My passion for technology started when I was around 9 years old. I was fascinated with the mechanics of things that change state – machines, cars, TV, radio and so on. My main curiosity always centred around what it was controlling these things, and when I started pulling them apart I discovered that they all had a central brain – meticulously programmed to make them behave in certain ways.
There is currently a need to increase the number of engineers throughout the world, and engineering organisations are making new efforts in order to do so. Iulia Motoc interrogates these efforts and asks whether a better result could be achieved by shifting the focus.
As the world evolves, we are becoming increasingly aware of the important role that diversity plays in enabling society’s successes. Not only does being part of a diverse environment help us to become world citizens, it also provides us with richer life experiences.
There are many debates surrounding the ways to improve diversity in engineering. One subject in particular that finds itself at the centre of engineering discussion is the lack of women in the field. Yet, we face a worldwide shortage of engineers, and copious other inequalities exist in the engineering workforce as well.
Jamie D’ath is a mechanical engineering apprentice at MBDA. She was a finalist for the 2017 WISE One to Watch Award and won the 2017 Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices. We asked to hear Jamie’s thoughts on the benefits of engineering apprenticeships, as well as her opinions on potential entry barriers to a career in engineering.
Who am I?
I’m a fourth-year apprentice engineer at MBDA, Europe’s leading developer of missiles and missile systems. I’m currently in the final stages of completing my HND in Mechanical Engineering and am working with the trials department for my final placement where I will stay once my apprenticeship is complete.
I got into the world of engineering through the World Skills Mobile Robotics competition. I was asked to compete as programming was a hobby of mine and the robotics team needed an expert. We came third in the competition and I met some of the experts from MBDA who told me about opportunities there, which encouraged me to want to work with them.
Kodama is a new platform launching today (6th June) on Kickstarter that allows people to intuitively express their imagination in 3D environments. The first commercial use of the technology, Kodama3DGo, will allow kids – or adults with a taste for imagination – to create in three dimensions by moving the 3DGo controller with their hands.
We sat down with Charles Leclercq, Founder and Director at Kodama, to learn more about where the technology started.
Engineering, at a fundamental level, comprises the act of bringing something about. It’s the branch of STEM that transforms the ideas and theories into tangible solutions that solve problems. If you look at the effect of this endeavour over time, then engineering has, across its various forms, helped to propel us from the first use of tools to self-aware computers and space exploration.
Today, you’d be hard-pressed to think of anything that doesn’t have its roots in engineering. You can be sitting in an Uber, replying to emails or checking Facebook, sipping a hot cup of coffee. On top of that, it’s spring and you have hay fever, so you take an antihistamine. Before you know it, you’ve just benefited from innovations in automotive, electronics, computer, agricultural, materials, and biochemical engineering fields.
Imagine that you’re in the middle of a festival crowd, dancing away to the most dynamic names in music. 50-foot fireballs are exploding into the air, audience members are being abducted by acrobatic performers and luminescent creatures are swooping from the sky. Oh, and imagine that you’re looking up at a 50-tonne mechanical spider.
Arcadia is a performance art collective renowned for engineering mechanical monsters that they use as large-scale performance spaces. Perhaps the most recognisable of these is The Spider, a 360-degree structure built from recycled materials. Created by sculptors, engineers, painters and pyrotechnicians, the arachnid is an experiential dance stage for festival attendees.
Referred to as a “noble profession” by Her Majesty, engineering is a field in which Queen Elizabeth II has long shown her support and admiration. She has been involved with a variety of projects throughout her reign, from driving an underground train to opening Diamond Light Source, the UK’s only synchrotron facility.
The photograph above was taken on 26 March 1976, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opened the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern, Worcestershire. Whilst they were there, The Queen became the first monarch to send an email.
At that time, the UK’s Ministry of Defence and the US Department of Defense were collaborating on the development of a future standard programming language, which eventually became Ada. The collaboration required access to the Department of Defense ARPANET (the precursor to the internet). Her Majesty initiated the collaboration by pressing a velvet covered computer key, which sent an email to the US Secretary of Defense.
Image above: Crown copyright 1976 released under Open Government Licence v3.0 from the Malvern Radar & Technology History Society.
Architecture has been borrowing from Mother Nature for millennia. The first structures were made from natural materials; wood, straw, stone and soils. Many common objects that we use today are inspired by plant life too – burdock burs inspired George de Mestral to invent Velcro in 1955, and wind turbines are inspired by the fins of humpback whales!
Today, as engineers face the issues caused by climate change and high energy consumption, they are drawing on nature again to change the way we build our homes and offices.