Sunrise on Research

Winner of #TechniciansMakeitHappen photo competition announced

Sunrise on Research

Sunrise above the clouds at Mount Wilson Observatory in California marks First Light on a new automated solar telescope. The image shows a new robotic mount installed at the top of the observatory 60-foot tower, where two telescopes capture light from the Sun. The telescope on the right houses a camera using intelligent machine vision to guide the mount following the movement of the Sun. The telescope on the left transmits sunlight along an optical fibre into a solar spectrometer in the observing room below. The system measures solar oscillations – sound waves that pass through the very core of the Sun and reveal the secrets of its deep interior that would otherwise be hidden behind the bright solar surface.

A scientist has won a national photography competition celebrating the UK’s 1.5 million technicians. Steven Hale from the University of Birmingham has been named overall winner of #TechniciansMakeitHappen.

The winning image captures a sunrise over the world-famous Mt Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles. Steven, who works on cutting-edge robotic telescopes like the one in his picture will receive £1000, as well as career mentorship from industry experts.

The competition was launched last year by The Gatsby Foundation to encourage more young people to consider a career as a technician, as over 70,000 roles go unfilled each year in the UK. More than 300 photos were entered into the competition, showcasing the amazing things technicians build, make and create – from space equipment to sports kit, concerts and cars.

Steve Hale, University of Birmingham, said:

“I am delighted to have been selected as the overall winner of #TechniciansMakeitHappen. There’s often very little recognition of the people working behind the scenes to build new technology or help make ground-breaking discoveries. I think campaigns like #TechniciansMakeitHappen are incredibly important to raise the public profile of technicians and showcase the diverse and exciting opportunities for young people who choose a technical career.”

The competition was judged earlier this month by an esteemed panel, including Jez Brooks at tech giant IBM and photographer Leonora Saunders, whose work has featured in national publications like the Guardian and The Sunday Times.

Leonora Saunders, said:

“This image captured a stunning dawn that contrasted effectively with some impressive technology. This was a great ‘point of view’ shot that conveys the progressive and exciting work of a technician through an inspirational vista.”

Jez Brooks, IBM Early Professionals Manager, Apprentice Scheme Leader, UK Foundation, said:

“This competition has been an excellent opportunity to showcase the breadth of fascinating, intriguing – and even beautiful things that technicians make happen. In my role at IBM, I am focused on inspiring the next generation of IT professionals and technicians. The variety shown in the entries to the #TechniciansMakeitHappen photo competition demonstrates that a career as a technician is diverse, challenging and never dull!”

Highly commended in the competition were Craig Lapsley (Univeristy of Glasgow) and Steven Spaull (University of Exeter) for their inventive images capturing life in the lab.

As part of the campaign, more than 25 industry leaders have pledged their support including the BBC, Openreach, Royal Air Force, Mercedes AMG and Siemens. Compelling case studies, photographs and artefacts are touring the UK to encourage more people to think technician.

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About Gatsby Charitable Foundation Trust

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation was established by David Sainsbury in 1967 and acts as an enabler for projects, developing, overseeing and, in some cases, delivering activities across a small number of focus areas where we believe charitable funding can achieve significant impact.

A key ambition of Gatsby is to strengthen intermediate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills within the UK workforce. We aim to achieve this by enhancing the status of technicians through the development of clear routes into technician roles. For further information please visit:

About the University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.