Editor's comment | The awards debate
18 Feb 2015
Should awards be considered worthwhile recognition for great work, or a worthless distraction?
Earlier this month, Robert Langer, a chemical engineer and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor, won what is arguably engineering’s biggest prize.
The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize) celebrates the achievements of the most influential engineers on the planet - the winner also receives £1 million.
“Ingenuity reigns supreme across much of the STEM industries
The QEPrize is designed to inspire the next generation of engineers by showcasing monumental feats of engineering, and highlights what a career in engineering can lead to.
Langer won this year’s award largely for his pioneering work on polymer-based large molecular weight drug delivery technology.
Langer also works across the fields of nanotechnology, tissue engineering, and has helped develop drug implantation technology.
His work has impacted on the lives of more than 2 billion people; he thoroughly deserves his award.
However, he is not the only person who deserves an award, and the QEPrize is by no means the limit.
Ingenuity reigns supreme across much of the science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) industries - and there are many awards to be won.
However, trying to win awards for superficial reasons such as monetary gain or ’celebrity’ status feels somewhat out of place…crude even.
STEM students and employers should aspire to win awards because the people, or companies, that often win industry prizes have done so because of their immense contribution to a particular field.
In Langer’s case - roughly one in three people have benefited from his work.
One such award (well, nine awards) that STEM students and employers can win is the Science Industry Skills Awards (SISA) - formerly the Life Science Skills Awards.
SISA rewards those apprentices, individuals, providers and employers “who have excelled in contributing to the development of skills across the science sectors”, says skills body and awards host Cogent Skills.
The awards showcase skills talent across the chemical, polymer, downstream, water treatment and biotechnology industries.
According to Cogent Skills, winning a SISA can give your career a boost; help employers attract new talent; champion the skills agenda; and boost pride and motivation.
It’s also great recognition for great work.
This year’s SISA awards are taking place on May 7th in London. Cogent Skills is urging people from across the science industries to enter, and give UK STEM a much needed boost.
Anyone interested in entering can do so via Cogent Skills’ website.