Press release

Royal Engineers Warrant Officer awarded top IET prize for mission-critical work during disaster relief operation

15 November 2017

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has today announced the winners of its annual Apprentice and Technician of the Year Awards, which recognise individuals who have made exceptional engineering contributions to their profession or operational area.

WO2 Ram Kumar Rai RE, a Clerk of Works (Construction) in the Royal Engineers, was chosen as Armed Forces Technician of the Year from a shortlist of three for his outstanding work as technical lead during the humanitarian and disaster relief operation following the devastating Nepal earthquakes in 2015.

Then a Staff Sergeant, WO2 Rai developed a shelter design based on the materials supplied in aid packs, which could be rapidly erected using basic trade skills. Two weeks after the tour, he was tasked with overseeing the technical aspects of the area’s reconstruction operation, during which he had overall responsibility for managing the contract, supervising designs and quality control. His efforts were pivotal to the Engineering Group’s design capability.

He was also involved in the proof-of-concept for an earthquake-resistant stone and reinforced concrete home design using local construction techniques. After four new houses were built, his detailed reports of the work were successfully implemented during subsequent rebuilding operations.

WO2 Rai received a prize consisting of a trophy, certificate, £1,000 and two years’ free IET membership.

IET President Nick Winser CBE said: “This is a fantastic achievement and WO2 Rai should be very proud to win this award against strong competition in his category.

“The standard of this year’s entries made the judging extremely difficult. All the IET Armed Forces Technician Award finalists demonstrated skills and knowledge through their work that went far beyond their roles. They have taken on challenging tasks and through innovation and determination to succeed have brought real benefits to those they work for and with.”

Rai commented: “Winning this award means so much to me on both a personal and professional level. My parents sacrificed a lot to send me to a proper school in my native Nepal, which eventually allowed me to train as a technician in the army. To have my achievements recognised by an industry body as important as the IET is a huge honour and a very proud moment for my family, my colleagues and me.

This award acknowledges the importance of the work my fellow technicians in the army and I do behind the scenes, without any expectation of reward, and is a huge boost for our profession.”

The two other shortlisted candidates for the Armed Forces Technician award were:

  • Staff Sergeant John Martindale RE who made cost savings of 80% by developing an innovative solution for the construction of a 1.7km long natural surface runway at an RAF airfield in Suffolk. By applying inventive techniques and reverting to basic engineering principles, SSgt Martindale produced a high quality product on time to the required specification and significantly under budget.
  • Corporal Philip Matthews who is responsible for building a new system for the MOD that protects aircraft systems against malicious cyber threats. Cpl Matthews built the system in less than 10 days using existing hardware and software to save costs. Recognising the advantages of his solution, HQ Air intend to roll it out to all aircraft platforms in service. 

The Apprentice and Technician Awards are part of the IET’s Achievement Awards and Scholarships programme, which this year provided over £1million in awards, prizes and scholarships to celebrate excellence and research in the sector and encourage the next generation of engineers and technicians.

Notes to editors:

Find out more about the Awards on the IET Achievement Awards website.