Engineering Matters

Engineering Matters

By Reby Media

Three times winner of the Publisher Podcast Awards, including Best Technology Podcast, Engineering Matters celebrates the work of engineers who use ingenuity, practicality, science, theory and determination to build a better world. In the UK alone 5.7million people work in engineering related enterprises from manufacturing and agriculture to construction and transportation. Their work ensures that the country has sustainable power supplies, better connectivity between cities, increasing efficiency in production processes; advanced manufacturing methods; and is embracing the digital transformations that include virtual modelling of our environment, and development of intelligent machines. Our episodes will examine the vital work of engineers using a mix of interviews, analysis and site visits.

Episodes

#126 Propping up Vienna: Hydraulic Supports

Vienna, the capital city of Austria is also known worldwide as The City of Music and this musical metropolis is fine tuning the way that it constructs underground. In order to expand its metro system it has turned to the use of hydraulic props to hold back the pressure from the earth during construction of...
23/09/21

#125 Artificial Intelligence in Project Planning

New software using AI is enabling planners to identify options for engineering projects that are beyond the realms of human imagination. Traditionally, solutions are studied individually at great time and cost but budgets and timelines are more constrained than ever before. At the same time planners are being asked to incorporate more factors into identifying...
16/09/21

#124 Mussels: How to Save the Seas

Intensive farming leads to nutrients seeping into the groundwater and into rivers. These enriched waterways deliver immense quantities of nutrients to coastal seas and cause algae to bloom, overwhelming the ecosystem. Fortunately, blue mussels can feed on these algae and also provide a sustainable food source both for humans and for the agriculture and aquaculture...
09/09/2138m 27s

#123 Engineering Plants: Intelligent Growth Solutions

The world is on the brink of a climate related disaster. The solution requires a combination of engineering disciplines that do not come together very often. But they must, because the challenge is so enormous that the future of the human race quite literally depends on it.  Wheat, rice, sweetcorn, and soybean currently provide two...
02/09/2132m 55s

#122 Decarbonisation: Growing Roads on Trees

In this episode we look at how a new plant-based bitumen will be incorporated into asphalt mixtures currently being developed. The hope is that this will allow clients to build roads that act as carbon sinks. The reduction in carbon by using products like this could play a significant role in helping the UK achieve...
26/08/2119m 10s

#121 Batteries: The Lithium-Silicon Age

After a decade of growth, there were 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads by the end of 2020. This growth trend is set to continue, with at least 145 million on the roads by 2030. The performance of batteries in this electrified future will be critical. In this episode we are looking at...
19/08/2125m 41s

#120 Recycled Plastic: The Canadian Potential

In 2019, Justin Trudeau declared war on plastic waste. And single-use plastics were listed as a toxic material in Canada in May of this year. Before long, Canadian companies will have to find a use for the immense quantity of material they generate. Yet the North American reprocessing industry is still young. Meanwhile, on the...
12/08/2125m 53s

#119 The Grange: Saving Time, Saving Lives

As COVID-19 rampaged across the UK in 2020, society shut down and hospitals reached breaking point. For engineers building The Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, South Wales their work took on a greater meaning. They had to make sure that this 450 bed critical care facility was completed ahead of time. Their actions didn’t just...
05/08/2127m 27s

#118 Gateway: The Lunar Space Station

The last time a person walked on the moon was 14 December 1972. Almost 50 years ago. Since then, human operations have been confined to Earth orbit. But during that time, technology has not stood still. Now we are ready to take the next step. This episode we are talking to NASA about the Lunar...
29/07/2132m 15s

#117 How Sails Could Save Shipping

The first boats that harnessed the wind to skip over the waves may have been built 8,000 years ago. Several hundred years later, the earliest seaborne trading networks began to form in the Aegean and the Persian Gulf. Modern cargo shipping relies on ‘bunker fuel’ a thick, black sludge made from the dregs of the...
22/07/2121m 17s

#116 Climate Change: Islands on the Frontline

Island states are at the forefront of climate change. Rising sea levels mean more coastal erosion, overtopping of defences and salinification of land. More frequent and devastating severe weather events are disrupting everyday life and acidification of the ocean is impacting on fishing. It is happening now, not in decades to come. From atolls in...
15/07/2130m 6s

#115 The Circular Road

In this episode we explain how one of the world’s biggest problems – plastic waste can be reused in state of the art, energy-efficient road-building products. Working with Cumbria County Council within an initiative called Adept Live Labs Shell will be publicly sharing the knowledge they are gaining in these lab trials, with the overall...
08/07/2120m 38s

#114 Engineering with Dogs

Ecologists on infrastructure projects have some new team members: Conservation dogs. Their superior olfactory systems mean that they can sniff out a plethora of protected species from great crested newts and water voles, to bats and birds. Critically these canine detectives can do this more quickly, accurately and safely than humans. Thanks to pioneering work...
01/07/2126m 46s

#113 Food Waste: Making a Net Zero Jet Fuel

Every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted. The waste occurs all through the supply chain, from the farm itself, all the way to the household. It represents enough calories to potentially feed every undernourished person on the planet, and there is an environmental cost to this. About 6% of all human greenhouse gas...
24/06/2127m 55s

#112 Hagerbach: The Bat Cave of Tunnelling

Every good superhero universe has its origins story. Hagerbach’s begins with Rudolf Amberg, looking to innovate and find new efficiency savings for his iron mine. So began a 50-year journey from testing equipment and explosives, to fire and tunnel safety simulations, and ever more creative uses for underground space. Ultimately the mining industry in Switzerland...
17/06/2131m 53s

