An Indian-origin physician is among 19 winners of the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering President's Special Awards for Pandemic Service for exceptional engineering achievements in tackling COVID-19 throughout the UK.
Ravi Solanki, a physician working on neurodegenerative diseases, along with Raymond Siems, an engineer working in machine learning, were awarded for their volunteer work to help build a secure and fully functioning website for a new National Health Service (NHS) charity HEROES.
The duo were praised for working in record time to make the platform sophisticated and efficient, ensuring it could enable funding, provide counselling and wellbeing services, childcare support and sustainable personal protective equipment (PPE) to NHS workers.
"Ravi and Raymond's round-the-clock contributions allowed the new charity to tap into public sentiment and collect donations quickly so that NHS workers could receive the support they needed when the COVID-19 crisis was at its peak in the UK," notes the Academy in its citation.
"Their technical know-how allowed HEROES to support 90,000 NHS workers in three months. The team's work to expand the digital platform and support provided to healthcare workers is ongoing," it adds.
In less than two days, the team including Evan Martin and Wilson Griffiths turned an idea into a "genuine impact" secure website through which more than 543,000 items of much-needed support have been provided to NHS workers, from sustainable PPE to counselling services and child care.
The honours announced on Monday have been awarded to teams, organisations, individuals, collaborations and projects across all technical specialities, disciplines and career stages within the UK engineering community who have contributed to addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and specially commissioned silver medals will be presented to all 19 winners later this year.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest public health crisis of our time and has presented society with multiple challenges. Engineering expertise and innovation has been central to the global fight to save lives and protect livelihoods," said Professor Sir Jim McDonald, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
"I am also incredibly proud of engineers everywhere who have worked round the clock to maintain essential services, critical supply chains and infrastructure in unprecedented circumstances, using their training and skills to find innovative solutions to a host of problems and to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our daily lives," he said.
The other awards covered innovative ventilator devices, breathing aids, respirators and face shields as essential equipment required in the fight against the deadly virus. The President's Special Awards for Pandemic Service were overseen by the Academy's Awards Committee.
Professor Raffaella Ocone, Chair of the Academy's Awards Committee, added: "Engineering skills - including innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration - have proved to be of vital importance during the current pandemic.
"While I am delighted that we are able to recognise some of these outstanding achievements with these awards I am mindful that the important work of the vast majority of engineers will remain largely outside the public''s consciousness. They are all deserving of our thanks and admiration for their continuing positive contribution to society."