At times, it may appear to some that innovative technologies and products tend to spring up out of the blue – that John or Jane Doe woke up one morning and engineered a working product by nightfall. In rare cases, this is (more or less) the case. However, more often than not the truth is that the innovative technologies we see in the news were developed rather more meticulously – the result of continuous iterative processes that significantly transform a product from its original concept. ‘nowlight’, a renewable energy solution produced by company Deciwatt, is one such example – generating instant on-demand power independent of the weather.
Since winning the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award 2017, I have enjoyed participating in various activities that engage young people, parents, and teachers in engineering. One of such memorable experiences is working with the ‘Women’s Library’ at Compton Verney.
Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park is a nationally-accredited art gallery run by an independent charitable trust in Warwickshire. In June 2017, in collaboration with (and partly funded by) Oxford University’s English Faculty, they opened the ‘Women’s Library’ – a restoration and re-imaging of the statement library created at Compton Verney in 1860 by Georgiana Verney, the wife of the 17th Lord Willoughby de Broke. Georgiana was a tireless campaigner for women’s reading, women’s education, and women’s suffrage.
In 2018, several of the ways that we produce power exist in far more refined forms than their 19th-century industrial period counterparts and, complemented by renewable energy sources, help to propel the world forward at a previously unimaginable rate. However, another source of energy used today remains the same as it did long before the factory: us.
With just over a week left for this year’s Create the Trophy competition and the announcement rapidly coming up in February, hear from the newest member of the judging panel, Zoe Laughlin, about her background and her thoughts on engineering and design.
Human beings, on average, suffer from the unfortunate propensity to overlook many of the significant objects, issues, and phenomena around them – passing them by as they go about their day. There may be something groundbreaking right before you, but there’s every chance that you won’t actually notice it. This is an especially unfortunate penchant when it comes to solving global problems; the solutions may be right before us, but we often fail to them.
Take the world’s growing energy requirements as an example – with each passing year, the number of power-hungry technologies grows. With it, the need to produce more energy similarly inflates, and yet with our focus based on the technologies, we spend less time looking for sustainable solutions.
Pavegen’s innovative flooring technology converts the kinetic energy of footsteps into off-grid electricity and data. It enables citizens to participate directly in contributing to the sustainability of their city. The company, based in London and Cambridge, believes that it is people – not technology alone – that will transform our cities.
We recently invited STEM-enrolled high school students from six schools across Ayrshire to attend a careers-in-engineering event at Dumfries House in Scotland, led by several members of the QEPrize Ambassador Network. The event, held in The Morphy Richards Engineering Centre on the estate, provided a series of engaging demonstrations to highlight how engineering is a viable and rewarding alternative to other STEM-related higher education courses that the students may be considering.
Alongside raising the profile of engineering, a key aim of the QEPrize – both operationally and symbolically – is to inspire the next generation to take up the profession and face the challenges of the future. The Morphy Richards Engineering Centre at Dumfries House provided the perfect environment for the occasion, as it runs various programmes throughout the year designed to highlight the value of and exciting career prospects in engineering.
Glastonbury Festival 2017. Image credit: Luke Taylor
As a company spanning engineering and the arts, both the very nature of energy and its functional application have always been central to what we do. From dramatic show moments that trigger a simultaneous upsurge of emotion amongst thousands of people, to 60-foot flames erupting with a thunderous shockwave – the harnessing and visualization of energy in its most visceral forms are the essence of the experiences we create.