A PEEBLESSHIRE student has reached the final of a UK-wide business competition after completing a work placement at Edinburgh engineering company Leonardo.

Ross Gardiner from West Linton secured the experience at the high-tech giants through “The Year in Industry” programme, run by the education charity the Engineering Development Trust (EDT).

And the 18-year-old made such an impression that he will compete against eight other students who have won competitions across the UK, in London.

Paul Rose, Ross’s mentor at Leonardo told the Peeblesshire News: “There were times when I feared that the task that we had set Ross was impossibly complex, requiring a level of radar expertise and technical knowledge that it was entirely unreasonable to expect from a pre-university student. 

“But Ross had other ideas and showed an ability to innovate and learn which was a privilege to observe. 

“His problem solving capability was astonishing, sometimes finding entirely new sources of information and on other occasions using great communication skills to learn highly complex expertise from colleagues through establishing genuinely collaborative relationships,” he added.

“In the end some of the technical concepts he was handling were of a level that would appropriate to a PhD student.”

And Ross says the placement gave him an insight into working and allowed him to develop his skills.

He said: “I really loved working on this project. It allowed me to learn some fantastic skills and channel my enthusiasm for computer science and engineering to produce something genuinely useful. 

“The placement has also taught me how important non-technical skills can be in a successful working environment. In order to achieve my objectives, I had to employ effective communication skills to be able to learn from my colleagues and to understand teamwork and time and project management skills to ensure the success of my project,” he added.

“Coming straight from school into a commercial environment was a steep learning curve but I soon discovered that tenacity is an essential trait in the workplace.”

Ross’s efforts ensured that he won the “Scottish National Year in Industry Award” for his project and is now moving on to compete in the “Future Industry Leaders Awards”, the UK competition run by EDT which recognises excellence across its programmes. 

The awards ceremony takes place on Wednesday, September 7 at the Institution for Engineering and Technology in London.