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PhD student heads to global final after winning UK engineering title

View of John Anderson Campus from the north

A Strathclyde student has won the UK final of the prestigious Speak out for Engineering (SOFE) competition, which challenges young engineers to develop their public speaking skills.

Callum Wilson, a PhD student in the Aerospace Centre of Excellence of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), will now represent the UK in the global final inthe United Arab Emirates later this year.

The event, run by the Institution for Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), challenges participants to explain technical mechanical engineering related subjects.

Callum, who said he was “surprised and delighted” to win the competition, said: “Participating in SOFE also allowed me to see many excellent presentations from other engineers and learn about new trends, applications, and challenges in the field.

“I’m very grateful to the IMechE for the opportunity to speak at these events and look forward to the World Final in Dubai.”

Before reaching the UK final, which was held at the IMechE headquarters in London, the 24-year-old who has been studying at Strathclyde since 2013, won both the Glasgow regional and Scottish regional competitions.

The topic of his talk was Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Engineering in which he discussed the present knowledge gap within the field and the issues with “black-box” AI.

The MAE department has a group which researches engineering applications of AI – the Intelligent Computational Engineering Lab (ICE Lab) – which Callum is part of. His talk was inspired by the topics they research and the general need for more understanding of AI.

Engineering Policy Adviser for the IMechE and competition judge, Matt Rooney, said: “The top three presentations could not have been more different, but all were brilliant in their own way.  Our two runners-up covered advanced engine design and a new method for finding and fixing blockages in arteries.

"In his winning presentation, Callum explored the concept of artificial intelligence and its applications in engineering. To produce an engaging and entertaining presentation for a general audience on such a complicated and often misunderstood concept is a fantastic achievement.

“Callum will represent the UK at the world final of Speak Out for Engineering and I wish him the best of luck.”

The competition is organised annually by the IMechE's local volunteer groups and was originally established in 1964 to challenge young engineers to prove they could communicate effectively.