#111 Machine Learning: Construction’s Future

When people think of digital tools to help with engineering problems, they usually think of a 3D model or a computerised image, representing something that exists in the real world. Machine learning is not that.  What it does is completely alien to your way of thinking. It operates in such a way that is totally...
10/06/2134m 47s

#110 London: Boosting Biodiversity

London is the world’s first national park city, with about 50% green coverage of its surface area. This is a legacy of the public and Royal parks, Victorian tree planting, and is something Londoners enjoy on a daily basis. Behind the scenes, major organisations and stakeholders are working to raise the profile of environmental sustainability. ...
03/06/2123m 18s

#109 Spiders Versus Plastic

For millions of years spiders have been spinning naturally occurring proteins into an incredibly strong and durable silk. By studying the anatomy of these arachnids, scientists in the UK have cracked the code to reassembling natural proteins creating a new alternative to plastic. Pioneering research company Xampla says that its supramolecular engineered protein is fully...
27/05/2121m 33s

#108 Antarctica: Building Rothera Wharf

Since the end of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, humanity has focused its activities in the southern continent on science and research. To do this effectively, logistics are critical. To prepare for the arrival of its new ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, the wharf at Rothera Research Station needed to be replaced. The...
20/05/2140m 42s

#107 Africa: Connecting a Continent

Preparation is currently underway for installation of one of the world’s longest fibre optic communications cables. Survey vessels are circumnavigating the entire coast of Africa determining the best locations for laying the cable on the seabed and bringing it onshore. At around 36,000km long it will provide connectivity to countries throughout the continent and form...
13/05/2126m 27s

#106 A Beginner’s Guide to Social Value

Why do we build? Why develop society? And who reaps the benefit? In this episode we look at the new interest the construction industry is taking in quantifying and appreciating social value. That difficult-to-define idea that has also enjoyed the recent attention of central government, with legislation mandating that projects and tenders take it into...
06/05/2135m 0s

#105 Solar Grazing at Shaker Village

In a field a few miles southwest of the city of Lexington in Kentucky, a sheep is quietly grazing in the shade. This is a very special sheep. It has been carefully selected from a rare breed to control the vegetation at Kentucky’s largest solar farm. The practice is known as Solar Grazing, an environmentally...
29/04/2130m 52s

#104 Solving Rail’s Hidden Hazard

In 2019/20 an estimated 693,000 workers in Great Britain sustained a non-fatal injury at work in Great Britain. The figure, which comes from the Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey, represents 2,160 injuries per 100,000 workers.  The rate had been steadily decreasing for decades. This self-reported rate passed just below 4,000 per 100,000 in...
22/04/2125m 30s

#103 A Canadian Blueprint for Net Zero

What is Net Zero? And how can we get there? Can we mitigate the damage of three centuries of fossil fuel-powered industrialisation, with three decades of new energy infrastructure? While Canada is rich in renewables and already produces 80% of its electricity using non greenhouse gas sources, it, like countries around the world, has a...
15/04/2130m 15s

#102 Crushing Climate Change

Every two years the Peak District hosts ‘Hillhead’ in a disused quarry. It is the largest event for the Quarrying, Construction and Recycling industries. It is known both for its lively equipment demonstrations and unpredictable weather. This year the coronavirus forced the event online, and the new format forced the organisers to reconsider the focus....
08/04/2113m 38s

#101 Powering and Protecting Scottish Heritage

Along the west coast of Scotland lies a chain of island communities where fishing and farming have been a way of life for thousands of years.  In securing the future of these islands through providing reliable electricity, engineers and archaeologists are looking to the past to ensure that the rich history is not lost.  Replacing...
01/04/2125m 56s

#100 Megaprojects (Part 3): Learning from Experience

This is the third and final episode of our three-part special looking at the delivery of megaprojects. In this episode we examine the lessons learned from two of the most iconic tunnelling projects of recent times: London’s Crossrail and New York’s East Side Access. Crossrail was the largest infrastructure project in Europe. Weaving in and...
30/03/2127m 23s

#100 Megaprojects (Part 2): How to Deliver?

For the 100th episode of Engineering Matters we bring you this three-part special looking at the delivery of a megaproject. In this second episode, we look at how a client can assess the scale of the task of delivering an impossibly complex scheme, such as a megaproject and supplement gaps in its skillset with industry...
30/03/2123m 36s

#100 Megaprojects (Part 1): What Makes a Megaproject?

Megaprojects are among the most complex and challenging of society’s undertakings. Each is grand is scope and due to the scale, none are ever built twice. Although they leverage the resources and political will of a nation, most encounter cost and schedule overruns, damaging reputations and souring public support. For the 100th episode of Engineering...
30/03/2135m 25s

#99 Urbanisation: Infrastructure for Growing Cities

Today the world holds 33 megacities, cities that are home to over 10 million people. As these sprawling urban centres become more crowded than ever before infrastructure is under pressure to do more, last longer and respond faster. In this episode we find out why it is so important to understand exactly what is in the...
25/03/2134m 36s

#98 The Construction Playground

As projects grow ever more complex, with tighter delivery demands placed on the entire supply chain, a baseline of digitalisation has been essential for the past few years… the companies that have adapted and thrived in this environment are now looking into areas they might not have worked with before. Predictive analysis, material tracking, sensors,...
18/03/2126m 19s

#97 The Gateway to Indonesia

To alleviate the burden on its largest city Jakarta, Indonesia is going to move its capital more than 1,000km from the densely populated island of Java, to less developed Borneo. The new city will be constructed near the port city of Balikpapan, an economic boon for the region but an increased strain on its already-tested...
11/03/2118m 28s

