Department of Engineering / News / The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced winners of its 2020 medals and awards

Department of Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced winners of its 2020 medals and awards

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced winners of its 2020 medals and awards

Research Associate Dr Boyang Shen and alumnus Andrea De Luca have been named Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Engineers Trust Young Engineers of the Year and alumnus Jamie Shotton receives a RAEng Silver Medal.

These engineers help to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges in fields spanning medical, civil, digital, and materials, and deserve to be celebrated for the work they do.

Chair of the Academy’s Awards Committee Professor Raffaella Ocone

With the generous support of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, the RAEng is making five Young Engineer of the Year awards of £3,000 each year to UK engineers in full-time higher education, research or industrial employment, who have demonstrated excellence in the early stage of their career.

Dr Boyang Shen receives a Young Engineer of the Year award for his significant contribution to the electromagnetic characteristics of high-temperature superconductors, and the design of medical imaging devices that help early detection of diseases that involve variations in human tissue. Boyang holds a Research Fellowship at Clare Hall, and is a Research Associate at the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge. He has published around 60 peer reviewed journal articles. In 2018, he was awarded the IEEE CSC Graduate Study Fellowship in Applied Superconductivity a prestigious prize for graduates in superconductivity community. 

Boyang Shen

Alumnus Andrea De Luca, CEO of University spin-out company Flusso, received a Young Engineer of the Year award for his development of the core technology behind the smallest flow sensor in the world. These sensors can be used in medical, consumer, environmental, automotive and industrial settings, for example in breathalysers, drones and fire detectors.

Andrea De Luca

Alumnus Jamie Shotton, Partner Director of Science at Microsoft, received a RAEng Silver Medal. The Silver Medal recognises an outstanding and demonstrated personal contribution to UK engineering, which results in successful market exploitation, by an engineer with less than 22 years in full-time employment or equivalent

Jamie was the leading engineer behind the machine learning that drives the human body motion capture system in Microsoft’s Kinect, which won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award in 2011.

Using human motion capture to enable gesture-based user interfaces for computers and controller-free gaming on consoles had long been considered a near impossible task by many experts. Systems that required body markers to be worn existed, but human movement, the diversity of body shape and clothing, and the variety of home environments and lighting conditions meant that achieving it without wearing markers had remained an unsolved problem for decades.

Having carried out his PhD on visual recognition of objects from their shapes, Jamie saw that machine learning technology used for image classification could be repurposed as a radically different way to achieve human motion capture. Using this, the Kinect became one of the earliest examples of large-scale machine learning and computer vision in a commercial product, and was the fastest-selling consumer device ever at its launch.

Since then, Jamie has continued to work on computer vision and machine learning algorithms that understand people’s motion and appearance to open up new applications. His team recently shipped the articulated hand tracking and eye gaze tracking on Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, an augmented reality device. He is currently working on ways to transform communication through virtual 3D telepresence.

Jamie Shotton

Commenting on this year’s winners, the chair of the Academy’s Awards Committee Professor Raffaella Ocone said: “Engineering underpins our daily lives, and these awards acknowledge and celebrate engineers and engineering achievements that are often hidden from public view. These engineers help to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges in fields spanning medical, civil, digital, and materials, and deserve to be celebrated for the work they do.”

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