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Sixth-formers’ “thrilling” visit to cutting-edge company helping to create a circular economy

Year 12’s Technology students saw for themselves how start-up Batch.Works is using 3D printing as a true manufacturing technology by focusing on specialist design techniques and by automating its array of printers.

They learned how the company is pioneering a truly sustainable approach by recycling already-recycled materials to produce the plastic filament used by the printers.

And the 17-strong group had the chance to present their own design projects to Batch.Works’s Chief Industrial Designer, Liam Hwang.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “This visit provided the Year 12 cohort with unique and exciting insights into a company that is at the leading edge of sustainable design and manufacture, using heavily recycled materials to help its customers reduce their carbon footprint, and thus making the circular economy a reality.”

Now operating out of London Fields, Hackney, and from Amsterdam (and with plans to open a base in Rotterdam soon), Batch.Works was founded by designer Milo Mcloughlin-Greening and digital fabrication specialist Julien Vaissieres.

It first made waves in its sector during the pandemic when producing PPE for East London hospitals from its then-home in Bethnal Green.

Recently awarded an innovation grant of £1.8m to create a network of manufacturing hubs that will use local recycled materials, Batch.Works is now investigating ‘urban mining’, the notion of turning waste streams into new products. It launched an equity crowdfunding campaign in September.

“Our students were absolutely thrilled to be told about the history, current works and future plans for the company by Dean Pankhurst, Design Co-ordinator at Batch Works,” said Mr Noonan.

“The company engages in specialist design for 3D printing, using the skills of industrial designers and project managers to enable a faster design-to-print lead time than most companies. Liam spoke about optimisation in design – how they alter designs to use ‘vase design’ principles so that no unnecessary bodies are created. As a result, unlike in other companies, at Batch.Works 3D printing can be used as a manufacturing technique, rather than only for making prototypes.

“Most impressive of all was that the company have themselves closed the loop of all the PLA filament they use, using recycling techniques on already recycled plastic: they are proud to use only 100% recycled materials in their work.”

During a tour, the boys first visited the company’s co-working room, where they saw technologies, collaborative techniques and methodologies similar to those which they use in their own product design work.

“Next, they were shown into the wildly impressive plant room by Dean and Liam,” said Mr Noonan. “The room contained 40 3D printers, some of which could print items as large as 1 metre square. Many of these were stacked on server cabinets, and the designers had impressively ‘hacked’ the G code [the most commonly used 3D-printing programming language] which drives the printers to turn them into automated 3D printing machines that could work around the clock. This means the rate at which the designers can prototype and manufacture is unrivalled.”

The boys were given an overview of the company’s projects and clients, from commercial giants such as M&S, to smaller medical companies and furniture businesses seeking sustainable design solutions. They were able to peruse prototypes that Batch.Works had created, including medical devices, personal hygiene products and headphones.

“It was at this point that the students began to ready themselves for their own presentations, as Liam had kindly agreed to take in the students’ presentations on their own recent vacuum cleaner projects. These, in fact, utilised many of the prototyping techniques with which he was familiar from his own studies in Product Design at the RCA and Central St Martins.”

Each pupil had five minutes to present, followed by two or three minutes of questions and direct feedback from Liam on their designs.

During the presentations, all other students were linked into a scoresheet via MS Teams and could score their peers using a system of comparative assessment. Liam and Mr Noonan had casting votes.  “Aniththan Kugathasan, Kiaron Lad and Aadish Praveen were crowned champions, earning a hearty round of applause for their superb presentation and an especially well-finished prototype.”

Liam told Mr Noonan: “The skills these students have in terms of presentation and CAD certification is very impressive – much closer to what we see from interns and graduates than from A-level students.”

Winners in Cambridge! Trio using design to ‘make the world a better place’

Three sixth-formers won a Cambridge University competition with their design project aimed at protecting construction workers’ hearing.

After being highly commended in the Homerton College Design Programme, Shivam Singh, Yash Patel and Om Patel were invited to a residential weekend, along with more than 200 other highly commended entrants of the design challenge and a parallel essay competition.

