Space crafts, satellites, rockets, telescopes, space suits, you name it – all planned, designed and built by engineers! If you want to find out about the challenge of exploring the Universe, why not jet off to the National Space Centre in Leicester, where you can discover the fascinating technology and science of space.
Engineers working in the space sector need to have excellent scientific knowledge of how the Universe works. They then use their creativity and practical problem solving skills to help us explore space and find out more about our own planet.
Telescopes looking deep into space…
Engineers design technology like the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the space shuttle that carried it out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Check out Exploring the Universe at the National Space Centre to learn more about the amazing technology that lets us observe and discover the Universe. If we discover aliens one day, it’ll be thanks to engineering…
It’s not “rocket science”, it’s “rocket engineering”…
When we blast humans into space, aerospace engineers design the structure and shape of a space craft while aeronautical and electronics engineers help design the electrical systems so the craft can keep astronauts safe far from planet Earth. You can find out about what it took to get a human into space, land on the Moon, and much more, in the Rocket Tower.
The sky’s not the limit…
Satellites orbit the planet and go largely unnoticed by everyone but make a whole bunch of exciting stuff possible. And guess what? They’re also designed by engineers.
How does your smartphone know where you are in the world? How do we know what the weather will be like for our picnic on the weekend? How are we able to observe a dangerous hurricane developing or measure changes in Arctic sea ice? Satellites are the answer and you can find out how they make a real difference to your life in Orbiting Earth at the National Space Centre.
Scotland is on course to use renewable energy to create 100 per cent of its electricity within ten years, according to the Scottish Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. That’s all thanks to the clever, forward-thinking work of engineers and you can find out more about renewable energy technology at The Scottish Hydro Centre in Glasgow.
Scotland has a famously rugged, weather-beaten landscape and the ideal climate to create huge amounts of renewable energy, including wind power, wave power from Atlantic-facing coastlines and tidal power from the Pentland Firth and around the islands of Orkney, north of Scotland.
Scotland has the world’s first testing centre for wave and tidal-power technology, the European Marine Energy Centre. It also has the largest collection of wave and tidal energy devices being developed anywhere in the world. They all look and work very differently and have names such as the “oscillating hydrofoil”, the “Archimedes Screw” and the “tidal kite.” (You can find out more about these different inventions on the European Marine Energy Centre website, here.) These are likely to be put to good use, as it’s estimated by the Scottish government that Scotland’s waters have the potential to create around a quarter of Europe’s tidal energy power and ten per cent of its wave power!
Just over one third of Scotland’s electricity in 2012 came from renewable power and the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 means the country is likely to need a renewable supply of young engineers!
Whether you’re a school group or a family, you can find out more about renewable technology at the Scottish Hydro Centre in Glasgow. How does a hydropower dam work? What is an Oyster wave power device? How will solar panels or smart metering help us save energy and money in the homes of the future? You might be inspired to design your own renewable energy device…
To find out more about The Scottish Hydro Centre, including opening times, you can visit their website. There are also school resources, such as an energy booklet, a computer game and further links on their site.
You can read more about engineering and the environment on the Tomorrow’s Engineers website. One of our case studies, Joe Thompson, works on wave power devices and lives in Orkney! You can also follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook for our latest updates.
Photographs: Wave image by Graham Robertson, Flickr | Creative Commons
Exhibition photo courtesy of the Scottish Hydro Centre
Would you like to win the opportunity to have world-record breaking sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur give a talk at your school? This is the prize offered by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in a competition open to all schools across the UK.
Ellen MacArthur is a former sailor best known for breaking the world record for sailing solo around the world in the shortest time, and she’ll share her stories with the winning school. Ellen set up the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in September 2010 to help raise awareness of the “circular economy”, and this is what this competition is all about.
Students and teachers need to use their creativity to illustrate the ideas behind a circular economy, in a visual way, to help explain it to other schools, teachers and students - this could be in the form of a short animation, poster or other project.
What is the “circular economy”?
