This year we will be holding our Innovation Competition online - which is totally new for us. We are grateful to Canterbury Christ Church University for help in organising this and welcome a judge from there on our panel. Read more about the judges here.
The Rotary Innovation Competition aims to encourage youngsters to come up with innovative ideas. The competition, which has been held for several years now, is run by us in association with Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), local secondary schools and sixth-form colleges and other educational institutions, with the prizes being provided by local businesses/individuals. Last year, due to Covid, we had to run the competition in a totally different way. This year will see another change from our usual competition format, as we will hold the entire Final event online, organised and hosted by CCCU.
Below you can find out more about this year's judges: Dr Ernesto Hernandez, Dr Harry Cragg and Dr Julie Reza.
Ernesto is a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering and the Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator at the School of Engineering, Technology and Design at CCCU. He says it's a pleasure for him to be working in the provision of engineering degrees that provide graduates with the skills they need to forge a successful career. CCCU is one of only a handful of universities to offer the pioneering CDIO education model (Conceive Design Implement Operate) that gives students the opportunity to work on real, industry-level challenges. The School of Engineering, Technology and Design recently moved into a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art facility that will help to support the dreams and aspirations of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students. Speaking of this year's Innovation Competition, Ernesto stated: “It's a pleasure to be invited as a judge. At CCCU, we love to share our passion for STEM to inspire young people to become the creators of tomorrow.”
Our second judge, Harry, was born in Cumbria and came to Canterbury in the '60s to teach Chemistry at the University of Kent. After becoming a Reader in Inorganic Chemistry he later became Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Although trained in Science, he has always had a love of the Arts and was founding Chair of Governors of the Kent Institute of Art and Design. He retired after 25 years’ service to that establishment. He was a Canterbury City Councillor from 1999-2015 and was particularly proud of the part he played in bringing the “new” Marlowe Theatre to Canterbury. He served as Lord Mayor of the City in 2009-2010. Harry has been a member of the Rotary Club of Canterbury since 1982 and was President in its 90th year. He is married with two children and two grandchildren. “I am so pleased to be judging Rotary’s Innovation Competition for yet another year," said Harry, adding "It's very encouraging to see so many schools taking part once again, overcoming the undeniable obstacles of lockdowns and isolation.”
Julie, also a Member of our Rotary Club, will be acting as Chair of the judges. She is a freelance science communications consultant specialising in global healthcare. She predominantly works with NGOs (non governmental organizations) and not-for-profit organizations. Previously she's worked at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva and at the Wellcome Trust in London. Julie has a longstanding interest in encouraging youngsters in science, and while working at the RPMS/Hammersmith Hospital in London helped set up their Summer School Courses for 6th formers. She also briefly acted as a mentor to underprivileged youngsters. Julie's family, the Chowdhury Family, are sponsoring a special prize in this year's competition in memory of her late father, Dr SR Chowdhury, who was an ENT surgeon at several local hospitals including Kent & Canterbury. "I'm very pleased to be judging this Rotary competition again," said Julie. "We are always excited by the ideas that the youngsters come up with and hope that taking part will encourage them to take up STEM careers. Given the challenges we've faced this year, it's also good to see youngsters coming up with so many interesting new ideas."
We are very grateful to Dr Hellen Ward and James Bennett from CCCU for their help in organising the competition, and to Dr Gary Robinson from the University of Kent who will be giving the youngsters at the Final a talk about intellectual property and looking after innovative ideas.
The Final, to be held online on 24 June, will be attended by invited students, teachers, guests, Rotarians and local VIPs including the Lord Mayor of Canterbury.
The Rotary Club of Canterbury would like to thank the competition sponsors, Bretts, James Clague Ltd, Kentish Gazette & the Chowdhury Family for their support.
Picture: The three judges (anticlockwise from top left: Dr Ernesto Hernandez, Dr Harry Cragg and Dr Julie Reza. Picture credit: Individual judges and the Rotary Club of Canterbury.