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CIBSE Young Engineers Awards 2017

12th October 2017
Event review by  Jairo Jaramillo, YEN London Centre Committee member

Another October, another CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year awards ceremony. I have had the pleasure of attending five of these events now over the last six years and it never fails to impress. The familiar format of eight top young engineers presenting on a topic chosen by the judges’ panel was tweaked slightly this year with the candidates being spared the torture of having to wait until halfway through the evening to present. This year the five-minute presentations looked at the question ‘Is engineering an art and should building services professionals be more creative in the way they approach projects?’ They were scheduled first as the awards ceremony put its best foot forward from the start. We’ll come to the entrant who kicked off proceedings later, but second on was Kathleen Hendrick from BuroHappold and the University of Texas who got stronger as she went on, despite her voice faltering at times. A reminder of how nerve-wracking the event can be and the bravery and professionalism showed in presenting in front of 150 people. Next up was a Kiyomi Honjigawa, also representing BuroHappold and Heriot-Watt University.  Kiyomi’s presentation was one of the most innovative and original I have ever seen, crowd-sourcing the answers to the question and bringing a touch of lovely sentiment to her presentation as she read out the replies from the young schoolchildren she had interviewed. It was clear she would be a strong contender for first place.

Lucas Van Laack of Foster+Partners and UCL followed, highlighting how millennials must step up to the challenge of solving the environmental issues that face us. Arton Merovci of Laing O’Rourke came next with a presentation full of great visuals and truisms of the building services industry that had the entire audience murmuring agreement. Ana Recio of Arup came next, opening with a quote from her employer’s founder Ove Arup. Ana ended on a lovely analogy of engineering being like a flower, with the strong stem being required for a building or a flower. Sharon Kidaha of building services consultancy Cundall and the University of Sheffield was next with a topical discussion on Afghan Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. A great quote from her presentation was the phrase: ‘Just like artists challenge the zeitgeist, engineers challenge the norms.’ The evening came to an end with Baoying Tong from AECOM and the Harbin Institute of Technology. This young man had travelled all the way from Sydney Australia and reminded the audience of the engineering challenges faced in the construction of the famous Sydney Opera House.

All the candidates were well received and deserve a lot of credit for their efforts, however, on the night one candidate was head and shoulders above the rest, and it was Hurley Palmer Flatt’s ESD consultant Raphael Amajuoyi who became the second winner in three years for the company after Ryan Rodrigues took home the 2015 trophy. Raphael was faced with the daunting challenge of going first, a real hurdle and not a position in the running order that any of the previous five winners have come from. Not only did Raphael rise to the challenge, he produced a barnstorming performance in front of the 150-strong audience which included HPF colleagues Erato Vasileiou, Lucy Cox, Julia Torrubia, Jairo A Jaramillo, Eldi Alilaj, Ryan Rodrigues, Paul Scriven, Paul Roche, Richard Whitaker and Francesca Scull.  Packing stunning audience challenging optical illusions alongside mathematical curios such as the Fibonacci number and delivering every syllable in a strong, confident presenting style, the crowd was under his spell from the off and the judges agreed, eventually awarding him first place and a prize which includes a trip to the ASHRAE Winter Conference in Chicago next year. Second place went to Ana Recio and coming in third was Kiyomi Honjigawa.

Special credit must go to Ryan Rodrigues for providing tips and insight for Raphael’s ultimately successful campaign and it was very impressive to see the large HPF contingent that got tickets to go and support Raphael. HPF were hoping to make it a double winning night but narrowly missed out on the CIBSE Employer of the Year – Medium Company Category to Elementa Consulting. Regardless, the final word has to go to congratulating Raphael on a brilliant presentation.

The awards were followed by the traditional delicious buffet dinner in the IMechE’s impressive third floor library where a cool as a cucumber Raphael celebrated with his family and HPF co-workers.