100. A Centenary Celebration

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Mechanical Engineering at The University of Sheffield

A Centenary Celebration by Kat Taylor

100. A Centenary Celebration




#Mech100 2

100. A Centenary Celebration

Foreword. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering yet it may surprise you to learn that, as a young boy, I was not that keen to go to any university, let alone one in a city that I had never even been to. In fact, when I learned that it would require a 7 year association with a university to become an architect, I instantly changed my career plans to become an engineer instead; that only required 3 years! It will be no surprise to anyone who studied at the University of Sheffield to learn that I subsequently enjoyed my time there as an under graduate student so much that I switched from my Bachelor’s degree to a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, primarily to extend my time at an institution that I grew to admire and love. This book serves both as a delightful recollection for all those who, like me, studied at Sheffield but it also documents the early history of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the many great works that have been achieved there and also the people who have been associated with it and developed it into the world-class Department that it is. Kat Taylor documents the early history from the introduction of the first departments of engineering to Sheffield’s Firth College in the early 1880s through to the formation of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in its own right, 100 years ago. The Department has now grown to serve over 1,100 students with some 180 staff and the book highlights many of these inspirational staff, some of whom I remember well from my time as a student.

In addition to profiling many of the key people who have shaped the Department, this book highlights the evolution of the facilities at Sheffield and how these facilities are used today in the teaching of students. Of course, being a student at university involves more than just academic learning. Although it is much overused to refer to these student years as “formative”, they certainly do shape your future. My early career was firmly rooted in the world of power generation. Yes, I had a love of motor racing, but my career at that time was focussed on making electricity. One of my fellow Sheffield students, James Linton, worked for British based racing car manufacturer Reynard. James arranged for me to attend some Formula 3000 races and the rest, as they say, is history. Some 25 years later I stood on the grid of the Monaco Grand Prix with my business partner and confirmed Yorkshireman John Booth after taking our Dinnington based racing team into Formula 1 for the first time. Quite a career change!

over the years. It was a real pleasure for me to read and certainly made me think not only about fond memories but also about an excitement for the future. The book ends, quite naturally, with a look forwards. What will the next 100 years hold? If you are reading this book as a young boy or girl considering a future career in engineering, the world is out there waiting for you and the only question is whether you choose to play a part in what happens in the next 100 years. I certainly hope that you do and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Sheffield is certainly a great place to start. Graeme Lowdon President and Sporting Director, Manor Endurance Racing 1988 alumni

It will be no surprise to learn that I was very pleased to read in the book that Sheffield Formula Racing has a strong presence in Formula Student. The world of professional motor sport is extremely competitive, yet I have always been proud to see fellow Sheffield alumni rise through the ranks and I am very happy to say that I have raced all over the world with former students of the Department. This is a fabulous book that really captures the essence of the Department and how it has evolved

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Introduction. Page 6



The people of mech. Page 15-30

The early years. page 7-14


Facilities. Page 31-40


Teaching. Page 41-46



Our Research. Page 47-54

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Achievements. Page 65-74

Student activities. Page 55-64



The changing face of engineering. Page 75-88

Memories of Mech Page 89-94


The way forward. Page 95-97

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About the author. Page 98


Introduction Clegg, stated that, “the two branches are of the highest importance to the city... and will add to the dignity and importance of the University.” On 21st June 1917, along with the Departments of Civil, Electrical and Chemical Engineering, the Department of Mechanical Engineering broke away from the Sheffield Technical School to form the Faculty of Engineering, with Professor Ripper leading the way as the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s first Head of Department. The Department opened with a mere six academic staff and 6 students: all men. Now, 100 years later, we have 180 members of staff including over 60 academics and over 1,100 students! It has been a century of growth and constant change and the Department has shown itself to be adaptable to industrial needs as well as those of its students, particularly during the first and second World Wars.

In 1889 Professor William Ripper became the first professor of Mechanical Engineering. During his time, students were required to learn the theory of the day as well as practical skills in fitting, turning and pattern making.

In 1988, to meet the needs of the Faculty, the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering were merged for a short period of eight years, to form the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering before demerging again in 1996.

On Monday 28th November 1916, at a special meeting of the Applied Science Committee, it was decided, in the interests of the University that the Faculty of Applied Science should be divided into two faculties; the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Metallurgy. A report from the meeting, by Sir William

To this day, the Department works closely with industrial contacts to ensure our courses meet their requirements and that when the time comes for our students to join the world of work, that their skills are relevant and desirable.


