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Bristol engineer receives international ‘Student of the Year’ award

Stephen Thompson receiving his award from Andy Butler, Development Director for Explore Investments (a division of Laing O’Rourke)

Stephen Thompson receiving his award from Andy Butler, Development Director for Explore Investments (a division of Laing O’Rourke) Cyril Bruneau (SET Awards photographer)

Press release issued: 28 September 2011

A University of Bristol student from the Faculty of Engineering has been named as one of the winners of the 2011 Science, Engineering & Technology [SET] Student of the Year awards.

An international awards programme, the event provides a showcase for educational excellence by recognising the exceptional achievements of both students and universities.

Stephen Thompson, from the University’s Department of Civil Engineering, received the Laing O’Rourke Award for ‘Best Civil Engineering Student’ of the Year for his project entitled ‘Redevelopment of the Colston Hall’.  Arup in Bristol supported Stephen’s project.

Dr David Nash, Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering, said: “To have three students shortlisted is outstanding and a fantastic result for the University’s Faculties of Engineering and Science.

“ I am delighted for Stephen, this is a great achievement and well deserved.  Stephen wowed the three judges with an enthusiastic presentation of his work on the Colston Hall design project.

“Michael Salter and Sarah Tesh are the two other Bristol students who reached the finals and congratulations to them too.”

Stephen Thompson, talking about his award, said: “It is a fantastic feeling and honour to have won such an award.  It is fulfilling that the efforts I made at university were recognised by such a distinguished panel.  The project was great fun, working with a broad range of people and professions to develop a solution to a very complex problem.  It would not have been possible without the talent of the other members of the team, Matthew Wright, Steve Francis and David Leak, who were simply exceptional.

“I am extremely proud to represent Bristol University and the Department of Civil Engineering who have given me a wonderful education from which to face the challenges at the start of my professional career.”

In 2005, Bristol City Council and the Arts Council England began a redevelopment scheme of Bristol’s largest concert hall, the Colston Hall and the first phase, which provided a new foyer for the auditorium, was completed in 2008.

The project that was entered for the 2011 SET Student of the Year awards was for the second phase of the development.  The final year project group, led by Stephen, proposed a scheme that would demolish the existing hall, but retain the listed façade, and replace it with a new world-class multipurpose auditorium, education, backstage and operation facilities within the footprint of the current site.

Following completion, the proposal was shown to the key stakeholders previously consulted in the early stages of the project.  The design was extremely well received and is to be considered with potential integration into the future professional scheme.

The two Bristol undergraduates who were shortlisted in their categories are:

  • The ARM Award for Best Electronic Engineering Student

Michael Salter from the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering for his project ‘Radio transmission through the Greenland ice sheet’.  Dr Geoff Hilton, Senior Lecturer in Electrical & Electronic Engineering, was Michael’s supervisor.

  • The Morgan Crucible Award for Best Materials Student

Sarah Tesh from the Schools of Mathematics and Physics for her project ‘The degradation of aqueous pollutants’.

Stephen was presented with his award by Andy Butler, Development Director for Explore Investments (a division of Laing O’Rourke), at a ceremony last Friday [23 September] at London’s Millennium Hotel attended by more than 400 students, academics and business leaders as well as senior figures from government, scientific and technical institutions and the media.

Record numbers of entries were received from every major university in Europe with 45 students shortlisted in 15 different categories for the awards, which are supported by industry and leading research institutions.

The Awards were sponsored by Airbus, ARM, AWE, BP, Babcock International, Kraft Foods, Laing O’Rourke, Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust, Logica, Morgan Crucible, National Grid and The National Physical Laboratory.


Further information

The SET Awards (Science, Engineering & Technology Student of the Year) are the world’s most important awards for science and technology undergraduates.

Supported by Industry, and leading scientific and technical institutions, the SET awards are multidisciplinary to reflect the wide range of degrees our universities have to offer.

The SET awards provide a showcase for educational excellence by publicly recognising the exceptional achievements of both students and universities. They are presented at a spectacular ceremony bringing together hundreds of technology students and academics, as well as senior figures from industry, government, science and the media.

Please contact for further information.
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