Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Electric vehicles need to be noisier

On July 1st 2019, in Europe, all electric new vehicles sold will be required to have an AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System). These new rules are in response to the increasing number of accidents involving pedestrians and electric vehicles (EV's). Electric vehicles are twice as like to have an accident involving a pedestrian than other cars and accidents with EVs increased by 54% between 2012 and 2013.

The charity Guide Dogs for the Blind have been campaigning for AVAS for years, as visually impaired people are among those most at risk from accidents with electric vehicles, along with the elderly and the young.

The AVAS must abide by certain requirements, when the car speeds up, the volume of the car noise must increase, so that pedestrians are able to make a judgement about the speed of the car from the noise. There is also a maximum overall volume to prevent an increase to noise pollution. Some electric vehicles already have an optional AVAS included, for example the BMW i3 and the Nissan Leaf.

However some consider the AVAS system far too simplistic; the eVADER project is a far more sophisticated system that uses cameras to detect nearby pedestrians and targets the sound towards them. It uses microphones mounted on the cars body to assess the ambient sound level and adjusts the volume of the sound accordingly. It also records the responses of the driver to pedestrians, and if they do not react to the pedestrians it sounds an internal alarm.

It is the view of many that eventually the more complex systems will be commonplace and these new rules are not strict enough, for example the AVAS is allowed to have a pause option for drivers, although the system defaults to on and drivers must turn it on when near pedestrians. 

This post was compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Sophie Lane, August 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Alternative Engine technologies on trial

Many companies are investing a lot of money into alternative fuels for engines used in commercial vehicles. Consumers are becoming more and more interested in environmentally friendly the products they buy are, and as petrol prices climb it is in many business’s interests to explore other fuel options. Sainsbury’s have just become the first company to use a delivery lorry cooled by a liquid nitrogen engine.

Normally food delivery vehicles have two diesel engines, one to power the lorry itself, and one to power the refrigerators. Replacing the second engine with a liquid nitrogen one is an exciting way to cut down on emissions from refrigeration. The engine is powered by the fast expansion of liquid nitrogen, and is expected to cut down on 1.6 tonnes of CO2 during its 3 month trial.

There is only one lorry currently, operating in the London area, but if this is a success this could be something we see become a lot more common on our roads.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the H2ME (Hydrogen Mobility Europe) project is set to hugely increase the number of hydrogen powered vehicles. The project was first unveiled in September 2015, and it will involve the deployment of 1230 fuel cell vehicles, with 20 extra hydrogen refuelling stations. This is a huge project, costing €100 million and involving 37 partners.

This is a summary of two articles from The Engineer read them both in full here:


This post was compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Sophie Lane, August 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Supporting The Leigh UTC at London Design Festival

Back in the summer we were delighted to be asked to support one of our leading education partners, The Leigh UTC (Dartford) art the London Festival of Design and Engineering.

The Leigh UTC were showcasing their Greenpower car as well as a giving visitors a chance to try coding; have a go at manipulating robot-arms; and displaying a coffee table made by one of the students from a Rover V8 engine block, complete with a small scale 3D-printed prototype. We hoped to have our record-breaking electric motorcycle on the stand too, but sadly the logistics of getting it there didn’t work.

It was a great event, attracting a huge attendance from the public on a very warm day. For Weald Technology it was our first ‘public’ show (we’ve attended lots of school-only events) and it was heartening to see the enthusiasm of the children and their parents, and show them the level and quality of opportunities that are offered in modern education.

We were glad to support Mark Ellis chatting to parents, particularly about The Leigh UTC’s Greenpower car, something which is our particular area of expertise. Two things really impressed visitors and demonstrated the college’s emphasis on Computing and Engineering.

Firstly, the extremely lightweight bodywork is a fine example of smart design and manufacturing. Second, The Leigh UTC seemed to be the only school there that had designed and built their own car. The others had purchased a kit which, whilst a quick way to get started, can’t possibly offer the same experience for the students as the DIY route.

It may not have been quite so pretty in places, but the students from The Leigh UTC probably have a far greater understanding of how it works. Speaking as a STEM employer, and a designer with over 35 years’ experience, that is very valuable.

