Naming of Prince Philip House; Robert Hooke Trail; Tunnelling champion; With a following wind; Imaging at the nanoscale; Flagship green centre opens; Trophy design competition; Prize-winning wheelchairs


HRH The Duke of Edinburgh observes students from Lambeth College who were undertaking engineering projects
during the day

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh observes students from Lambeth College who were undertaking engineering projects during the day


Following a £6.5 million refurbishment, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Grade-I listed building at 3 Carlton House Terrace in London has been named Prince Philip House. Named in honour of its Senior Fellow, HRH The Prince Philip, the ceremony took place with the Duke of Edinburgh present on 16 October 2012.

Prince Philip has long championed engineers and engineering. He was instrumental in setting up the Fellowship of Engineering in 1976 with a group of 126 eminent engineers. Under his patronage, this collection of leading engineers has developed into a fully-fledged national Academy of some 1,500 Fellows. The Academy now works in partnership with government, business, the engineering profession, universities and the public to promote the engineering and technological welfare of the UK.

Artist Paul Brason and Dame Stephanie Shirley with the Prince Philip tryptich

Artist Paul Brason and Dame Stephanie Shirley with the Prince Philip tryptich

In honour of the Duke of Edinburgh’s support over the years, a new portrait of him was unveiled at the event. Specially commissioned by Dame Stephanie Shirley FREng from the award-winning portrait artist Paul Brason, the triptych painting will be on permanent display at the Academy.

The event was hosted by Academy President, Sir John Parker, with speeches by Chief Executive Philip Greenish, the Duke of Edinburgh and DrEleanor Stride, a RAEng/EPSRC Research Fellow who is working to develop microbubble agents for the detection of cancer. Prince Philip House will be home to the Forum for engineering, which will provide a national platform for engineering leaders to engage with global issues including sustainability, equality and diversity, health, water and energy supplies and economic growth.

Robert Hooke Trail

Robert Hooke Trail


A circular walk visiting sites related to Robert Hooke FRS has been created on the Isle of Wight. He was born on the island in 1635 and lived there until his father’s death in 1648, when he left to study in London. Hooke was an inventor, astronomer, anatomist, geologist, meteorologist and designer of clockwork and mechanical systems. He spent forty years as the Royal Society’s Curator of Experiments, and, as a surveyor, helped Sir Christopher Wren to restore the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666.

The Isle of Wight eight-mile trail passes through Afton Marsh, where many of the plants and animals illustrated in Micrographia, Hooke’s pioneering book of anatomical drawings from his early research using microscopes, can be found. It passes along the cliffs of Freshwater Bay, on the west of the Island, where Hooke may have found the fossilised ammonites and wood which he studied, drew and documented.

Other sights include All Saints Church, where Hooke’s father was a curate; Hooke’s childhood home, and a village clock shop dealing in the sorts of antique spring, gear and pulley systems which sparked the interests of Hooke as a boy. The trail concludes at the Robert Hooke exhibition at the Island Planetarium in Fort Victoria, where paintings on display depict Hooke’s life.

The Robert Hooke Trail is supported by the West Wight Landscape Partnership, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Isle of Wight Council. Maps, guides and more information about the trail and other Hooke-related sites of interest can be found at


Kate Cooksey

Kate Cooksey

The Women’s Engineering Society has awarded the 2012 Karen Burt Award for the best newly qualified Chartered Engineer to Kate Cooksey of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Kate is a tunnelling engineer who has worked on a range of projects, from small-scale flood relief schemes, where she helped to remove properties from the flood risk register, to much larger and more complex projects including Crossrail, the £14.8 billion railway through the heart of London. She is currently working as a technical advisor to the instrumentation and monitoring team on the Crossrail project.

Kate Cooksey has been promoting tunnel engineering since she studied for her degree in civil engineering at Cardiff University. She founded the British Tunnelling Society Young Members’ Committee in 2008, which won the Tunnels and Tunnelling International Sustainability Award: Investors in People in 2011. She is also a guest lecturer on the MSc in Tunnelling and Underground Space at Warwick University, and was key to setting up the course in 2011.

