Engineering Matters

Engineering Matters

By Reby Media

Investigating the engineering solutions behind the world’s biggest challenges

Episodes

#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”,...
28/01/1937m 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...
10/10/1822m 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...
08/09/1850m 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...
08/09/1823m 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...
08/09/1819m 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...
08/09/1826m 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...
08/09/1829m 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...
08/09/1817m 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...
08/09/1825m 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...
08/09/1828m 57s
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