The group had spent their first day at the college creating visual aids for their presentations. They and other teams then presented their designs to a room of about 20–30 people.

It was only when they attended the programme’s awards ceremony – held as part of the residential – that they discovered they were the overall winners, with their project receiving the highest marks in the whole competition.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “Huge congratulations go to Shivam, Yash and Om, who demonstrated both creativity and considerable application in developing and presenting their design.”

The design programme’s theme was Building a Sustainable and Healthy World. It was open to Year 12 state school pupils from across the UK.

The QE trio, who are now in Year 13, designed a speaker to reduce noise pollution caused by machinery in the construction industry.

Om explained: “We implemented an active noise-cancelling solution which used principles of superposition and destructive interference to isolate noise to specific areas, keeping workers in the general vicinity safe, as well as reducing overall noise levels.”

In their feedback, the competition judges stated that it was an “excellent project, highly detailed and innovative [that] shows a dedication to making the world a better place”.

Shivam said: “We are proud to have won. The competition was tough: we saw some inspiring innovative projects that the other competitors entered.”

During the weekend, the boys attended an environmental sustainability conference, which included lectures and discussions on topics such as energy generation and how the media presents the climate crisis.

The weekend also featured a formal dinner and opportunities to talk to current Homerton College students and gain insight into life at Cambridge.

After returning to QE, the three reflected on their experiences:

  • Shivam said: “We were able to see other fascinating designs, meet like-minded individuals and discuss our designs and compare our thought processes.”
  • Yash said: “This experience opened our eyes to the environmental impacts engineers must consider when creating products; it’s added one more rigorous step to the design process for my future projects.” It had, he added, been “a fun taster of university life at Cambridge” where it was “great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals”.
  • Om said: “Sustainability is a hot topic of discussion; with our future dependent on the state of the physical world, it is essential that we, as the next-generation engineers, take the necessary steps to reduce our impact on the environment.”
Learning from leaders at Amazon, “diving deep into careers in the cloud”

A group of sixth-formers enjoyed the privilege of a special day at the Shoreditch offices of Amazon Web Services, where leaders shared their insights into the fast-moving technological world they inhabit.

The boys were special guests at one of AWS’s monthly re:Purpose days, on which AWS staff are encouraged to get involved in projects and initiatives outside of their normal day-to-day work.

Ben Moss, from the Digital Native & Enterprise Software and Software as a Servicer (SaaS) Team at AWS, said: “The theme of this re:Purpose day was collaboration, so I teamed up with the Queen Elizabeth’s School to deliver an Amazon insight day for several of their students. We heard from our AWS leadership, solutions architect, graduates and apprentices, all who shared their insightful experiences within AWS.”

Praising the QE group for their preparation and commitment, Mr Moss said it had been a “brilliant day for all”.

AWS is a subsidiary of Amazon. It offers hundreds of paid-for web-based products and services to individuals and organisations.

Enterprise Business Development Representative, Ella Cooper, who organised the day, together with her colleague, Juste Mena, said the day had seen the QE visitors “diving deep into careers in the cloud”.

The boys were able to see for themselves the potential of AI. One undoubted highlight of the day was a machine-learning live demo, including Amazon Rekognition, its SaaS platform that developers can use to add image and video analysis to their applications. The QE group saw it used to identify the features of familiar neighbourhoods and of celebrities.

They also heard from Senior Manager Joe Welton and Solutions Architect, Jack Bark.

Stephanie Tomlinson, QE’s Assistant Head of Technology, said: “Interestingly, Joe and Jack had shared aspects to their career pathways. Both spoke about the series of fortuitous moments which have led to their impressive and meaningful roles within AWS, highlighting to our pupils the reason we should use and follow our gut instinct!”

Thanking the team at AWS and praising the “seamless delivery” of the day, she said the boys had benefitted from a memorable experience: “Particular themes and lessons included the importance of mindset, attitude and establishing common ground. AWS is meritocratic, rewarding dynamic individuals who show skill and a strong emotional intelligence.