#97 (Indonesian) Bandara Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Sepinggan

Dalam episode ini kami bermitra dengan Shell untuk membahas pengaspalan ulang landasan pacu (atau runway) Bandara Balikpapan – Bandara Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Sepinggan. Kita akan mempelajari bagaimana peningkatan jumlah penumpang dan armada pesawat yang lebih baru dan berat telah mendorong landasan pacu yang ada melampaui batasnya. Frekuensi serta beban yang meningkat, yang dikombinasiikan dengan...
11/03/2120m 45s

#96 Fusion: Britain Builds a Star

In this episode we are looking at a project being run by the UK Atomic Energy Authority which aims to build a prototype fusion power plant by the 2040s. To do that they are currently working on a concept design, choosing from a menu of international technologies. Their work needs to be complete by spring...
04/03/2131m 0s

#95 Saving Oceans with Science

The world’s oceans are in crisis. Plastic pollution, rising sea levels, warmer waters and chemical changes are degrading ocean systems and the world is at a dangerous tipping point. A point so dangerous that the United Nations has made 2021 the start of a new decade for ocean science for sustainable development. In this episode...
25/02/2138m 7s

#94 Barriers to Data Rich Design

Construction has not always recognised the value of using data from past projects to deliver better results in the present. It often finds itself starting from scratch on new projects, when learning from earlier experiences could help solve its productivity problem. But the so-called data rich design is still sporadic, and the industry suffers for...
18/02/2121m 46s

#93 Tomatoes and the Road to Net Zero

Something remarkable is happening in East Anglia. Waste heat from sewage treatment is being pumped into two enormous greenhouses creating low carbon heat for growing tomatoes. A lot of tomatoes, more than 10% of UK production. This use of waste heat is just one of the ways that water companies are using waste as a...
11/02/2128m 36s

#92 The Most Flooded Town In England

In this episode we partnered with WSP to tell the story of Looe, a fishing port in Cornwall. The small town has the dubious accolade of ‘most flooded place in England’, and without intervention, the situation will get much worse.  With sea levels rising by as much as a metre over the next century, and...
04/02/2134m 54s

#91 Global Risks and Shapeshifting Infrastructure

With the weight of the built environment exceeding that of the total biomass for the first time, the human impact on the planet has passed a symbolic but significant milestone. What we do matters, and such a society needs to be run as effectively as possible. Every year the World Economic Forum publishes its Global...
28/01/2127m 12s

#90 The New Way to Plan a City

The data quality in the planning and development sector is appalling. Whether supplied in this form accidentally, negligently, or recklessly does not matter – much of it is wrong. Yet over the years, this data has been used to form some of our most important decisions for the built environment. Now a new system will...
21/01/2135m 22s

#89 Blue Lanes in the Black Country

A revolution is happening in the UK, and it is happening quietly. Inspired by the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, Bike Life is the biggest assessment of cycling in cities and urban areas across the UK and Ireland. Started in Birmingham, but now in 12 cities across the country, Bike Life has informed policy decisions, justified investment...
14/01/2123m 35s

#88 Engineering Trees

It is tree planting season in the UK. With their amazing carbon storage ability, flood alleviation capacity and biodiversity boosting potential, trees are fast becoming a critical part of plans to reduce net carbon emissions and mitigate against global warming. But with only 13 percent tree cover the UK lags behind Europe when it comes...
07/01/2133m 12s

#87 So That Was 2020

Welcome to the very last Engineering Matters of 2020!  In this episode we go back to some of the biggest stories that we covered over the past year and find out what happened next.  We also give listeners a peak behind the curtain at how we put the episodes together and introduce you to some...
29/12/2038m 32s

#86 Enterprise Delivery: A Model for Recovery

With a £100bn capital spending plan, the biggest ever investment in new transport infrastructure and a ten-point plan for climate change, the UK is determined to build its way to post COVID19 economic recovery. The bad news is that major projects have a terrible track record for not being built on time and going over...
22/12/2021m 40s

#85 Concrete’s Role in the Climate War

Contributing around 8% of global climate emissions, concrete is a major source of carbon. It is also essential, and no major project is feasible without thousands of tonnes of concrete. As the world looks to decrease its impact on the environment, with a reduction of carbon emissions forming a major focus within that effort, every...
17/12/2027m 10s

#84 Asphalt of the Future

Have you ever walked past a newly surfaced road, perhaps around the corner from your house… and wondered when it will next be resurfaced? Side roads often seem to be in poor condition, and if you live in England, you probably will not see it resurfaced again in your lifetime. The average interval is 119...
15/12/2032m 10s

#83 Digitisation and the road to diversity

In this episode we look at how the demands of the industry are becoming increasingly diverse, resulting in a similar change in the people carrying out the work.  We look at how the industry can adapt to use new tools at its disposal to take advantage of new skills, improve productivity, and make construction a...
10/12/2026m 10s

#82 Securing the Shugborough Tunnel

Set in the West Midlands county of Staffordshire is a former Royal Forest called Cannock Chase. It is part misty, secluded woodland and part undulating moorland. As you head up to the north of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the landscape becomes tame and you enter the Shugborough Estate, some 10km to the east...
08/12/2030m 48s

#81 Zen and the Art of Programme Management

The adoption of healthy or unhealthy behaviours at project reviews can have an enormous impact on the overall project and even the wider industry.  Going down the wrong path can have a multiplier effect over the course of the project, and with growing project complexities, you need to be able to rely on your team....
03/12/2027m 31s

