Meet the judges for Coolest Projects 2021!

We are so excited to have four amazing judges joining us for our Coolest Projects online showcase: Colin Furze, Fig O’Reilly, James Whelton, and Melissa Pickering will choose their favourite projects from the entries from young tech creators in our global community.

Colin Furze

“By taking part in Coolest Projects, young creators get the chance to share their tech ideas with the world! It’s a powerful motivator for young people to develop skills and to get ideas from others and see how people like them go about a similar task. Whether they’re creating something for the planet, their local community, or for home – it’s a great platform to showcase what’s important to them.”

Colin Furze is a British YouTube personality, presenter, inventor, and five-time Guinness world record holder, from Lincolnshire, England. Colin’s YouTube channel has over 10 million subscribers. Colin left school at 16 to become a plumber, a trade which he pursued until joining the Sky1 programme, Gadget Geeks.

He has used his engineering experience to build many unconventional contraptions, including a homemade hoverbike, a jet-powered bicycle made with pulsejet engines, and the world’s fastest dodgem for Top Gear. Colin has completed three Star Wars themed challenges in partnership with eBay. In 2016, he completed a giant AT-AT garden playhouse followed by a full-size Kylo Ren Tie Silencer in 2017. In 2019 he completed a moving Landspeeder from the Star Wars A New Hope, the vehicle was auctioned off on eBay with all of the funds going to BBC Children in Need.

Fig O’Reilly

“Coolest Projects is an amazing opportunity for young people to take part in the world’s leading technology showcase and to celebrate the hard work and creativity of their peers from around the world!”

Fionnghuala O’Reilly is an Irish-American model, beauty pageant titleholder and engineer. The 27 year-old recently made history as the first woman of colour to represent Ireland at the international Miss Universe pageant. Since getting her degree in Systems Engineering from the George Washington University, O’Reilly, who goes by Fig, has gone on to become a NASA Datanaut, working within the agency’s Open Innovation program comprised of engineers and scientists who engage with NASA’s open data to create new thinking, processes and products.

Fig has joined the two-time Emmy-nominated science television series, Mission Unstoppable, as the newest correspondent. She is also the founder and CEO of Reach Productions which is the host of NASA’s Space Apps Challenge in Washington D.C. In 2020, Fig was named an Ambassador for Engineers Ireland–Ireland’s leading governing body for professional engineers. Fig is a passionate advocate for women and diversity in STEM subjects.

James Whelton

“Since the first Coolest Projects in 2012, I’ve been continually inspired seeing thousands of young creators sharing their projects with the world. Building websites, apps, games and hardware around something they’re passionate about, solving problems they face or just doing something cool, year on year Coolest Projects shows the magic of technology.”

James Whelton is a coder, entrepreneur, and co-founder of CoderDojo. At 16, James gained worldwide recognition for discovering a hack for the iPod Nano. In response to the lack of opportunities to learn computing at school, he co-founded CoderDojo in 2011, a global community of code clubs for young people where they can learn to build websites, apps and games, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment. James has developed apps and systems with over a million users around the world. He is currently developing an online platform that helps its users achieve their personal goals and build healthier, happier habits and behaviours.

Melissa Pickering

“Through the Coolest Projects online showcase, young people get the opportunity to explore their creativity and realise their tech ambitions. Whether it’s working on their own, or as part of a team, young creators are building skills in coding, creativity and problem solving. They are also joining a global community of like-minded creators!”

Melissa Pickering is Head of Product at LEGO Education, leading a cross-functional team to design and develop learning through play experiences for kids globally. She has worked in the field of interactive kids’ products for 15 years, from innovating theme parks as a Disney Imagineer to founding an edtech startup. In her six-year LEGO career she has built up and led design teams to innovate LEGO products through digital experiences, with a key focus of using technology to inspire hands-on play.