Britain’s railways have stood the test of time. Built over 150 years ago by the Victorians, Britain’s railway network carries over 3 million people every day, making 1.3 billion journeys each year. By 2020 another 400 million rail journeys each year are forecast. And it’s not just people commuting to work or travelling for fun. Britain’s railways carry goods we need, fuel for our power stations and materials to build our environment. But with only 20,000 miles of track, there’s a limit on how many journeys the current infrastructure can accommodate. So, to create extra capacity, new lines are being constructed, bottlenecks removed and digital technologies developed to allow longer trains to run more frequently.
At Fun Kids, the UK’s radio station for children, we want to help children explore the engineering and technology underlying a ‘digital age’ railway. We are working on a project called ‘Engineering Britain’s railways for a digital age,’ which is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious programme. As part of the project, we will create a series of 20 short audio programmes that will look at how to run more trains more frequently, tunnelling under major cities, re-building operational stations, electrification and alternative energy, and communications between trains, signalmen and the rest of the world.
Newspapers, magazines and social media sites are buzzing with the latest ideas and inventions that will bring the city of the future to life. For these ideas to be realised, however, innovation needs a collaborative approach.
Not only does the science of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things need to be fully developed, but so does the day-to-day infrastructure of our urban environments. Here’s how collaborative engineering can transform the future of cities.
When it comes to building, an awful lot of material goes to waste, both at the birth and death of a project. In fact, the construction industry sends millions of tonnes of waste to landfill every year, at a huge cost to itself.
In addition to this, new laws mean that by 2020 70% of all construction and demolition waste in UK must be recycled, while none will be allowed to go to landfill. This, coupled with the cost of waste disposal, has set the construction industry on the hunt for materials that are both good for the environment and good for their bottom lines.
Dr Sam Chapman and his spin-out KENOTEQ think they have the solution to just such a problem.
Engineers at National Grid Gas Distribution are kicking off the new year with their biggest project yet. Starting at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the team will sink a shaft 30m down into London’s sticky clay. Three hundred metres away in Battersea Park, another landmark site, a sister hole will mirror the first. The final stage of the plan will see engineers tunnel under the River Thames to join the two shafts together.
The ambitious project is part of National Grid’s £1 billion master plan to future-proof London’s ageing gas infrastructure. Once complete, the tunnel will be home to a brand new mains gas pipe, delivering energy to homes across the city.
To celebrate the great work of our QEPrize Ambassadors, we wanted to hear more about what they get up to every day, and how they are helping to shape the world of engineering. Najwa Jawahar has this year been named as one of the UK’s top 100 Rising Stars for her work as a structural engineer and role model for women in engineering. We met up with her to find out more.
Najwa, you’re a structural engineer, but what does that actually entail?
I am a senior structural engineer at WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, and I specialise in the design of tall buildings. I use my knowledge of engineering and my brain power and apply them to the unique problems that I encounter on my projects.
The team at UKGM, the hospital where Watson will be based
From drones that deliver essential medical supplies, to surgical robots so skilled they can remove cataracts from human eyes, machines in medicine are becoming the norm. As this year draws to a close, IBM’s Watson welcomes us into the ‘cognitive era of health’. Billed by its creators as a ‘new partnership between humanity and technology’, Watson is bringing artificial intelligence to the front line of healthcare.
Meet the designers with their heads in the stars, competing to build sustainable cities on our nearest neighbour; Mars. Manufacturing is evolving here on Earth as technologies like large-scale 3D printing gain popularity. Students and professionals worldwide have this year taken their innovations a step further in the Mars City Design Competition.
The contest is the brainchild of Mars City Design CEO, founder and ‘Marschitect’, Vera Mulyani. The aim; designing and innovating a sustainable city on Mars. Entrants used their designs to solve the everyday problems of living on Mars. These covered categories looking at structural design, a city infrastructure and agriculture in space.