“Our boys undoubtedly took away a great deal – particularly the importance of learning and being curious.”

QE the best in the world!

Queen Elizabeth’s School was the most successful organisation in the world in this year’s VEX robotics Online Challenges.

Having already achieved significant successes in recent years at in-person regional, national and international Vex championships – including a world title in 2018 – QE’s robotics teams have recently added online competitions to their repertoire.

And now that the results are in for the 2022–2023 Online Challenges, it is clear just how strong their performances have been: QE has been informed that its teams were either winners or runners-up in nine separate challenges, with seven first places.

Not only do the winning teams receive cash prizes, they also gain automatic qualification for this season’s VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, USA.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “By any standards, these are fantastic results, and that is reflected in the fact that QE is the highest-achieving school or other organisation globally this year.

“My warm congratulations go to all the boys who took part and to our Head of Technology, Michael Noonan, and his team for the work they did in preparing them.”

Nine QE teams were named among the top places in 13 competitions, six of them at junior (VIQC) level and seven at senior (VRC) level.

One VRC squad – team number 20785X – was named winner of both the Theme It Up! Challenge and the Community Challenge, as well as being a runner-up in the Career Readiness Challenge. Another, 20785C, took two runner-up spots.

At junior level, 21549A was a double winner, taking the top spot in both the VIQC Career Readiness Challenge and the STEM Research Project.

Here are some examples of what the challenges involved:

  • VRC and VIQC Career Readiness Challenge: entrants had to explore the way in which professionals in a specific career or company use and document the steps of the engineering design process. The challenge information stated: “We want you to explore a possible future career, and discover the similarities and differences in how that prospective career and VEX Robotics teams use and learn from the process of engineering design.”
  • VIQC STEM Research Project: this involved exploring nature’s patterns and using that knowledge to engineer a new solution to a current problem.
  • VRC Promote Video Challenge: participants were asked to make a video promoting their experience with Vex Robotics. They were invited to “show us who you are, who you aspire to be, and what makes your team special and successful”.

Pictured here are some of the QE robotics teams on their travels during the regional rounds of this year’s domestic VEX competitions.


Vex in Vegas! Sixth Form robotics teams head stateside

Two Year 12 squads flew the flag for Britain when they fought against more than 100 competing teams in the Battle for Vegas – an inaugural Vex Robotics Signature Event in the desert resort.

The QE boys, who made up the only teams from outside North America to attend, enjoyed both the competition and the chance to take in Las Vegas’s spectacular attractions.

QE’s team Tempest finished their first day unbeaten, despite some daunting opposition, while team HYBRID struck up a strong relationship with an American partner team on day 2. In their time off, the sixth-formers revelled in the technical and architectural wonders on, around and even under the city’s glittering streets.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan, who accompanied the boys together with Technology teacher James Howard, explained that since the annual Vex Robotics World Championships in the US fall in the Summer Term, boys in years with public examinations are unable to attend. Instead, their teachers looked into suitable US-based Signature Events, which are events designed to provide competition at a level above that typically experienced at regional competitions. The QE teams, who are sponsored by Kingston Technology, opted for the one based at the Westgate Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas – the venue where, in July 1969, Elvis Presley performed two shows a night, seven days a week.

After their ten-hour flight from Heathrow, the AS students first replenished their strength at the Peppermill Restaurant, made famous as the backdrop of films and TV shows including Casino, The Cotton Club, and CSI: Vegas.

They then made their way along Vegas’s celebrated Strip. “One highlight in particular was The Venetian – a resort and hotel, which boasts an indoor network of Venice-style canals, complete with singing gondola drivers!” said Mr Noonan. Further down the street, they took in the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign and marvelled both at the water & light show at the fountain of the Bellagio and at the incredible complexity of the part-roller coaster, part-hotel New York New York attraction. “Racking up close to 30,000 steps over the course of the day was not enough, though, as the pupils made their way to the Area 15 entertainment complex, wondering at many of the audio-visual wonders on offer, and at the surreal Omega Mart [an exhibition billed as ‘an interactive, mind-bending immersive art experience’].”

