Winner Adrianna talks about her experience entering the competition
Since I was 11 years old, I have been passionate about everything that is inconceivably small, hence barely possible to imagine. The idea that there is actually another world that we can’t see made me realize that those tiny species must be of great importance. That resulted in my interest in nanotechnology, where the invisible plays the first fiddle and is changing the world.
For my project, I decided to develop a rapid and eco-friendly method of bacteria identification. It is crucial to have access to such analysis, because effective bacteria typing may well impede the development of antibiotic resistance.
To identify bacteria, I was collecting their “molecular fingerprints” using Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). To conduct this analysis, however, expensive surfaces consisting of metal nanoparticles are necessary. To reduce the cost and time of the analysis, I prepared the substrates using nanoparticles synthesised with extracts from home plants, which turned the method into low-cost, rapid, and eco-friendly. It turned out that SERS substrates I prepared allow the identification of bacteria. Consequently, a correct drug targeted at a pathogen can be selected, which inhibits the development of resistance.
It has been a fantastic experience independently planning and conducting a research project. Although it required a lot of work, my passion for the topic made it an unforgettable process. Winning the Talent 2030 Competition in my age category reassured me that the experts in their fields see potential in my solution and allowed me to gain confidence when talking about my research.
Big Bang Fair
Showcasing my project at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham gave me the possibility to feel like a real engineer. Preparing for the exhibition was a great process, especially designing posters and explaining the method I used brought me a lot of joy. I also met other girls who also took part in Talent 2030 competition, it was great to meet so many young engineers sharing my interests.
After the competition
I continue working on my solution to refine the method and extend the application of my substrates into analysis of other structures. Science and engineering are paths I want to pursue in my future career. As a result, I am considering studying Engineering or Material Engineering at the university. In the future, I would like to work on the application of nanomaterials in automotive industry and in designing electric car batteries.
Talent 2030 is a fantastic opportunity to turn your ideas into something that may well have a profound impact on the world. It also shows how varied the field of engineering is – it starts from the scale of the atom and culminates in the size of a gigantic spacecraft. Engineering is a discipline where everyone can find something interesting. Just give it a try, it is worth it.
by Adrianna, Chigwell School – winner of the 17-18 age category in the 2017/18 competition