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11 August 2008
A lecture for school children, age 12 to 15 years old, entitled 'Sport, Ethics and Engineering of the Olympic Games' took place here at the Department of Engineering. The two visiting speakers were Adam Whitehead, a former European and Commonwealth Champion and an Olympian at the Sydney Olympics 2000, and Dr Gilly Mara, a Sports Engineer.
The lecture began with Adam Whitehead, who showed off his array of swimming medals, including a Commonwealth gold medal and European Championships gold medal. The speakers gave an exciting insight into the world of engineering and sport and the ethical issues this raises. Engineering is not always seen by students as an important factor in sport in general nor the Olympic Games in particular. However, the very core of all sports focuses on engineering and modern technology. Athletic tracks have changed from grass, to cinders, to the synthetic all weather surfaces that are used today and basic markings for a pitch or arena have transformed these surfaces to become the great stadiums of our age. Even the humble football has changed from a pig’s bladder inside a laced leather cover which doubled in weight in the rain!, to the footballs of today, which are made from modern waterproof materials and retain their size, shape and weight in all conditions. Technological advances such as the modern swimsuits worn by elite swimmers, through to the prosthetic limbs and equipment designed to aid athletes who have a disability, were also highlighted. Students had the opportunity to meet and engage in a lecture and debate with a sport engineer and an Olympic athlete, opening their eyes to the world of engineering and how it has helped change the theatre of sport.
The ‘Sport, Ethics and Engineering of the Olympic Games’ lecture offers an exciting insight into the world of engineering and sport. Funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and supported by the British Olympic Foundation. The lecture was organised in collaboration with SETPoint Cambridgeshire and was very well received by the 180 school children who attended.
Joy Warde, the Outreach Officer here at the Department who organised this event, recently won a 2008 Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) award for her outstanding contribution to initiatives that encourage young people's interest in engineering.
University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering Educational Outreach
For more information on Joy Warde's SEAs award, see April's news article "Outreach work by the Department of Engineering wins national accolade".
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