London. UK A Cambridge University undergraduate who has developed a laser autofocus system for optics for biosciences company, Genapta, has won this year's STEP Solutions: Electronic Engineering competition. James Uren, beat four other finalists to take the prize of 'Best Electronic Engineer 2003'.
Genapta Ltd. in Cambridge is a developer of next generation microarray reader technology, and Uren was brought in to help design and develop a new autofocus system for lasers used in the field of genomics. Uren was tasked with creating a new and innovative hardware solution that would accurately identify when a laser was out of focus and automatically make the requisite corrections. As a result of the project, a patent will be filed with Uren as first author.
The runner-up was Andrew Tham, a student at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, for his development of electronics for a new generation of ozone generators for Eclipse Technical Solutions. Tham was asked to design, prototype and implement new electronic circuitry for use across a range of different ozone generator models.
The five finalists reached the shortlist as a result of electronic engineering projects that they had completed during the summer with host companies identified by business development agencies working with the STEP programme. The awards were presented by Nigel Griffiths MP, Minister for Enterprise and Small Business and Clive Mather, Chairman, Shell UK.
The projects that the finalists worked on ranged from the development of a central heating control system reference design based on a Motorola MC68HC908LJ12, to a Bluetooth-based wireless data logger prototype.
Urenis due to return to Genapta for another four weeks over the Christmas period. After receiving his award, Uren said: “Having previously spent some time working at a much larger company, my experience with Genapta has made me re-think my career path. I spent the summer working much more intensely and had some really great discussions with the people I worked with. Now, I would prefer to work either within a small to medium-sized company, or perhaps even start up on my own.”
STEP Solutions: Electronic Engineering (SS:EE) is a DTI-supported initiative that helps UK organisations secure tangible business benefits by using the high level of skills available from UK undergraduates studying electronic engineering and related disciplines. With grants available to qualifying SMEs, SS:EE a method for companies to undertake projects that may, otherwise, not get done, while providing the student with structured, real-life work experience.
SS:EE is programme run alongside STEP (Shell Technology Enterprise Program). Developed and supported by Shell UK since 1986, and supported by the DTI since 1992, STEP is available throughout the UK and receives support from various government departments and agencies, including the Small Business Service. Companies wishing to take part in the STEP Solutions:Electronic Engineering programme can visit Access to Knowledge