The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) has named this year’s recipient of the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award as Gary Kelleher, product support sales manager (GB) from Aylesford based BOMAG - the world market leader in the field of Compaction Technology. The award to Kelleher was in recognition of his contribution to furthering the engagement of primary pupils in STEM projects. It was made at a ceremony at the BCAS annual ball held at The Savoy Hotel on Saturday 24 November 2018.
Kelleher was instrumental in not only working with local school teachers to demonstrate how to introduce Primary Engineer to school pupils, he also brought the children’s designs to life by visiting the school during class time, to help them build concept vehicles which demonstrated the importance of planning, measuring, accuracy and design. His involvement had a direct impact on the number of pupils from the school entering the Primary Engineer Leaders Award – a competition in which children are asked “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”, and then submit ideas for new inventions solving an identifiable problem.
What started off as a company CSR project reaching out to the community on the suggestion of BOMAG GB managing director Alan Batty, soon became a mainstream interest for Kelleher, from Maidstone. He was nominated for the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award by teacher Danielle Abley who is from Sandling Primary School which was able to take part in the Primary Engineer Programme due to funding from BOMAG and Canterbury Christ Church University.
He said: “I am delighted to have received this award, it was totally unexpected. I visited the school to help teachers and pupils to plan the designs of their shoebox vehicles, explaining the value of each element.
“The vehicles for the older pupils involved building a wooden chassis and wiring up an electric motor to drive the car up a ramp. It required more patience, but you could see a great sense of achievement in each team when it all came together.
“In the Primary Engineer Kent finals both teams that represented Sandling did very well, winning several awards on the day for performance and design. I thought the program offered a great practical experience for the pupils and hopefully it will have inspired some of the them to explore engineering in the future”.
Vanda Jones, executive director of BCAS said: “With the UK’s current shortfall of qualified engineers and an ageing, skilled workforce, we have been championing the Primary Engineer Programme for many years now. It gives pupils a fantastic opportunity to work with engineers and to enable teachers to embed engineering into their learning.
“It is through the passion and commitment of people like Gary that the industry is helping to encourage young people in to a future career in engineering and to plug our technology skills gap."
Chris Rochester, UK director for Primary Engineer Programmes, creator of the awards said: “We created the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award to recognise annually one engineer who goes way beyond the call of duty. Kelleher's commitment to the school supporting the teachers to become adept at delivering STEM projects to pupils makes him a deserving winner”.
The Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award was inspired by an engineer who lived to the age of 99. Throughout his life, Rogers inspired everyone he met. He was a President of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), among many other achievements, and it is they who wanted to celebrate his inspirational life. The Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award was established in 2015, with the first award presented in November 2016.