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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Waitrose to trial Biomethane trucks

Supermarket chain Waitrose has launched two new gas fuelled Scania tractor units at their Leyland RDC (regional distribution centre) with the aim of replacing as many diesel engines with Biomethane powered engines as possible. This launch is preceded by the opening of a gas refuelling station in Leyland by CNG fuels, which is connected to the national high pressure grid and can refuel 500 trucks a day, giving it the greatest refuelling capacity in Europe.

The vehicles have a range of 350 miles, and will be used for deliveries across the country. They only take 4 minutes to charge, allowing for power to be saved at the refuelling station.

The thermal efficiency of the vehicles is a high 40%, and will reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions by up to 90%. Biomethane is created from food waste and is tracked virtually through the grid using green gas certificates.

Waitrose, and many other supermarket companies are already using duel fuel engines, but these are their first engines completely run on gas. This is just another step in the national movement towards greener transport, and we should expect to see many others similar engines cropping up across different industries in the coming years.

This is a summary of an article from The Logistics Manager. You can read the full article HERE

This post was compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Sophie Lane, August 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

How best to teach Engineering?

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers believes that pupils should be taught engineering from primary school age, as young as 6, as part of the national curriculum. The report, ‘Big Ideas - The Future of Engineering in Schools’, suggests ten measures to make engineering a more visible option for students.

Engineering companies are projected to need 182,000 people with engineering skills each year until 2022 and we need to double the number of graduates and apprentices entering the engineering industry. The 10 goals that aim to resolve this are as follows:
  • Promote engineering as people-focused, problem solving, and socially beneficial
  • Work to enhance the presence of engineering and the ‘made world’ at all stages from primary upwards
  • Ensure apprenticeships deliver high quality technicians, and allow individuals to get to the highest level of engineering
  • Broaden routes into engineering by allowing more flexible entry requirements
  • Maintain a broad curriculum for all young people up to age 18
  • Shift the emphasis in STEM to contextualise problem solving based learning
  • Nurture engineering based learning
  • Create more spaces for young people to work in groups to design and build things
  • Use D&T as a platform for integrating STEM
  • Change the schools’ education structure to embed engineering at all levels

It is hoped that if these were implemented that they would go a long way to narrowing the skills gap, and alleviate the effects of students specialising early without having even considered engineering.

Some people however think that instead of adding engineering to the curriculum, teachers should instead focus on relating the topics covered in maths, science and D&T to real-life problems. They suggest that this would have the same effect without taking valuable time away from other subjects.

Do you have a view? Please post a comment below with your thoughts.

This is a summary of an article from the Institute of Mechanical Engineering. Read more HERE

This post was compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Sophie Lane, July 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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2016 Engineering Salary Survey

If you're wondering about the career prospects for engineers the results from The Engineer’s 2016 salary survey might be of interest. They asked engineers from all different sectors across the UK about their roles and earnings.

The survey showed that engineers on average earn £45,367 in 2016, a slight increase on last year. This compares favourably with other professions, earning slightly less than those in banking and qualified accountants, but more than professionals in the financial services industry. The most lucrative sector is, as in previous years, energy, with oil and gas making £51,370 on average, and those working in energy/renewables/nuclear making £50,132, although this is a decrease on previous years.

The largest percentage of participants work in the Midlands and East Anglia, with 29.8%, this was closely followed by London and the South East with 21.4%. The average age of the engineers surveyed was 43.5, with almost half questioned having worked in engineering for 20-40 years. 83.8% expected to remain in their chosen career for the next 5 years.

This is a summary of results from 2016 salary survey in The Engineer magazine. Read the full results HERE.

Author on behalf of Weald Technology: Sophie Lane, July 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Rise of Self-Driving Cars

The development of self-driving cars is something that has been expected by the engineering community for some time now. The technology has been indicating a trend in this direction for a long time, with developments such as automatic breaking and rear view cameras being among the first. It is reasonable to assume that features such as these will only become more commonplace as time goes on.