It’s up to students and teachers to explain the idea but the circular economy is a way of producing everything that society needs in a more efficient and sustainable way. It’s described as circular because the natural and man-made materials in the system are designed to move in a cycle and will be re-used at some point, without any waste of natural resources or energy.
It moves away from a “take, make and dispose” method of creating new products, where components that go into making something new are entually discarded on a landfill site.
Engineering and the circular economy
The circular economy is an important idea for engineering. New processes should be as efficient as possible and making a new product should waste as few natural or man-made materials as possible so that the engineering can be environmentally sustainable and cost-effective.
If you’re in need of ideas, here are just two examples from the Tomorrow’s Engineers website. Robert Sharpley makes sure that the chocolate production process at Nestlé is as efficient as possible, for example making sure that heat given off in one stage of the chocolate-making process can be used in another part of chocolate production.
Joe Thompson works for a wave power engineering company, creating energy from naturally renewable sources.
Brrrrrrr! It’s still cold and snowy outside and we’re wondering if winter will ever end! Nevertheless, if it stays this way (or even if it doesn’t) all you need to do is head indoors to check out the fascinating talks, shows and workshops happening at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
From 23 March until 7 April there will be so many scientific experts in one place you might even be able to find out the reasons behind this mid-March cold-snap. A lot of this happens over half-term too - so it’s the perfect storm!
Everything at the Festival comes under six “future” themes: food, cities, challenges, life, worlds and play. Here are five fab engineering-related things we like the look of…
The Arup Lecture 2013: “What makes a city smart?” - Wednesday 27 March, 8pm
In the 21st century, cities and citizens have the technology to make decisions about transport, energy, safety and more, all based on the real time, instant information the internet, smartphones and social media provide. Arup engineers explain how embracing 21st century systems can help local governments to compete, innovate and lead.
The Toaster Project - Saturday 6 April, 8pm
Can you build an everyday household appliance from scratch? Royal College of Art graduate Thomas Thwaites was determined to build the most commonplace consumer product – the humble toaster. Hear the story of his quest: from the raw materials sourced in the ground to the finished product.
Scotland’s Marine Renewables: Making it Happen - Friday 5 April, 6pm
The awesome power of the sea is embedded in the Scottish psyche, inspiring great art and magnificent engineering. A panel of experts will address the challenges of developing Scottish waters as a renewable energy source for future generations.
Intelligent Robots - Tuesday 2 April - Friday 5 April, 2pm
The latest humanoid robots really push the boundary between humans and machines, taking new technologies to the limit. Find out how robots are able to interact with people intelligently. You may even get the chance to put your skills to the test in a human-versus-machine face-off!
One Day Digital! Saturday 30 March, 9.45am–5pm
We all use digital technology and this is your chance to create it! Choose from a range of workshops with industry gurus and learn how to create your own website or app, print in 3D, design a computer game or character, programme or code using a Raspberry Pi computer or build your own gadget.
An extreme riot shield and an Iron Man-style robotic safety suit for firemen were among the engineering inventions dreamed up by inventive young people for a Hampshire schools competition.
Hampshire’s future engineering talent got the chance to pitch their ideas for life-saving engineering inventions to senior engineers at Motorola Solutions in Dragon’s Den style presentations on Wednesday 27 February.
Fifteen groups of talented school children in year eight and nine beat competition from 800 pupils across 27 Hampshire schools to get through to the finals of the Tomorrow’s Engineers “Save the Day” challenge.
The finalists got the chance to spend a fascinating day at Motorola Solutions’ headquarters in Basingstoke, learning about the essential technology inside police cars, fire engines, F1 cars and more.
The schools involved had been set the task of coming up with up brand new technology for use by the emergency services in the first-round of “Save the Day” events in schools. Finalists were interrogated about their ideas by a panel of industry experts from Motorola Solutions with five prizes awarded at the end of the day in the categories of “most commercially viable”, “best innovation”, “best business plan”, “best teamwork” and “best presentation”.
It was a fun-packed day out for the fifteen school groups as they got to find out about engineering technology in a variety of cutting-edge Motorola Solutions communications products. They also received first-hand engineering careers advice from Motorola Solutions engineers working on a range of innovative products.
