A teenager who created an exoskeleton jacket for her cousin has been recognised at COP26 with a major award.

Krystyna Marshall was just 15 when she teamed up with engineering experts from the University of Central Lancashire to turn her idea for a spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) jacket into reality.

The exoskeleton jacket, designed for Krystyna’s cousin who is living with SMA to live a more conventional life, provides the wearer with support for the skeleton and gives extra strength to the back muscles and spine.

Now, the 19-year-old inventor has become just one of six people from across the UK to have been recognised as a leading creative problem solver in engineering innovation following the announcement of the inaugural Primary Engineer MacRobert Medal winners at COP26.

The highly prestigious Primary Engineer MacRobert Medal recognises and celebrates the innovation of young people aged 3 to 19 and the university teams that have taken those ideas and made them a reality.

The award is supported by the MacRobert Trust, WEIR Group and the RAF Charitable Trust.

The winners are awarded gold, silver or bronze medals for their designs, which are often inspired by the young person’s personal experiences and aspirations for the environment, health or other key topics. Krystyna’s invention was just one of three to win gold.

Speaking on behalf of Krystyna and the University team, UCLan senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, Dr Matthew Dickinson said: “As a team we’re absolutely delighted to be named an inaugural winner of the 2021 Primary Engineer MacRobert Medal. It just goes to show what can be achieved when a great idea is turned into reality through an innovative engineered solution.

“We are still working on the jacket and developing new applications that utilise the same 3D printed technology but what’s really exciting is to know we’ve all played a part in producing something that could have life changing consequences for potentially thousands of people worldwide.”