Diversity & Inclusion

Women in IP case study

Siana Zhekova – Computer Science Finalist at The University of Cambridge

Building bridges: Siana Zhekova, and her “necklace” bridge

Student inventor, Siana Zhekova, is the inventor of a temporary “necklace” bridge designed for rapid deployment following a natural disaster.

A sketch of the bridge taken from GB2578686B

The bridge is intended to assist disaster relief efforts in situations where an existing bridge has been destroyed as a result of a flood or earthquake. The bridge is deployed by firing support cables from one riverbank to the other where the cables are anchored. Platform sections are then threaded onto the cables to produce the platform base and then the cables are tensioned with a winch to stabilise the platform.

Siana designed a new winch mechanism controlled by an open source electronics platform (Arduino) which she coded using C++ after researching articles about electronic models. The new winch mechanism is simple to use and enables the bridge to be deployed by people who are not engineers.

The invention came out of an engineering project that Siana worked on while she attended Westminster Academy in London.  Her project was awarded a Gold Crest Award and helped her to secure an Arkwright scholarship.

Siana is currently in her final year reading Computer Science at The University of Cambridge. She is a member of the women@CL network at the university which aims to support women and non-binary people in careers within computing research and to encourage them to aspire to leadership positions, both in academia and industry.

Siana said:

I do believe celebrating women in innovation is crucial in providing recognition and visibility to their contributions and IP endeavours in the field of engineering in which they have been historically under-represented.

Showcasing and promoting our work and achievements help us break down stereotypes and overcome societal barriers, and thus giving us the opportunity to voice our perspectives and facilitate the development of our pioneering ideas that can drive innovation forward.  I have always been enthusiastic about using my creativity and technical knowledge to contrive concept ideas about engineering projects aiming to mitigate the damage inflicted by natural disasters the intensity of which will likely increase due to climate change. However, not knowing where to start I initially faced a great deal of difficulties with bringing my ideas forward. However, with the help and support fromBeckGreener and the other co-founders, I was carefully and thoroughly guided throughout the different stages of the IP pipeline which helped us immensely in successfully filing the UK patent application and later on receiving the respective grant.

Siana has been working with Beck Greener, who share the same passion about helping get more women into the IP profession and other STEM-based careers. Beck Greener’s STEM Branching Out project raises awareness of STEM as a career choice in the minds of school-aged students. As part of the project, they provide pro bono advice and assistance to the students interested in protecting their ideas, and their science and engineering projects. Siana’s invention was the subject of our first UK patent application filed under this scheme and we are delighted that the application proceeded to grant (GB2578686B) in 2021.

Date published: 26 April 2023

Alternative Diversity & Inclusion

Shopping Basket

No products in the cart.

Skip to content