#80 Covid 19: Construction Copes with the Pandemic

It is by now a topic that sadly needs little introduction. It has impacted everyone in the last year. Changed lives and livelihoods, overturned entire sectors, and altered the global balance of power Our way of living and working has changed, and only in the last couple of weeks has hope appeared in the distance,...
26/11/2022m 0s

#79 Rebuilding Zandvoort’s Rollercoaster Racetrack

In this episode we look at the Circuit Zandvoort, the iconic post-WW2 racetrack in the Netherlands. Beloved by fans of all flavours of motorsport, it recently had cause to redesign and resurface its track in the hopes of hosting the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985. To do this required the design of some of...
19/11/2037m 14s

#78 Reinventing invention

A revolution is approaching manufacturing, one that will see costs and time to market cut by as much as 50%. The digitalisation of engineering will reduce the need to churn out prototypes as a product goes back and forth between design and manufacturing departments. In a rapidly changing world, this revolution cannot come soon enough,...
12/11/2029m 8s

#77 Floating Turbines: Offshore Wind’s Game Changer

Until a few years ago the offshore wind industry was constrained by the seabed characteristics of countries seeking to harness the generating capacity of the wind. Only those with shallow waters of around 40m or less could implement fixed offshore arrays. But in just a few years the game has changed. Floating offshore turbines are...
05/11/2031m 34s

#76 Building with Biomaterials

In this episode we have partnered with Autodesk Construction Solutions to look at a new approach to housing construction in Kenya.  We take a look at how a local architecture, engineering and construction firm, BuildX, is working with modern methods of construction – manufacturing modular units offsite – to produce housing on a scale, and...
29/10/2033m 19s

#75 Last Howl of the Vulcan

The Vulcan is one of the most iconic aircraft ever flown by the Royal Air Force. Although not quite the household name that the Spitfire has been, it has always been a crowd favourite at air shows.  As well as the immense noise generated by its four Rolls Royce Olympus engines, which has thrilled children...
22/10/2023m 23s

#74 Weaving a New Data Fabric for Infrastructure

Imagine a world where Alexa can tell you the latest, greenest, safest and most cost-effective way to design, deliver or operate something. Advice on decision-making that takes into account whole life costing, and tell you where best to spend money, to save more money in future. We all understand this concept in our own lives;...
15/10/2031m 57s

#73 How to Build a Digital Twin

Anglian Water currently enjoys a daily surplus of 150 million litres of water, but this is forecast to become a 150 million litre deficit by 2045. To help mitigate this shortfall it is constructing hundreds of kilometres of large diameter pipeline, as well as pumping stations and storage points to divert water from areas with...
08/10/2029m 51s

#72 Seeing the Himalayas: Kickstarting Net Zero

On a bright morning in April, people in the city of Jalandhar in the state of Punjab stood out in the streets and saw something breath-taking… something that many of them had never seen before. The skies were so clear that for the first time in decades the soaring peaks of the Himalayas standing almost...
01/10/2030m 54s

#71 Stewards of the Soil

Historically civilisations have sprung up wherever the land was most fertile, soils that supported good crop productivity to meet the food requirements of highly concentrated groups of people. Now with the global population close to 8 billion, and all arable land already committed to food production, we are turning to technology to help fertilise soils...
24/09/2026m 19s

#70 On Track for a Rail Revolution

The railway network in the UK is old and vast and home to the first public railway to use steam locomotives in the world. The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened in 1825 and connected coal mines in the northeast of England. It was the metal track, the coal-fired furnace, and the shrill whistle of the...
17/09/2038m 25s

#69 Artificial Intelligence in Infrastructure

Maintaining a tunnel requires many hours of dedicated work by highly skilled engineers. And as our network of tunnels expands, so does the maintenance demand. Asset owners and local authorities have been under pressure for years to find a cost-effective way of monitoring and maintaining their underground infrastructure. And now, engineers in Switzerland have turned...
10/09/2020m 38s

#68 The Future of Design

Changes to the way we do design are coming; construction is languishing at the bottom of the productivity rankings, now below hunting and fishing.  Decision-making is happening late in the project lifecycle, meaning that design work has to be repeated unnecessarily, and a reward culture based on price rather than outcomes builds in more inefficiency....
03/09/2034m 49s

#67 The Future is Remote and Autonomous

Remotely operated vehicles, uncrewed surface vessels and ever-increasing autonomy are removing personnel from dangerous work offshore in the North Sea and elsewhere.  Inspection of maritime assets is now being controlled from onshore operations centres. We look at one of these command and control centres, the Fugro facility in Aberdeen. With a robust regulatory framework and...
27/08/2035m 25s

#66 Fever Screening in Airports

As a small island trading nation, Britain risks killing its economy and losing millions of jobs, unless it can allow people to get back to work in as normal a way as possible. So said John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, who wants to see a more sophisticated way of opening our borders. He was...
20/08/2027m 6s

#65 Every Little Helps

At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, one of the few reasons people were allowed to leave their homes was to shop for the basic essentials.  Social distancing rules meant that shoppers were held in long queues that wound through supermarket car parks, moving slowly. One supermarket in northern England had the added problem of...
13/08/2025m 9s

#64 EDAROTH

Manchester – the city has been on the cutting edge since the birth of the industrial revolution. From John Dalton’s Atomic Theory in 1803, to the invention of Graphene in 2004. More recently it has given the world the greatest music ever made. Home to 2.8 million people in 1.2 million dwellings over 500 square...
06/08/2029m 53s

