Our engineering experts work hard to make the world a better place
University of Portsmouth staff and students celebrate Tomorrow’s Engineers Week by showing the positive impact engineering has on the world – whether that’s by making our day-to-day lives easier or tackling some of the biggest global challenges.
Engineering experts at the University work hard to make the world a better place. From improving the design of prosthetic hands and arms to improving the sustainability of concrete, our experts are busy finding innovative solutions to address society’s needs and problems.
Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek20) runs from 2 – 6 November 2020 and is delivered by EngineeringUK, a not-for-profit organisation, which works with the engineering community, employers and professional institutions to inspire tomorrow’s engineers.
Designing better prosthetic hands and arms
Professor Peter Kyberd, Head of the School of Energy and Electronic Engineering, has spent years making prosthetic hands and arms. He’s also spent years talking to the people who need them, to understand what they want. Professor Kyberd’s goal is to make more complicated hands that are easier to use.
He said: “Prosthetics is about people. The engineering is interesting but I wouldn’t want to get involved in a project that didn’t have at least a hope of making a difference to people.”
Most people don’t want to spend months and months learning how to use a prosthesis. So the aim is to design something which is easier and faster to use.
Promoting diversity in engineering
Mimi Nwosu, a graduate from BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering, was shortlisted for Engineering Graduate of the Year at the Engineering Talent Awards earlier this year.
Mimi is an assistant materials engineer for Sir Robert McAlpine, a building and civil engineering company. She is also a prominent member of the BAME affinity group, where she actively promotes diversity within the organisation.
Mimi was shortlisted for her skill in civil engineering, as well as the work she’s done to promote the benefits of equality and inclusion in engineering.
She said: “I really want to help build for a sustainable future, and I believe materials engineering and science will pioneer this.”
Studying civil engineering changed the course of my life and I will be forever grateful.
Integrating renewable energy with the power grid
Professor of Power Systems Engineering, Victor Becerra, wants to ensure the nation benefits from reliable, safe and secure access to sustainable energy.
His work on control technology is essential for the successful integration of clean renewable energy into the power grid.
He is also involved in improving the safety of nuclear power plants, working on control systems to make them even more tolerant to faults.
Control systems can be used in different ways to address the challenge of integration of intermittent renewable generation to the power grid.
Improving the sustainability of concrete
Concrete is very damaging to the environment. It produces huge amounts of CO2 when manufactured, so has a massive carbon footprint. Dr Barnett says we shouldn’t be looking at alternative materials to concrete, we should be finding ways to reduce concrete’s CO2 impact.
We need to think about the whole lifecycle of a building, rather than just the CO2 that goes into building the building.
Intelligent powered wheelchairs
David Sanders, Professor of Systems Engineering, is working on intelligent powered wheelchairs. His pioneering research is opening up a new world of possibilities for children with disabilities.
Combining systems engineering with artificial intelligence (AI), he automates decision-making so systems can ‘think’ for themselves.
Working in collaboration with Chailey Heritage in Sussex, Professor Sanders’ work will enable children with high levels of disability to drive their own wheelchairs, some for the very first time.
It’s very empowering to be able to initiate your own movement rather than being moved around in your wheelchair by someone else.