Article - Issue 19, May/June 2004

Young engineering news

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Warwick student makes a ‘big noise’ in engineering

A talented student from the University of Warwick has been awarded an International Travel Grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering to enable him to exhibit and further his groundbreaking work developing miniature loudspeakers.

Andrew Medley, 25, a third year PhD student has designed a radical and new ultra-thin loud speaker. Loudspeakers are essential to reproduce sound and where would we be without our hi-fis, radios, car stereos and today’s must-have accessory – the mobile phone?

Very different to existing technologies, Andrew’s design, which can be made from inexpensive, freely available materials, could one day be used in an enormous number of appliances. With the benefits of flexibility and thinness, we may see (or rather hear) ultra-thin speakers in even tinier mobile phones, PA systems, talking posters, audio wall coverings, aerospace systems and discrete hearing aids.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is committed to the support of engineering education at all levels and runs a wide variety of education schemes and awards. The International Travel Grant Scheme supports top engineering research in the United Kingdom by enabling researchers to make study visits overseas to remain at the forefront of new developments at home and overseas

Andrew will visit Kyoto, Japan in April to present his work and meet other engineers and scientists at the International Congress on Acoustics. Considered by many to be the world epicentre of technology, it is refreshing to see a young UK talent visiting Japan to demonstrate the excellence of UK engineering.

Birmingham student cements career in groundbreaking bone research

A talented student from the University of Birmingham is to visit Sydney, Australia to present groundbreaking work developing new cements for use in bone surgery, thanks to an International Travel Grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Liam Grover, 24, a third year PhD CASE (Co-operative Award in Science and Engineering awarded by EPSRC) student sponsored by Smith and Nephew, York, UK has, after extensive research, developed a clinical cement which could one day be used in orthopaedic and dental surgery.

It is some 15 years since the development of such a compound, which differs significantly from, and has significant advantages over, currently available cements.

In order to surgically repair bone defects, tissue is removed from one part of the body and ‘grafted’ into another, a procedure not without risk, pain and with an obvious limit on availability. Cements that set to form calcium phosphate are ideal synthetic bone replacements because they are conformable, easy to apply and well incorporated into the patient’s bone. Liam has developed a new high strength degradable cement system aimed at the osteoporotic patient. His work covers microstructure-property investigations, in vitro release, stability studies and crystallography.

The subject of tissue engineering is currently attracting worldwide attention and, with human beings living longer than ever, bone replacement materials are a priority area.

Liam will visit Sydney in May to present his work on his new cement formulation and meet other scientists at the World Biomaterials Congress.

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