Engineering student wins Undergraduate of the Year

Caption: Ozlem Kesgin (centre) receives her Undergraduate of the Year Award at a ceremony in London, pictured here with Natasha Whitehurst (Rolls-Royce) and TV presenter Sue Perkins.
Caption: Ozlem Kesgin (centre) receives her Undergraduate of the Year Award at a ceremony in London, pictured here with Natasha Whitehurst (Rolls-Royce) and TV presenter Sue Perkins.

Ozlem Kesgin, who is studying electronics and electrical engineering, has won Undergraduate of the Year for Celebrating Resilience 2024 in partnership with Rolls Royce. 

Run by TargetJobs, the highly competitive awards scheme was set up to identify and celebrate the UK’s best undergraduates, attracting thousands of entries from across the country. Each award is partnered by a leading employer which provides a prize for the winner such as a paid internship, a trip abroad or other exclusive opportunities.

To reach the final, entrants undergo a challenging selection process to test their academic knowledge, communication and interpersonal skills, including online tests, assessment centre and an interview. 

Ozlem’s win comes with a ten-week paid summer internship at Rolls-Royce and the opportunity to shadow a leader for a day. She had in fact already secured an internship with Rolls-Royce before winning the prize, and will complete this in summer 2024.  

The awards were announced at a London ceremony hosted by TV presenter Sue Perkins. 

Academic achievement 

Ozlem is committed to impactful and innovative engineering solutions and has conducted research into mitigating the impact of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks – a type of cyber attack where a hacker floods a server with internet traffic to prevent users accessing online services. 

After completing a research internship on this topic as a visiting student at the University of Oxford in summer 2023, Ozlem’s research is set to be presented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Conference on High Performance Switching and Routing (HPSR) in July 2024. 

Earlier this year Ozlem also won the IET Future Talent Award, which is designed to support students and apprentices who face personal obstacles but demonstrate exceptional potential. 

Overcoming barriers 

While passionate about engineering, Ozlem is even more dedicated to improving representation and support for women and individuals from underrepresented backgrounds within the field, and mentors students who have faced challenges in their educational journeys.  

Her own experiences of overcoming significant barriers have inspired her to support these individuals, fuelling her commitment to enhancing diversity and representation in engineering. 

Reacting to her award win, Ozlem said: 

“Winning this award means a lot to me since it is a recognition of the resilience and determination that have shaped my journey. 

“I want to continue influencing positive change through engineering, both by driving innovation and advocating for diversity and representation. I believe in using my skills to make a meaningful impact and help build a more inclusive engineering community.” 

Head of the School of Engineering, Professor Gareth Harrison said:

“We are truly delighted that Ozlem has beaten stiff competition from across the UK to be named Undergraduate of the Year 2024 for Celebrating Resilience.  

“This is a huge testament not only to Ozlem’s academic excellence but also her persistence in overcoming educational barriers, and her work inspiring the next generation to do the same.” 

Ozlem is one of three University of Edinburgh students to win an Undergraduate of the Year Award 2024, alongside computer science student John Sykes and philosophy and politics student Abigail Bilsland. 

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