In a move to counter the outdated image of engineering, and make it an attractive career choice for young people, the Queen of England will be handing out the first ever Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, a £1million ($1.5 million) prize to those "responsible for a ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity."
The first five winners of the prize were announced Monday. They are:
- Louis Pouzin, Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf - for making "seminal contributions to the protocols (or standards) that together make up the fundamental architecture of the Internet."
- Tim Berners-Lee created the worldwide web "which vastly extended the use of the Internet beyond email and file transfer."
- Marc Andreessen - for writing the Mosaic browser "that was widely distributed and which made the WWW accessible to everyone. His work triggered a huge number of applications unimagined by the early network pioneers."
The five winners will split the £1million prize, which will be presented to them by Queen Elizabeth II in June. The prize is being funded by an endowment, with donations from BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Shell, Siemens, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel and Toshiba.
"Over the past 60 years, I have had the privilege of seeing how engineering developments can make a profound impact on people’s lives. I am delighted to lend my support to this prize and I hope that it inspires many more people across the globe to develop life-changing engineering creations in the years to come," the Queen said in a statement.
The Q&A section of the website for award makes it clear why the award is being handed out: there is an outdated image of engineering that people have, which stops many young people, and especially women, from entering the field. The prize is designed to show them that engineering can be exciting and that there are numerous opportunities for those that enter into it.
"It will provide an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate how engineers and engineering are making a real difference across the world. "
On his blog Monday, Marc Andreessen wrote that he was "humbled and grateful" to win the prize, and pledged to donate his winnings to "charitable programs that help spread the culture and foundational knowledge of engineering — such as scholarships and summer programs for engineering students."
"It is amazing to think that the consumer Internet and the World Wide Web are still only 20 years old. So much important work has been done in the last 20 years — including bringing the Internet to more than 2 billion people around the world but also so much important work has yet to be done," he wrote. "I firmly believe our field’s best days are still ahead of us, and I can’t wait to see what the next generation of engineers will accomplish."
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