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The Telegraph UK STEM Awards are a unique opportunity for the UK’s most talented and motivated undergraduates to show their world-changing ideas to industry movers and shakers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). They could also win £25,000 and a bespoke mentoring programme.

Winner Abbie Romano is currently on a placement year at Jackson, and is also half way through a master’s degree in civil engineering at Liverpool John Moores University. Abbie was the overall winner of the Telegraph UK STEM Awards 2015, winning the £25,000 first prize for her idea of putting remotely operated cameras on diggers’ arms.

During her industrial placement at Jackson she came across a safety issue at work, so she developed her ideas and put them forward for the awards.

abbie2Abbie says: “There’s no two ways about it – entering the STEM Awards changed my life. It’s given me the chance to do things I’d never have imagined I’d be doing at 21. The past few months have been unbelievable: I feel like the idea I submitted is really going somewhere, and I’ve been meeting the most incredible people. Everyone involved in the competition has gone out of their way to boost my confidence.

“During my industrial placement at Jackson I’d become aware of a workplace safety issue that didn’t sit right with me. I decided that if I wanted to change the industry, I needed to start somewhere – and the competition seemed like a perfect opportunity to do that. Choosing a career in construction shouldn’t mean putting yourself at risk of life-threatening injuries.”

“My win proves that civil engineering really isn’t just a career for men – and that your gender should never hold you back from going after the job you want. I never thought I would get as far as I did. So if I can do it, what are you waiting for?”

Richard Barnes, Jackson Civil Engineering, says: “I felt that Abbie demonstrated a great attitude to safety leadership in the industry by looking at a very real issue and seeking to do something about it. This is why we have nominated her for a WEM Safety, Health and Environment Leadership award.”

The invention
Abbie’s concept addresses health and safety issues on construction sites. Her idea involves placing the latest CCTV cameras on the arm of an excavator, allowing the operator to use the machine remotely, from a centrally located office. The office would have an excavator simulator, similar to a racing car simulator in an arcade, with screens all around the operator, and a computer to carry out the necessary work. Abbie’s idea has the potential to revolutionise the construction sector by moving all personnel off-site. This could make accidents a thing of the past and eliminate lengthy commutes, too.

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