A 12-year-old Huddersfield girl has won a national competition with her amazing design for a backpack inspired by her mum’s experience with asthma.

Eleanor Wood, of Highburton, ‘blew away’ the judges in the Institution of Engineering & Technology’s (IET) national ‘Backpack to the Future’ competition.

Her backpack design filters polluted air, helping the eight million people in the UK who suffer the often-crippling effects of asthma.

The IET teamed up with global lifestyle brand HYPE. – challenging kids to supercharge fashion and invent a backpack that helps them do incredible things.

Eleanor’s ‘Breathe Better Backpack’ featured a built-in air filter and fans, powered sustainably by solar panels and a dynamo.

Her entry enthralled judges with its innovative ability to make a positive difference to people’s lives – and to the planet.

Eleanor’s mum has mild asthma and during the pandemic mum and daughter spent more time together and Eleanor began to understand the condition.

Eleanor Wood. Image credit: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Presented with her prize, a working prototype of her winning backpack during ‘Chilly January’, one of the worst months for asthma sufferers, Eleanor said: “I was really shocked when I found out I’d won. I really didn’t expect anything when I entered the competition.

“I thought of my backpack to help clean the air because some of my family and friends have asthma and hayfever and it could help them.

“I’m very happy the judges chose my entry as the winner. I think it’s a great idea to have cleaner air anywhere you like!”

Eleanor, who counts climate campaigner Greta Thunberg as one of her inspirations, added: “We have just had a pandemic and this backpack could help prevent another one from happening with the air filters.

“My generation is really aware of pollution and we have lessons on it at school along with diseases spreading, and this is another reason I designed this, because it is getting much worse.”

Eleanor’s success has been hailed by IEP president Prof Bob Cryan (above), who is also vice-chancellor of the University of Huddersfield.

Prof Cryan said: “As president of the Institution of Engineering & Technology, the largest engineering professional body in Europe, I have been inspired by the wonderful designs in our ‘Backpack to the Future’ competition. These really do underline the creativity of our younger generation.

“As a son of Huddersfield I am absolutely delighted that young Huddersfield resident, Eleanor Wood, has won this national competition.

“I look forward to meeting Eleanor and hearing more about her ‘Breathe Better Backpack.’ Eleanor should be justly proud of winning this national competition and I am delighted that she has put Huddersfield on the map.”

Eleanor Wood. Image credit: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

The IET’s competition was launched with the aim to change perceptions, encourage more diversity within engineering and show children how they could combine a passion for fashion with a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related career.

It followed research which revealed only one in 10 children think that engineers work in fashion and just 16% understanding how science and fashion are related.

The IET has highlighted the continued issue of the STEM skills gap, with half (49%) of engineering companies experiencing difficulties with a lack of skills available in the labour market.

Eleanor’s winning design will be displayed in HYPE.’s flagship store in London.

All images of Eleanor Wood courtesy of PA Wire