Posted on / in Leader's Award, Primary Engineer

Thales, a global leader in technology and services, is excited to announce a ground-breaking collaboration with Primary Engineer to develop an innovative plant prototype designed by a talented young student. The winning design, named “A Face for a Plant,” emerged as part of the annual UK-wide initiative, ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ which encourages students to identify problems and devise creative solutions.

The “Face for a Plant” prototype revolutionises how we monitor plant health by utilising sensors strategically placed around the plant. These sensors monitor environmental conditions, such as light levels, temperature, humidity, and soil moisture. The collected data is then processed and represented on a screen embedded in the pot, displaying a face with various emotions, including happiness, sadness, and even thirst. This unique concept offers a visually engaging and intuitive way to understand a plant’s needs and overall health.

Thales in the UK is proud to be the first industry partner to take on the challenge of developing a prototype from the winning design in collaboration with Primary Engineer. Thomas Blake, Graduate Engineer at Thales in the UK, who has been leading the team in Glasgow said, 

I’ve really enjoyed leading a small team of two first-year graduates and two apprentices to develop the prototype. It’s been inspiring to watch the team grow and develop new skills over the course of the project, and we’re excited to showcase the plant prototype to the young student who created the design.

Every employee at Thales in the UK can spend up to 24 hours volunteering each year and the team, consisting of Harry Jones, Mark Gallacher, Pietro Casabianca, Angus MacInnes, and led by Thomas Blake in Glasgow, have used those hours to bring “A Face for a Plant” prototype to life.

The prototype was presented to the young student, Zavier, at the South East award ceremony held in Canterbury on June 22nd. This event took place at Canterbury Christ Church University, where Zavier was in attendance to witness their innovative design.

Primary Engineer has been instrumental in fostering young talents and encouraging them to explore engineering as a viable career path. “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” initiative plays a crucial role in promoting creative problem-solving skills among students. By engaging with real-world challenges, the initiative instills a sense of curiosity and innovation in young minds.

This collaboration between Thales and Primary Engineer also addresses the pressing skills gap in the engineering industry. Despite an increase in STEM undergraduates, 40% of employers still report a shortage of engineering graduates. Initiatives like “If you were an engineer” inspire young individuals to explore the multitude of opportunities that engineering offers, potentially leading to careers in these fields. It is imperative to encourage and support initiatives that nurture young engineering talents and bridge the gap between education and industry.

Looking ahead, Thales and Primary Engineer are planning to scale up the initiative next year. Thales will potentially take on winning designs from each region across the UK to develop a prototype of each design. By expanding their collaboration, they aim to further inspire young minds and ignite their passion for engineering.

For more information about the project and the upcoming award ceremonies, please visit Primary Engineer’s website at 

About Thales 

Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global leader in advanced technologies within three domains: Defence & Security, Aeronautics & Space, and Digital Identity & Security. It develops products and solutions that help make the world safer, greener and more inclusive.

The Group invests close to €4 billion a year in Research & Development, particularly in key areas such as quantum technologies, Edge computing, 6G and cybersecurity.

Thales has 77,000 employees in 68 countries. In 2022, the Group generated sales of €17.6 billion.

Thales in the UK is a team of over 7,000 experts, based across 16 sites. In 2022, Thales in the UK contributed over £1.4 billion to the UK economy.


Thales, Media Relations
Adrian Rondel
+44 7971 414 052