In recognition of her achievements, Kate Cooksey has been included in the 2012 Management Today 35 Women under 35 List; was a finalist of the Woman of the Future Awards, Science and Technology category, in 2009; and was a finalist of the New Civil Engineer Graduate Awards 2008.

The Women’s Engineering Society (WES) is a professional, not-for-profit network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration, support and professional development. The Award is given in honour of Karen Burt, a WES Council Member who was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems at University College London before her career was cut short by illness.

The award was first presented in 1999 and is given each year to a newly chartered woman in engineering, applied science, and IT. For more information, visit:


In September 2012, the Nemesis, driven by Nick Ponting, reached a land
speed record of 151 mph in trials at Elvington Airfield near York

In September 2012, the Nemesis, driven by Nick Ponting, reached a land speed record of 151 mph in trials at Elvington Airfield near York

The Nemesis, a UK-engineered, electric-powered sports car, has set a new land speed record for an electric vehicle. At 151 mph, the Nemesis beat the previous record of 137 mph. The Nemesis was commissioned by Ecotricity Founder and CEO Dave Vince, who wanted to develop a vehicle that could be powered by electricity (specifically, electricity generated by Ecotricity’s wind turbines) while possessing the sleek lines, speed and handling of a sports car.

A team of Norfolk-based ex-motorsport engineers, who had worked on Formula One racing cars, spent 18 months designing and testing the Nemesis, with a budget of a million pounds. They used a modified Lotus Exige to build the body, with power coming from 96 lithium polymer cobalt batteries. The team faced a structural challenge to contain these batteries. They set about developing a double skin carbon fibre with aluminium honeycomb storage system which has a patent pending.

The Nemesis is faster than a V12 Ferarri, and can go from 0to 100 mph in 8.5 seconds. The combined battery capacity is 36 kWh, and the Nemesis can travel 100-150 miles before recharging, depending on the user’s driving style. A rear three-pin, fast-charge retractable cable system is incorporated into the bodywork, and charging takes 30 minutes.

Its designers hope the Nemesis will bring recognition and build popular support for a UK-wide charging network for electric vehicles. Read more about the car at


The University of Glasgow’s international partnership with microscope manufacturer JEOL will benefit universities through the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance

The University of Glasgow’s international partnership with microscope manufacturer JEOL will benefit universities through the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance

One of the most advanced electron microscopes in the world has been purchased by the Kelvin Nanocharacterisation Centre at the University of Glasgow. The £2.65 million MagTEM microscope will allow research scientists and engineers to examine materials on the atomic scale, and explore their structure, composition, chemistry and magnetism.

Electron microscopes use a concentrated beam of electrons to magnify objects. Electrons have a smaller wavelength than photons (visible light) allowing electron microscopes to reach a much higher degree of image resolution.

The magnetic imaging capabilities of the MagTEM are especially important for researchers developing new technologies. It can image details of magnetic materials, such as those found in computer hard disk drives, below the level of individual storage bits. Currently, no other microscope is capable of doing this.

The Glasgow team, and commercial partners, plan to use the electron microscope to develop and refine stronger forms of steel for the automotive industry, making sensor systems as well as hard disks. The MagTEM will be an important tool in developing smaller magnetic materials for data storage.

As the scale of engineering decreases to where connections can be a handful of atoms wide, the need for advanced microscopy becomes more urgent to facilitate understanding of why a material or device succeeds or fails. The microscope could also lead to breakthroughs in ‘spintronics’, where data could be stored in values of 0 to 3 rather than the increasingly limited 0 and 1 binary code that has been used since the earliest computers.


Siemens Crystal opening

Siemens Crystal opening

The Crystal, the world’s first centre dedicated to improving urban sustainability, was officially opened by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in September 2012. The Sustainable Cities initiative by Siemens will be used as a conference centre for international events on infrastructure, sustainable technologies and construction techniques, and urban planning.

