Encouraging children and young adults to think about a career in engineering often seems like an uphill struggle. However, some areas of engineering can prove more appealing than others, with many taking an interest before they have even left school.
Nestled in the Wilhelmsburg quarter of Hamburg and cradled by the River Elbe, lives a building like no other. Shrouded in 129 ‘leaves’, the emerald exterior of the building lives, breathes and grows.
A pioneering project from engineering giants, Arup, the building houses the world’s first photobioreactor façade, using photosynthesis to heat and power the homes inside.
Ove Arup, a trailblazer in engineering and architectural collaboration, is responsible for bringing some of the world’s most iconic structures to life. Examples of his work include the beautifully art deco, if biologically impractical, penguin pool at ZSL London Zoo; the world-famous overlapping sails of the Sydney Opera House; and the inside-out Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Google’s Advanced Technology and Project Group, or ATAP, has developed an innovative user- controlled technology; embedding sensors and feedback devices into clothing.
As a small but intense research and development incubator, ATAP project leaders have just 24 months to turn their ideas into finished products. ‘Project Jacquard’ plans to integrate connected electronics directly into garments, allowing the wearer to interact with their mobile device simply by tapping their sleeve.
The novel concept uses thin metallic, and therefore conductive, alloys combined with a mixture of natural and synthetic fibres. By blending conductive threads with silks, cottons and polyesters, the team can weave touch and gesture interactivity seamlessly into any item of clothing.
As The Engineer magazine launches its annual Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) awards, editor Jon Excell reflects on the importance of engineering collaboration.
UK engineering has many strengths, but arguably one of its greatest assets is its strong and growing culture of collaboration: a willingness to share knowledge across organisations; an understanding that by tapping into external areas of expertise, engineering teams can achieve far more than they could ever do alone.
The Engineer magazine – which reports on technological breakthroughs from across the broad spectrum of UK engineering – has something of a front row seat on this process, and it’s difficult to think of a major technological innovation or successful project in recent years that hasn’t been underpinned by collaboration.
As we look at the technological trends that are shaping the future – such as the rise of autonomy and connectivity or the advance of low carbon vehicles – it’s clear that the boundaries between once distinct areas of engineering are becoming increasingly blurred, and that cross-disciplinary collaboration will become increasingly key to solving the challenges that we face.
Across the world, we look to engineers to solve our biggest problems, improve the quality of our lives and drive progress in society. Yet interest in engineering lags behind other key industries such as science and maths, leaving a heavy burden for engineers to shoulder.
Paul Westbury, a QEPrize judge and group technical director of international engineering organisation, Laing O’Rourke, highlighted the need to work closely with other industries to drive innovation.