People often associate engineering with bridges and buildings, but, in fact, engineering is all around us. From sustainable coffee cups and people-powered pavements to new medical technologies, quantum computers, and the internet of things, there is a huge range of engineering wonders that we encounter in our day-to-day. The sheer variety of these innovations never fails to amaze me, but two of my favourites are an incredible paint called Inesfly, and a videogame called MalariaSpot. Both of these – while entirely unknown to most – save thousands of lives from insect-borne diseases every year.
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.
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.
Why do skyscrapers sway? Can materials really repair themselves? Can one person cause a bridge to collapse?
QEPrize Ambassador Roma Agrawal has recently released a new book, exploring the mysteries of the built environment. To read an excerpt, click here!
We have five copies of BUILT to give away to our followers on Twitter. To be in with a chance of winning Roma’s new book, simply tweet us a picture of your favourite building, telling us why you love it so much! Make sure to use the hashtag #BUILT and tag @QEPrize in your tweet.
How do you inspire the next generation of engineers? It turns out that a batch of ‘flying’ eggs, some eye-catching PowerPoints and a whole lot of spaghetti can make a pretty good start.
On 21-23 March, a team of three Ambassadors visited Ashmount School in Islington, to inspire students as part of their STEM week. Their lessons were inspired by engineering ‘heroes’ in the form of Andrea Beatty’s characters, ‘Iggy Peck, Architect’ (year 1) and ‘Rosie Revere, Engineer’ (year 2). Year 3 learned about Lonnie G Johnson (NASA engineer who invented the super soaker).
Engineering is all around us – it’s an intrinsic part of our society. In her new book, QEPrize Ambassador Roma Agrawal explores how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to towers of steel that reach into the sky. Below is an excerpt from the book, which is out now!
On the morning of 12 March 1993, I went to school in the Juhu district of Mumbai as usual, with my hair tied neatly back, wearing a crisp white blouse and grey pinafore. My teeth were hidden by braces, which were interwoven with my choice of green bands; definitely not cool (yes, even at nine I was already the class nerd). At 2.00pm Mum picked up my sister and me in our lime-green Fiat and took us home. While she was parking the car, we raced up four flights of stairs in our daily competition to see who could make it to our front door first. But something felt different. We stopped at the last step; we couldn’t get to the door because our neighbour was standing there, nervously fiddling with her dupatta, looking distressed.
Why on earth would anyone use 2 weeks of annual leave to build a model railway? As STEM Ambassadors, we often joke that championing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths is a full-time job. Problem is, we already have day jobs, as engineers. That’s why we spent our summer holiday being filmed by Love Productions for a Channel 4 show, surviving clouds of midges and rain.
You are probably questioning our sanity now, but when you’re as acutely aware of the need for more engineers in your industry then it’s hard not to seize every opportunity to promote the industry in a more positive light. Oh, and it sounded like a great challenge to take on an engineering project of such a grand scale, in a really tight time limit. Still not convinced you that it was a good idea? Well, we’ve interviewed each other to see if we can explain a bit more behind our reasons.
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!