Imperial College London team wins Young Pioneer Award at the E&T Innovation Awards 2021

Voted by the public, the team consisting of Shafae Ali, Alfie Mcmeeking, Andy Ferdinand, Premal Gadhia and Judith Weill were presented with the E&T Young Pioneer Award for their project to make the footwear industry sustainable through augmented reality (AR) digital skins and 3D-printed biodegradable self-healing technology.

The team aim to develop the most sustainable shoe for 2040; this will be achieved by reducing the number of shoes consumed, making footwear fully biodegradable, and simplifying the manufacturing process.

The technologies to enable this are AR, biomaterials, and 3D printing. Decoupling fashion from the materials and manufacture of a shoe is a major step in rethinking sustainability in the industry. Integrated within the shoe is a biodegradable RFID chip to aid with the identification of users, enabling multi-user AR, and the placement of the unique digital footwear mapped to the foot.

Given one shoe can now become any, the ‘base’ shoe has been designed to optimise sustainability and comfort.

The team developed the concept of 3D-​printed fully biodegradable nanocellulose footwear with self-healing capabilities to extend its usable lifetime. The shoe is able to regenerate up to 50 per cent of its total surface area, through a user-specific microvascular healing structure.

The biopolymer healing fluid is circulated by a biomechanic synced pump system. This was physically prototyped and digitally iterated over 350 simulations. The pump mechanism is an innovation that has scope beyond the sustainability industry.

On winning, team co-leader Shafae Ali said: “The E&T Awards are important for us as our project mission is focused on creating a sustainable future for the footwear industry. This aligns with the goals of the Young Pioneer category – tackling the major engineering challenges we face as a society today to make tomorrow better – and provides us with the network and capability to pursue funding.

The team is extremely grateful to everyone who voted for us and supported our journey, it’s an amazing feeling to get this result. We’re excited to further develop our concept, looking at biomaterials, 3D printing and the novel shoe pump mechanism, of which its uses go far beyond the current application in areas such as energy storage.”

The judging panel were full of praise: “This entry has so much going for it. It has the potential to significantly improve the sustainability of the footwear industry and also be a huge commercial success.

We like how it has been designed to include various cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality, biomaterials, and 3D printing.”

Other innovations that won prizes at this year’s awards included the first functional dengue fever early warning system and a laser-based sensor that can help to diagnose heart and lung disease.

Now in its seventeenth year, the E&T Innovation Awards are the ultimate celebration for people, projects and organisations that are revolutionising our world through excellence in engineering and technology.

This year’s Awards, hosted by Fran Scott, included a host of new categories to reflect the societal challenges that rely on engineers and technologists for their solution.

The Young Pioneer Award was voted by the public in the lead up to the ceremony and on the night, with nearly 5,000 votes cast.

IET President, Sir Julian Young added: “These annual awards celebrate the achievements of the most outstanding innovators across engineering and technology.  

Our finalists come from a diverse range of companies and academic institutions from across the world, with their innovations tackling major economic and societal challenges.

“With the IET’s mission to inspire excellence in engineering and technology, we are so proud to demonstrate our support, putting ground-breaking innovations in the spotlight and helping to advance this essential and fundamental work.  

On behalf of all our members, I send a huge congratulations to all our winners.”

The 2021 E&T Innovation Award winners are:

  • Difference Maker of the Year: Esther Ngumbi
  • Digital Health and Social Care: HR Wallingford for the D-MOSS Dengue Fever Early Warning System: Using Satellite Earth Observations & Machine Learning to Forecast Dengue Fever
  • Future Power and Energy: Tsinghua University for Large capacity DC breaking technology
  • Communications and IT: University of Aeronautics and Astronautics for AerialRadioOverseer – an AI-enabled unmanned aerial vehicle radio monitoring system
  • Manufacturing 4.0: Cambridge Precision Limited for Cobotic Hub
  • Sustainability and Climate Change: Innovyze and Fairfield Control Systems for Building a Sustainable Future - Glasgow's Smart Canal
  • Protecting Society and Saving Lives: Stantec, Thames Water, The London Fire Brigade for the London Fire Flow, a system for water suppliers and fire services to be able to calculate the firefighting capacity of a water supply system and buildings’ fire flow requirements
  • Cyber Security: Crypto Quantique for harnessing quantum tunnelling delivers ultimate security for IoT devices
  • R&D: Element Six Global Innovation Centre for DNV-B1™, the world’s first widely available quantum diamond grade optimised for a wide range of quantum applications
  • Tech for Good: HR Wallingford for the D-MOSS Dengue Fever Early Warning System: Using Satellite Earth Observations & Machine Learning to Forecast Dengue Fever
  • Smarter World: Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics for AerialRadioOverseer – an AI-enabled unmanned aerial vehicle radio monitoring system
  • Future Mobility: Furrer+Frey GB Limited for rapid battery chargers to power-up a very light rail revolution & create sustainable transport option for smaller towns
  • Intelligent Systems: Roke for STARTLE® for Maritime (S4M) – designed to assist the Royal Navy in understanding the evolving Situational Awareness (SA) picture around a ship
  • Future Unicorn: Donisi Health for contact free bio-sensing and diagnosis
  • Diversity, Equality & Inclusion: SpaceML for SpaceML Worldview Search: Distributed Open-source Research with Citizen Scientists for the Advancement of Space Technology for NASA
  • Trust & Truth: Seldon for Seldon Albi – an open-source Python library designed to offer clear unbiased insights into the workings of machine learning models, ensuring decisions are accurate and ethical
  • Young Pioneer: Shafae Ali, Alfie Mcmeeking, Andy Ferdinand, Premal Gadhia and Judith Weill from Imperial College London for their project to make the footwear industry sustainable through AR digital skins and 3D-printed biodegradable self-healing technology

The E&T Awards are sponsored by MathWorks, Arrow Electronics, Emerson, GCHQ and National Grid.

Find out more about the E&T Innovation Awards.

--ENDS--

Notes to editors:

About the IET

  • We inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community to engineer a better world.
  • We are a diverse home for engineering and technology intelligence throughout the world. This breadth and depth means we are uniquely placed to help the sector progress society.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and technology to change outdated perceptions and tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • Interview opportunities are available with our spokespeople from a range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and diversity in engineering.
  • For more information, visit www.theiet.org
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.

Media enquiries to

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager
E: hkellett@theiet.org

Rebecca Gillick
Senior Communications Executive
E: rgillick@theiet.org