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James Rennie Medal winner inspires audience with digital solutions for civil engineering

19 March 2019

An Arup engineer has won this year's award for his application of digital technology on The Ocado Project.

James Rennie Medal winner inspires audience with digital solutions for civil engineering

Newly qualified civil engineer Stephen Thompson, from Arup, has won the 2019 James Rennie Medal for his Chartered Professional Review report on The Ocado Project.

With record audience numbers in attendance, Thompson competed against David Long from Tony Gee and Partners, and Ian Midgley from RJ McLeod (Contractors) Ltd.

The three finalists were selected from 1,163 Chartered Professional Review and Chartered Professional Review Progressive candidates from around the world from 2018.

On receiving the medal and £1,000 top prize Thompson said: “Winning this award is a tremendous honour. I hope my presentation can help empower civil engineers to continue to be the leaders in an area of expanding digital technology.”

The Ocado Project

Thompson's winning presentation focused on the delivery of The Ocado Project and described the coding and algorithms required to operate the largest warehouse delivery system in the UK.

He cited the application of engineering principles, inherent technical acumen and ability to improvise and adapt solutions as being the core around which digital overlays could be applied.

"Stephen's presentation demonstrated his expertise in digital engineering with his design of an operational grid structure in aluminium capable of supporting the random loading from robots," said Alasdair MacLennan, Chair of the James Rennie Medal Award Panel.

Seán Harris, ICE's Director of Membership, summed up the evening: “The 2019 James Rennie Medal competition once again provided a platform for our newest chartered members to demonstrate their excellence within our extraordinary profession.

“David and Ian focused on how innovation has helped traditional civil engineering infrastructure projects. Both were narrowly edged by Stephen, whose presentation both amazed and entertained the audience. Reassuringly, Stephen was keen to emphasise that the skillset required to deliver high-end digital solutions within society, sits firmly within civil engineering.

“A hugely entertaining and inspiring evening and a pleasure to see such talent coming through.”

This year’s final was sponsored by Arup, BAM Nuttall, Charles Brand, Costain, ScottishPower Renewables and Skanska.

View a recording of the 2019 James Rennie Medal final

  • Ed Horton, marketing project manager at ICE