In brief



LED lighting is 75% more energy efficient that traditional bulbs 

Network Rail is hoping to explore the many underground caves and mines in its network with a folded-up drone inspired by Ridley Scott’s 2012 film, Prometheus.

The prize was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Shuji Nakamura, Nick Holonyak Jr, M. George Craford and Russell Dupuis for the creation and development of LED lighting, which forms the basis of all solid-state lighting technology and is 75% more energy efficient than traditional bulbs.

Solid-state lighting technology has changed how we illuminate our world. It can be found everywhere from digital displays and computer screens to handheld laser pointers, car headlights and traffic lights. Today’s high-performance LEDs are used in efficient solid-state lighting products across the world and are contributing to the sustainable development of world economies by reducing energy consumption.

Visible LEDs are now a global industry predicted to be worth over $108 billion by 2025 through low-cost, high-efficiency lighting. LED lighting is playing a crucial role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. LED bulbs last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and their large-scale use reduces the energy demand required to cool buildings. For this, they are often referred to as the ‘green revolution’ within lighting.

On the same day, it was also announced that 20-year-old Hannah Goldsmith from the UK had won the QEPrize’s Create the Trophy competition. Open to those aged between 14 and 24 around the world, competitors enter innovative trophy designs to be presented to the winners of the QEPrize. Hannah’s winning design combines elegance and complexity and draws inspiration from the circuit boards on which much engineering is done. It will be 3D printed and presented to the winners later this year. 

As an indication of the incredibly high standard of this year’s entries, for the first time the judges also made a Highly Commended award, recognising the work of 18-year-old Indian student Atharva Gai. Atharva’s design impressed the judges with its careful and considered eye for detail and traditional manufacturing techniques.

To listen to a podcast discussion with the winners of this year’s QEPrize, or for more information, visit


The company has been searching for a device that could travel down a 15-centimetre borehole, enter an underground cave and map its interior for some time. It turned to researchers from the University of Manchester’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, who realised it was a similar concept to a scene in Prometheus, where a set of small drones fly through an underground tunnel system, carry out 3D scans of an alien structure and send a map back to the operator. 

The ‘Project Prometheus’ drone must fit through small tunnels, so the team created a folding design where the drone’s arms raise up into the flight position once the device has been pushed through the borehole. The drone then detaches and explores the underground space. Due to the darkness and lack of wireless signal, the drone will explore spaces autonomously. The drone will carry a camera that uses lasers and infrared imaging to make 3D maps of its environment.

The project involves a consortium including the University of Manchester, University of Bristol, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Headlight AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) software company. The drone will have its first test flight this spring. 


The report examined trends in spinouts, such as award-winning University of Cambridge spinout H2GO Power 

Network Rail is hoping to explore the many underground caves and mines in its network with a folded-up drone inspired by Ridley Scott’s 2012 film, Prometheus.

In January, a report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub and Beauhurst showed that four universities – Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and University College London – account for a third of all UK spinout companies.

Spotlight on spinouts: UK academic spinout trends examines where and how effectively innovations developed in universities are being turned into real-world products, processes and commercial successes. Pharmaceuticals, research tools and medtech are some of the UK’s largest spinout sectors, and the data also highlights a rapidly developing AI sector.

The report gathers evidence in one place for the first time on the current state of the UK spinout landscape. It identifies a potential trend towards spinouts attracting less new investment but more follow-on funding. The data includes which universities are successfully generating spinouts; their geographic spread; top sectors; investments and who is making them; survival and growth rates and exits; Innovate UK grants; and gender and nationality of leadership.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway MP said: “Accelerating the time between concept and commercial application is critical to the UK’s productivity, growth and social benefits. I’m delighted that this report will help shine a light on what is required to build successful university spinouts, including how we increase diversity and maximise the commercial opportunities presented by the UK’s exceptional academic institutions.”

To read the full report, visit


The Royal Academy of Engineering’s education resources have been updated to cater for teachers and students who are remote learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.The Academy’s resource boxes, which provide learning activities for use in a STEM club, for a STEM challenge day or to enhance and add context to the curriculum, now come in individual packs that teachers can send out to students. The resources have been developed in partnership with schoolteachers and engineers primarily to engage Key Stage 3 students and enrich the STEM curriculum through hands-on activities and stimulating engineering contexts.

As well as the resource boxes, the Academy’s STEM at home portal includes a selection of its science, technology, engineering, and maths education activities that can be easily adapted for the home setting.

The latest Engineering in a pandemic resource demonstrates how the engineering community worked together to quickly respond to COVID-19. Challenges include modelling viruses, exploring what happens in an outbreak, investigating lateral flow tests, designing and developing social distancing tools, and testing and trialling different types of surgical masks.

The This is Engineering: Entertainment resource explores the essential role that engineers play in the entertainment industry, from tracking sports data and exploring the fourth dimension, to creating light displays and producing a scene in a horror film. 

You can find out more about the Connecting STEM Teachers programme and download resources at Learn more about STEM at home at

Teachers and STEM Ambassadors can join a regional network and receive free termly engineering resource packs and training by visiting the website and contacting their local teacher coordinator.


The engineering edge podcast

Professor Lucy Rogers FREng, inventor and former Robot Wars judge, presents a new series of her engineering podcast. The podcast explores how everyday tech can be used in extraordinary ways, and covers topics including how haptic motors are being used to give humans a sixth sense, biohackers, the innovative feelSpace Navibelt that can transform the life of visually impaired people and how to build your own Navibelt using off the shelf components.

Create the Future podcast

 Engineering is everywhere. From nanotechnology and the Internet of Things to autonomous vehicles, healthcare, and even your morning cup of coffee – engineering shapes the world around us. Engineers launched us forward from our first use of tools to an era of space exploration, and they will play a central role in solving the challenges of our future. Create the Future explores the wonderful world of skill, creativity and innovation that is engineering, and highlights how engineers impact our lives each and every day.

Hosted by science writer and broadcaster Sue Nelson, each episode looks at a different area of engineering and brings together the knowledge, experiences and ideas of both industry experts and young professionals.
Available on all podcast streaming sites.

Creative Earth competition
Creative Earth is an art competition for people aged 16 and under from across the UK, run by the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference in collaboration with WWF.

As part of the Together for Our Planet campaign, young people are invited to get creative and show global leaders the world they want to live in. Whether it’s green forests and garden cities, clear skies and wind turbines or oceans teeming with life, paint, draw or design a piece of art that shows how you’d like our planet to look in the future.

The UK is hosting COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, bringing together world leaders to tackle climate change and ensure a better future for us all.

Bradford Science Festival
Bradford Science Festival’s online resources are available online until 31 March 2021. There are lots of fun things to enjoy at home, including videos, activity sheets, games, and radio shows. The Brad Lab has lots of videos to watch and exciting experiments to try out at home, while STEM City gives an overview of careers in STEM and how to get into them. Talks and presentations from the festival include: Black Panther: diversity in cinema, arts and engineering; and 50 Million Tonnes, which looks at how electronic waste can be hacked and used for new inventions.

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