Ross-shire graduate recognised for engineering excellence

An Alness man has been selected as the winner of a University of the Highlands and Islands’ engineering award. Brian Johnstone (37) was presented with the Willie Printie Prize for Engineering Excellence.

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Brian Johnstone, Willie Printie and Alison Wilson

The prize, donated by Willie Printie, former managing director of LifeScan Scotland, is awarded annually in recognition of academic excellence in engineering. Winners are selected from graduating engineering students from across the university partnership.

Brian, who completed an electrical and mechanical engineering BEng degree at Inverness College UHI, was nominated for the award by his lecturer Andrew Chatterton. He was chosen for his academic and professional development, which saw him progress from an electrical apprenticeship to a university degree, then into a senior position in NHS Highland’s facilities department.

Accepting his award, Brian said:

“I feel humbled and privileged to be recognised in this manner. I am very proud of my achievements to date, but I would not be here if it wasn’t for the support and high quality of training I have received from trade staff, engineers, managers and teachers from SSE Contracting, NHS Highland and Inverness College UHI. Twenty years ago, as a fresh-faced apprentice electrician, I never would have envisioned that I would be the senior electrical engineer for such a large and nationally recognised organisation such as the NHS.”

Speaking about his prize, Willie said: “Brian epitomises my thinking behind this annual award - starting off his career as an apprentice, excelling at both further and higher levels of education and graduating with a degree in engineering through the University of the Highlands and Islands. The prize, in some small way, recognises the significant investment University of the Highlands and Islands students make in their academic development and in continuing their career journey.”

Alison Wilson, the university’s Head of Development, said: “The Willie Printie Prize for Engineering Excellence is one of a number of awards made possible through kind gifts we receive to benefit our students. Donors like Willie are keen to make a difference and enable more students to fulfil their academic potential. By being successful with their academic studies, the hope is that they will continue to grow, develop and achieve other aspects of their life dreams here in the north of Scotland.”

If you or your organisation are interested in providing a prize or scholarship to support a University of the Highlands and Islands student, please contact Alison Wilson by emailing

To find out more about engineering courses at the University of the Highlands and Islands, visit