At over 80 metres in length, a single blade from a wind turbine is an impressive feat of engineering. Modern offshore wind turbine blades are now the largest fibreglass components ever cast in a single piece. This has been made possible through continuous improvement in materials development. The layering and structuring of fibreglass was originally a craft used for building the hulls of boats. Now, the design of composite materials – a group of materials which includes fibreglass – is done by international teams of engineers working together to create these record-breaking components.
Materials engineering is uniquely important to the design of wind turbines, particularly because there is so much of it! As the industry has grown, so has the size of our machines, with the largest now gathering wind from an area greater than three football pitches put together. The area that the blades sweep through is an important factor in turbine performance. At a given wind speed, the amount of power which can be extracted from the wind increases by the square of the blade length – 3 times longer blades, 9 times more available power. However, if things are simply scaled up, the mass or weight of the blade increases by the cube of the length – 3 times the length, 27 times the mass!
Winner of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Dr Michael Tompsett, was last night awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s top prize.
Established in 1878, the Progress Medal recognises the inventions, research, publication or contribution that has resulted in an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photographic imaging in the widest sense.
Tompsett received the honour for the invention of the imaging semiconductor circuit and analogue-to-digital converter chip at the heart of the charge coupled device (CCD). The CCD image sensor is found in early digital cameras and is packed with light-capturing cells called pixels. When particles of light, or ‘photons’ hit these pixels, they produce an electrical pulse. Brighter lights produce a stronger electrical pulse.
Yesterday saw the QEPrize holding its very first annual QEPrize Engineering Ambassadors’ workshop.
Taking place at Prince Phillip House, we met young engineers from different organisations, disciplines and regions. The aim of the workshop was to explore the public perceptions of engineering. Is industry doing enough to engage the engineers of tomorrow?
QEPrize ambassadors are an international network of young engineers. Coming from both business and academia, they are the future leaders in engineering. With a passion for engineering, they frequently engage in activities to promote STEM. Together, Ambassadors provide an influential voice to the engineering engagement community.
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.
We were pleased to attend a recent recording of The Bottom Line with Evan Davis, in which Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation Lord Browne of Madingley discussed his views on business and its current place in society. The programme is now available on BBC iPlayer – click here to listen!
The doors are open to CES 2017. The annual trade show, organised by the Consumer Technology Association, takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Monopolising the Las Vegas Convention Centre for four days in early January, the show has grown year on year since its birth.
This year’s offering is set to be the best yet, with a line-up of more than 850 first-time exhibitors, seven keynote speeches and the addition of ‘SuperSessions’. With around 4000 different exhibitors headed to the desert to present their wares, who will stand out from the crowd this year?
On 3rd October, QEPrize winner Dr Robert Langer returned to the UK, joining marine engineer Ilya Marotta and broadcaster Alok Jha to discuss the future of engineering.
To catch up with the evening’s events, you can watch the video below, and the event photos can be found here. If you’d like to hear about more events like this in the future, make sure you’re following us on Twitter!
Dr Robert Langer, winner of the 2015 QEPrize returns to speak in the UK for the first time since receiving his award. Book now to see him discuss the world’s biggest engineering challenges with some of the world’s leading engineers!
Last year’s Create the Future report highlighted the call for engineers to lead the way in solving the world’s biggest problems. The key challenges that the report identified include tackling climate change, providing healthcare for an ageing population and securing the world’s energy supply. Our panel of expert engineers will take a look at what steps their profession must take to meet the public’s high expectations.