Robotics and Automation Awards 2023 Success

Nathan Donaldson has been Highly Commended for Young Innovator of the Year as part of the Robotics and Automation Awards 2023.

Earlier this year, Robotics & Automation Magazine launched its inaugural awards ceremony to celebrate the latest innovations and highest achievements to be found across the world of robotics and automation, the Robotics & Automation Awards.

The awards are open to those working throughout the robotics and automation industry and within all parts of the related value chain. Ursula O’Sullivan-Dale, editor of Robotics & Automation Magazine, said: “What’s unique about the Robotics & Automation Awards is that it will bring together a diverse array of businesses, organisations, institutions and professionals working with robotics and automation and highlight the hard work and dedication of end-users, solution providers and research institutions alike.” - Robotics & Automation, May 30, 2023

Nathan Donaldson, a Mechatronics and Robotics student at Leeds, was nominated as a finalist for the Young Innovator of the Year at the Robotics & Automation Awards 2023 and has been Highly Commended.

The Young Innovator of the Year category is open to anyone under 25 working with robotic or automated systems who has not completed a graduate or post-graduate degree in their related field. Entrants, or those nominating an entrant, need to demonstrate why the candidate has shown innovation or excellence in their work and made positive contributions to an organisation and/or the wider sector.

Nathan said: ‘To be nominated for such a prestigious award so early in my career has been extremely inspiring. The opportunity to go to the awards and immerse myself in the industry, and talk to some of the leaders, has really encouraged my passion to continue in the field of robotics.’

Nathan had been on an industry placement at Wootzano, a company that makes dexterous robotic systems to handle extremely delicate objects by using proprietary electronic skin, machine learning and electronics, as a Mechatronics Engineer intern over the past year. Wootzano nominated Nathan for the award due to his overall contribution to the development of the product, which they are designing and taking to market – Avarai.

Avarai is an automated system for packing fresh fruit and veg, focusing on vine fruits. Nathan believes he exceeded their expectations as a mechatronics and robotics engineer intern and added significant value to both the product itself and the company. Some of the work he did whilst he was at Wootzano was; PCB and electronics design, resulting in numerous PCBs designed by himself which are now implemented in the production system. Mechanical/product design to accompany the PCBs he designed and various enclosures and fittings that have also been implemented in the production system. Which, both of these aspects are on the system that has been shipped to customers internationally.

Two photographs of Nathan Donaldson with the company award at the Robotics and Automation Awards 2023 ceremony night.

Nathan Donaldson holding the Innovation in Packaging Automation award, given to Wootzano.

Wootzano said: “The UK lags behind many other nations when it comes to robotics and having our own placement student nominated amongst exceptional talents in the field is no small feat. Innovators like Nathan will aid the UK in staying competitive in a rapidly growing industry. Soon to be graduating from the University of Leeds, his studies provided a solid path for a strong career in robotics.”

The awards were decided by a wide range of judges from other universities and industry, including Gordon Baker, Policy Lead for Robotics, UK Department of Science, Innovation & Technology.

Dr Tim Amsdon, Deputy Director of Student Education from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering said: "Nathan's nomination as a finalist for the Young Innovator of the Year at the Robotics & Automation Awards 2023 speaks volumes about the remarkable talent in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. His recent return from placement highlights the practical skills and expertise our students gain. We take immense pride in Nathan's achievement, which clearly demonstrates his strong commitment to his studies and the advancement of robotics and automation. Congratulations, Nathan!"