100. A Centenary Celebration

Introduction of the first engineering departments in Firth College, 1847. Sheffield Technical School took over the converted grammar school building, now known as Sir Frederick Mappin Building in 1913.


Against this backdrop, the first departments of engineering were introduced in Sheffield’s Firth College. In the early 1880s Frederick Thorpe Mappin led a technical department within the college, known then as the Sheffield Technical School.


Mechanical Engineering became recognised as an organised study in its own right in 1847. From the beginning of the industrial revolution the main activity of a mechanical engineer was the conversion of natural energy sources into useful forms of mechanical energy. The construction of machines that could do this efficiently by producing a torque or force was a great problem for early engineers. Without the modern analytical methods and precision machine tools that we have today, construction problems could only be solved using empirical and intuitive methods. Once these problems had been solved, however, it was possible to improve machining processes and measuring techniques to evaluate technical effort in economic terms.

1. The early years. 100. A Centenary Celebration


The Department’s war work The First World War, 1914-1918 Flung into existence during the First World War, the Department of Mechanical Engineering soon found itself affected by the needs of the war. In its first year, the needs of the Military Authorities interfered with the numbers of students enrolling for third and fourth year courses and the Department saw a big decrease in enrolments.

service in the Air Defence Corps of the Royal Engineers and in the Wireless and Signalling sections of the Army and Navy. In several instances our students were selected for experimental and research work.

At the same time the government was offering financial support to injured officers to study. As a result, the Department launched an intensive training course, the first of its kind, for wounded and other soldiers who were incapacitated for further military service.

In addition to the Department’s ordinary educational work and the training of wounded officers, discharged soldiers and women, the manufacture of high grade inspection gauges for the Admiralty increased rapidly during that first year. There was also a large quantity of other machine work carried out for munitions purposes. Production of shells was discontinued in March 1918 to provide the additional accommodation required for training the wounded soldiers.

Many of the officers who passed through the course were later sought out by, and obtained good positions in, various government departments. Such was the demand for these kinds of trainees that they were often sent for by the Ministry of Munitions before the end of their training.

Workshops in the Department that had been used throughout the war on special Admiralty work were, in 1918, converted into a department for training in the higher grades of precision tool work with special reference to the increased demand for machine methods of production.

Professor William Ripper wrote in a report to the Faculty of engineering, “It is a pleasure to be able to record that in the experience of this Faculty... there has been evidence of a keen desire to take the fullest advantage of the opportunities provided [to the ex-servicemen] and an entire absence of idleness or slacking.”

As a consequence of the large numbers of exservicemen joining in the last couple of years of the war, and the necessity to provide them with advanced laboratory courses, work had to be conducted in relays with classes divided sometimes into as many as four separate sections in the same year.

Many students from the Department enlisted for military service and provided valuable technical 8

There was an urgency to proceed with refitting the labs to meet the requirements of the ex-servicemen signing up for our evening and weekend courses, as 100. A Centenary Celebration

well as other students. The new labs would include better facilities for research. After the war, the War Office and Board of Admiralty presented the Department with “a valuable and powerful German submarine engine, a German torpedo, a British tank and other examples of engines constructed by the Germans.” These additions to the laboratories proved to be of considerable use and formed the subject of study of many valuable theses produced by senior Mechanical Engineering students. During the First World War, the Department trained over 1000 men to make shells and, later, to produce aircraft and gun components.

Production of munitions during the First World War.



100. A Centenary Celebration

The Ford Cold Rolling Mill was installed in 1943

Mechanical Engineering student William R Souster (left) became president of the Student’s Union in 1945. Here he is demonstrating viscosity of fluids