#63 Nine Days to Build a Hospital

When Dan Harmer received a call in March that told him to clear his schedule and prepare for a meeting, he knew it would be important, but had no idea quite what would be asked of him. With Covid-19 spreading exponentially, and the National Health Service looking increasingly vulnerable, he was the man chosen to...
30/07/2028m 34s

#62 The Washing Machine Project

Hundreds of millions of people in the most economically disadvantaged places in the world spend up to 20 hours per week washing clothes by hand. This task, traditionally forced onto women, is back breaking and monotonous. Then in 2018 a promise made in a rural village in southern India has led Nav Sawhney to leave...
23/07/2025m 30s

#61 Countdown to British launch

On 28 October 1971 the UK conducted its first and only successful orbital launch, firing the Prospero satellite into low earth orbit – LEO on a Black Arrow rocket. Since that time, the country has lacked a native launch vehicle. In this episode we speak with Joe Laynton, a mechanical engineer working for Skyrora, an...
16/07/2023m 1s

#60 Covid 19: Creating safer spaces

Britain is emerging from some of the toughest social restrictions placed in peacetime history. As people come out of their homes, they are eager to meet friends and loved ones, and head back out into the world – but they are scared. To help keep people safe in a world gripped by Covid-19, and to...
02/07/2023m 39s

#59 Empowering Ethical Engineering

Engineers are in a uniquely powerful position. Able to shape our built environment and so influence the direction of civilisation, the impact that their expertise can have for the good of society and the environment is incredible. But people are human, and if a negative culture is allowed to thrive in the organisations that employ...
25/06/2037m 57s

#58 Construction declares climate emergency

Since mid-2019, over 900 architectural practices in the UK have made a declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency, acknowledging the extreme seriousness of our situation and making a public commitment to positive change. Now joined by declarations from other disciplines in the construction industry, the growing movement needs coordination or it risks becoming siloed. In...
11/06/2021m 12s

#57 Printing versus the pandemic: COVID 19

The coronavirus pandemic that has torn through society has also seen supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) depleted at an alarming rate. As doctors and nurses are forced to improvise, and traditional suppliers struggle to meet the sudden increase in demand, help has arrived from an unexpected group of enthusiasts. The 3D printing community has...
28/05/2029m 27s

#56 The Biodiversity Emergency

Biodiversity in the UK is facing an emergency with around 30 percent of native species becoming extinct since the 1970s. This loss of wildlife, which echoes trends all over the world, could have catastrophic impacts on food, air quality and the environment. However for the UK change is on the horizon with a new Environment...
14/05/2027m 52s

#55 Saving Structures with Satellites

How data from satellites can track structural movement, and give early warning of potential failure. New research shows that catastrophic bridge collapses could have been prevented if engineers had been paying attention to the right information, information that is currently being collected by satellites orbiting our planet. Satellite monitoring is one of the many innovations...
30/04/2041m 28s

#54 Keith Bannerman: A life underground

Carving out underground space for railways, roads, waterways, urban development and even fishing and farming is how some people spend their entire careers. One of those people is chair of the International Tunnelling Association Young Members Committee Keith Bannerman, who was obsessed by the industry from the moment he attended a short course in Brisbane...
17/04/2025m 14s

#53 Technology vs biology: fighting COVID 19

As cases of COVID 19 explode, the World Health Organisation is urging countries around the world to learn from South Korea. Before even recording its first case  of the virus its technology industries mobilised, enabling it to test anyone with symptoms, perform extensive contact tracing and isolate those at risk – fast. This enabled the...
03/04/2027m 43s

#52 Tunnelling Podcast: Propping up Luton Airport’s new rail link

How a new 2.5km cable pulled railway will connect Luton Airport’s terminal to the UK rail network boosting future growth. Today rail passengers arriving at the airport must disembark from the train and finish their journey on a shuttle bus. But not for much longer. Deep sheet piles are currently being driven into the ground...
27/03/2050m 52s

#51 Covid 19: Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

The rapid and exponential spread of the new coronavirus, COVID 19 is changing the way that we live and work. First detected in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China, within three months it was a global pandemic. To keep operating through the crisis businesses turned to digital technologies to support home working. But this connectivity...
20/03/2020m 4s

#50 Dealing with Nuclear Waste

The UK has a legacy of 600,000 tonnes of nuclear waste being held in temporary storage facilities at 30 sites around the country. It is enough to fill a football stadium and despite over 60 years of generating nuclear power in the UK, we still don’t have a long-term plan for disposing of it. Scientific...
13/03/2019m 42s

#49 Uncharted waters: Flooding and drought

This winter a series of weather bombs detonated across the UK, overwhelming river systems and overtopping flood defences. River levels were off the charts, 4000 properties flooded, some temporary defences failed and people took to the streets in canoes. The UK is entering unchartered territory as far as flooding is concerned. Yet the threat of...
05/03/2035m 24s

#48 Paving the way in pothole prevention

How nematode worms, 3D printing and drones could revolutionise our approach to maintaining road surfaces. According to the RAC we are 1.5 times more likely to hit a pothole today than we were over a decade ago and winter is peak pothole time. In the cold months the UK’s road surfaces weather the impact of...
27/02/2031m 50s

#47 Breathalysing Whales: Drones Revisited

An update on our Drones episode from January 2019 where we learn about new uses for unmanned aerial vehicles, and celebrate being shortlisted for three awards in the Publisher Podcast Awards held in London in March 2020. No-one knows how many penguins are in the Antarctic, and last year we discovered that thanks to the...
20/02/2029m 18s

