News Awards for Lower Sixth students in University of Cambridge Essay Prizes 25.06.2021

Congratulations to Weronika for receiving an Honourable Mention for her entry in The Lord Toulson Essay Prize in Law. Organised by Jesus College, Cambridge, the competition encourages students to engage with important legal debates and to explore the kind of issues that they would be exposed to in a Cambridge law degree. Weronika’s entry discussed the issue: ‘The government should take control of unoccupied homes and allocate them to the homeless’.

Meanwhile Libby was highly commended In the Newnham College (Cambridge) Essay Prize. Entrants could select one of Archaeology, Biological Sciences, Classics, Computer Science, Engineering, History, Mathematics, Medicine, Modern and Medieval Languages, Music, Philosophy and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences as their topic for their entry.

Libby, who chose Engineering, gave us an insight into her entry:
‘I was recently delighted to find that my entry into the Newnham Essay Prize for Engineering had been highly commended. My essay was on ‘Biomimicry in Engineering’, a topic that I was already fascinated by thanks to my work on the ‘Discover More’ podcast collection at school. Biomimicry is when we draw inspiration from biological entities or processes to improve our own systems, materials and structures. Thanks to nature’s limited resources and the constant competition for survival, organisms have evolved by natural selection to become as best suited to their environment as possible. From their physical anatomy to their behavioural traits, we can therefore learn a lot by studying how other such organisms thrive in earth’s varied, and often extreme, environments. In my essay, I discussed biomimicry’s boundless potential to revolutionise engineering, and how it is already being used in the development of new technologies. This included diving deeper into the physics of humpback whale flippers, and learning about how the bumps (or tubercles) on the edge of the flippers can be mimicked on plane wings to increase the efficiency and manoeuvrability of aircraft. Keeping with the ocean theme, I also examined how the molecular makeup of the adhesive mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks is transforming foetal surgery. My person favourite, though, was the way fire ants and diving bell spiders are inspiring a new, super water repellent material with infinite potential applications (including ‘unsinkable’ boats).  As I’ve gone on to write my EE, I’ve found the experience of researching, writing and editing the essay incredibly useful. I also loved being able to combine and explore my interests in engineering and biology further. The whole process was so rewarding, and I’d highly recommend entering an essay competition if you’re looking for a challenge and an opportunity to showcase your knowledge on a topic you love.’