Joe Morrall Award 2021 Highlights

The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Boscombe Down Branch held its annual presentation competition for young professionals, the Joe Morrall Award, over two days on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th March 2021. The competition is named in honour of the distinguished aeronautical engineer and scientist James Cedric “Joe” Morrall and provides a great continual professional development opportunity to all those who participate. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown restrictions, the competition was held virtually using Microsoft Teams. Six young engineers, university students and secondary school students presented their aerospace-themed lectures in front of a small virtual audience of QinetiQ judges and RAeS Boscombe Down Branch committee members, with the chance of winning a £250 Amazon voucher, entry into the national N E Rowe Award competition and the coveted Joe Morrall Award trophy.

Due to the number of participants for this year’s competition, the event was held over two days and the speakers grouped into age categories mirroring the national N E Rowe competition – under 22s and 22-30-year-olds. The event got underway with the two speakers from the 22-30-year-old category and first to present was Akshay Deshmukh (Aerospace Engineering student at the University of Hertfordshire). His presentation on the Solar HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance Aircraft) provided an insight into the new type of innovative and sustainable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Following this was Selvan Thamizhirai (Senior Systems Engineer at Dstl), who delivered a detailed look at the latest high temperature materials used for aerospace applications and their relative merits.

The first speaker in the under 22s category was Costas Georgellis (Aerospace Engineering Year in Industry student at QinetiQ), with a retrospective look at the history and development of one of the most important safety innovations in aviation – the parachute. Closing the first session of the competition was Josh Davies (school student), who delivered a detailed and informative presentation on alternative fuels and aircraft propulsion methods and how these will help reach the future environmental target of net zero emissions.

The final two speakers of this year’s competition presented the following evening; the first of whom being Daniel Gale (Air Cadet from 2385 Melksham Squadron). His presentation focused on the humble screw thread; a small but nonetheless vital part of aerospace platforms. The final presentation came from Toby Runyard (school student), who delivered an interesting overview of the concepts of meteorology and how they influence flight.

The challenge of both judging and determining a winner of the 2021 Joe Morrall Award was taken on by Nick Lay (RAeS Boscombe Down Branch President and Engineering Director – Air and Space at QinetiQ) and Simon Tate (Operations Director – Air and Space at QinetiQ). Following the conclusion of the final presentation, and after a short period of deliberation, Nick announced the following results of the competition:

Best Overall Lecture & Joe Morrall Award 2021 Winner:
JOSH DAVIES, The Transition to Net Zero: From Synfuels to Hydrogen Propulsion

Runner-Up Overall Lecture:
TOBY RUNYARD, Meteorology and its Influence on Flight

Best 22-30 Category Lecture:
SELVAN THAMIZHIRAI, High Temperature Materials for Aerospace Applications

To watch all three of these presentations, please follow this link:
Joe Morrall Award 2021 Winning Lecture Recordings

As with last year’s event, the competition was extremely close this year, with very few points separating all six entrants. The Boscombe Down Branch therefore congratulates all participants on delivering some of the highest-quality lectures we have seen in this competition. The RAeS would also like to thank QinetiQ for their continued sponsorship of the competition and Boscombe Down Branch, as well as Nick and Simon for sparing their time to adjudicate the event this year. To conclude our look at the highlights of this year’s Joe Morrall Award, here are Nick Lay’s closing remarks:

“This year, which is the first time we have ever conducted the Joe Morrall Award remotely like this, has seen the highest quality of entries that it has been my privilege to witness as a judge. And I am absolutely delighted that we have seen a wide variety of topic areas against a field stretching from sixth formers to graduates in the workplace and every single one of them has been absolutely top notch. It is really evident to me that there has been a huge amount of effort that has been put into putting these presentations together and equally, it has been really apparent to me just how much work has been put into rehearsing these presentations such that they ran to time, they were all fluently delivered and clearly worked extremely well.

I would also like to say that given the constraints of delivery like this, they have all been really engaging and I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to every one of them and every one of them has showed me something new, which is a real pleasure as far as I am concerned.”

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