Female STEM individuals wanted!

Female STEM individuals wanted!

Because we don’t all wear hard hats and hi-visibility jackets!

I want to profile females within STEM industries on my blog and would really appreciate as wide a variety of profiles as possible: women who are studying, technicians in their first roles within a company, those who are going for chartership and those who are chartered and are perhaps already fulfilling the jobs they had hoped they might achieve.

Ultimately I hope this will help provide a mixture of role models for women, be them girls at school all the way through to women already established within the industry. If you are interested in being featured please contact me through facebook (www.facebook.com/beckyfordblogs) or tweet me (@beckyfordtweets) and we will start creating your profile.

Questions and topics I would like to cover:

What topics did you enjoy at school and why? Was it the experimenting in science, or the problem solving in maths? Did you want a job that combined different interests such as maths and art? What attributes of the subject interested you?

Is there a broader reason for your pursuit in STEM? Perhaps you have a humanitarian interest: Do you want to design cheap, flatpack housing solutions for refugees, or find clean water solutions for those suffering droughts? Or perhaps your parents endured a long commute and that got you interested in rail or road networks such as cross-rail?

Where is your workplace? Are you office based, do you work from home, are you in manufacturing, based on site, or perhaps a combination of these?

What current research and development interests, inspires or excites you?

What keeps you engaged in your work? Is it problem solving, client / customer relations, or is it that your work improves the lives of (hundreds of) individuals? Are there any examples you can give?

What is there about what you do that makes you more than simply an engineer or scientist? Are you a STEM ambassador, do you attend or talk at conferences, do you complete associated charity work, are you part of any policy or organisational groups such as within the ICE or IET?

Literally Green Buildings

Literally Green Buildings

The Bosco Verticale in Milan are literally green tower blocks. The two tower blocks are home to over 700 trees, of which there are 90 species of plant! There are sooo many benefits to this, but these are the key ones:

Passive solar / thermal design – A deciduous tree during the summer has thick foliage, providing shading. If designed well, and integrated into the overall building’s design the trees could reduce strong glare and overheating during the summer months. Equally during the winter months, when the weather tends to be more overcast the lack of leaves allows much more light and heat to enter a building. This ultimately reduces the need for lighting and air conditioning / heating.siting10

Water use – If there is a cohesive building wide strategy for water use, including biodegradable shower and cleaning products then…

So much more to read about…

Temporary Shelter

Temporary Shelter

I recently came across the IKEA refugee housing solution that appears to have been around for a couple of years. It got me thinking…

I have a great belief in social justice and in everyone taking part in helping to alleviate someone else’s suffering, in whatever way interests you. As a structural engineer I’d wondered if I could ever be involved in designing products such as these, so I thought I’d find out more about what other products are currently available. Below are those that I’ve so far come across.

SpaceMax modules start off the size of a steel carrier, however with clever design each side opens up creating a ceiling, floor and walls, tripling the internal space. Hard to explain, but they have a useful video on the webpage. The space within can then have bathroom, bedroom, kitchenette modules inserted (presumably these are transported within the remaining space in the container shape?).

Continue reading…

Old plastic bottles = new brick

Old plastic bottles = new brick

“Argentinian researcher Rosana Gaggino from the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET) and her team designed a process that recycles discarded plastic bottles turning them into construction “ecological bricks” (ladrillos ecológicos).” Interest Engineering link

Traditional concrete blocks use sand and cement as the main constituent parts. These blocks are simply created by replacing the sand with plastic particles from ground up bottles. Approximately 20 bottles are used for each brick.

Not only does the brick help reduce landfill, it’s insulation properties are 5 times better than those of conventional bricks, helping to also reduce the consumption of insulation materials. It is also lighter, weighing 1.4 kg per brick, rather than 2.4 kg per conventional brick. Lighter buildings means smaller foundations, which again saves material. Also, could this material mean we can build in sandier soils more easily?

PET is recycled in many areas within the UK (I know Leeds city council accepts it). It would be great to see if the UK will take up the production of this item.

I wonder what it’s structural properties are? Could this become a leading alternative construction material, competing alongside concrete blocks?

Other source


Fracking: Initial blog

Fracking: Initial blog

I live within an area where companies can buy licences to complete test fracking drills (without planning permission), so I thought I’d find out more about the industry to educate myself. Subsequently I have attended a few meetings and am now part of a local community campaign group (Frack free Leeds / Frack free LS26) as I have concerns about the method, and feel the government and local MP are not listening to the research currently available. I recommend a read of a blog written by another member of the group, Hayley, which details everything discussed at the initial meeting including many of the concerns individuals had. Please have a read of her blog.

As our research and campaign progresses I am sure I will blog more about the topic… watch this space!


Are the lights going out?

Are the lights going out?

I attended the IStructE lecture this evening on the local and national changes in energy production. I have summarised the content into general information about the national situation and then covered each of the main power generation methods. My thoughts and questions are in red.

Background information

  • The UK is on track to increase renewable electricity targets from 1.3% to 15% by 2020.
  • Companies have looked into carbon capture technologies to reduce the impact of existing power stations, however due to the Government not communicating effectively, and consistently (closing down coal power stations, changing subsidies, changing targets) these have been scrapped by the majority of energy companies. The lack of consistent policy, even within 8-10 months time frame means that companies don’t want to take financial risk in developing their technology or business. Does this mean renewable technology research and development isn’t taking place, and therefore we’re preventing future technologies from being created?
  • Power demand has dropped and is now the lowest it has been since 1995 (however as more use electric cars this will probably increase).

Read more…