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Johnians receive Royal Academy of Engineering Awards for innovation

Dr Eben Upton, Norman Smith & Dr Robert Mullins

Three Johnians were successful at the Royal Academy of Engineering Awards, presented by The Duke of Kent.

The winner of the MacRobert Award, the top Royal Academy of Engineering Award for innovation, was Raspberry Pi. Dr Eben Upton CBE, a St John’s alumnus, is the CEO of the organisation, and Dr Robert Mullins, Fellow of St John’s and University Lecturer in Computer Science, is a co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

The other finalists in the category were Vision RT - whose CEO is Norman Smith, a graduate of St John’s - and St John's Innovation Centre-based company Darktrace. Vision RT developed the world’s most accurate real-time 3D body surface imaging system that enables doctors to target cancerous tumours with pinpoint accuracy. Darktrace created a cyber ‘immune system’ that uses machine learning to self-learn what is ‘normal’ for an organisation’s computer network.

The MacRobert Award was presented to Raspberry Pi by The Duke of Kent at the Academy's Awards Dinner. Raspberry Pi, launched in 2012, is a not-for-profit organisation which creates credit card-sized microcomputers that are redefining how children learn to code. The company has sold 14 million micro-computers, and the success achieved by Raspberry Pi Trading generates millions in profits that are then used by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to help teach people about computing.

The CEO and co-founder of Raspberry Pi, Dr Eben Upton CBE, read Electrical and Engineering Sciences at St John’s from 1996-1999, and continued his postgraduate studies at the College. He was Director of Studies in Computer Science at St John’s from 2004-2007. Dr Upton was recognised by MIT Technology Review as One of the World's Top Young Innovators for 2012, and he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2016 for services to Business and Education.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation was also co-founded by another Johnian, Dr Robert Mullins. Although not a nominated team member for the award, Dr Mullins is Director of Studies for Computer Science at St John’s and Peterhouse, and Senior Lecturer in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.

Norman Smith, CEO, President and co-founder of Vision RT since 2001, received a BA in Electrical and Engineering Sciences from St John’s in 1992, and an MA in 1996. He studied Medical Imaging for his PhD at Imperial College London in 1998, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

The MacRobert Award is the UK's longest running and most prestigious national prize for engineering innovation, and was first presented in 1969. The award recognises outstanding innovation, tangible societal benefit and proven commercial success, and is presented and run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

To read more about the award and the finalists, visit the Royal Academy of Engineering website.