Last month the Stevenage Branch all came together for the Annual Young Person's Lecture Competition at the MBDA Systems, Six Hills Way, Stevenage site. Seasoned and young professionals made up the large audience as well as aerospace students from the local university.

On the night there were six presenters talking on a wide range of topics, from a homemade turbine engine to the complexities of sampling Martian moon regolith, all vying for a chance to take home the coveted eagle trophy and a share of the £250 prize fund.

 The presenters and their talks were: Jack Kemp: Homemade Turbine Engines, Melwyn Carlo: A Plane that runs on Seaweed, Charles Laing: Can Human Centrifugation Make a Mission to Mars Possible?, Ignacio Fernandez Nunez: Phobos Sample Return and Mardan Sajjad: Automatic Dependance Surveillance – Broadcast.

 After a ten minute talk each participant was questioned by the judges, made up of senior members of MBDA, Airbus Defence & Space and RAeS, for five minutes in front of the audience. After deliberations Jack and Ignacio were awarded joint second place and I was selected as the overall winner for my presentation on my research carried out at the German Space Agency (DLR) on the short-arm human centrifuge in Cologne as part of my PhD at King’s College London.

 The wide range of talk subjects made for a very interesting evening and stimulating discussions during the break over some cheese and wine. I am sure I was not the only one who learnt something new and gained more knowledge about exciting individual projects and research happening at Airbus Defense and Space, the University of Hertfordshire, and even an individual’s humble shed!

It was also a fantastic experience to be given the opportunity to present my research in front of such a knowledgeable crowd and share my ideas and get feedback from individuals in the field. I would strongly encourage others in the aerospace sector to consider entering the competition next year and be in with a chance of taking home the trophy in 2017.

- Charles Laing

Charles Laing
7 April 2016