Raspberry Pi wins top UK engineering award

The Raspberry Pi microcomputer launched in 2012 with big aspirations to help get more children involved with programming and now it has been awarded with the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Prize – the top in the country.

Beating out cyber-security firm Darktrace and radiotherapy pioneer Vision RT, the Raspberry Pi team joins the likes of Microsoft’s Cambridge-based Kinect motion sensor designers and the makers of the Severn Bridge. 

Coming from humble beginnings in Cambridge, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has gone on to sell over 14 million devices and set up thousands of after school coding clubs around the world. The organisation has, according to award judge Dr Frances Saunders, "achieved something that mainstream multinational computer companies and leading processing chip designers not only failed to do, but failed even to spot a need for".

Speaking with the BBC prior to the ceremony, Raspberry Pi Trading CEO Eben Upton described the award as "a validation of the fact that we have built something bigger than we ever envisaged."

Outside of its education uses, the Raspberry Pi has found a home in the hands of modders and hackers who have designed everything from robots to games consoles off the back of the device that is now the best selling British computer in history. 

And a big part of the device’s success, Upton identified when he spoke with PCR earlier this month, is affordability. "The goal with Raspberry Pi was always to make a computer that cost the same as the price of a text book," he said. "It’s why we did Raspberry Pi Zero – the one we gave away on the front of a magazine in November 2015. It was the £5 computer, it’s the latte computer."

With this award under its belt, household recognition and a passionate leadership team there’s no telling how far Raspberry Pi will go.

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