Rhodri Hawkins - First place

Second year PhD student, Edinburgh Fire Research Centre

I lived in Shetland and had a passion for STEM subjects stretching back to when I was very young. Shetland is a hub for the oil and gas industry, and growing up I was surrounded by heavy engineering, from deepwater gas projects, to cable laying and eventually the decommissioning of some of the largest platforms dating back to the oil boom.

I was very excited to go to university at 17, feeling like I had 'outgrown' Shetland. However, four years later I look back happily on that foundational time and often revisit it when I am feeling low on motivation - as a reminder of the sorts of big projects I want to work on and also to see the effect of engineering on the lives of all of us.

In the background is Luggie's Knowe, one of Shetland's largest and most efficient wind turbines. Climate change is an emergency, and it took me seeing one of these turbines up close and personal to realise the scale of the engineering challenge that we all face in decarbonising our lives.

It was here surrounded by the maelstrom of blades when I realised I wanted to work improving the energy systems that we rely on every day.

Rhodri Hawkins standing by the maintenance entrance of a wind turbine
Close up of Rhodri, standing at the maintenance entrance to the wind turbine
Rhodri Hawkins standing at the top of access stairs at the foot of a giant wind turbine
The winning image of Rhodri standing beside a giant wind turbine