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The Second World War, 1939-1945 The start of the Second World War saw a number of essential changes to the courses that the Department offered and the way our course were taught. In order to meet Government requirements, as laid out by the Technical Personnel Committee, modified degree courses were introduced to enable both Honours and Ordinary degree students to combine subjects from Mechanical and Civil Engineering that were most needed at the time. At the outset of the war, a course was introduced to prepare machine operators for war time industrial services. In 1940 there was a transformation of the activities in the Mechanical Engineering Workshops from three-shift training of Repetition Machinists to three-shift six day week production with female labour. Hundreds of munitions workers were trained at this time, many of them women. This commitment had a profound influence on the work of the Department. All available labour was directed at this channel so normal laboratory repair and replacement was at a standstill. All members of the Mechanical Engineering lecturing staff fully cooperated both in and out of term time with special courses in shop work and advanced courses in gauging. Due to the preoccupation of the Mechanical Engineering Workshops on war work including production work for the Ministry of Aircraft Production and Ministry of Supply, it was accepted that students could evidence that they had been 12

engaged on ‘practical work of a suitable kind and extent during vacation’ in lieu of attendance at the practical workshop classes normally held in connection with the courses in Engineering Manufacture. Due to the demand for Mechanical Engineers at that time, particularly for war production and for maintenance work with the services, the workshop courses associated with lectures in Engineering Manufacture were fully reincorporated into the curriculum in 1941. Before the outbreak of war, stocks of small tools and other stores used for classwork in the Mechanical Engineering workshops had been built up to a good level. However, during a period of extensive training of repetition machinists undertaken previous to production, these facilities were largely exhausted, so much so that it became increasingly difficult to teach students in Engineering Manufacture. To satisfy the request of the Government that state bursars should complete their degrees in two years and three months from their date of entry, rather than two years and nine months, the Faculty made temporary changes to its curriculum. This involved the provision of four terms during the calendar year and the continuation of classes during the summer vacation. The four year sandwich course and part time courses that were previously offered were temporarily discontinued and some limitations were imposed on the choice of subjects taken in the final year. 100. A Centenary Celebration

In 1941 special courses were also provided on radio maintenance to men of the Royal Air Force and civilians. These courses proved highly popular, with 132 enrolments. At the same time, a full time six month course was also introduced for the Higher National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering, which was attended by 15 students. In October 1944 the Ministry of Labour and National Service decided to allow students of scientific and technical subjects who entered the University in that year to spend two years and nine months (i.e. the full original three academic years) on their courses. This also allowed the reintroduction of the three term year. At the end of the war all of the peace-time courses were reintroduced.

Production of shell casings during the Second World War.


Stress analysis using a polariscope - 1967.

Tensile testing - 1967


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2. The people of Mech. 100. A Centenary Celebration


It’s all about the people

A snapshot of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2017

The Department of Mechanical Engineering started out in 1917 with one member of academic staff per student; six of each.

Mechanical Engineering

The department of mechanical engineering is the largest department in the faculty of engineering, and one of the biggest in the university.

Nowadays, with over 1100 students and 180 staff (more than 60 of whom are academic staff), the Department is thriving - a hive of different personalities, values and backgrounds.


180 members of staff make up the department



ic Academ

Throughout the century, many people have contributed to the Department’s success, many will be remembered by students for the impact they made, for the support they gave, the knowledge they shared. Likewise, many students will be long remembered for their ambition, their tenacity and drive, for the jokes they made in class, for their research discoveries, and just for being themselves.

l nica h c Te


Over the following pages you’ll read about the people who have led the Department through good times and bad, directed its research and shaped its teaching, but it’s not just the Heads of Department who have made the Department what it is today.

27.22 %

staff in the department are female

Over the last 100 years, the Department has seen thousands of people from all over the world come through its doors, some have left, others have not.


The department is truly international, with students from all over the world! 16

100. A Centenary Celebration

Professor William Ripper Head of Department 1917-1923 Professor William Ripper is remembered for his great services to technical education throughout his long career, particularly for his work in the training of mechanical engineers. He is also known for his important textbooks, Heat Engines, Steam Engine Theory and Practice, Machine Drawing and Design, and Practical Chemistry. He contributed a number of papers to the principal technical societies, including a paper on indicators which he read before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1899 and two others on cutting tools, written jointly with Mr. G. W. Burley, in 1913 and 1919. Professor Ripper began his career in his birth-town with an apprenticeship with the Plymouth Foundry and Engine Works Company. After two years there he became an apprentice in the works of Messrs. G. Y. Blair and Company in Stockton on Tees, and a year later he obtained a Queen’s Scholarship to the Exeter Training College for Teachers. When he was 21, he took the role of Assistant Head Master at Sheffield Central High School, and in 1880 he was made science master and organiser of evening classes. From there he became Assistant Professor of Engineering in the Firth College, and later became principal in 1889. In the same year he was also made Professor of Engineering. He continued to act in these capacities when Sheffield Technical School became independent of Firth College; in 1897 the two institutions were, however, merged with several others, into Sheffield University College, where 100. A Centenary Celebration

