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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