Posted on / in Primary Engineer

When I grow up I’m going to be an engineer!

When Emily’s daughter, Alannah, took part in our annual STEM Competition along with the rest of her friends at Welton Primary School, no one could have anticipated the extraordinary impact it would have!

Yorkshire and Humber Award Ceremony and Public Exhibition which was held at Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, The University of Sheffield on 3rd July 2023

An introduction to the heart-warming story

When Emily, mum of Alannah, reached out to us in January 2024 to share the feedback she said “My daughter was lucky enough to be chosen as Highly Commended in the Primary Engineer competition last year it has sparked a huge interest in engineering for her! She has spent the last year thinking of designs for her next competition entry this academic year. She proudly talks about how she is going to be an engineer when she grows up, and even told the heating engineer who fixed our boiler recently that she is a Primary Engineer and all about her designs!”

Who is Primary Engineer and what is the competition about?

Every year Primary Engineer runs an annual STEM Competition which is open to all schools in the UK, and asks pupils aged 3 – 19 ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’.

Pupils are tasked with interviewing an engineer (arranged by Primary Engineer), where they get a better understanding of what engineering is, the career pathways involved as well as the opportunity to ask the questions that matter to them. The interview gives pupils the inspiration to come up with their own engineering ideas to a problem they identify whether that’s a problem relatable to themselves, their community or the world around them. The cross-curricular competition asks pupils to draw and annotate a solution to the problem whilst also writing a persuasive letter to tell the inspiring engineer about their solution and why it should be brought to life.

During 2022 – 2023 academic year this competition was fully-funded for schools in Yorkshire and Humber by our National partners Network Rail, Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, DXC Technology, Thales, Nippon Gases and our regional partners Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, The University of Sheffield, Cummins and MAPP.

Alannah’s Platipus Cat design

So what did Alannah design?

Alannah, in reception, designed the Platipus Cat which was awarded a Highly Commended grade by engineers when it went to our grading and judging days.

Simon Swallow, from Rotary Engineering UK Ltd, was one of the engineers at the judging day for this region held on 25th of April and said, “We were immediately impressed with the incredibly imaginative name of Alannah’s design, it really stood out amongst the other entries. But it’s not just a great name, looking at the drawing and design features further it actually demonstrates some of the ways engineers think to solve problems: Artificial sunshine to cut the grass on a wet day, a light so you can cut the grass at night. Possibly more importantly, recognising helicopter rotor blades are similar to the cutting blades on a lawnmower, only more powerful so they “cut through anything”! All the engineers on the judging panel were impressed by this design, and it was great for me to subsequently meet “Alannah the engineer” and her parents at the award ceremony. I am sure she has a great future ahead of her.”

Alannah’s mum said “Alannah asks how everything works, how it was made, and has a million questions about pretty much everything. She often talks about meeting this engineer in the photo, and the ideas she chatted to him about [when meeting him at the Awards Ceremony and Public Exhibition]. “

The award ceremony and public exhibition was held at Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, The University of Sheffield on 3rd July 2023 and the photos from the event can be seen our competition Facebook page.

Alannah and Simon Swallow from Rotary Engineering UK Ltd

The joy of the whole experience

Emily, mum of Alannah, commented further to say “Although she didn’t win 1st place, the recognition of effort has had the same impact. Being invited to the awards ceremony and being celebrated has meant the world to her. This has sparked a fire in her and has really boosted her self esteem. She has such a bright spark, and so many ideas and questions. This competition is so nice as it celebrates imagination, creativity, and uniqueness. So much of school time is focused on writing letters and reading, but this competition encourages children to explore, appreciate and express their imagination in a different way that gives all children the opportunity to shine.”

“Thank you all again, we could not have anticipated the positive impact this has had on her confidence, self-esteem and budding interest in engineering.”

How do we get involved?

If you’re a school and want to experience this joy too, simply register for free on the website here:

If you’re an engineering professional, who would like to volunteer some time to help shape young people’s experiences, register your interest on our website here: