Jenny Spain, of Clyde Street, Deptford [SE8], who graduated this year, won the prize for a project to devise the best way of packing items into bins so that the minimum amount of space possible is used.
“I'm really shocked and pleased,“ said Jenny, who received her award from Paddy O'Rourke, director of education of Laing O'Rourke, Dartford-based construction company which sponsored the maths trophy, at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, in central London on Friday [Sept 26].
“I constructed a computer program which gave a solution to the one dimensional and two dimensional bin packing problem,“ Jenny explained. “A real world application of this problem is packing boxes into a delivery truck. You wouldn' t want to send out more trucks to carry all the boxes than was necessary, so you would try to find a way of packing all the boxes into as few trucks as possible.“
Her former final-year project supervisor at Brunel University, Dr Ilia Krasikov, commented: “Jenny approached her project as a real research problem, rather than just as a text-book exercise. She decided to deal with the most difficult aspect of the problem and did her work with great enthusiasm and ingenuity.“
Ms Spain is currently training to be a secondary school maths teacher, at St Mary's University College in Twickenham, Middlesex.
The annual SET competition is open to science and engineering students from Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.