Situated in London’s Green Enterprise District, the Crystal is principally a visitor attraction showcasing the best in the world’s technological advances in urban sustainability. It will also be a prime example of an energy-efficient building for businesses worldwide, containing office space for professionals to share knowledge and collaborate on sustainable city projects.

The 2,000 m², double-crystal shaped building was designed to be one of the world’s most sustainable buildings using solar power from 1,500 crystalline photovoltaic roof panels to generate its energy, and storing any excess in a giant battery for use when supply is low. Ground source heat pumps take heat from the ground to the building during cold days and from the building to the ground when it is hot. Natural daylight is utilised wherever possible, and smart node sensors monitor and adjust heat, light and energy use.

The building also incorporates rainwater harvesting and a black water treatment plant recycling 100% of the water used in the building. The high-tech exhibition centre is fully interactive with two film theatres and more than 50 screens with games and experiences designed to help visitors explore the cities of the future. Highlights include a Tesla coil in the Go Electric area where visitors can ‘create electricity’ by moving their bodies. For more information visit


Screenshot of the digital application used to design the trophy in a 3D modeling environment

Screenshot of the digital application used to design the trophy in a 3D modeling environment

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering launched a Create the Trophy competition for young people in October 2012 in association with the Tate, the Design Museum and the Science Museum. The resulting trophy will be presented next year to the first winner of the £1million prize for an engineering innovation.

Targeted at UK residents aged 16 to 24, the competition invited participants to submit a trophy design that represents the wonder of modern engineering. Using the latest programming and design technology, a unique digital application was developed for the trophy competition. Entrants were given the opportunity to create and ‘build’ their designs in a 3D modelling environment and submit their designs online.

The finalists will have their designs prototyped using 3D printing and will attend the judging event to be held at the Science Museum on 5 December 2012. The contestants will present their prototyped design to the panel of judges, which includes architect Dame Zaha Hadid; Director of the Tate Sir Nicholas Serota; Science Museum director Ian Blatchford; Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic; and civil engineer Yewande Akinola of Arup.

The winner of the competition will see their design crafted into the official Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering trophy and receive £5,000 in prize money. The competition was launched online through social media and digital resources with the Royal Academy of Engineering working with art colleges, universities and other institutions in the UK in order to encourage the widest regional participation. To read more about the Queen Elizabeth Prize see


Dan Chambers with his award

Dan Chambers with his award

Dan Chambers, Director of Draft Wheelchairs, has been awarded the Sir Frank Whittle Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering, for innovations in sports performance engineering. At Draft, Dan has spent 15 years developing bespoke sports equipment for elite athletes to help them fulfil their sporting potential. His work has helped UK Paralympians succeed in Sydney, Athens, and Beijing, as well as the London 2012 Games.

Through collaboration with BAE Systems and others, Chambers has played a key role in designing equipment to help UK athletes achieve record-breaking times. He spent two years working with UK Sport to manufacture adaptive rowing seats, and customise hand cycles and racing wheelchairs for members of Team GB and other leading international athletes.

Each custom-built solution needs to be stiff, light, aerodynamic and robust enough for use in competition. Dan continues to innovate by improving the steering, aerodynamic and postural components of Draft wheelchairs, and lowering the weight and centre of gravity of rowing seats, increasing stability.

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson won four gold medals at the Sydney Paralympics, using one of his customised wheelchairs. London 2012 Paralympian David Weir MBE, one of the supporters of Dan Chambers’ nomination, has raced using Draft racing wheelchairs since 1998. In that time, he has won six Paralympic medals, set several world records, and won many races, at World and European Championship level.

The Sir Frank Whittle Medal is awarded annually to an engineer, normally resident in the UK, who has made an outstanding and sustained achievement which has contributed to the wellbeing of the nation. Every year it focuses on a different field of engineering, and the 2013 award will be given for engineering innovations in manufacturing. See for more information.

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