The Tomorrow’s Engineers “Save the Day” challenge makes up part of a larger school careers event, giving pupils the opportunity to find out more about engineering careers. As part of a simulated online challenge, delivered by the National Schools Partnership, pupils took on the role of an engineer rescue team to save their town from an emergency power outage, encouraging them to explore digital technology.
Graeme Hobbs, Chairman of Motorola Solutions UK said: “I was amazed by the quality of all the presentations today and the ideas that the students came up with.
“We see this as vital for the future. We want to see the UK lead in engineering and we have a concern that the UK doesn’t have the appropriate skills. What we want to do, in conjunction with Tomorrow’s Engineers, is to try and stimulate the next generation of potential engineers. We want to open their eyes to what a wonderful career it can be and the value they can add to the country.”
Simon Blay, a teacher from Everest Community Academy, one of the fifteen Hampshire school finalists, said: “It’s great to take kids out of the normal education world and it’s very important they meet real engineers. Our lessons are coming to life in the real world and they get to see how things work day-to-day in industry.”
Katie, a student from Everest Community Academy said: “It’s interesting to see engineering in the real world. If you’re in a place like this it really helps you think about where your studies could lead you in the future.”
Tomorrow’s Engineers is a schools careers programme to inspire learners about engineering careers. Careers information and resources are available at www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk
To find out more about how companies can get involved in Tomorrow’s Engineers, contact Tomorrow’s Engineers’ Programme Head, Heather Williams on 020 3206 0431
Most commercially viable product: Court Moor School, Fleet, Hampshire – “Extreme Riot Shield”: A police riot shield with additional features such as a camera, finger print tracker and radio transmitter
Best innovation: Bohunt School, Liphook – “Stealth Nano Quad-Copter and Stealth Specs”: Multi-purpose reconnaissance and rescue drone controlled by electronic spectacles.
Best business plan: Calthorpe Park School, Fleet – “Safer Suit CPS”: A robust robotic suit calibrated to human movement to provide strength and protection in hazardous situations.
Best teamwork: Ringwood School, Ringwood, Hampshire – “Firefly”: Hovering orb that scans a burning building for signs of life
Best presentation: Bridgemary School, Gosport – “TNG gas indicator” – lamppost mounted gas detector that monitors gas levels in the air.
Hampshire schools in attendance at Motorola Solutions on Wednesday 27 February:
The Toynbee School, Chandler’s Ford; Springfield School, Portsmouth; Park Community School, Havant; Everest Community Academy, Basingstoke; Quilley School of Engineering, Eastleigh; Court Moor School, Fleet; Ringwood School, Ringwood; Crookhorn College, Waterlooville; Bohunt School, Liphook; Calthorpe School, Fleet; Yateley School, Yateley; Neville Lovett Community School, Fareham; The Connaught School, Aldershot; Bridgemary School, Gosport; Test Valley School, Stockbridge
You have the chance to do all this and more at The Big Bang Fair – happening in seven days time. There are only a few tickets left though – so hurry hurry!
The Big Bang Fair rolls into London town between the 14th and 17th March. London ExCeL will be packed out with spectacular science, inventive engineering, terrific technology and mind-bending maths. There are more than 100 attention-grabbing activities split into zones so - whatever your interests - you’re likely to find something great. Here are four things that caught our eye…
Become a weather presenter for the day with the Met Office
We love talking about the weather in the UK - it always keeps us guessing. How do professional weather forecasters transform raw data beamed in from outer space and weather stations around the world into the forecasts you see on TV or on your mobile phone? Find the answer to this then climb into the Met Office portable studio to get in front of the camera and do a spot of presenting!
We’ll be at the Fair too so be sure to swing by the Tomorrow’s Engineers stand! We’ll be busy exploring the world of food engineering and manufacturing. Find out how your favourite foods are made and have a go at manufacturing your own chocolate bar, as well as other activities…
Free family day places available for Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th March. Visit The Big Bang Fair website to find out all you need to know.
