Year in Industry student wins Innovation Prize at EDT’s 2020 CTTB Awards

06 July 2020

At the 2020 Engineering Development Trust’s Year in Industry ‘Contribution to the Business’ (CTTB) Awards, Katie Walker has been awarded the Innovation Prize for her work undertaken during her year in industry with Leonardo in Edinburgh.

The CTTB Awards recognise students’ achievements during their year in industry and how they have positively impacted the business they’ve been working in.

“I won my innovation award for my work creating a software tool that will be used to model different sorts of wire antenna at Leonardo,” explained Katie. “The judges were impressed by the steep learning curve that I undertook, as well as my ingenuity and how innovative and useful my tool was. I was so grateful to win a prize; I really felt recognised for all the hard work I’ve put in over the last year.”

Having spent the first six and half months of her placement at Leonardo’s site in Edinburgh, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Katie spent the remaining time of her year in industry working remotely.

“Throughout my placement – both in the office and when I was working from home – I was given immense support by colleagues and mentors. When I had a question, there was always someone to offer support. My mentors were particularly helpful during the run-up to the CTTB Awards, supporting me in drafting my initial submission and helping me practise the presentations for the semi-final and the final, which were held virtually for the first time.

“I’m really grateful for all the support I received during my placement as it helped me develop and gain specific skills that will be so useful for my future,” added Katie, who is due to start her physics degree at Oxford University this autumn.”

Principal Systems Engineer, James Pearce, who was Katie’s line manager during her placement, said: “Throughout her placement, Katie has proved to be a valuable sounding board for our small team, showing an outstanding level of lateral thinking. In one instance, we were faced with an extremely challenging coding problem using complex 3D geometry. After several hours of effort and many failed attempts, one of my colleagues asked Katie if she had any insights. Within minutes, Katie came up with an ingenious solution to the problem which, with a few small tweaks, became the final solution to the problem and is now coded up as part of our growing suite of analytical tools. That flash of brilliance provided insight into the unique way Katie thinks and goes about analysing problems.

“Katie's Award for Innovation, sponsored by Scottish Engineering, is a national award in which Katie faced stiff competition from all the other Year in Industry students across the country. Being a high technology company, technological innovation is one of the cornerstones of Leonardo's success, and is something we actively encourage. We are extremely proud of Katie, and are delighted that her project has been recognised in such a positive way.”