I believe that something amazing happens when engineering and entrepreneurship collide; real innovation occurs. Many of the most influential figures in engineering are also entrepreneurs. You just have to hear James Dyson speak to know how passionate he is about quality engineering.
The Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub ensures that entrepreneurial engineers are not stifled, but encouraged, to achieve great things. Some of the most cutting-edge technology in the world started in the mind of an engineer who then stopped at nothing to make it happen.
Watching what’s been happening at the Hub over the last year has been particularly encouraging. There has been a wide variety of innovation coming through its doors and I wanted to share three of them with you.
Firstly, there’s a collaboration between Joulo and the University of Southampton. This team is developing the first instance of technology that will allow energy consumed by mains connected equipment to be measured without the need for a monitor between the equipment and the wall socket. The technology behind this device was engineered by Dr Reuben Wilcock, co-founder of Joulo, working in tandem with PhD student Robert Rudolf. It is a non-invasive multi-core current clamp that can be fitted around a cable and removed with ease, thus taking away theneed to access sockets and power down equipment to fit.
Next, there’s Sonobex Ltd, a spin-out from Loughborough University. Its SonoBARRIER™ technology cancels out sound instead of absorbing or reflecting sound energy like other sound barriers. The Company is now supplying bespoke sound barriers to major civil infrastructure organisations involved in transport, industrial and energy developments.
And finally, there’s Spyglass and the University of Bristol. This team is working on a joint project founded by Dr Loren Picco. Its aim is to commercialise the world’s fastest high-speed atomic force microscope after 10 years of development. The microscope, which is used by scientists to examine matter such as biological cells and bacteria at nanoscale, has an extremely usable interface which opens up new ways of manipulating samples, makes analysis quicker and enables non-skilled operators to control the instrument effectively.
These inspirational projects are just three that are currently being moulded at the Hub but you can read about the work of other Hub Members here.
Meanwhile, we ask: what else can be done to encourage the next generation into engineering, such an exciting field of work? Well, there are encouraging signs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Exxon has launched a campaign in the USA called ‘Be An Engineer’ with adverts in the New York Times and on primetime TV, a bespoke website and large scale social media campaign. This brilliant initiative is being funded purely by private money. Take a look at www.beanengineer.com or http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d1d2zSvPhAc.
In the UK, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Engineering UK have teamed up to launch ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers’. The campaign’s main aim is to get more school children interested in becoming engineers and to reduce the skills gap that the UK is facing.
By running projects in schools, working with industry and giving careers advice, the hope is that this will serve to inspire more entrepreneurial engineering in the UK. Find out more or get involved at http://www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk/.