Fire Tech Camp puts the power of technology into kids’ hands. During school holidays children aged 9 to 14 can spend five days at Imperial College in South Kensington, London – one of London’s leading universities for engineering and computer sciencea major engineering and computer science university in London– learning about the inner workings of video games, robots or mobile apps. It’s an innovative and different way to spend your half term!
If you could design a robot to do anything for you, what would it do? Cook a meal? Tidy your room? Play tennis against you if your friends are busy? Go to school and take notes on lessons for you?
In the future you could design a new robot to do all these so you can just take it easy! Take your first steps on that path on this introduction to robotics at Fire Tech Camp.
Learn about robotic mechanical design from top university student instructors and camp leaders, find out about the essential basics of engineering and programming a robot to solve a challenge.
Or maybe you love playing video games or would like to create a helpful mobile phone app? Do you have a great idea for a game or app you’d like to make but think it might be too complicated? These courses cover all you need to know to make a start, from thinking up your first idea, through using programming software and testing to showing off your finished product so you can play or use it on your smartphone or online!
WHAT: London’s only week-long tech day camps putting the power of technology into kids’ hands over school holidays while teaching and supporting the development of children’s video games, mobile apps or robotics projects. Some courses have a special pilot price so be sure to take a look at what’s available soon.
WHO: Children 9-14 years old. Fire Tech camp leaders and top university student instructors help the kids formulate their ideas, teach them skills they need, and support them as they experiment, test, and finalise their project.
WHERE: Imperial College, a major one of London’s leading engineering and computer science universityies in London
WHEN: One week courses during half-term breaks and summer holidays, with drop off from 8.30 and pick up 6 pm. Registration is currently open for weeks starting 8 April, 29 July, 5 August, 12 August and 19 August.
WHY: Get young people excited about innovating with technology and give them the skills to build something amazing! Gain great skills and get exposure to the inner workings of the games and tech world, make new friends, test yourself and enjoy the support of a world class team.
It’s the final day of London Fashion Week, one of the most important events of the year in the fashion industry. As much as we like dressing stylishly at Tomorrow’s Engineers, we like it most when what we wear is made by an engineer, fitted with a battery and has a futuristic purpose.
A drumroll then please, for our top five future fashion inventions…
“Twitter dress” by Cute Circuit
This dress certainly makes a statement! Pop star Nicole Scherzinger recently rocked this dress made by UK fashion technology company Cute Circuit. It’s powered by USB and it’s made up of 8 metres of French silk, 500 luxury crystals and 2,000 LED lights. Tweets by fans (using the hashtag #tweetthedress on this occasion) scroll across the dress and it can also make colourful patterns.
Vuzix M100 smart glasses
Be sure to keep looking where you’re going when using these! The Vuzix M100 is a smartphone display you can wear like spectacles. You can use it for fairly simple applications like reading your text messages, emailing or using maps and it also has a camera for snapping things when you’re out and about. Google are currently developing their own ideas for smart glasses for 2014 and are dreaming big, as you can see in this video:
Eksobionics walking suit
We’re not quite at the “Ironman” superhero stage but engineers at Eksobionics are working on creating robot exoskeletons to help people in everyday situations. These suits are battery-powered walking aids that help people with leg paralysis to walk again, climb stairs and more. In Hollywood style, walking suits are also being used for strength, allowing people to lift heavy things without injuring themselves.
Thought that detailed sports performance monitoring was just for Jessica Ennis or Lionel Messi? Think again! The FuelBand helps keep track of exercise done, calories burned or distance walked. Log this information on your computer or phone to challenge yourself or compete with your friends. Find out more about the engineering behind this fab gadget in our interview with Patty, a digital test and validation engineer at Nike HQ in Oregon, USA.
The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System
It’s a complicated title, but this great new device basically helps people to see. 1 in 4,000 people in the USA have a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which damages light perception cells. An eyeglass mounted video camera on the Argus II transforms images into electrical signals which pass through electrodes implanted in the human eye. The brain then assembles these impulses into an image, so that retinitis pigmentosa sufferers can see movement, tell the difference between night and day and locate shapes and objects.