Professor Ripper was Professor of Engineering. When University College became the University of Sheffield in 1905, Professor Ripper continued to occupy the chair of engineering, and was also appointed Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science. Finally, when the Department of Mechanical Engineering was created in 1917, he became the first Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. In the same year he succeeded Mr. H. A. L. Fisher as vice-chancellor of the University, a position which he held for two years. Professor Ripper gave much to the University of Sheffield and worked constantly to keep technical education in touch with industry, something we continue to this day, therefore his most appreciated work at Sheffield was the founding of the Sheffield Trades Technical Societies in 1919. Professor Ripper received many honours in his lifetime, amongst which was that of Companion of Honour, in 1917, for his services as vice-chairman of the Sheffield Committee on Munitions. He was awarded the degree of D.Eng. by the University of Sheffield in 1908, and D.Sc. by the University of Bristol in 1912, in recognition of his scientific work. Following his retirement in 1923 he was made Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering and adviser in technology to the Applied Science Committee. 17

Professor Frederick Charles Lea Head of Department 1924-1936 Professor Frederick Charles Lea studied first at the Crewe Mechanics’ Institution before becoming a student at Owens College, Manchester, and, later, at the Royal College of Science in London.

and aero-engines with his investigations eventually leading to the development of the all-metal aircraft. In recognition of his work during the War, Professor Lea received an OBE.

Professor Lea received his practical training as an engineer during an apprenticeship at the Crewe works of the London and North Western Railway Company, after which he spent a few years in railway service, as an assistant of the chief engineer of the London and North Western Railway.

In 1924 Professor Lea was appointed Professor of Engineering and Dean of the Faculty at the University of Sheffield, until his retirement in 1936, when he was given the title of Emeritus Professor.

His teaching career began at the City and Guilds (Engineering) College in 1899, when he became chief assistant to Professor W. Cawthorn Unwin and Professor W. E. Dalby, and continued for nearly forty years at the universities of Birmingham and Sheffield. After twelve years, he was appointed to the engineering inspectorate of the Board of Education, where he spent two years. Professor Lea made numerous contributions to the technical literature of the subjects on which he was a recognised expert. His books on hydraulics ran into several editions and he wrote many papers on the properties of metals and structures. During the First World War, he became Chair of Civil Engineering in the University of Birmingham and served on various technical committees set up by the Government to assist the war effort. His principal research during that time was related to materials best suited to the construction of aircraft 18

100. A Centenary Celebration

Professor Lea became chairman of the Yorkshire branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1926 and was chairman of the Institution’s education committee for several years. Professor Lea was among those who most significantly enhanced the standard of technical education last century. In his presidential address to the Mechanicals he said “Remember the past and look to the future” and claimed that although inventive ability, workshop technique and practical success were necessary to succeed in mechanical engineering, development could not depend on them alone. He argued that theory and sound practice were not two distinct aspects of engineering, but, rightly understood, were complementary. He insisted that students should visit mines, iron and steel works, fabrication departments, and machine shops, and should see the final assembly of particular articles in the specialised works to gain an understanding of the whole process of converting raw materials into the finished article, and to have an appreciation of the economic and human problems involved.

Professor Herbert Walker Swift Head of Department 1936-1955 Professor Herbert Walker Swift, was noted throughout his life for his tremendous vitality and for the intensity of effort he brought to bear on everything he did. Research students and academic staff who worked with him were always fully aware of his presence; always commenting on the general alertness of his personality, his keen, analytical mind, and his frequent, rapidly delivered, pungent remarks. Swift intended to graduate in Mathematics at Cambridge and later in Engineering but his studies were interrupted by the First World War and, after serving with distinction, he returned to Cambridge to read Engineering and graduated from St John’s College in 1920. After two years working as Chief Engineer with William Hollins Ltd, Swift decided upon an academic career and moved to Leeds University as an assistant lecturer, later becoming Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Bradford Technical College. In 1924 he became Honorary Secretary of the Yorkshire branch of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and he served almost continuously as a member of the committee until 1936 when he was elected chairman. Eventually he was elected to council in 1946 until he retired in 1952. He was awarded the D.Sc. degree of London University in 1928 and in 1936 he was appointed to the Chair of Engineering at the University of Sheffield and 100. A Centenary Celebration

Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Professor Swift’s research contributions were in the field of applied mechanics, especially in the topics of lubrication and plasticity. Professor Swift was a strong advocate of the use of Mohr’s circle of stress, long before it became popular. His article on it in Engineering in 1926 and the variety of his applications could easily be reprinted today. In 1946 he published an analysis of three-dimensional stress and strain, which has not been surpassed. In the early 1930’s Professor Swift made a considerable contribution to the theory of stability in hydrodynamic lubrication, and wrote a classic paper on short centre belt-drives. At Sheffield he became interested in plasticity and many of his early investigations were supported and reported through M.I.R.A. and, later, through B.I.S.R.A. To this day, Professor Swift is best known for his contributions to the theory of deep drawing. Professor Swift was awarded a number of prizes: the Thomas Hawksley Gold Medal in 1929; a James Clayton prize in 1952 and in the same year a Whitworth prize. Despite various bouts of ill-health, he continued to lecture, do research work and closely direct his Department until he was finally compelled to retire in 1955. Upon retirement Professor Swift was made Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. 19

Professor James Playford Duncan Head of Department 1957-1966 Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Jim Duncan came from a family of automotive manufacturers. Duncan & Frazer Limited’s factory in Adelaide was one of Australia’s leading coach builders, including the manufacture of horse-drawn and electric trams. With the closure of the factory in 1927, Jim would never join the family business, instead, later choosing to pursue a career in engineering. He graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Adelaide in 1940 and started work at Richard Industries (later Crysler Australia) as a junior executive in training. He began in the tool room, working his way through the ranks to Press Shop Foreman, Superintendant of Aircraft Production, Development Engineer, Assistant to the General Manager and visited the USA and Canada on commission for the Commonwealth Government. One of his last projects before leaving the company in 1946 was on the manufacture of cockpit canopies for the Canberra Bomber. After 6 years in industry Jim returned to his old university for graduate work in physics and engineering, including early work on Computer Numerical Control of machine tools. During his time at the University of Adelaide, Jim developed and proved the mathematical model translating computer generated information into mechanical linear movement, Computer Numerical Control, or CNC as it’s known today.


100. A Centenary Celebration

He moved to the University of Manchester in the UK to study his PhD, and subsequently D.Sc. in 1964. He was appointed as Sheffield’s first post-war Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1956 shortly after the opening of a very substantial new wing along Broad Lane for Engineering, and a large increase in student numbers (beforehand the total first year intake for all three Engineering departments had been only 30!). At the same time he was determined to establish new research projects and raise the academic reputation of the Department. His own interest in Photoelasticity established a long standing departmental expertise continuing through his research student Brian Kenny (later Senior Lecturer) to Eann Paterson (subsequently Head of Department). Duncan was a very hospitable and encouraging leader, as well as being a capable amateur musician (flute and cello) who had met his pianist wife through music. After a sabbatical year at the University of British Columbia in 1965, he moved there for the rest of his career and retired in 1984.

Professor J Ken Royle Head of Department 1966-1981 A loyal Mancunian, Ken Royle graduated from what is now UMIST and acquired formative experience in aeronautics and hydraulics at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough in the post-war years. He then returned to UMIST and became an expert on non-linearity in servo-valves, rising to Senior Lecturer. In 1962 Ken published three patents; the first, a ‘Servo-controlled drive for machine tools and the like’. This invention relates to apparatus for driving a first object along a predetermined path in relation to a second object and is particularly applicable to the propulsion of the slides of machine tools along their slideways. The invention finds its principal uses in systems where the relative positions, velocity or acceleration (or any combination of the three), for between two objects, along a predetermined path, is required to be under control of a command signal of which a characteristic is variable according to the relative position, velocity or acceleration (or combination of the three) required of the two objects. Systems of this type, commonly called servo systems, present the difficulty that a driving mechanism having a quick response to a change of the command signal will tend to have a small range of driving action and conversely a driving mechanism having a large range of driving action will tend to have a slow response to a change of the command signal.

