A UTC South Durham student is in the running for the ‘Young Innovator of the Year’ award at this year’s UK Energy Innovation Awards.

Thomas Shepherd, a year 12 student who is studying Mechatronics, Maths, Physics and Foundation Engineering, has been shortlisted for his innovative approach to a potential solution for gas meter tampering.

The expert panel of judges (which included senior representatives from the gas, electricity and water industry as well as energy industry regulator Ofgem) were looking for entrants under 30 who had created novel solutions that would benefit industry and ultimately the consumer, whilst demonstrating a tenacity and enthusiasm future generations could inspire to.

The judges were impressed by Thomas’s innovative approach which via a secure cloud-based system, would provide real time, immediate alerts, as well as visual evidence of meter tampering – a widespread problem both in the UK and Ireland that directly impacts shippers, distributors and consumers.

At just 16, Thomas is the youngest shortlisted candidate across all twelve categories, and the youngest ever finalist in the awards’ eight-year history.

Thomas said: “I am really proud to be an award nominee and to have had the opportunity to use skills I’ve learned at UTC South Durham for a truly meaningful purpose. The EIC innovation call helped to boost my confidence significantly when it comes to designing a product to fit a specific brief, as well as presenting that solution to actual members of industry. Overall, the project gave me significant insight into the world of product innovation.”

Catherine Purvis-Mawson, Vice Principal UTC South Durham, said: “We are very proud of Tom and his achievements at UTC. He has proven to be a real innovator, working on projects with industry partners as well as his own. Tom is a great example of a student that goes the extra mile and works hard to be innovative. He has a great future ahead of him and we are excited to hear all about the awards ceremony.”

The awards, which have been showcasing the best innovations within the gas and electricity sectors since 2011, offer an unprecedented opportunity for industry leaders and innovators to come together and celebrate the ideas and technologies that benefit customers, the environment, the industry and the supply chain.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony and dinner on Thursday 26 September at Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel.