Big Bang judges give big hand to Trinity teenager’s bionic arm

Surya Vijayanand, a sixth-former at Trinity School in Shirley, has been named overall winner in this year’s Big Bang science and technology competition after he designed and developed a bionic arm and hand with only a limited budget and using recyclable materials.

Strong grasp of science: the award-winning bionic hand, built by a Trinity schoolboy

The 17-year-old will now represent Britain at the 62nd London International Youth Science Forum, which is being held from July 28 to August 11.

As a further part of his prize and recognition, Vijayanand also gets to enjoy a 15-day residential programme at Imperial College, when he will be able to attend lectures from top scientists and visits to leading science departments and institutions.

Vijayanand started a robotics club at school alongside fellow pupil Dameer Ahmed. He then created a model of a human hand (including code to operate its individual fingers) as part of his sixth form EPQ project.

Despite initially being shortlisted for “The Special Award for Practical Science”, the judges were so impressed with Vijayanand’s outstanding work that they named him overall winner of the competition, praising his passion and ambition.

His project was one of 200 submitted to the Big Bang Competition, an annual contest designed to recognise and reward young people’s achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as helping them build skills and confidence in project-based work.

On winning, Vijayanand thanked his science teacher, Katy Manisier, herself a graduate of Imperial College.

“I can’t thank you enough for all the opportunities you have offered me,” he said.

“The time you made for the practice interview was hugely helpful and your feedback gave me confidence. I am very excited for the 15-day residential programme. I can’t wait to visit and meet the professors and other students from across the world who have also won a place.”

Dr Hilary Leevers, the chief executive of EngineeringUK, organisers of the Big Bang Competition, said: “Surya really impressed the judges with his project and congratulations to him on winning this award.

Top of the class: Surya Vijayanand’s work  impressed the Big Bang judges

“This year’s Big Bang Competition ran a little differently to normal due to the covid-19 pandemic. We’re incredibly impressed by the entries we’ve received. Young people throughout the past 16 months have shown great resilience and determination – they have had to manage multiple lockdowns, periods of remote learning and restricted access to equipment.

“To see the ambition, passion and enthusiasm for their projects at such a difficult time is truly inspiring. It certainly bodes well for the future that the scientists, engineers and inventors of tomorrow are already producing such astute and creative project work – congratulations to all those involved.”

For more information and to enter next year’s Big Bang Competition, click here.

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