Department of Engineering / News / Engineering at work in the 2016 Cambridge Science Festival

Department of Engineering

Engineering at work in the 2016 Cambridge Science Festival

Engineering at work in the 2016 Cambridge Science Festival

The annual two-week Cambridge Science Festival will feature several events represented by members of the Department of Engineering. 

The Cambridge Science Festival provides the public with opportunities to explore and discuss issues of scientific interest and concern and to raise aspirations by encouraging young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Each year, the Festival welcomes visitors to hundreds of events and receives extensive national and local media coverage. Over 170 event coordinators organise talks, interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities, film showings and debates with the assistance of around 1,000 staff and students from departments and organisations across the University and research institutions, charities and industry in the eastern region. In addition, more than 150 people volunteer their time to act as stewards to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable Festival experience.

Running from 7–20 March and with more than 300 events, this year’s programme examines the growing interaction between humans and technology. Following are a selection of events which feature the breadth of research performed by faculty and students from the Department of Engineering.

Intelligence and learning in brains and machines

Professor Zoubin Ghahramani
Professor of Information Engineering

What is intelligence? What is learning? Can we build computers and robots that learn? How much information does the brain store? How does mathematics help us answer these questions? Professor Zoubin Ghahramani takes us on a journey exploring these questions and leading us to the field of machine learning: the invisible algorithms underlying many of the tools we now use every day.

Tuesday, 15 March
6pm – 7pm
Mill Lane Lecture Rooms

Dambusters, Colditz and climate change: the Blitz spirit

Dr Hugh Hunt
Reader in Engineering Dynamics and Vibration
Department of Engineering

Colditz Castle and the Dambusters raid are two of the most iconic events of World War II. Based on his experience, Dr Hugh Hunt looks at the engineering challenges faced by Barnes Wallis in his design of the bouncing bomb and by the prisoners of war who never flew the glider they built in the roof of Colditz. Can this ‘Blitz Spirit’ help us tackle climate change? What would a modern-day Barnes Wallis dream up?

Saturday, 12 March
3.30pm – 4.30pm
Mill Lane Lecture Rooms

Biomimetic materials: rethinking how we build stuff

Dr Michelle L Oyen
Reader in Bioengineering

Looking at the city skyline, it’s easy to identify the two materials best loved by civil engineers: steel and concrete,energy intensive and heavy. In comparison, natural building blocks are light with a low energy input. Dr Michelle Oyen explores natural building blocks and asks can we rethink how we build our future cities?

Wednesday, 9 March
8pm – 9pm
Mill Lane Lecture Rooms

The James Dyson Foundation Engineering Challenge

Join engineers from Dyson to reconstruct a Dyson machine head and take part in other short engineering challenges. Presented with the James Dyson Foundation.

Saturday, 19 March
Noon – 4pm
University of Cambridge Sports Centre

How to train your robot

Rachel Garsed
Research Student
Department of Engineering

Philip Garsed
Research Associate
Cavendish Laboratory

We live in a world surrounded by computers, and increasingly also robotics. But how do we get these machines to do what we want? Find out with Philip Garsed and Rachel Garsed in this fun and interactive demonstration, as they try to program their (suspiciously life-like...) robot to carry out a simple task.

Saturday, 12 March
11am – 11.45am
Mill Lane Lecture Rooms

Pecha Kucha challenge

Graduate engineering students take on the challenge of sharing their research with you in just six minutes forty seconds. Will they succeed? Join us for just one talk or stay for as many as you like – they can be addictive!

Saturday, 19 March
2pm – 4pm
Institute for Manufacturing

Robogals workshop

Learn to programme Lego Mindstorms robots with Robogals Cambridge. Robogals is a student organisation aiming to increase female participation in engineering. The workshop is aimed at girls, although everyone is welcome.

Monday 7 March and Wednesday 9 March
5.30pm – 6.30pm
Department of Engineering

CHaOS and Robogals: robots at Crash, Bang, Squelch!

Join CHaOS and Robogals Cambridge for robotics workshops. Zero experience is required, as we’ll  teach you all the basics so you can start making your own robots do amazing things in no time at all.

Saturday, 12 March
10.15am – 3.45pm (several sessions available)
Department of Zoology, New Museums Site

Fixed-wing aircraft

Make a model aircraft that uses the energy stored in a rubber strip to drive it through the air. Optimise your design to manage this limited energy source and achieve a stable flight. Join engineers from the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering for an exploration of how wings work and how aircraft and birds control their flight.

Saturday, 12 March
10am – 4pm
University Centre

Primary rocket launch pad

School groups from years 5 and 6 are invited to the Department of Engineering to explore 3D geometry by making a rocket launch pad structure. The event finale is launching paper rockets with compressed air. Well-made rockets will land on our roof!

Open to school groups for pupils aged 9–11
14 – 18 March
Department of Engineering

Registration is now open for all events at the Cambridge Science Festival website.

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