Talented young inventors from across Wales have been recognised for their outstanding inventions at the 2018 WJEC Innovation Awards ceremony at the Senedd.
Iwan Tomos, 19, from Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr in Swansea won the overall winner and A Level prize for his ergometer – a piece of rowing equipment used to warm up, which was inspired by his own experience as a rower and designed to combat common problems his team and coaches had with the warm-up equipment they used.
Other awards went to Harri Tulliver at AS Level for his disability aid and Lisa Evans at GCSE level for her stylish laser-cut dress. Libby Week won the Creativity award for her minimalistic jacket and skirt outfit, the CAD/CAM award went to Aiden O’Leary for his aero bars and the Intellectual Property award went to Zoe Hughes for her disability aid – a gardening tool designed for people with arthritis.
The Innovation Awards, in partnership with the Welsh Government, recognises the most original project work by students studying Design and Technology, with awards for GCSE, AS level and A level work. Awards were also given for Creativity, CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and manufacturing) and Intellectual Property.
“I’m honestly still in shock that I won – when they called my name for overall winner I didn’t really know what was going on, but I’m over the moon. I’ve been a rower for about six years, so I took inspiration from that for my design. As a rower I’ve encountered some problems with the types of warm-up machines currently available. The designs can be bulky, which makes them difficult to pack away and transport, and they don’t really simulate what it’s like to row on water.
“This project was a lot of hard work, but I really enjoyed it and I definitely want to carry on designing and building things. At the moment I’m at Southampton University studying for a degree in Aerospace Engineering.”
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Innovation Awards, which launched in 1998 to celebrate the best in Welsh design and encourage young people to think outside the box and become more technologically innovative.
Students, parents and teachers attended the awards ceremony at the Senedd to see the creations, speak with the winners about their projects and celebrate the success of those shortlisted. Creations included hobbit houses for hedgehogs, a prosthetic arm for use in kite surfing, a study desk designed for ultimate space optimisation and a ‘Festival Friend’ camping security device.
Alongside their award, each winner was presented with a trophy recognising their achievement, and prizes including up to £250 for the individual and £150 for their school or college.
WJEC chief executive, Roderic Gillespie, said:
“This was my first Innovation Awards as chief executive of WJEC, and I was incredibly impressed with the standard of the entries.
“The young inventors who enter this competition have a unique ability to channel their creativity into solving practical challenges in new and inventive ways. This is a skill which is not only beneficial to society now but also will also help solve the new problems we face as we continue into the future. With these skills becoming increasingly vital, we think it’s important to showcase and celebrate the work of young people in Wales.
“The level of commitment which goes into these projects, and the quality of the work produced as a result, is outstanding. I’m sure these are just the first of many exciting ideas to come from this year’s winners and we look forward to seeing where their studies take them next.”
The Innovation Awards is an annual competition partly funded by the Welsh Government. The awards ceremony was hosted by Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education.
“A huge congratulations to all the contenders and winners for their amazing inventions. Wales has a great history of inventors and is home to a number of ground-breaking inventions, including the microphone! And it’s wonderful to see our young people following in their footsteps.
“Occasions like this really highlight the wealth of talent we have in Wales and I’m honoured to be invited to host this ceremony. Our National Mission commits to ensuring learners reach their potential and working on projects like this enable them to fully exercise their creative skills; crucial to their success in education and work.”