Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Chocolate design – who said precision engineering is boring?

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 18 August 2017

It’s not all Willy Wonka and Oompa Loompas you know. Designing chocolates is serious engineering. Just like when you made jelly as a child (or adult!), every chocolate shape is made by a mould and every mould is created by forming plastic around a metal ‘tool’.  As a result, making ‘tooling’ is at the heart of the chocolate industry.

Leigh Down, Managing Director at DPS Designs, helped bring the M&S Easter egg ‘Bendy Bob’ to life. “As you can see from our bendy friend, it can be a lot of fun and be really creative,” he said. “But behind this fun stuff is a team of engineers who need to be able to make tooling to the nearest 10 micron. That’s about five times thinner than a strand of hair!”

The team at DPS Designs have been honing their craft for over 20 years. Based in the Forest of Dean, we pride ourselves on using creativity and innovation to create fun chocolates. We challenge you to name something that we haven’t worked out how to mould in chocolate!

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Soundbops: making music through play

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 16 August 2017

Music is magical!

However, access to music is limited by the need for a high level of skill and understanding. This is particularly true for young children. Most children do not start learning an instrument until they are 8 years old, with the guitar and piano being popular choices. Music makes kids more mindful, creative, intelligent, social and happy. Studies suggest 96% of all parents want their child to learn music. To introduce children to music, they are often given shrunken versions of adult-sized instruments. These are hard to play, unengaging and are not social, discouraging budding musicians. Many children drop out of piano lessons due to disinterest.

My goal is to empower music learning and play in young children. My dad taught me to play the guitar when I was young, and I want all young people to experience the joy of music as I did. The concept for my innovation came from watching children play a small keyboard. They would only ever play one note at a time and would not play the black notes at all. Playing on their own, it was not a collaborative or fun experience

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The staircase that puts a spring in your step

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 11 August 2017

Engineers from Georgia Tech and Emory University have designed a staircase that takes the load off when climbing up to bed. The energy-recycling steps store up the energy of people heading downstairs and use it to give them a boost on the way back up.

Loaded with springs and equipped with pressure sensors, steps sink to meet those below when they detect footsteps. The step then locks into place, storing the energy generated by the user’s bodyweight compressing the springs inside.

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Driving Curiosity with Autonomous Systems

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 9 August 2017

Director of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Keshini Navaratnam, is joined by two leading roboticists to discuss how autonomous systems can inspire future generations.

Alongside being an electrical engineer, Dr Ayanna Howard is an educator, researcher and innovator. Her work focuses on how humans and autonomous systems can work together and the ethics behind doing so. This research has allowed Ayanna to make significant contributions to artificial intelligence, computer vision and robotics.

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Plant-inspired robot creeps towards success

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 7 August 2017

Edging along fences and creeping up walls, climbing plants send out tendrils in search of the sunniest spots in the garden.

In the lab, researchers have replicated the movements of nature countless times. Robots can walk, run and jump. They have even learned how to swim. Now, a team of mechanical engineers from Stanford University have taken inspiration for their latest robot from climbing plants. Following the lead of creepers such as ivy, the soft robot shoots out a tendril to ‘grow’ itself forwards.

The concept behind the idea is very simple and uses a process called ‘eversion’. The robot itself is a tube of soft plastic, folded inside itself. (Think of those slippery ‘water snake’ toys from the 90s!). As pressurised air fills the tube, the folded material turns the right way out, propelling the tip forwards.

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Smart specs offer sight to those with visual impairments

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 3 August 2017

Dr Stephen Hicks started OxSight from his lab at the University of Oxford. He set out to develop a wearable prosthetic for people with visual impairments. Twelve months later, the product is getting ready to go to market.

Unlike many start-ups and spin out companies, Oxsight has a very specialised audience. The product’s target audience are those registered as legally blind. Its unique selling point is that the smart specs’ technology can allow people to see again.

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Designing a brighter future

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 1 August 2017

People across the world see one of the most important roles of engineering as inspiring new innovations that can change and improve society around us.

Paul Westbury, Group Technical Director of Laing O’Rourke explained how the innovative nature of engineers is not only helping to drive economic growth, but to change perceptions. “Engineers are increasingly seen as smart, creative and sociable people who are well connected with the world around them,” he said. “A welcome shift from the dated stereotypes of the past!”

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INGENIOUS Survival at SMASHfestUK

  • Posted by QEPrize Admin
  • 31 July 2017

SMASHfestUK started life as a birthday party. Dr Lindsay Keith had been bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t been able to go to a festival for years. So her partner, Wyn Griffiths, decided that for her birthday, he would bring the festival to her. Tucked in a small pub in South East London, it lasted all day and included the best bits of her favourite festivals; science, comedy, music and art.

It was tremendous fun, but it got us thinking; why shouldn’t everyone get to enjoy this? We’re based in Deptford, London, an area where 40% of young people live in poverty and almost 80% of the young population is from a black or ethnic minority background. Research suggests that young people from BME backgrounds are only one third as likely to follow a career in STEM, and that children growing up in poverty are far less likely to enter STEM industries as a career.

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