08 May 2012

McNab-Lacey winners presented with prize

Winners of the McNab-Lacey Prize

A team of students from University of Manchester, UK, were presented with the 2011 IChemE McNab-Lacey Student Design Award last week.

The McNab-Lacey Prize was created when the McNab Prize for student design and Lacey Medal for sustainable design were merged last year. It is open to final-year students from IChemE-accredited universities across the world, rewarding the project that best contributes to a sustainable world.

The seven-strong team that clinched the inaugural prize was made up of final-year students Liam Booth, Maryam Ojetola, Sarah Bickerton, Richard Gowers, Sophie Wilkinson, Vanessa Suinggi and Andrew Harrison, all of whom have now graduated from Manchester. They were mentored through their project by chemical engineering professor Colin Webb.

Their winning project involved designing a process for producing succinic acid from corn waste using the microorganisim Actinobacillicus succinogenes. Malcolm Wilkinson, chair of the IChemE Sustainability Special Interest Group and head of the judging panel, says that the team had “clearly taken the idea of sustainability right through the project, from the initial concept to the final design.” Wilkinson presented the team with a cheque for £700.

When asked what they had taken from the project the team explained that it had given them an appreciation of how “incredibly iterative” the design process is, and spoke of how hard – and rewarding – it is to work with a team under incredibly stressful conditions.

“If you couldn’t adapt,” they said, “you couldn’t get through it.”

Less than half of the teams vying for the award came from UK universities, with two entries coming in from Malaysia and a much-commended effort from Singapore Polytechnic clinching second place.

Applications are open for this year’s award, which is looking for innovative design work that extends the boundaries of chemical engineering. More information is available on the IChemE website, at www.icheme.org/about_us/medals with the closing date for new entries falling on 29 July.

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