Self-driving cars are a contentious topic, with engineers and the public alike split on just how safe they are. With the first car crash from a vehicle driving in an automated road happening just recently it is hard to say who is correct. It is uncertain thus far whether the fault for the crash lies with the driver or the car, with some reports claiming that the driver was watching a Harry Potter DVD at the time of the crash. Tesla, the maker of the car has emphasised that the autopilot feature in question was in a beta-testing stage at the time and all drivers had been told that it was crucial that they keep their hands on the wheel.

Perhaps the danger lies in vehicles that are ‘driver-assisted’ rather than completely driverless. Richard Wallace, the director of the Transportation Systems Analysis group within the Centre for Automotive Research says that, “Maybe these intermediate levels [of automation] are not a viable consumer product, they go a little too far in encouraging drivers to check out and yet they aren’t ready to take control.”

Others believe that driverless cars will never be able to make the judgement calls necessary in case of a crash with many saying they would never be able to fully trust the car. It is possible that this generation of drivers will never manage to adjust to giving up the wheel, but as more driver assisted features become standard in most cars, new learners may simply see driving differently.

The information in this post has been compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Sophie Lane, from the following articles:

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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Electric motorcycle is taking shape

I posted this on my "Fast Charge" blog recently to show the current state of the electric motorcycle development, and thought you might like to see it here as well.

I collected the chassis from Jo White's Vulcan Dezign workshops recently and it's now tucked in the workshop awaiting trial fitting of the major components. There's not a lot more to say, so I'll simply let you enjoy the images...

Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved

The motor fits in the space shown by the cylindrical cage on the LH side, with the gearbox fitted to the RH side of the motor.
Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved

Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved

Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved

Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved

Image Copyright Anthony Elvy Photography 2016. All Rights Reserved
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Friday, 2 September 2016

The Challenge to Inspire Women Engineers

Research has found that the best way to inspire girls to become engineers may not be quite what you think. WISE, a campaign to promote women in science, technology, and engineering, has found that there is a psychological barrier that is preventing women from choosing engineering, there is a fundamental disconnect between how young girls perceive themselves and how they perceive engineers.

The problem is a great one. The demand for engineers in the working world is far greater than the supply, and with women making up less than 10 percent of the UK’s professional workforce they are clearly a hugely undermined resource. Global research by McKinsey found that companies with three or more women in the leadership team are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above average for their sector. The engineering world needs more women engineers and, so far, are just not getting them. The situation is not hopeless; in 2016 there were 12,000 more women working as professional engineers compared to 2015, but there is still a long way to go.

When it comes to inspiring potential engineers the earlier the better. In year nine students choose their GCSEs, and while they will all study maths and physics, if they don’t choose a Design and Technology GCSE they will miss valuable opportunities to hone their skills as well as missing the opportunity to experience, and enjoy, the process of following the design of a product from beginning to end. These experiences could be instrumental in inspiring potential engineers, and they could be missed by girls who are not even considering that a career in engineering could be for them.

So how is the best way to inspire women to become engineers?

Engineering activities and outreach programmes are not enough. The WISE ‘People Like Me’ campaign gets girls to self-identify with a number of personality types from a list and matches those to different types of scientist, and possible careers paths.

These principles have also been used in recruitment campaigns, if employers use adjectives to describe the type of person they are looking for women are more likely to respond. Women also respond well when they know what the organisation does and how this supports a wider social or environmental purpose.

This is a summary of an article from The Engineer. Read the original article HERE 

Author on behalf of Weald Technology: Sophie Lane, July 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Engineering UK reports on the need for more Engineers

Engineering UK has published their report on the engineering industry’s capacity for growth with details about education and training for engineers. There are three main things to take away from the report.
  1. the engineering industry contributes a huge amount to the UK’s economy; creating jobs and supporting other industries.
  2. the UK is currently not training or educating enough engineers to fill demand, and
  3. the engineering community and employers can help this by working with school to encourage young people to become involved in engineering.
You can read the full report HERE

This post compiled on behalf of Weald Technology by Sophie Lane, July 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Motorsport technology leaves the grid

More and more non-motorsport companies are finding that sometimes the solution to their problems lies with the engineers responsible for racing vehicles.

