Plant & Works Engineering
2018 Winner of the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award
Published:  04 January, 2019

The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) has named this year’s recipient of the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award as Gary Kelleher, product support sales manager (GB) from Aylesford based BOMAG. The Award to Kelleher was in recognition of his contribution to furthering the engagement of primary pupils in STEM projects. It was made at a ceremony at the recent BCAS annual ball.

Kelleher was instrumental in not only working with local school teachers to demonstrate how to introduce Primary Engineer to school pupils, he also brought the children’s designs to life by visiting the school during class time, to help them build concept vehicles which demonstrated the importance of planning, measuring, accuracy and design. His involvement had a direct impact on the number of pupils from the school entering the Primary Engineer Leaders Award – a competition in which children are asked “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”, and then submit ideas for new inventions solving an identifiable problem.

What started off as a company CSR project reaching out to the community on the suggestion of BOMAG GB managing director Alan Batty, soon became a mainstream interest for Kelleher, from Maidstone. He was nominated for the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award by teacher Danielle Abley who is from Sandling Primary School, which was able to take part in the Primary Engineer Programme due to funding from BOMAG and Canterbury Christ Church University. Kelleher is no stranger to getting the best out of children - at weekends he also manages a local football team.

He said: “I am delighted to have received this award, it was totally unexpected. I visited the school to help teachers and pupils to plan the designs of their shoebox vehicles, explaining the value of each element. The smiles on their faces were a picture when their vehicles flew down the ramp in a straight line.

“The vehicles for the older pupils involved building a wooden chassis and wiring up an electric motor to drive the car up a ramp. It required more patience, but you could see a great sense of achievement in each team when it all came together.”

Vanda Jones, executive director of BCAS said: “With the UK’s current shortfall of qualified engineers and an ageing, skilled workforce, we have been championing the Primary Engineer Programme for many years now. It gives pupils a fantastic opportunity to work with engineers and to enable teachers to embed engineering into their learning.

“It is through the passion and commitment of people like Gary that the industry is helping to encourage young people in to a future career in engineering and to plug our technology skills gap.

“We can’t think of a more deserving winner and our thanks and congratulations go to Gary and to all the children involved for their enthusiasm and fresh ideas.”

The Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award was inspired by an engineer who lived to the age of 99. Throughout his life, Rogers inspired everyone he met. He was a President of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), among many other achievements, and it is they who wanted to celebrate his inspirational life.