After an early start the following morning – and a swift present-buying visit to the World’s Largest Gift Shop – the boys began preparations for their first formal day of competition. They started setting up their pit area, fine-tuning their build process and rehearsing their pro-programmed routines.

This day also brought a highly exclusive trip to the cutting-edge loop underground public transport system at the Las Vegas Convention Center created by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company. “The students were able to see state-of-the-art engineering developments, many of which are too secretive to even photograph!” said Mr Noonan.

After this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the boys returned to their robotics, making final preparations for the following day of qualification, as well as taking part in some impromptu practice sessions. “As the only overseas team at the event, the other 100 or so US, Canada and Mexico-based teams were very eager to get to know the QE teams, with lots of potential alliance links formed,” said Mr Noonan. They topped off the day with a visit to the “incredible” High Roller observation wheel at The LINQ Hotel – a 550ft wheel offering breath-taking views over the Strip.

“On the first day of competition, team Tempest had, in keeping with their name, a storming day, despite their division featuring some of the world’s finest teams. They finished the day with a perfect record of five wins, leaving them ranked fifth in their division of 61 teams.”

Things proved a little tougher for team HYBRID, with last-minute fixes and alterations at times resulting in inconsistent robot performance. “However, they toughed it out and managed to finish the day with a record of three wins and two losses,” said Mr Noonan.

With little time to catch their breath, the teams were then off to Battlebots Arena – a permanent area purpose-built to showcase the highly popular Battlebots television show, yet featuring live robotic action. “They were thrilled to see famed robots from the television series, including Witch Doctor, Kraken, Mammoth, HyperShock and Whiplash. At the end of the event, they took photos with some of the engineers and team representatives, gaining an insight into the lives of professional robotic engineers.”

After their disappointments on day 1, team HYBRID began day 2 still determined to finish in the automatic alliance spots in their division. “They succeeded in doing so, finishing the qualification section ranked 21st, and allying with team 3303S Dublin Robotics from Dublin, California,” said Mr Noonan. “They built up a great relationship with them through collaboration and discussion over the two days and were always likely to pick this team. Sadly, there was further disappointment for them, as they were cruelly denied by disqualification on a technicality in their round-of-16 game.”

Having remained unbeaten in the early stages of competition, team Tempest did finally succumb to their only loss of the tournament, and finished the day ranked 13th. “They chose Team Fizzy, a former World Championship challenger from Omaha, Nebraska, and were unfortunate not to progress past the round of 16, following a loss caused by robot malfunction.”

The boys took in the overall finals, witnessing the “incredible consistency” of the eventual champion teams, Gears from Martinsville, Indiana, and Pink Sparklee Unicorns from Woodbridge, Virginia. “They managed to grab a photo with the champion teams – gaining some essential advice on how to continue to improve.”

As they got ready for their return flight, the QE teams were visibly exhausted, but were already planning that, after a short break, they would be preparing to go into battle once again, their sights set on a first QE VEX Robotics Championship win in three years, Mr Noonan said.


Making it big: Sixth Form pair battle through tough process to win prestigious engineering scholarships

Two sixth-formers have been named as Arkwright Scholars after successfully demonstrating their prowess as engineers.

Darren Lee and Yash Patel laboured for months through a gruelling selection process for the scholarships, which will now provide them with financial and mentoring support during their A-level studies.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “My congratulations go to both Yash and Darren: these scholarships are not lightly awarded, and the pair’s success is a reflection of their assiduous approach to the process, of their presentation skills, and, of course, of the excellent standard of their engineering.”

The long-running Arkwright programme is run by the national Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) education charity, The Smallpeice Trust, and aims to inspire future leaders in engineering. This year, only 300 candidates were successful out of 1,423 applicants.

The benefits of the scholarships include a £600 personal financial award, £400 for the scholar’s school, mentoring, industry-based ‘Connect Days’ and invitations to university-based VIP receptions.

Darren and Yash, both of Year 12, were presented with certificates at an awards ceremony held at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London.

