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Emerging Engineers Award 2021: winner announced

08 October 2021

From bomb detection to bridge dynamics, the final saw three young engineers pit their work against each other to win the top prize.

Emerging Engineers Award 2021: winner announced
Emerging Engineer 2021 winner Ana Vega Kurson.

A presentation on how data-driven fatigue assessments can be used to maximise the energy production of offshore wind farms has won this year's ICE Emerging Engineers award.

Ana Vega Kurson, from the South West, delivered her winning presentation at the live-streamed, online award final today.

She fought off competition from Tereza Kleckova (Wales), who talked about bridge dynamics to moving loads, and Jordon Gask (South East England), who presented on the use of Monte Carlo Simulation to estimate the probability of encountering and detecting unexploded bombs during construction activities.

Kurson was awarded with a cash prize and an Institution Medal for her efforts.

About Emerging Engineers

The Emerging Engineers competition is aimed at student, graduate and trainee technician members. The competition encourages and rewards the communication of civil engineering ideas, research and best practice in projects and design.

Candidates from across the world are invited to submit synopsis papers to regional heats, with the final selection of three papers, for the overall Emerging Engineer Award final in October each year.

2021 Regional Finalists

Jaskieran Dhandwar
Jaskieran Dhandwar

Jaskieran Dhandwar examines hot rolled asphalt and climate change to impress the judges

Jaskieran Dhandwar, graduate engineer at AECOM, was announced the winner of the East Midlands regional final, which took place on 13 May.

His paper, 'The impact of climate change on hot rolled asphalt (HRA) surfacing' identified the susceptibility of hot rolled asphalt (HRA) to climate change while indicating subtle design tweaks would not be enough to ensure longevity of pavements.

Jaskieran said: "The Emerging Engineers Award (EEA) was a great method to share this research with other engineers while also improving my own paper writing and presentation skills in front of a professional and knowledgeable audience."

Douglas Morley, runner-up, presented his paper on 'Earth pressures behind integral bridge abutment walls' and Hussain Sidat took third place with his paper, 'An assessment framework of desalination methods to help improve water quality in Basra'.

Alex Green
Alex Green

Alex Green overcomes challenging conditions to win the London competition

Seeing off competition from two other fascinating presentations, Alex Green, tunnel engineer at Atkins, won with his paper ‘Balancing TBM face pressures in challenging conditions’. The paper was based on the Feeder 9 Gas Pipeline Replacement tunnelling project, under the Humber Estuary.

“I think one of the key messages from my paper is highlighting the importance of combining research/theory with practice. This will be even more important as we move into a new digital world where tasks will become increasingly more automated.

"As engineers we still need to understand what is physically happening, the limitations of the methods we use and how this can be validated with actual observations and evidence,” said Alex Green.

Miriam Graham
Miriam Graham

Investigating the factors that affect the success of infrastructure projects to develop low-income communities impresses judges

Miriam Graham, a structural engineer at Arup in Sheffield, has taken the top prize in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber final.

Her paper, ‘Investigating the factors that affect the success of infrastructure projects to develop low-income communities’ looks at how the creation and improvement of infrastructure can be used as a tool for poverty alleviation within these communities.

The judging panel was impressed with Graham’s paper and her enthusiasm when presenting at the regional final on Thursday 10 June 2021.

Graham said: “The research undertaken finds several key factors which impact the success, and ultimately sustainability, of projects to develop low-income communities. These conclusions lead to question the applicability of these factors to infrastructure projects in different contexts.”


Cezar Gheorge, a graduate civil engineer at AECOM, came second with his paper entitled, ‘Validation of experimental geobag behaviour as riverbank protection using a simplified DEM model’.

Third place went to Harry Toase, a site engineer for Balfour Beatty, for his work, ‘Impact protection using novel fibre reinforced concrete’.

Niamh Treanor
Niamh Treanor

Why a precast concrete arch design is a winning solution

Niamh Treanor, from Design ID, impressed the judges with her presentation on ‘The Blackwater Bridge Replacement Scheme’, at the regional heat held on 1 March 2021.

Her paper detailed why the precast concrete arch design was adopted as the most favourable solution, looking at how the design and coordination role was managed with the challenges presented.

