Rising Stars: meet the young innovators who are engineering tomorrow

Rich McEachran

Some of our rising stars. From left to right: Younes Chahid, Benjamin Mills-Wallace, Rita da Silva, Siddartha Khastgir, Tom Garwood and Roshni Wijesekera (Credit: Will Amlot)
Some of our rising stars. From left to right: Younes Chahid, Benjamin Mills-Wallace, Rita da Silva, Siddartha Khastgir, Tom Garwood and Roshni Wijesekera (Credit: Will Amlot)

We hear a lot about the skills crisis in engineering, but maybe we don’t need to worry quite so much.

In our search for the most exciting young engineers, we discovered a rich seam of talent and drive running right through the profession. We combined nominations from readers and recommendations from the IMechE’s Young Members Board to find the brightest and best young engineers aged 35 or under.

From aerospace to energy, they’re bringing fresh ideas to some of the world’s biggest companies or venturing out on their own. Their backgrounds and experiences vary widely but, together, they’re shaping the future of the profession, and the world.

Peter Bonnington

Product engineering team leader at Delphi Technologies 

Age: 32. Location: Upton St Leonards, Glos

It was Peter’s passion for all things motorsport – and a desire to participate in the build-a-racing-car competition Formula Student – that led him to study automotive engineering and eventually join Delphi, where he currently leads all diesel fuel injector product-related activities for a major European OEM. Even though his role presents challenges – only proven technologies get investment – he’s thrilled to be involved in designing products that will drive the automotive industry forward. “The industry is, arguably, at the most exciting point in its history since the invention of the internal combustion engine,” he says. 

Abigail Carson

Engineering consultant at Ricardo Rail

Age: 23. Location: Derby

Inspired by dreaming up solutions that can make lives easier, Abigail wants to encourage other young engineers to aspire to do the same. Knowing that her final project at Lancaster University would be something that she would have to immerse herself in for several months and therefore enjoy, Abigail decided to design a flywheel that could store energy efficiently. The result was a now patent-pending technology, Inter-rupt, which is more efficient than batteries, suitable for storing electricity generated by renewable sources and has the potential to address energy security concerns in developing countries.

Martin McKie

Senior engineer at Jaguar Land Rover

Age: 35. Location: Birmingham

Martin’s interest in engineering was fuelled by his dad, who works on track at Nissan UK in Sunderland. To date, Martin has had the opportunity to work in a number of engineering environments, from a 44,000-tonne floating concrete jetty used to berth nuclear submarines to petrochemical plants. He’s also a keen promoter of STEM and, in 2017, received the IMechE and IET Mentor of the Year Award. His one piece of advice to budding engineers is: “strive to be happy – it’s the greatest way to succeed”.

Megan Doyle

Systems engineer at Atkins

Age: 26. Location: Bristol

Having enjoyed maths and science at school, Megan knew she wanted a career where she could apply the theory from these subjects in a practical setting. Since joining Atkins’ graduate scheme in 2015, she has been involved in extracurricular activities, including STEM promotion. As the project manager of her division’s young professional forum, she has helped to design an intranet site – an information hub for other apprentices and graduates – and run an innovation event with guest speakers. Her hard work has been recognised by her employer, who presented her with an award recently.

Rita da Silva

Senior mechanical engineer, beam generation lead product owner at Elekta

Age: 28. Location: Crawley, West Sussex

Why were you inspired to get into engineering?

My decision to study mechanical engineering was born during an open day at Bath University, in which an inspiring lecturer opened my eyes to the infinite possibilities of engineering applied to the medical (and other) fields. This is the reason why I applied to study engineering. This was the single hardest decision I have ever made in my life up to this point – I had had my mind set on becoming a doctor for most of my teenage years.

I would be lying if I said I have never had doubts, but I feel I’ve achieved all I wanted to. I can now say that every day, working as part of a large medical engineering company, I am helping save lives and providing better quality of life to many people around the world.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is having the opportunity to develop individual components and subsystems and integrate them into bigger systems which end up forming a major life-changing technical solution that impacts a lot of people around the world.

I really enjoy the technical aspect of engineering. For me there is no better feeling than cracking a difficult technical problem as part of a team.

And the most challenging?

Sometimes you can lose focus because of the day-to-day noise and paperwork and forget why you picked the profession you have. It is good now and then to take a step back and re-evaluate whether you are still developing yourself into the engineer and/or professional you aim to become.

What would you like to achieve in your career?

I’m always looking to further expand my knowledge. I hope to make a difference in the world through the successful development and implementation of high-tech solutions.

We will be featuring five innovative and inspiring rising stars every day until Friday this week.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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