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 engineering, they frequently engage in activities to promote STEM. Together, Ambassadors provide an influential voice to the engineering engagement community.
Dating back to the 1600s, chemical engineers have changed the world. The industry’s roots lie in the ancient practice of alchemy, before a shift towards modern-age chemistry. While they never quite turned lead into gold, early alchemists did lead the way in manufacturing handy chemicals like sulphuric and hydrochloric acid.
Two hundred years later, George E Davis made a name for the industry with a revolutionary book. In “A Handbook of Chemical Engineering”, he noted the defining characteristics of ‘the chemical engineer’, and made the case for their distinction from chemists.
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.
Engineer and physicist, Eric Fossum, was born and raised in Connecticut, USA, where he spent his weekends feeding a budding interest in science at the Talcott Mountain Science Centre. Pursuing his dream, he graduated from Trinity College, Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in physics and engineering, and later gained a Master’s and PhD in engineering and applied science from Yale University.
Leaving Yale in 1984, Dr Fossum joined the ranks of Columbia University’s electrical engineering faculty, exploring high- speed charge coupled devices (CCDs) and their resulting images. His next job, in 1990, took him across the country to the golden state of California and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While working at the lab, NASA’s longest-serving administrator, Daniel Goldin, tasked Fossum with his own ‘Faster, Better, Cheaper’ mission; shrinking the CCD cameras destined for space travel.
Nobukazu Teranishi set out on his road to change the world when he began an undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Tokyo in 1972. Already developing an interest in semiconductors, he remained at the University of Tokyo, graduating with a Master’s degree in physics in 1978. From here, he took a job with the NEC corporation, an IT and electronics corporation in Tokyo.
While working for NEC, Teranishi was engaged in advancing image sensors and camera technology, and it was in 1980 that he invented the pinned photodiode, transforming the way we see the world.
Originally from Essex in the south-east of England, Michael left home at the end of his school days to begin an undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Cambridge. He went on to complete a PhD in engineering at the same college, graduating as Dr Tompsett in 1966.
Shortly after leaving university, he began working at the Electric Valve Company, now called e2v, in Chelmsford. He started out into his role as an inventor, designing and making the un-cooled pyro-electric thermal imaging television camera tube. A huge advancement for its time, Tompsett’s invention provided electronic scanning at room temperature, rather than having to be cooled with liquid nitrogen. His solid-state version is now the basis for thermal imagers used today by search and rescue teams, firefighters and the military.