From many site constraints, complex contractual arrangements, challenging statutory body liaison, and project schedule changes amidst a global pandemic, this paper concludes how civil engineering, and the broader project context requires effective communication skills and compromise to successfully complete a project.


Michael Kennedy (Queen’s University Belfast) and Harriet Millar (Design ID) presented well, making the final decision for the judges a difficult one.

Michael Kennedy presented on ‘An assessment of carbon stocks in coastal wetlands under sea-level rise’, while Harriet Millar’s presentation considered ‘Three-dimensional groundwater flow modelling of cell bunding for peatland restoration at Ballynahone Bog, Northern Ireland.’

Alice Butler
Alice Butler

Hats off to Alice after being named Scotland’s Emerging Engineer

‘The influence of top-hat strengthening solutions on shear stresses in a railway bridge girder using finite element analysis’ was the topic which saw Alice Butler named as Scotland’s Emerging Engineer 2021.

Announcing Butler, a graduate at MHB Consultant, as the winner, the judges said they recognised the quality of her research and the wider applicability it would have.

Butler said: “This project incorporated hand calculations, and finite element analysis to explore different options for bridge strengthening top-hat design. By making changes to standard designs we can decrease installation time and costs, improve site health and safety and reduce disruption to the railways.

“Entering this competition was a big personal challenge, I am pleasantly surprised I have made it this far, and I am looking forward to the next stage.”


Bobbi Archer, a section engineer at Barhale, was named as runner-up for her paper ‘An analysis of post-incident reporting to enhance current standard practices associated with mitigating damage to services’.

Ethan Jones, a student at the University of Dundee, was placed third for his paper ‘Dynamics of microplastics in cohesive sediments’.

Jordan Gask
Jordan Gask

Captain Jordan Gask crowned regional winner

Royal Engineer Captain Jordan Gask won the South East England Emerging Engineers competition. Representing Kent and East Sussex branch he presented his paper ‘The use of Monte Carlo Simulation to estimate the probability of encountering and detecting unexploded bombs during construction activities’.

“In my opinion, the primary role of an engineer is to manage engineering risk, and Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) is an extremely powerful tool that can help us assess risk more consistently and more precisely. I used Unexploded Bombs (UXBs) to demonstrate an area that I think would benefit from MCS, but in reality, its application is limitless,” said Jordan Gask.

Finalists Annamaria Valcheva representing South Branch and Josef Wisniewski from Thames Valley Branch delivered insightful research on the evening.

Annamaria Valcheva
Annamaria Valcheva

Innovative bridge assessment secures win for Annamaria Valcheva in South Branch competition

Annamaria Valcheva, assistant engineer at WSP, won with her paper titled ‘Parametric tool for bridge geometry creation’.

Talking about her research and tool, Annamaria said: “I’m an assistant engineer at WSP in a team where we assess the structural capacity of existing bridges. Having explored different 3D geometry software in university, I was surprised to see that they aren’t widely used in the bridge assessment industry.

“The workflow I’m working on is using visual code to close the gap between looking at a 2D drawing on paper or screen and having a quick 3D model of the bridge deck. It could be used as a visual aid in bridge assessments, defects data consolidation, and a guide for site inspections safety briefings.

“I started using visual code in Dynamo in order to take part in a Christmas challenge set by a parametric modelling interest group in WSP. The Emerging Engineers competition was the reason I needed to explore it further. You can do very creative things with visual code and I encourage anyone that loved solid geometry in school to have a go!”

Josef Wisniewski
Josef Wisniewski

Unique approach to housing secures win for Josef Wisniewski in the Thames Valley competition

After a long deliberation, the judges announced Josef Wisniewski, graduate engineer at AECOM as the winner. Josef presented his paper on ‘Investigating the characteristic strengths of sand-filled bottle panels to be used for sustainable homes in Abuja, Nigeria’.

"The Emerging Engineers Award is a really excellent opportunity for young engineers to show case the work they have done throughout university and in industry to fellow ICE members, colleagues and friends.