As part of his application, Darren gave a presentation which covered the design and manufacture of  ‘Overlap’ – a rugby lineout machine that he devised (pictured top). He also featured in his presentation his involvement with VEX Robotics at the School.

The process included an engineering aptitude test and an online interview, during which candidates had both to make a presentation and to respond to technical engineering questions.

He said: “It’s an absolute honour to receive this scholarship, recognising my engineering skills and hours of hard work I’ve put into my technology projects. I’m incredibly proud to call myself an Arkwright Scholar.

“I believe that the networking aspect of this scholarship will prove to be very beneficial. As an Arkwright Scholar, I have access to the MentorNet platform, where I can communicate, discuss and receive feedback from some of the brightest young engineering minds in the country.”

For his part, Yash says that being an Arkwright Scholar will assist him in pursuing interests such as model-making, CAD design and 3D printing out of School and will help him fund a wishlist of projects, including making movie props and designing his own model train set and an electric guitar.

“It means I will be provided with opportunities, such as work experience, Connect Days and bursary offers or further scholarships, which may not be provided to others, as I will stand out to engineering-related organisations,” said Yash. “I have become a more competitive university applicant and can build up a larger network of prominent engineers and leaders in the industry.”

Movers and shakers: Sixth Form engineers learn about legacy of Formula 1 and meet industry leaders on fast-paced day out

Year 12 Product Design students were inspired by a day trip which took in the Advanced Engineering 2022 exhibition and a visit to Silverstone.

During the exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC, the boys networked with engineering professionals and gained insights into university and career opportunities in engineering.

Further inspiration came from the visit to the Silverstone Interactive Museum, where the group learned about the role of the leading motorsport venue in developing automotive technology over the past six decades.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “Our students were blown away by the level of engineering covered by the exhibition in areas including automation, composites, 3D printing, CNC machining, materials engineering and aeronautical engineering.”

The day started early, as the group set off for Birmingham amid torrential rain.

At the 14th Advanced Engineering exhibition, billed as the “must-attend event for the entire engineering and manufacturing supply chain”, the boys seized the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of representatives of “brilliant companies”, Mr Noonan said.

Among the many people they spoke to during their visit to the exhibition was Laura Crawford, editorial director of Machinery & Manufacturing magazine (pictured top), as well as delegates from:

  • KoverTek – a UK composites distributor and coatings manufacturer
  • Royal Aeronautical Society, a professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community and the world’s oldest aeronautical society
  • Instron, US industrial machinery manufacturers
  • Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, a Surrey-based company specialising in digital reality, “which helps improve manufacturers quality and productivity by making their factories smarter”.

They then rounded the trip off with the visit to Silverstone, near Northampton.

“Our pupils loved learning about the key role Silverstone played in World War II, the development of motorsport into the modern era and the technological developments which have brought Formula 1 and automotive technology to where it is today.

“A final sunset walk watching Formula Ford practice laps was another highlight of a brilliant day!” said Mr Noonan.

He added that he looked forward to continuing discussions that took place on the day, as QE seeks opportunities for mentoring and partnership for its engineering students.


Feeding people, not locusts! Pair’s robot design to help farmers wins global accolade

QE pupils Abhinav Sandeep and Vyom Srivastava took third place in their age group in a global competition seeking to harness the power of robots to tackle environmental problems.

The pair, who have just started in Year 9, were the only winners outside North America in the Nature Recovery Robots virtual design challenge.

Their Buginator robot is designed to help farmers combat swarms of pests, thus protecting precious ecosystems while the farmers remain safely inside.

The School’s Head of Technology, Michael Noonan, said: “This is a tremendous achievement, and it is exciting to see that Abhinav and Vyom used their skills to develop a robot with a serious purpose, namely boosting the global food supply and helping farmers.”

The competition was run by REC Foundation (the organisation behind the worldwide VEX robotics programmes for young people) and technology company PTC.

It aimed to encourage the engineers of tomorrow to think about how they could help to tackle current global environmental problems.

