Article - Issue 20, August/September 2004

Young engineering news and In brief

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Young engineering news

Young engineers in the pipeline

What do the letters EES mean to you?

European Evaluation Society?

Egypt Exploration Society perhaps?

Perhaps, but to engineers, academics, industrialists and those in the know, EES stands for Engineering Education Scheme.

Currently involving about 1200 students all over England, and with schemes running in Scotland Wales and Ireland too, the Engineering Education Scheme is a major component in the pre-university section of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Best programme.

The scheme introduces sixth-formers to the world of engineering through a programme of joint projects between participating schools and sponsoring industrial companies and is aimed at encouraging students to take up careers in engineering.

Teams of students are given a real engineering problem to solve under the guidance of a skilled professional. The results are astounding and, in many cases, are actually used by the sponsoring company.

One team that made a big contribution to some real lives were four boys from Watford Boys Grammar School. Under the watchful eye of teacher Peter Buckley and engineer Duncan Gracie of FaberMaunsel, the boys, Stephen Croxall, Richard Miller, Farhad Daruwala and Hasit Patel, threw back the frontiers of civil engineering to rescue residents of two east London streets, Wigram Road and Rectory Crescent, from recurrent flooding resulting from an aged sewerage system beneath the roads.

FaberMaunsel had been commissioned by Thames Water to solve the problem and the EES team did just that.

The team’s initial research centred on the design and function of a sewerage system and its components and factors that affect peak discharge of sewage through the system. Using this knowledge to investigate the problem, they found that insufficient flow rate was the result of a change in pipe diameter. During heavy rainfall, the sewer would reach its maximum capacity and eventually overflow via manholes at street level and through customer lines in to people’s houses.

Their solution to the problem was to construct a combined sewer along Rectory Crescent, diverting flows from the Wigram Road catchment toward the major trunk sewer. This solution has many advantages, including the effectiveness at solving the problem, durability and ease of acquiring planning permission. Furthermore, construction costs are relatively low with no need to excavate or reconstruct a road surface. Due to a durable concrete material and a self cleansing system, maintenance costs and the need for servicing will be minimal.

The system was implemented by Thames Water and the residents of both streets are now sewage free.

At their EES celebration and assessment day at Millbrook Proving Ground, the Watford Boys team was visited by Alan Johnson, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education and awarded their certificates by guest of honour Tomorrow’s World’s Kate Bellingham.

The Engineering Education Scheme is one of eight schemes currently part of Best. More information about EES and other Best schemes can be found at: http://www.raengbest.org.uk/

Plugging for engineering innovation

Jack Tovey, the overall winner of the Young Engineers for Britain 2003, visited America in May to represent his country in the 2004 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Portland, Oregon.

At just 16 years old, Jack, from Lancaster Royal Grammar School, invented an automated flood-prevention device for house ventilation systems, which he called ‘The Flood Plug’. This earned him the prestigious title of Young Engineer for Britain 2003.

Young Engineers, part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Best programme, is a national network of over 1600 science, engineering, electronics and technology clubs in schools and colleges throughout the UK. The extra curricular clubs provide a unique resource that allows students between the ages of 7–19 to tap into a learning environment that helps enthuse tomorrow’s engineers.

Jack was accompanied on the trip by his teacher, Craig Reid, and fellow young engineer Philip Cowan from Yarm School in Cleveland (designer of the ‘TowGo’, a trailer with a hydraulically operated drop hammer that allows one person to fence off a field).

Jack and Philip were amongst 1200 student delegates from 44 countries exhibiting their innovative scientific research projects and engineering inventions and competing for prizes and bursaries worth over US$3 million! Mixing with some of the smartest young brains in the world, attendance alone at this prestigious event is the chance of a young engineer’s lifetime!

Jack is currently taking his AS levels at Lancaster Royal Grammar School with the intention of embarking on an engineering degree. He is also a big supporter of other Best schemes and is currently involved with an Engineering Education Scheme project and scheduled to attend a Headstart course at Nottingham University in the summer.

Young Engineers for Britain recently merged with YEDA (Youth-Electronics- Design-Applications) to form one national engineering and electronics design and technology competition. This year’s challenge is to create, design and develop an original idea for a commercially viable device or system that meets a useful everyday need, such as for a sporting activity, hobby, task at work or in the home, or for people with special needs. The competition is open to young engineers aged 10–19. For more information, visit http://www.youngeng.org/ about_yeb.html

In brief

New technology could transform all trains into high speed rail crack detectors

Researchers in the University of Warwick's Department of Physics have developed a novel non-contact method of using ultrasound to detect and measure cracks and flaws in rail tracks (particularly gauge corner cracking) that has the potential to simply be attached to a normal passenger or freight train travelling at high speeds.

The new technology makes use of a particular form of ultrasonics – a low frequency wide band Rayleigh wave – to produce a crack-testing technique that works at high speed and could transform every train in the country into part of a 24-hour network of rail crack detectors.

Contact: Dr Steve Dixon s.m.dixon@warwick.ac.uk

NZ technology set to create largest ultrasonic sludge digestion plant in world

Following highly successful trials, New Zealand’s water and wastewater utility, Watercare Services, is to install seventy-eight sonix™ ultrasound horns at their flagship Mangere Water Reclamation Plant, serving a population of 800,000 near Auckland.

This will create the world’s largest ultrasonic plant for treating sewage sludge. sonix™, which has won industry awards for innovation, uses intense ultrasound waves to cause cell lysis prior to anaerobic digestion, optimising digester performance.

By improving the digestion process using sonix™, Watercare Services will be able to realise greater quantities of biogas, making better use of cogeneration facilities on site. Treatment with sonix™ also minimises chemical usage for activities such as sludge dewatering, lime stabilisation and foam control.

Contact: Piers Clark pclark@sonico.net

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