In a recent case Williams Advanced Engineering found themselves consulted by an unlikely client, the supermarket giant Sainsbury’s. Supermarkets consume 5% of all the electricity generated in the UK and 3% of that energy is consumed by fridges. These fridges are very inefficient, leaking out a huge amount of chilled air into the room. Loss of cold air is an aerodynamic problem, so one which is commonly analysed in motorsport; in this case computational fluid dynamics which was the key to solving the problem. They were able to put the fridge into a virtual aerodynamic simulation which was used in the development of Formula One cars. The engineers produced an aerofoil design which, if early tests are to be believed, will save up to 20% of energy.

In another case, research conducted by Race Technology was used to support the Greater Manchester Neonatal Team in developing a system to measure the effect of fast ambulance journeys on premature and sick babies. In many cases transporting the babies to hospital is completely unavoidable, but the knowledge of the effect that the g-force, acceleration, and high speeds will be having on the babies is invaluable. The team used tools used by Race Technology such as accelerometers and GPS, combined with medical equipment allows the team to map the babies’ heart-rate and blood pressure along the journey, alongside information about the forces experienced by the child. Operations director Lorne Winborn commented that, “If any customers come to us with a specific requirement, we’re always interested in trying to turn our hand and adapt our technology to that, but in this case we didn’t really have to adapt our technology at all.”

Even within vehicle technology, racing cars can apply technology to other, slower, automobiles.  Automotive technology consultancy Ricardo faced an unusual challenge recently when they were asked to work on a new armoured vehicle known as Foxhound. The customer, the MoD, needed a vehicle with the protective capacity of their existing Mastiff vehicle, which is very large, has six-wheel drive and weighs 12-15 tonnes. This is extremely survivable, but was not practical for traversing narrow streets. The motorsport company was uniquely well practised in meeting difficult mechanical briefs in a short space of time. The project has been a great success and Foxhound is now in theatre and will keep its occupants safe in dangerous places.

All of these examples showcase the amount of mobility an engineer has, all the skills are transferable to other disciplines, lending engineers a unique ability to switch careers and move across jobs and areas of engineering with ease.

This is a summary from an article that first appeared in The EngineerYou can read the full article HERE:

Author for Weald Technology: Sophie Lane, July 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Yr9 at Holy Trinity School tackles Future Transport Challenge

We were excited to visit Holy Trinity School in Crawley last month to see what the students had produced for our Future Transport Challenge, which we introduced earlier in the month as part of a trial for this new project. We are grateful to the team at STEM Sussex (details HERE) for their support in designing and promoting this Challenge to schools across Sussex.

The challenge for the Year 9 Science class was to design an innovative and creative solution to the problems of urban congestion and poor air-quality. They were tasked with producing a poster to showcase their ideas which was to be presented to us and to their peers. We arrived in the morning, and had a chance to chat to the students about their ideas and their thoughts on engineering as they were putting the final touches on their posters. Then the students presented their ideas to us, and we were amazed by their imagination.

(C) Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved
One group had designed a bus that could move over traffic, by straddling the lanes on both sides, freeing up bus lanes for more cars, and making public transport more effective. Another group had conceived a system to keep delivery drivers away from busy city centres, by delivering to depots just out of towns and then using energy efficient pods powered by magnetic fields to deliver within the city.

(C) Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved
(C) Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved
A different group had instead decided to focus on the design of car engines themselves, and had looked at how a piston travels linearly in a car engine, and replicated this concept to generate electricity – very creative!

(C) Image Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved
All of the groups had worked incredibly hard, and we were very impressed by the ideas that they had come up with. The best ideas were presented with our stand at the Big Bang South East in Ardingly, read about that HERE.


Author: Sophie Lane, July 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Conductive Paint

Bare Conductive started as a group of friends trying to come up with a way to make electronics more accessible to everyday people. Through this idea they created the first non-toxic conductive paint which can be used in three ways; to power a small device, as a conductive glue, or as a sensor.