hydraulic valves in which there is relative movement between a valve member and a valve body, the movement being caused by the feeding of a pressure fluid supply to a chamber formed by cooperating parts of the valve body and the valve member. In 1964 he was appointed to Sheffield as the first professor in charge of thermo-fluids, and established significant research teams in both fluidics (including Bob Boucher) and electro-rheological fluids (supported by the Ministry of Defence). He became Head of Department in 1966 after the departure of Duncan. Soon afterwards the second chair was filled by David Newland at the age of 31, with expertise in dynamics and particularly in random vibrations. After Newland returned to Cambridge, David Hayhurst was appointed as Professor of Design and Manufacture. Ken was promoted to a personal chair in materials during this period, with impressive experience of industrial problems in Sheffield such as the vibration of circular saw blades. Ken Royle was an affable and hospitable leader with a wide range of interests, and led the department through a turbulent period of growth in the 1970s.

The second patent, published by Royle and Nellist, was a ‘Duplex driving mechanism’. The third was a ‘Hydraulic pressure control valve’, which relates to 100. A Centenary Celebration


Professor Keith Miller Head of Department - 1981-87 Keith Miller took an apprenticeship with Leyland Motors in 1948, during which he took ONC and HNC evening courses, leading to a scholarship to read Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College, London where he gained a First at a time when this was a considerable accolade. In 1957 he initiated the Imperial College expedition to the Karakoram.

Many international honours came his way, but the awards of honorary degrees from Imperial and Sheffield gave him a particular satisfaction. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and as a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers delivered the John Player Lecture in both 1991 and 2001.

Professor Miller began a part-time evening lectureship at Rugby College of Technology (195860), progressing to Amadu Bello University in Nigeria (1960-63), before joining Queen Mary College, London, where he combined his duties with a PhD in metal fatigue: the topic which would occupy the rest of his life.

In 1968, Professor Miller led the first of a series of expeditions to north-east Greenland, where he was badly injured after falling into a crevasse and had to be evacuated to Iceland. He developed radio-echo sounding techniques for measuring the depth of ice in glaciers, and used them on the VatnajĂśkull in Iceland in 1976-77. In 1975 he led a four-man team on the first north-south traverse of the Staunings Alps in Greenland; a hard and difficult journey of over 170 miles across isolated and heavily glaciated mountains.

He moved to Cambridge University in 1968, and began assembling the first of his several teams investigating many aspects of the fatigue problem. He was elected to a Fellowship at Trinity College in 1970, then in 1977 was appointed to a chair in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, where he served as Head of Department from 1981 until 1987 and remained until his retirement in 1997. At Sheffield he steered the department to become one of the leading centres of mechanical engineering in Britain, with a strong international reputation. He established the interdisciplinary Structural Integrity Research Institute of the University of Sheffield and founded the International Journal of Fatigue of Engineering Materials and Structures.


100. A Centenary Celebration

Perhaps the crowning moment of his exploration was his leadership of the 1980 Royal Geographical Society International Karakoram Project. This was a huge international scientific expedition with teams from many disciplines and countries, including China and Pakistan. His account, Continents in Collision (1982), transmits the flavour of the venture and some of the background political rumblings. The extensive scientific results were published in two volumes following post-expedition conferences in Britain and Pakistan. In recognition of his prodigious work he was awarded the Founder’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

Professor Bob Boucher Head of Department - 1987-92 Bob Boucher studied mechanical engineering at London’s Borough Polytechnic and completed his degree and PhD at the University of Nottingham. After a year as an ICI postdoctoral Fellow there, he moved to Belfast as a research fellow and later lecturer in mechanical engineering at Queen’s University. He came to The University of Sheffield in 1970 as a lecturer and later group head for fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. He was promoted to a personal chair in 1985 and two years later became head of department. He greatly improved its academic ratings, and by the early 1990s Sheffield was ranked in the top tier of UK mechanical engineering departments for both teaching and research. Always with an emphasis on the international dimension, he introduced the UK’s first engineering degree course with Japanese studies. He gained an international reputation for his research in the specialist field of fluidics, in which the flow of a fluid is manipulated to produce effects without the use of moving parts. His research found widespread applications in the oil, gas and nuclear industries. He also developed a technique for separating out ash and pyrites – sources of acid rain pollution – from pulverised coal, using a superconducting magnet. In the mid-1990s he railed against university funding cuts, complaining that “the stranglehold of government parsimony” could lead to “the UK’s withdrawal from international competition in science and engineering.” He also took exception to what he 100. A Centenary Celebration