Despite films such as Blade Runner, The Fifth Element and Back to the Future, which imagine airborne ways to avoid traffic jams, flying cars haven’t quite “taken off” yet.
The cars closest to this futuristic fantasy (such as the one in the video above by Terrafugia) look more like small drivable airplanes and it’s likely that cost and flying licenses might keep these ideas grounded - but coming up with new ideas is what engineering’s all about.
Coventry was – and still is – innovative and important in engineering British cars and you can find out more by visiting one of the city’s transport museums.
The modern motor car was born in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century but inventiveness quickly crossed the Channel to Britain. Coventry became a major hub for making British vehicles and you can see how the city’s skilled engineers moved from bicycle making into motor car production at the Coventry Transport Museum.
The museum is laid out as a journey through time. You’ll walk 19th Century streets and discover the first bicycles, carriages and cars. You’ll find all sorts of strange creations on display that don’t look much like the bicycles of today, such as the Boneshaker, the Penny Farthing (above) and the Velocipede. The museum then re-imagines the first car factories and documents how many of them got destroyed in the war before bringing you into the present day.
The museum has lots to see, such as Thrust2, which broke the World Land Speed Record of 763mph, as well as the sound barrier, in 1997. You can experience a computer animation simulation which shows you what the record-breaking run was like for the driver.
That’s not all – Gaydon’s Heritage Motor Centre is home to nearly 300 vehicles, old and new – the world’s largest collection of British cars. Expect to find names like Austin, Morris, Mini, MG, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Bentley, Vauxhall, Ford and more. It can be found out in the Warwickshire countryside and has a go kart track in the grounds.
And if you prefer two wheels over four, Solihull’s National Motorcycle Museum has the world’s largest motorbike collection, with over 650 different bikes on show.
Coventry’s mechanical expertise is not just historical – they have several world-famous engineering companies based in the area today, all producing great new car technology. Jaguar Land Rover’s UK headquarters are in Whitley, in Coventry and you can read about what it’s like to work on state-of-the-art car engineering in this case study with graduate engineer Nazia Ali.
BMW’s Hams Hall plant is between Coventry and Birmingham and it’s the first engine production plant BMW built outside Germany and Austria. We also spoke to Maintenance Engineer Richard Kirkland about his job. The multi-national Tata Groupbuilds electric cars in Coventry and global engineering consultancy Ricardo is nearby in Leamington Spa.
So while we can’t be sure if our cars will stay grounded forever, you can find out all about the past, present and future of car making on a day out in Coventry.
To find out more about these exhibitions including their opening times, visit their websites.
The UK’s tallest building, one of the country’s most spectacular works of engineering, is opening its doors and impressive views to the public on Friday (February 1).
The Shard is 310 metres (1,016 feet) tall. It has overtaken One Canada Square (Canary Wharf Tower) which had been the UK’s tallest building since 1991 (235 metres/770 ft). It will rank as the tallest building in Western Europe or the 45th tallest building in the world – and it was all made possible by engineers.
If you have a head for heights, you’ll be able to zoom up to floor 68, 69 or 72 on one of the Shard’s 39 high-speed lifts. From 244 metres in the air you can have a 360 degree, 40 mile view over London and beyond (if it’s good weather!). It’s almost twice as high as any other viewing platform in London.
You’ll be able to marvel at loads of other great examples of engineering, old and new, in the UK’s capital. Try and spot some of these while you’re up there: Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, aeroplanes flying in or out of one of London’s airports, Wembley Stadium, the Olympic Park, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Battersea Power station and more!
All sorts of engineers have worked on the Shard, including structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers. They have been involved with everything in the Shard’s construction, from making sure the planned area is suitable for building such a large tower, to choosing materials for the building and helping to minimise the Shard’s impact on the environment. You can see what it’s like to have worked on the project in this video interview we made with Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer (who helps it stay up):
“The View from the Shard” will open from 9am to 10pm every day so you can pre-book tickets for a specific time to view the city and it’s engineering - morning, noon or night.
To find out more about the The View from the Shard and to book tickets, take a look at their website.