Bare Conductive now sell a range of products including the paint on its own, a touch board which can be used to create sensors, as well as kits with all the equipment needed to use the paint to make different systems. Education accounts for 50% of its sales with teachers using the materials as an exciting way for students to explore science and technology at all ability levels

Bare Conductive became a real business after they presented their ideas at the Royal College of Art to  There was a huge response from people wanting to buy the paint, as well as people wanting to invest in the project. In the end they applied for, and won the Digital Innovation Challenge, from the Technology Strategy Board, for which the prize was £100,000 of funding. The company is continuing to grow, with the products now being sold in 12 countries.

See a video about Bare Conductive HERE and take a look at their WEBSITE


Author: Sophie Lane, July 2016
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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Big Bang South East report


On the 29th June we were lucky enough to be able to take our electric motor bike along to the Big Bang Science Fair in Ardingly. The day was a huge success despite the weather, and we had a really wonderful time.



Image (C) Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved
Sadly, we weren’t able to take the rolling chassis for the new bike as the chassis fabrication was delayed, but we took the old UK record-breaking machine which always attracts a lot of attention.

We got to talk to many students about the bike; one student from Harbourside UTC (Newhaven) had even brought his own electric mini-moto bike which he’d made himself and he and Phil Edwards spent a long time chatting about the design of the bike. There were many other exciting stands at the Big Bang, and it was really good to meet other engineers and other businesses who work in STEM.

Image (C) Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved

Students from the Holy Trinity CE School (Crawley) and Davison High School (Worthing) were excited to see their posters from the pilot Future Transport Challenge that we had trialled with them displayed on our stand.


Students work from the Future Transport Challenge
Image (C) Copyright Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved

Author: Sophie Lane, July 2016

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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Future Transport at The Leigh UTC

As part of a taster day for prospective year 12 students, The Leigh UTC ( theleighutc.org.uk ) welcomed Phil Edwards, founder of Weald Technology, to lead an engineering and technology challenge based around future transport.

Phil began the day with an introductory talk outlining the nature of the problem to be solved in the challenge: congestion and emissions on today’s roads. The students then split into groups and began to brainstorm technical solutions to the problems. After the students had been discussing the problems for a while, he led another talk on the different types of technical solution, and what current engineers were working on; everything from delivery drones to the internet of things.

Future Transport Challenge
(c) Weald Technology Ltd 2016. All Rights Reserved.
The students then split back into groups and picked one of their ideas to develop into a short presentation. The students had been able to demonstrate a range of skills, including problem solving, presentation, communication, and team work. Especially impressive was the students who managed to create really exciting ideas while working with people they had only just met.

Ideas ranged from those based around data processing, like intelligent cameras that could calculate the most efficient paths that cars should take, be it in different lanes or on different routes, and communicate this information to individual sat-nav systems; to engineering solutions like the above ground Eurostar-style train that could replace motorways - cars would drive on and be dropped off at their required junctions.

Other groups came up with ideas that were more structural in nature, like reforming entire cities’ transport systems to work within a park and ride system, or redesigning roads to allow cars to move more freely to their exact destination and reduce traffic jams.

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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
Follow our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project at www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Welcome to Engineering STEM

Hi, and welcome to the new Engineering STEM blog from Weald Technology. In case you don't know us we are an Engineering Education company involved in engineering and design of lightweight and low-carbon vehicles, and sustainable transport.

What sets us apart is our mission to encourage the next generation of engineers through developing our real-life challenges into exciting, relevant, and current STEM projects. You can find out more at www.weald-tech.co.uk/about_us.html

It's a virtuous circle; our engineering partners ask us to help solve design, engineering and manufacturing problems; we use these to both train their young engineers as well as deliver practical STEM workshops in schools; and ultimately we help deliver the next generation of engineers that our partners are crying out for.

Read it in more detail at www.weald-tech.co.uk/stem.html

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For more information about Weald Technology see www.weald-tech.co.uk
To discover our world-record challenging electric motorcycle project see www.fast-charge.org
To sign up for the Fast Charge School Zone visit www.fast-charge.org/school-zone.php
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