#46 Metro stations: The gateway to the city

A tremendous change occurred with the industrial revolution: whereas it had taken all of human history until around 1800 for world population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years in 1930, the third billion in 30 years in 1960, the fourth billion in 15 years in 1974, and the fifth...
13/02/2050m 17s

#45 Offshore Wind, Part 2 : Foundations for the Future

How new technology is supporting the UK’s offshore wind industry to bring down costs and accelerate construction. From new methods for drilling into the seabed, to advanced foundation design models and improved data capture, innovation is critical for this fast-growing market. But it won’t be easy. Deeper waters and variable ground conditions make these some...
06/02/2033m 17s

#44 Offshore Wind, Part 1: Becoming a World Leader

Over the past two decades the UK has become the world’s leading offshore wind energy producer. Not only is it responsible for 40% of all offshore wind generated electricity, it is set to quadruple the installed capacity by 2030. Its journey to becoming a world leader began in 2000 with construction of just two Vestas...
30/01/2030m 38s

#43 Virtual Reality: transforming design

From new immersive technologies to life saving applications, virtual reality is finally meeting up to expectations of the 1990s and transforming the way that projects are designed. Its ability to improve visualisation of new and existing infrastructure is bringing many benefits, including some that users hadn’t anticipated as well as saving millions of pounds in...
23/01/2039m 0s

#42 Surviving a tunnel fire

This week we are bringing you an episode of our newly launched Tunnelling Podcast, made in partnership with the British Tunnelling Society. In March 1999, the Mont Blanc tunnel fire claimed the lives of 38 tunnel users and one fire fighter. For decades debate has raged over the best approach to tackling a fire, saving...
16/01/2052m 20s

#41 Crunch Time for Net Zero

Last year the UK set a legally binding target to become carbon neutral by 2050, ahead of any other major global economy. In doing so it took the first ambitious steps on a massively difficult path, and the road to net zero requires a total overhaul of how infrastructure is designed, delivered and managed. In...
09/01/2025m 45s

#40 Becoming a Role Model: Ying Wan Loh

Becoming a Role Model: Ying Wan Loh From rotary drilling on Mars to hybrid-electric aviation and the expansive global supply chains of the aeronautical industry, we explore the engineering life of Ying Wan Loh. In 2019 Ying became the Institution of Engineering and Technology Young Woman Engineer of the Year, a title given to astronaut...
24/12/1918m 44s

#39 Heathrow: Leading the digital charge

Heathrow has announced an ambitious expansion plan that will add a third runway and take the airport to cope with growing demand up until 2050. It calls for massive development of its infrastructure to cope with growing passenger numbers and it takes an innovative approach to its supply chain, looking to distribute the economic benefits...
19/12/1929m 5s

#38 Temporary Heroes: Construction’s Unseen Infrastructure

What do the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Ipswich Barrier and Heathrow Airport have in common? None of them could have been realised without a complex network of supporting infrastructure built before the main structures themselves were erected. Known as the temporary works this vital and often complex system of scaffolding, excavation support, propping elements...
12/12/1924m 36s

#37 Solving the Productivity Puzzle

Historically, the nation’s productivity has improved with economic growth, but since the global financial crisis and despite the UK’s recovery, productivity has flatlined. The Office for National Statistics calls this “The productivity puzzle” and for construction the situation is even worse. Productivity has floundered since the 1990s. But as big data continues to drive the...
28/11/1928m 36s

#36 The Calculator that Could Save the World

How a calculator is helping countries around the world to lower their greenhouse gas emissions and create more sustainable energy systems. When Professor David MacKay of Cambridge University wrote a book about sustainable energy in 2009, he could not have realised that this groundbreaking text would go on to form the basis for a calculator...
21/11/1927m 36s

#35 The Quantum Enabler: Professor Sir Peter Knight

As Quantum computing becomes a 21st century reality, Professor Sir Peter Knight explains why controlling the register of quantum bits that make up a quantum processor is so difficult, and explains how the journey to quantum computing is creating new technologies that no one could ever have predicted……. Peter’s life in quantum physics began in...
07/11/1927m 52s

#34 Crisis Shelter for Mass Displacement

Noorullah Kuchai is a civil engineer, a humanitarian and a refugee twice over. He lived in a tent in a Pakistani refugee camp for a decade and is now dedicating his life to helping people who have been displaced by war like he was. And the challenge is enormous. More people are being displaced by...
31/10/1935m 43s

#33 Future Factories: Driving forward industry 4.0

World leading smart robotics, industry disrupting technologies and the next generation of augmented reality are just some of the advances in action at Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s Factory 2050. Launched in December 2015, Factory 2050 was set up as a reconfigurable glass walled factory of the future, and since then it has helped businesses...
17/10/1922m 49s

#32 The untold story of Eiffel and his Tower

Had its use as a gigantic 300m high radio antenna not been recognised in the early 1900s the magnificent Eiffel Tower, would have been pulled down and destroyed. Under its original contract as the wrought iron gateway to the 1889 Paris World Fair, it was only to stand for 20 years. But its creator, engineer...
03/10/1926m 56s

#31 Creating a National Digital Twin

Back in December 2017 the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission set the UK a huge challenge: to create a digital model of our national infrastructure. Known as a National Digital Twin this engineering feat requires secure sharing of high-quality standardised data between infrastructure owners and operators, making operations more efficient and resilient. A new task force...
19/09/1926m 39s

#30 Interviewing Dad: Atkins President Philip Hoare

Chloe is 16 and interested in an engineering career. She is also the daughter of Philip Hoare, President of engineering consultant Atkins. To find out more she digs deep into her Dad’s engineering life story by interviewing him about the projects that have shaped his career. From harrowing tragedy on a bridge project to world...
05/09/1934m 19s

