Alexander Coniff, British Antarctic Survey

Alex is currently in Antarctica, so his wife Milana accepted the Award on his behalf from Mark Wild OBE FREng, the CEO of SGN, with Master Engineer Dr Dolores Byrne OBE. [image courtesy of Mark Witter Photography].

Alexander Coniff was nominated by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He qualified as a combat engineer and completed a technical apprenticeship at the Royal School of Military Engineering. While serving in the British Army as a Royal Engineer, and despite challenging active deployments and his struggles with dyslexia, Alex enrolled to study part-time at the Open University graduating with a BEng (Hons) in Engineering.  After leaving the military, Alex joined the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) where in just four years he progressed from deputy facilities engineer to becoming the Engineering Manager for the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP) at the Rothera station, the UKs largest research station. Here he leads a team of specialist engineers responsible for providing engineering assurance, site management of upgrade projects, delivering and guiding a digital estate, and modernising the engineering capabilities of BAS.

The environmental challenges present in this work are considerable. Alex has pursued postgraduate studies with a part-time MPhil in Engineering with the Centre for Technology Management at the University of Cambridge with aspirations to work for a PhD demonstrating his desire to progress his engineering knowledge. Alex impressed the judges with his exceptional ability in applying engineering knowledge and the transferable skills he acquired during his time with the Royal Engineers across diverse scenarios, from designing defensive upgrades in operational theatres to leading the construction of scientific facilities in Antarctica.

Alex was included in an Open University campaign that was aired in the summer of 2021 on Sky and Channel 5, cross-promoted to YouTube, that received a combined total of more than 4 million views, encouraging others to follow his example and proving that when there is a will there is a way!

The Baroness Platt of Writtle Award recognises engineering excellence in those who achieved registration as an Incorporated Engineer in the preceding calendar year.  It is named after the late Livery member and Court Assistant Emeritus, The Baroness Platt of Writtle CBE FREng, in recognition of her work in support of the Engineering profession in general and Incorporated Engineers in particular. The Award is funded and managed by the Engineers’ Trust which acknowledges the assistance of the Engineering Council and its partner Professional Engineering Institutions in selecting the winner.

Read more about Alex’s award in this Engineering Council Press Release.

The Worshipful Company of Engineers Charitable Trust (the Engineers Trust) acknowledges excellence in engineering, supports engineering education and research, gives grants and assists in the relief of hardship and poverty.