The QE pair quickly homed in on the problems caused in agriculture by insects, especially locusts. Their submission stated that these “have been growing in numbers over the last few years” and were destroying crops and huge quantities of agricultural produce.

“Our robot has a few key mechanisms, the first being the front-wheel-drive to gain traction on uneven surfaces. The second being the pivot which holds a smartphone, which connects via Bluetooth to a computer screen. The third mechanism is the hammer, which pushes down the spray-can nozzle and sprays anti-insect solution. The last mechanism is the adjustable phone-grip.

“One weakness is that the spray can itself is not adjustable, so it would be more useful for shorter plants. One strength, however, is that there is a smart camera, allowing for possible AI development. The design would be feasible to build, although it would require a laser cutter and 3D printer.”

“This design could save tonnes of food, which could be used to feed people, instead of bugs. Our robot is unique because there is not currently a semi-automatic way to efficiently kill bugs.

As a prize, Abhinav and Vyom receive a $500 VEX Gift certificate.

For a more detailed look at their design, visit the Onshape 3D CAD website.

On top of the world: QE at global robotics championships

QE had the joint-highest number of teams of any school or organisation at the huge 2022 Vex Robotics World Championships in Dallas, where the 48-strong contingent picked up a string of awards.

One of the QE senior teams made strong progress, at one point single-handedly carrying British hopes when they reached their divisional semi-finals, while the junior teams picked up a string of awards in their competition.

Eight teams made the 4,750-mile journey from Barnet to Texas after gaining their places through multiple successes both in the season’s domestic fixtures and at the UK national championships in April.

After the boys proudly joined other UK competitors in the parade of nations in front of almost 10,000 people in the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, the two senior (VRC) Year 10 teams got down to competition in the first in-person world championships to be held since 2019.

Teams Hybrid and Vortex Invicta competed in the Engineering and Arts divisions respectively ­­– just two of the seven senior divisions, each of which comprised 70-80 of the best robotics teams in the world.

After a day of set-up, practice and scouting both of alliance partners and opposition alliances, both teams began the competition with some strong tactical driving resulting in some high-scoring wins: at the end of the first day of play, Hybrid had amassed four wins and only two losses, while Vortex three wins and three losses.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “What seemed to boost the chances of both our teams was that, in the face of opposition from more experienced teams using robots with more functionality, they just kept their tactics simple.”

By the end of day two, both teams had five wins and five losses, and both were ranked 40th. Hybrid were then among the teams to be selected as alliance partners by a divisional finalist, in their case the eighth-ranked team.

“What followed was a tense victory for Hybrid over good friends and local rivals GCA Gearers (from Greig City Academy, Hornsey) in the round of 16, presenting the sole win in this stage of competition for a senior QE team to date,” said Mr Noonan.

This success, however, meant they next faced the top seeds. The team duly threw themselves into the challenge. “Using fast reactions and excellent tactics Hybrid and their partners, Robohawks, took control of the match, taking possession of the game elements and pressurising their opponents…What resulted as a nail-biting finish, where the highly fancied opposition could not ‘balance their platform’ (normally a significant bonus) – and Hybrid had successfully qualified for the divisional semi-finals on a score line of 136-85 – then a best result for UK teams in VRC competition.

“The final stages of the match were met with rapturous applause from UK supporters…and Hybrid were suddenly the great hope of UK teams and mentors,” Mr Noonan said. “With this, confidence levels in the team grew, and they swatted the semi-final challenge of a once-again higher-ranked alliance with ease, with a score of 163-76.” Their “fairy-tale journey” then came to an end as they lost out to a very high-scoring alliance.

“They were more than happy with their lot at the end of the competition – a divisional runner-up and Judges Award represented a fantastic outcome for the team.”

With ten divisions, the VIQC competition for the Year 8 and 9 teams was even bigger. The first day saw most of the six teams hit the minimum required score of 120 to be in the top 30 of their divisions, and at the end of the day “an incredible four of the six teams” had qualified for divisional finals.

First up was the Rubber Bands team: even though their alliance partner’s robot suffered technical difficulties, they still managed a respectable score of 108 points. Next came Nova, who shot to the top of their rankings with a “fantastic” 142. Shattersquad achieved 133, while Gearsquad scored 114.