"It’s a great way to develop your technical writing skills, improve your presentation ability and network with engineers in the industry. My paper was based on my research trip to Nigeria, where I investigated sustainable housing and assisted in the construction of a plastic bottle house.

"I personally really enjoyed presenting my paper to the judges and audience and answering some of the technical questions. I would highly recommend this competition to anyone thinking of applying. I am really looking forward to the regional South East final!" said Josef Wisniewski.

Ana Vega Kurson
Ana Vega Kurson

Data-driven approach to maximising offshore wind energy impresses judges

Ana Vega Kurson, a civil structural engineer at Arup in Bristol, has taken the top prize in the South West Regional final, in the face of stiff competition.

Her paper, ‘Using data-driven fatigue assessments to justify maximising the energy production of offshore wind farms’ presents a methodology that can be used to calculate the fatigue life of wind turbine foundations across a wind farm.

The judging panel, who were faced with a record number of entries this year, selected Ana’s paper after hearing a compelling presentation of her research at the regional final on Thursday 20 May 2021.

Ana said: “Sustainability must be central to our work as civil engineers. Part of reaching net zero carbon requires using our limited resources and existing infrastructure as efficiently as possible. My paper explores how this can be achieved in the context of offshore wind, which will play a critical role in the UK’s renewable energy ambitions.

“The ICE Emerging Engineers Award provides a great platform to share and discuss my work with the industry. Presenting to a professional audience also creates an opportunity to be challenged and gain further insights from colleagues in different fields.”


Two student members at the University of Bristol were selected as runners-up for the South West region.

Amy Botham came second with a paper entitled, ‘Modelling of new prototype unreinforced masonry schools in Malawi’. Third place went to Jamie Crispen for his work, ‘Winkler model for axial deformation of compressible piles due to tunnelling.’

Tereza Kleckova
Tereza Kleckova

Applying the Dynamic Amplification Factor (DAF) was the key to this year’s winning paper.

Tereza Kleckova, a graduate at Swansea University, College of Engineering, has taken the top prize in the ICE Wales Cymru final

Her paper, ‘Bridge dynamics to moving loads’ investigated the level of conservativism in the dynamic amplification factor (DAF), also known as impact factor, featured in Network Rail’s underbridge assessment code, among others.

The judging panel was impressed with Tereza’s paper, which she set out with detailed illustrations and equations to present her case at the regional final on Wednesday 16 June 2021.

To accomplish the goals of her paper, Tereza’s study consisted of three main steps and her conclusion found that both the analytical and numerical methods she studied were considered as acceptable for bridge dynamic analysis.

Tereza said: “I want to thank my academic supervisor associate professor Graeme Thelwell from Swansea University for his continual support. I also want to thank my industrial supervisor Dr Ricardo Teixeira from Mott MacDonald, Cardiff, for providing information about the case study, the use of software VIFEM and his support.”


2nd place: Dylan Rhys Williams: Mott MacDonald.

3rd place: Jack Willepotte: Cardiff University.

Dilakshana Mayadunne
Dilakshana Mayadunne

Dilakshana Mayadunne wins the West Midlands regional title with his mobile app

Dilakshana Mayadunne, bridge engineer at WSP, impressed the judges with his paper and presentation on ‘Design of structural elements on a mobile device’, which focused on developing his mobile app ‘RC Section’.

In his paper, he detailed how the app’s capabilities can be used to reduce waste, increase sustainability, improve innovation, enhance health and safety, and provide engineering students with a great learning tool.

Commenting on winning the regional final, Dilakshana said: “The UK became the first major economy to pass laws and set a very ambitious target to achieve net-zero emission by 2050. As civil engineers, we can greatly influence and reduce contributions to global warming.

“ICE Emerging Engineers Award is an excellent opportunity to reach a global audience comprised of engineers, engineering students, and industry leaders. I took this opportunity to encourage like-minded engineers to use modern mobile technology to reshape how we practice civil engineering.”

Find out further information including entry dates and local contact details for those still to take place.

Check back here regularly to get up-to-date information on the competition.

Emerging Engineers Award final 2020

In 2020, the final took place online for the first time. Watch the event video below.

  • Neeta Cubitt, communications lead at ICE Northern Ireland