where students get a chance to dismantle and rebuild a mechanical seal.

This encouragement continues all the way up to apprenticeship. Apprentices have an equal opportunity to work on the company’s state of the art machinery. In fact, Advanced Apprentice Nathan Wall was a member of the team tasked with overseeing the installation of the £1 million, 11 axis Nakamura Tome Super NTX, alongside senior management. Since redesigning its apprenticeship programme in 2012, AESSEAL has trained 100 apprentices. Of those 69 remain part of the workforce. In 2017, 21 apprentices joined the programme, of whom 20 remain with the business.

The 10th anniversary Awards will be taking place on 11 October 2019 at The Landmark London, and we hope to see you there. If not, visit www.beeas.co.uk after the event to see who won what, including the prestigious Design Engineer of the Decade.


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