Published: 03 December 2013

MEng students win coveted IET awards

Two top-performing medical engineering students have been honoured with awards from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Recent graduate Johanna-Marie Best has been awarded the IET Dennis Hill Award 2013, while Samantha Simons – who graduated in 2012 and is now studying for a PhD at Surrey – has won the prestigious IET Leslie H Paddle Scholarship to fund her doctoral research.

Both graduates from the University’s MEng Medical Engineering programme, the two were each the highest-performing student in their year and achieved outstanding final year projects in biomedical signal processing applications – the field in which both have specialised.

The IET Dennis Hill award is given annually to the MEng or MSc student who has submitted the best project dissertation in the sphere of healthcare technologies. Johanna-Marie impressed judges with her project, which showed how advanced signal processing can be used to improve understanding of electrocardiogram recordings – a finding with potential diagnostic implications.

Having gained the best overall results of any MEng student at Surrey, Johanna-Marie also won the Frederic Barnes Waldron Best Student Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the University’s own Wells medal for best overall result by an engineering student.

“I was delighted to win the Dennis Hill Award. It's a wonderful recognition and serves as great motivation to continue to excel in my journey towards a career in Medical Engineering,” says Johanna-Marie.

Johanna-Marie’s supervisor Dr Daniel Abasolo comments: “I am incredibly proud of Johanna-Marie’s achievements and this award recognises the quality of her final year project, in which she had to put into practice new biomedical signal processing concepts that were completely new to her before the start of the project. Not only did she succeed in doing that, but she also discussed her results in the context of current theories explaining the origin of atrial fibrillation in a way that PhD students, but not undergraduates, would be expected to do."

Graduating the year before Johanna-Marie, Samantha Simons also won the IET Dennis Hill Award in 2012, and has gone on to win the IET Leslie H Paddle scholarship in 2013. Worth £5,000, this scholarship aims to enable IET members to carry out doctoral research furthering the art, science or practice of electronic or radio engineering at a UK university. Going before a panel of senior engineers to explain her research – which focuses on using signal processing to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease – Samantha beat off stiff competition to win the scholarship.

The honour is the latest of a number of awards Samantha has won during her time at Surrey, including the IMechE Frederic Barnes Waldron Best Student Award, the Wells medal, the Hector Wainwright MEng Engineering prize for her final year project and the best paper award at the 5th International Conference on Medical Signal & Information Processing (MEDSIP 2012), held in Liverpool in July 2012.

“I was delighted to win the Dennis Hill Award. It is always nice to have your work recognized and validated, especially when it comes from such a prestigious organization,” says Samantha. “The scholarship will go towards conferences, scientific meetings and equipment to make my PhD tenure here a success and to enable me to reach a wider audience with my research.”

Dr Abasolo comments: “Samantha has been awarded different prizes for her biomedical signal processing work since she did her MEng final year project at the University of Surrey. This scholarship is the icing on the cake of her hard work over the past two years. To say that I am proud of what she has achieved since she started working under my supervision would be an understatement.”

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