On the 12 January 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck the Caribbean island of Hispaniola; its epicentre just 16 miles outside Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Over the following week, more than 52 aftershocks rumbled across the country, laying waste to more than a quarter of a million homes and taking the lives of an estimated 160,000 people.
In a bid to add their expertise to the effort, a pair of design graduates from Chicago set about creating a product to assist the post-disaster relief operations. With the primary survival needs of food, water and shelter already in hand, their thoughts turned to the night-time dangers that haunted the cities of emergency tents. With this came their solution; LuminAID.
Dr Robert Langer, winner of the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, has made headlines again this week with his latest in potentially life-changing drug therapies.
Hidden within the innermost section of your ear are thousands of tiny hair cells, detecting sound waves and transforming them into signals to send to our brains. These hair cells allow us to hear our favourite music, chat to our friends and listen out for the doorbell. Yet damage to these delicate cells is the leading cause of hearing loss, meaning more than 360 million people around the world miss out on these sounds.
The best – and worst – part of working in a startup is that there’s always something that needs to be done urgently, and it’s usually not something you’ve ever done before. When starting new projects, you sometimes benefit from what you’ve learned on previous ones, or from the experiences and best practices of your colleagues. Most of the time, however, you’re learning on the go, trying to figure out all the parameters of a problem while trying to solve it. Even when you find a solution, it will often still only be a prototype or the first iteration of many to come.
Who hasn’t played with building blocks when they were kids? There is no doubt that the castles, vehicles and miniature cities of our childhoods were the stuff of legend.
Yet games of this nature—those that enable you to design, construct and even problem-solve—are more than mere playthings. They stimulate motor skills and hand-eye coordination, they promote analytical thinking, and they encourage creativity through invention.
Four engineers responsible for the creation of digital imaging sensors were yesterday honoured with the world’s most prestigious engineering prize. The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a £1million prize, celebrating world-changing engineering innovations.
Eric Fossum (USA), George Smith (USA), Nobukazu Teranishi (Japan) and Michael Tompsett (UK) were announced as the winners by Lord Browne of Madingley, in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, at the Royal Academy of Engineering.
We’ve all wanted to change how we feel at some point. Perhaps you drink coffee to feel more alert before arriving at work. Or maybe you’ve considered taking up yoga to help wind down at the end of the day.
But three years ago, a mechanical engineer, an electronics engineer, an industrial designer and a quantum physicist sat down and asked “What if we can use technology to naturally change how we feel, think and behave?” The group of students had first met on the Innovation Design Engineering joint MSc/MA course at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.
In our consumer-driven society, we have become removed from craft. The products we rely on are built in huge factories far away. Can a sense of craftsmanship be reintroduced into a 21st century domestic setting? What might this look like?
Materials such as polymers can be highly adaptable, but their applications are often limited. As a design engineer, I saw the potential to create a material system that could be customised and crafted by the end user. Initially, I observed the relationship between materials, tools, instructions and the time involved in traditional crafts, like wood working. These often result in changing a material permanently after cutting. Considering that the user might not have expertise in such fields, I wanted to develop a material that could accommodate the learning process by being reversible. The key to the success of the system would be how easy it is to achieve an aesthetically pleasing and functional end product. The result is a reversible ‘plug and play’ material system.