“All teams put in an incredible effort, but none managed to secure that coveted prize of a place in the world finals,” said Mr Noonan. Nevertheless, Gearsquad won an Inspire Award and a top-50 place for Skills, while Nova, Cyberforce, Rubber Bands and Eclipse all secured online challenge awards.

“A trip up Dallas’s Reunion Tower with a handful of silverware and a chest-load of memories topped off a fantastic day,” said Mr Noonan.

The boys and five accompanying staff also find time during their trip to sample delicious Tex-Mex food, visit the Perot Museum of Science and Nature and take in other Dallas sights.

Year 8’s Jeevan Karthick Thiyagarajan said later: “Travelling to the USA as a group was a great experience, particularly since we missed several trips earlier due to the pandemic. It was almost like we played dual roles – hard-working robot engineers during the mornings and fun-loving tourists in the evenings!”

Advay Bhat, also of Year 8, added: “Going to the Worlds and representing QE and the UK has taught me how to stay determined, focused and resilient. I met many people from different countries and backgrounds with different ideas, and the experience has truly been one of the greatest I’ve ever been through.”


World-beater! Paarth’s ingenuity impresses in Microsoft AI competition

Paarth Aggarwal is among just ten global winners of the Microsoft Imagine Junior Cup after dazzling judges with his AI-powered application to reduce food waste.

The competition, which challenged participants to submit creative ideas to solve some of the planet’s biggest issues using the power of artificial intelligence (AI), attracted thousands of entries from around the world.

Year 8 pupil Paarth was the only winner from the UK, with the judges praising the detailed analysis he provided of how ‘deep learning’ was leveraged in the design of his app.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I congratulate Paarth on this impressive achievement, especially as he was one of the younger entrants in a competition open to 13–18 year-olds. Whilst many of the other participants entered as teams, Paarth took part as an individual, making this success all the more remarkable.”

Paarth entered under the ‘team’ name Earthatarian and conceptualised an AI-powered app that would reduce food waste by predicting the actual expiry of stocked food items and monitoring food consumption. As required by the competition, he used Microsoft APIs. (Application programming interfaces [APIs] enable computer programs to communicate with each other.)

“I was exultant to win, especially as it was the first time I have entered such a competition,” he said.

He explained why he chose food waste as the issue he wanted to tackle.

“I was very annoyed – and intrigued – about food waste. Lots of the food we buy we never eat. In many countries, there are lots of people who don’t have much to eat, whilst we do in the West,” said Paarth. “The aim is all about efficiency. Food waste plagues the world – it is not talked about enough.”

His app-based solution to this problem was to utilise cameras and sensors in people’s fridges and rubbish bins to see how much they are wasting. The app would use machine-learning to tell people the actual expiry date of food – judging freshness to predict when it would be at a point that it would no longer be safe to eat.

“This is to tackle consumer confusion around ‘use by’ and ‘best before dates’,” added Paarth. “The app would also look at patterns of consumption and recommend recipes based on this. It could also calculate calories using Bing API [using Microsoft’s search engine technology] and then recommend what people should buy.”

The judges said that with “so many amazing projects” they had a difficult task on their hands picking the top ten. They chose winners from countries as far apart as Nepal, Australia and the USA.

As well as receiving a trophy and a certificate, Parth won a prize worth $300.

In addition to being impressed by the Earthatarian project as a whole, they specifically praised Paarth’s thoughtful approach in using an AI-powered application to predict the ‘actual expiry’ of stocked food items and monitor food consumption, the presentation of his entry (which included a ten-slide electronic presentation and a video), and the thoroughness of his research.

Paarth says he’s “a believer in AI” and can see its potential to help tackle major problems. He plans to enter this competition again next year and then get involved with similar initiatives when older (the Apple and Google equivalents being open to those aged 16 and over).

His next project is to work on Amazon’s AWS DeepRacer – a machine-learning model aiming to get round a track as fast as possible.