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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Winner of IGEM’s Young Persons Paper Competition 2018 announced


  • Sam Jones, of Wales & West Utilities took the top prize
  • Impressed the judges with his unique presentation
  • Sam will be going to the World Energy Congress 2019 in Abu Dhabi


Following a hotly-contested Grand Final, IGEM is proud to announce Sam Jones, of Wales & West Utilities, as the winner of its Young Persons Paper Competition 2018.

YPPC 2018 PR

Sam brought a touch of amateur dramatics to proceedings at the IET's Austin Court in Birmingham, beginning his presentation with a skit of a site engineer dealing with a concerned customer.

Complete with a life-like set consisting of PE pipes, barriers and traffic cones, Apprentice Build & Replace Engineer Sam demonstrated how roadside gas works can be disruptive to people's lives and how effective communication can build customer confidence.

Sam then proceeded to blow the judging panel away with his project presentation. Having learned a new skillset, he has produced and edited a short animated video to let customers know why gas networks are replacing old metallic mains and how these works are beneficial to them.

His project, which also involved copying the video onto mini PE pipe USBs and promoting it via a smartphone-friendly QR code, coupled with Sam's infectious enthusiasm for the work, secured a win in the eyes of the judging panel.

Sam, who is currently completing the third year of his apprenticeship with Wales & West Utilities (WWU), said: "Build & Replace is a department that doesn't normally get a lot of recognition. I work outdoors, so I thought if I could bring an element of that into my presentation and be true to what I do I could show that, firstly, I am passionate about it, secondly, I know a lot about the subject and, thirdly, I am not pretending to be something that I'm not.

"I think today was about representing Build & Replace, representing the Wales & West Utilities apprenticeship scheme and demonstrating the skills I have learnt over the last three years. It's about promoting what the company has invested in me. Although I am coming to the end of my apprenticeship journey, hopefully it's the start of a new journey for Wales & West Utilities as my project is rolled out with the help of my peers.

"It felt brilliant to win and it's not just a win for me, it's a win for everyone who has been involved in the project. It's a massive win for the apprenticeship scheme, it's a massive win for Build & Replace and it's a massive win for Wales & West Utilities."

The IGEM Young Persons Paper Competition, sponsored by ULC Robotics and SGN, was this year judged by IGEM President Steve Edwards, who chaired the judging panel, SGN's David McLeod, Andy McPhee, Chair of IGEM's Professional Development Committee, Graeme Cleeton, of ULC Robotics, and last year's winner Matthew Maclennan, of Steve Vick International.

Sam, who has not left the country since he was 14, will now travel to Abu Dhabi to experience the 2019 World Energy Congress.

"To have the chance to go to Abu Dhabi is amazing," said Sam. "I barely go out of Wales. I have a campervan and the last time I took it out to West Wales, I got homesick and had to go back to Cardiff."

First runner-up was Matthew Goode, of Cadent, who impressed the judges with a paper outlining a project to divert the River Mersey in order to project Manchester's high pressure gas feed. Second runner-up was Theo Wong, of the Hong Kong & China Gas Co Ltd (Towngas), who was inspired by angling techniques to create a gas riser inspection device.

IGEM President Steve Edwards praised all of the 11 finalists, who each had to win a regional heat to qualify, for the standard of their work.

He said: "The presentations we saw here today were as good as any I have seen at any utility conference in the UK. The IGEM regions did a fantastic job putting forward the candidates and any one of them could have won today.

"However, the judges were unanimous in their decision. The competition is a judgment of the presentation as well as the paper and going into the competition, I think it's fair to say that Sam's paper was not the lead-runner, but his innovative, interactive, unique presentation was what won us over today.

"The judges were looking for the passion, the drive and the involvement that Sam clearly demonstrated in bucketloads."

In a message to anyone thinking about applying to next year's YPPC, Steve added: "Please apply, you have to be in it to win it. Not only is there a fantastic prize to be won but the experience of taking part is second to none. We know we have got thousands of brilliant young engineers out there and we would love to see more of this talent coming forward in the future."

Details of IGEM's 2019 competition have yet to be announced, so visit www.igem.org.uk for updates.

The competition is open globally to anyone aged 18-35 working or studying in a gas-related field. Entrants don't have to be engineers or IGEM members; they only need to be able to write a 250-word abstract and deliver a 15 minute presentation about a gas-related project in which they have been involved.