Teenage girl scoops UK Young Engineer of the Year award with sign language interpretation device

Posted on 23 Jun 2023 by The Manufacturer

Winners of the prestigious Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition have been announced at an awards ceremony at The Big Bang Fair.

Ranita Ariyibi, a 15-year old student at Colchester County High School for Girls (Essex), has scooped the top prize and been crowned UK Young Engineer of the Year 2023 for her invention of a device that enables hearing and Deaf people to communicate more easily.

InterSign acts as electronic interpreter between British Sign Language (BSL) and English, meaning it can see a sign then give the meaning in English – both spoken and written on screen. Similar to smart speakers like Alexa, it has the additional advantage of being able to take action. So, signing ‘help’ could trigger the device to call emergency services or a family member.’

Originally working with a partner before progressing the project alone, Ranita has spent hundreds of hours researching options, designing and coding the device. She used open-source software and a range of different approaches to create InterSign and 3D printed an early prototype. The young engineer wants to continue to develop and refine it to address issues communicating with Deaf people and provide smart assistance.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, which runs The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition, said: “Huge congratulations to Ranita on her UK Young Engineer of the Year award. She has worked incredibly hard on her InterSign project, trying different approaches and coding solutions to create a device that does what she set out to achieve. The judges were really impressed with her creative ideas, problem solving and determination – all important elements in engineering.

“We’re delighted to see so many girls have entered the competition this year – demonstrating that engineering really is accessible and interesting to everyone. Ranita undoubtedly has a very bright future ahead of her and we hope her achievements will inspire more young people, and especially girls, to develop a passion for engineering and technology.”

Accepting her award, Ranita said: “It’s absolutely crazy, I never imagined that I’d be here today. It’s been such a long process and I’m so grateful for this opportunity and to have won this award. I think having the showcase of all the competitors at The Big Bang Fair is really inspiring, seeing how young people can do amazing things.”

More engineering prizes were awarded to some other talented young people. They include:

Rishan Sharma, a student from Cambourne Village College (Cambridge, East England) won the Junior Engineering category with their project ‘Blind Vision’.

Muhammad Shah, a student from Queen Elizabeth’s School (Barnet, London) won the Intermediate Engineering category with their project ‘Working from home: NEA Exercise solution’.

Ashwin Sridhar, also a student at Queen Elizabeth’s School (Barnet, London) won the Senior Engineering category with their project ‘Retromate: Smart Device for the Elderly’.

The UK Young Scientist of the Year was also announced at The Big Bang Fair. Kaycee Deery, age 15 from St Mary’s College, Derry-Londonderry won the prestigious award for her Natural sunscreen preparations project.

To find out more about The Big Bang Competition and the 2023 winners, click here.