#29 Innovations in Renewable Energy: Lorna Bennet

Growing up in a tiny village in rural Scotland, regular power cuts would leave Lorna Bennet and her family without electricity for days on end. Determined to become self-sufficient Lorna set about learning how to create sustainable energy, from designing water wheels to working on tidal power arrays and testing the world’s largest offshore wind...
22/08/1936m 21s

#28 Building for Biodiversity

Habitat for the UK’s Great Yellow Bumblebee has declined 80 percent over the last century thanks to the loss of the flower rich meadows that sustain them. They now only persist in the North of Scotland, so when Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks planned a new substation in the Highlands, preserving the habitat of the...
08/08/1923m 3s

#27 Recycling Plastic into Roads

After 844 trial tests, and setting his own street on fire, founder of Scottish start-up MacRebur Toby McCartney finally hit on a viable solution for repairing potholes. His idea sought to resurface roads using recycled plastics, and the result is a form of polymer modification of asphalt that uses a mixture of waste plastics and...
26/07/1917m 16s

#26 Saving Rossington

Placing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals at the heart of projects can regenerate UK communities. From a new 4km road link that saved a former mining community in Yorkshire, to a coastal replenishment scheme that brought new opportunity to Colwyn Bay in North Wales, we hear how incorporating the sustainable development goals is changing...
16/07/1943m 11s

#25 Return of the Fatbergs

Underneath cities all over the UK subterranean mountains of calcified fat are gathering in our sewers as fat, oil and grease stick to baby wipes and harden to form a blubbery bacterial blockage. Removing them is dangerous, manual work, putting people and the infrastructure itself at risk. In this episode we venture to the site...
27/06/1928m 56s

#24 Unleash the Hydrogen Potential

Could the lightest element in the periodic table be the answer to the world’s most weighty challenge of decarbonising energy? Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe and the most energy dense. Burning it creates clean electricity and heat without generating carbon emissions, but to utilise it, first it must be released from...
13/06/1931m 0s

#23 Becoming an astronaut: Sophie Harker

It was a meeting with the first Briton in space, Dr Helen Sharman, that changed the course of Sophie Harker’s life forever. A maths student at The University of Nottingham, she took this advice seriously and went on to become an aerodynamics and performance engineer at BAE Systems. Although she is yet to leave planet...
30/05/1934m 1s

#22 Electric Excavators: Cities cut carbon in construction

Since 1913 the world’s most famous flower show has been held every Spring in Chelsea in London. This year among the electric blue Persian Slippers, the white and yellow Anthemis Punctata, and the eye catching, deep pink Digitalis Illumination series of Chris Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley Garden, there is a focus on creating beautiful gardens with...
21/05/1920m 17s

#21 Electric Aviation: Meeting demand for low emission flight

Norwegian airline Widerøe needs a new fleet of planes to serve its regional passenger base. But it doesn’t want to buy conventional aircraft. It wants a zero emission fleet to undertake its 450 flights per day, and move 2.8 million passengers per year. But so far, no electric planes have been certified for commercial flight...
09/05/1916m 58s

#20 Electric Vehicles: Lessons from world leading Norway

How did Norway become the world’s most successful electric vehicle market? Last month almost 80 percent of all new cars sold in Oslo were EVs and across the entire country it was 58 percent. Even more remarkable is that the soaring popularity of EVs is despite the lower operating efficiency that batteries achieve in cold...
03/05/1934m 51s

#19 Future of 3D Printing

From additive manufacturing in space, to 3D printing customised pharmaceuticals and non-planar electronics, the next revolution in 3D printing is already underway. In this episode we head to the International Space Station and interview the engineer behind a world first in 3D printing, “The Refabricator”. This 3D printer that can not only print plastic in...
18/04/1926m 6s

#18 Cocoa Power

Four thousand years after it was first used as a form of nutrition for the Olmec people of Mesoamerica, engineers are finding new ways to harness the potential of the fruit from the miraculous Theobroma Cacao tree, better known today as cocoa pods. Their solution could provide rural farming communities in Ghana with a new...
04/04/1926m 38s

#17 Acting on climate change

As young people all over the world protest over political inaction on climate change, we ask how engineers can prevent our planet’s temperature rising past the point of no return. Responding to this challenge means that engineering professionals, businesses and institutions must do things differently. They must say no say no to carbon intensive development,...
21/03/1926m 54s

#16 Designing green buildings

Do plants hold the key to making cities healthier? Could we design buildings that don’t take away green space, but create it? That don’t demand energy, but generate it? Rudi Scheuermann of consultant Arup thinks so. By employing a range of design techniques including cladding structures in living plant walls and engineering bioreactive facades that...
08/03/1921m 10s

#15 Engineering Elephants: Brittany Harris

Providing water and sanitation after a destructive military revolution in Peru; engineering with elephants in Kenya; and plunging into enormous pot holes in Uganda, the professional life of civil engineer Brittany Harris has been more eventful since she graduated in 2015 than many engineers’ experience throughout their entire working careers. Her efforts to bring sustainable...
22/02/1944m 24s

#14 The Bridge Man: Dr Robin Sham

How did a circus act inspire a revolutionary new construction method for Scotland’s first glass fibre reinforced polymer, cable stayed footbridge? Why did triumph and heartache underpin construction of the world’s most difficult cable stayed bridge, the Kap Shui Mun Bridge in Hong Kong? What did tunnel engineering teach designers about construction that enabled them...
08/02/1948m 29s

