After a hiatus due to the pandemic, we are delighted to be holding our Innovation Competition Final again "in person". We have some new judges on our panel this year - here you can read a little more about each of them.
Our Innovation Competition has now been running for a number of years and regular readers will know that it aims to encourage youngsters to come up with innovative ideas. Over the last few years we have run the competition in association with Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), local secondary schools and sixth-form colleges and other educational institutions. Prizes are provided by local businesses/individuals. Last year we had to hold the final online but we are delighted to return to our more conventional format again this year.
You can find out more about this year's judges below:
Professor Mohamed Abdel-Maguid
Mohamed is Professor of Smart Systems, Pro Vice-Chancellor (STEM) and Dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering, and Social Sciences at CCCU.
He holds a BEng in Electronics and Telecommunications, a MSc in Telecommunications Engineering from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology, and a PhD in Electronic Engineering (Image and Video Processing), from Staffordshire University. During his career, he has worked as an engineer, researcher, educator, senior academic leader and entrepreneur. He is an advocate of STEM and Digital skills development, and has been at the forefront of a number of initiatives that nurture inclusion, innovation, entrepreneurship, and business-university collaboration.
His interests span the broad spectrum of Digital Technologies with focus on Future Networks, Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation, where he is actively engaged with skills development and university-business collaborations.
"We are delighted to host the Rotary Innovation Competition Final at Canterbury Christ Church University," said Mohamed. "I am always impressed by how innovative the competition entries are. The projects...clearly demonstrate that our young generation understand the challenges our society is facing and are committed to important agendas such as sustainability, wellbeing and climate challenges. I would like to congratulate each and every student...and wish them all the success."
Professor Rob Lucas-Gardiner
Rob is Professor of Mobile and Wireless Systems at the University of Suffolk and is a visiting Professor at CCCU. His background is predominantly telecommunications; he has set up and run two businesses that operate up and until now. His professorships at Suffolk and CCCU are related to the STEM Faculty and involve advanced and emerging technologies.
Interestingly, Rob made the first call over a cellular network in the UK in November 1984 - he tells us that he still has that mobile today! Rob was one of the founders of Vodafone and has been instrumental in the development of all the subsequent generations. He has also served as advisor involved with the Prince’s Trust and was an advisor for many years for the Business Link, the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.
"It is always a pleasure and a privilege to be involved with fresh minds and inspirational ideas and projects emerging from our next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs," said Rob.
Neil, a Past President of our Club, is a Chartered Civil Engineer with over 30 years experience in the subjects of environmental and ground engineering. He has worked on numerous projects including the London Olympics, Dubai Burj Al Arab hotel, Heathrow Terminal 5 access roads, and sections of the M20 motorway in Kent. He has also acted as a Commercial Director.
Neil developed a team of over 280 staff in offices throughout the UK and for ten years was a part time lecturer on the MSc course in Foundation Engineering at Birmingham University.
Neil currently works part time for two engineering companies on technical and commercial review work. He lives with his wife in Kent, has two children and manages a 7-acre wood. He is also a keen reader of 20th century history.
"I'm very pleased to join the judges this year. This is the 9th year the competition has been held, but my first as a judge. I'm looking forward to the presentations from the youngsters about their individual innovations."
Dr Julie Reza
Julie, also a Member of our Rotary Club, will be acting once again 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 the special Global Health 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.
"It's a great pleasure to be chairing the judging panel once again for this competition," said Julie. "I'm always impressed by the enthusiasm shown by the entrants, and it's really nice that this year we will be holding the Final face-to-face."
We are very grateful to Dr Hellen Ward, James Bennett and Peter Sutton 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.
The Final, to be held on the 29th June at CCCU, will be attended by invited students, teachers, guests, Rotarians and local VIPs including the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Mrs Anne Dekker.
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 four judges (anticlockwise from top left: Professor Mohamed Abdel-Maguid, Professor Rob Lucas-Gardiner, PP Neil Fraser and Rtn Dr Julie Reza. Picture credit: Individual judges and the Rotary Club of Canterbury.