Imagine that you’re in the middle of a festival crowd, dancing away to the most dynamic names in music. 50-foot fireballs are exploding into the air, audience members are being abducted by acrobatic performers and luminescent creatures are swooping from the sky. Oh, and imagine that you’re looking up at a 50-tonne mechanical spider.
Arcadia is a performance art collective renowned for engineering mechanical monsters that they use as large-scale performance spaces. Perhaps the most recognisable of these is The Spider, a 360-degree structure built from recycled materials. Created by sculptors, engineers, painters and pyrotechnicians, the arachnid is an experiential dance stage for festival attendees.
Referred to as a “noble profession” by Her Majesty, engineering is a field in which Queen Elizabeth II has long shown her support and admiration. She has been involved with a variety of projects throughout her reign, from driving an underground train to opening Diamond Light Source, the UK’s only synchrotron facility.
The photograph above was taken on 26 March 1976, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opened the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern, Worcestershire. Whilst they were there, The Queen became the first monarch to send an email.
At that time, the UK’s Ministry of Defence and the US Department of Defense were collaborating on the development of a future standard programming language, which eventually became Ada. The collaboration required access to the Department of Defense ARPANET (the precursor to the internet). Her Majesty initiated the collaboration by pressing a velvet covered computer key, which sent an email to the US Secretary of Defense.
Image above: Crown copyright 1976 released under Open Government Licence v3.0 from the Malvern Radar & Technology History Society.
On 7th December last year, the 2017 QEPrize winners joined TV presenter LJ Rich, along with biomedical imaging specialist Alison Noble and ESA engineer Vinita Marwaha Madill, to discuss the past, present and future of digital imaging sensors at the Science Museum.
The panellists explored the creation of the digital imaging sensor, as well as current and future applications in space and biomedical imaging. Watch the video to find out more!
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!