#13 Secrets of the Hoover Dam

Are there really bodies buried in the Hoover Dam? Was the hard hat really invented here in 1931? And why was it originally called Boulder Dam? In this podcast we explore and uncover the secrets of one of the greatest engineering projects ever built. The unique and formidable Hoover Dam. Learn about the “Double Ugly”,...
27/01/1937m 23s

#12 The Drone Boom

No-one knows how many penguins are in the Antarctic, but thanks to the use of drones this is set to change as scientists are using these unmanned aerial vehicles to fly over colonies of chinstrap, adelie and gentoos. And that is not all. Academics at the University of East Anglia are developing artificial intelligence that...
03/01/1928m 22s

# 11 The robots are here

Robots are not just coming. They are already here. From TyBot which can tie steel reinforcement into position on bridges, to the road marking wizard Little Erik, and robotic hot wire cutters that can create bespoke formwork in minutes, robots are able to transform the way that infrastructure and buildings are constructed. From accelerating work...
23/12/1833m 21s

#10 How China has automated road design

With 4.8 million kilometres of road China sits third in the world in terms of length of highways behind only the US and India. But its huge investment budget of £455 billion for new and improved highways could see it bypass these other world leaders. In 2018 alone it will add a further 5,000km presenting...
30/11/1820m 49s

#9 The race to create Hyperloop

Right now companies around the world are competing in a global race to prove that a new transport revolution is just a few years away. Using high speed transit through low pressure tubes speeds of 1100km/hr per hour are theoretically possible, bringing cities closer together than ever before. London to Edinburgh? 40minutes. Melbourne to Sydney?...
19/11/1824m 10s

#8 Cargotecture: scaling up shipping container construction

Floating along Copenhagen’s central waterway is a new proposition in affordable student accommodation, Urban Rigger. Each of these 745m2 units starts with a central concrete pontoon supporting nine steel shipping containers, which between them host 12 studio apartments for student accommodation. Launched as a solution to the student housing crisis in the Danish capital more...
30/10/1824m 24s

#7 The woman who built Trump Tower

The story of how Brooklyn born maths genius Barbara Res became head of construction for Trump Tower, despite deep-rooted sexism that sat at the heart of construction – and society in the 1970s and 1980s. Project owner Donald Trump modestly called Trump Tower “the most important project in the world” and to deliver it, he...
15/10/1840m 41s

#6 Minecraft: inspiring young engineers

The story of how schools, colleges and professional institutions are working with Minecraft Education Edition to inspire the next generation of young engineers. Engineering UK predicts that 124,000 new engineers are required every year in the UK to fill the gap created by retiring professionals and expanding demand. But it is only managing to attract...
01/10/1822m 15s

#5 Community Power: solar gains for villagers

How a small village in Buckinghamshire developed and delivered a clean, green, solar energy project that generates enough electricity to power over 1000 homes and uses its profits to benefit the local community. The 4.18MW solar power project in the village of Gawcott generates three times more electricity that this community of 280 properties requires....
19/09/1823m 11s

FIRE 4: New tech for a safer future

From apps that can tell building residents what to do in a fire, to smart psrinklers and localised external fire detection and suppression, new technologies have the potential to make buildings safer and evacuation faster. Developments in fire detection technology are also reducing the incidence of false alarms and reducing the likelihood of vandalism or...
28/08/1850m 15s

FIRE 3: In event of a fire use the lift

In the event of a fire do not use the lift, use the stairs. We have been conditioned to fear using an elevator to escape a fire. But one major London project is trying to change all that. At 22 Bishopsgate in London the designers have set in place a lift evacuation strategy that can cut...
21/08/1823m 43s

FIRE 2: Incentivising good practice

In the second of our series of podcasts examining fire safety in tall buildings we ask how can developers of tall buildings be incentivised to build in more resilience, and use some of the innovations already in the market to make buildings safer from fire? We interview Justin Francis of the Queensland Fire Service who...
14/08/1819m 43s

FIRE 1: Making buildings safer

Now is the time for change when it comes to fire safety in tall buildings. The catastrophic events at Grenfell Tower in London on 14 June 2017 have become the starting point in a drastic restructure of the system governing fire and safety in tall buildings. The post-Grenfell review of building regulations and fire safety...
07/08/1826m 18s

#4 The Rise of the Digital Twin

Digital twins are revolutionising business models for aviation, industry and engineering. These virtual replicants of assets enriched with real time and contextual data are giving more information about networks, systems, factories, equipment and buildings than ever before. Assets then become more cost effective to maintain, and efficient to operate with cloud based data storage enabling...
23/07/1829m 32s

#3 Worms and plastic: a waste treatment revolution

The UK in now at war with waste plastic creating major new opportunities for the waste industry. In January Prime Minister Theresa May published a new 25 year Environment Plan which pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Increasing recycling rates, using biodegradable materials and reusing plastic are all parts of the strategy...
09/07/1817m 19s

#2 Lost in spaces

Satellite based global positioning systems have revolutionised navigation outdoors and now software engineers are bringing the same innovation to indoor spaces.  Airports, with their expansive terminals, are a perfect testing ground for new digital navigation technology. In London, Gatwick airport is leading the way.  Designed by Pointr Labs the airport introduced 2000 Bluetooth beacons to...
25/06/1825m 14s

#1 The race against the rising tide

Despite increasing numbers of tidal storm surges attacking the UK coastline, engineers and coastal managers have kept flood events to a minimum. But pressure is mounting as sea levels rise accelerates. In this episode Engineering Matters explores the incredible work underway by the engineering community to keep the UK safe from floods and explores the...
09/06/1828m 57s
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