saw as governmental restrictions on international students coming to Britain. Accusing the Labour government of “harbouring a distressing disregard for the views of the education sector,” he warned: “These wretched policies simply further impede our capacity to attract the best researchers, and UK plc will suffer in consequence.” He insisted that the education system should not be over-concentrated in London and the south. He was concerned about the improvement of quality in higher education, which led him to become Director of the Higher Education Quality Council and to serve on numerous similar committees. He left the University of Sheffield in 1995 to become Vice-Chancellor to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) but returned to the University of Sheffield in 2001 as ViceChancellor. In his own specialty of engineering he was a council member of the Royal Academy of Engineering and chairman of the Engineering Professors’ Conference. He was also a member of the board of the British Council, chairing a number of its specialist advisory groups. He was appointed CBE in 2001 for services to higher education and the engineering profession. After his retirement in 2007 he maintained his international connections as an adviser on higher education in Singapore and Japan.


Professor Rod Smith Head of Department - 1992-95 Rod Smith graduated from St John’s College, Oxford with a BA in Engineering Science in 1970, at the same time as completing an engineering apprenticeship with David Brown Corporation. He took his first research position in 1971 at Cambridge University before embarking on his PhD. Rod worked in a number of research and lecturing positions before joining the University of Sheffield in 1988 as Professor of Mechanical and Process Engineering. At Sheffield, Rod took on a three year term as Head of Department from 1992, from 1992 to 2000 he was warden of Stephenson Hall student accommodation, from 1993 to 2000 he was chairman of the Railway Research Centre. From 1995 to 2000 Rod was also Royal Academy of Engineering/British Rail Research Professor of Advanced Railway at Sheffield. For the decade 1990 to 2000, Rod acted as consultant to the Health and Safety Executive on materials and structures, including work on the Hillsborough inquiry, and later became consultant to the Board of British Rail and a member of British Rail Research and Technical Committee. In 1993 he became Chairman of the British Rail Crashworthiness Development Steering Group, in 1997 he became Chairman of AEA Technology Science and Engineering Committee, and from 1996 a member of the Japanese Railway Society. For two years from 2000, Rod was also Chairman of Railtrack Steering Committee Gauge Corner Cracking.


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In 2012, Rod was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department for Transport, providing independent advice to ministers, department management board and policy teams, and ensuring the veracity of science and engineering evidence. Throughout his career, Rod has authored approximately 350 published papers in the areas of fatigue and fracture mechanics, finite element stress analysis railway and environmental engineering as well as editing nine books: five on fatigue and fracture mechanics, one each on innovative teaching, engineering for crowd safety, railway engineering, and condition monitoring. From 1996 to 2005, Rod was also Editor in Chief of IMechE Proceedings Part F, Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit. Having spent most of his career focussing on rail research and building a reputation as a leading expert in the field, Rod has acted as expert witness in the majority of inquires and prosecutions arising from major UK railway accidents, since 1995, as well as many international accidents and incidents. Rod is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Institute of Materials and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers where he is also an elected member and has held the positions of elected Trustee, Vice President, Deputy President and President. In 2012 he received an honorary Doctor of Engineering from the University of Lincoln, and from the University of Sheffield in 2015, in the same year he was elected Honorary Fellow at Queen’s College, London.

Professor Geof Tomlinson Head of Department - 1995-99 Geof Tomlinson started learning about Solid Mechanics during his MSc at University of Aston in 1969. He later moved to the University of Salford where he undertook his PhD on Modal Properties of Complex Structures including Nonlinear Effects. After a brief stint working in industry, Geof started his university teaching career at Manchester University where he eventually became the Head of Mechanical Engineering. Geof worked in a number of roles including first Chair and Head of Division at various universities before he was invited by Sir Gareth Roberts to become Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield in 1995, where he would spend the rest of his career. In 1998 he established and became director of the Division of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield (now ranked number 3 in the UK) and in the same year created a new Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Materials Damping Technologies. The University of Sheffield now has two Rolls-Royce UTCs, making it one of the leading Universities in the UK in relation to Rolls-Royce UTCs. 2001 was a very busy year for Geof; after being awarded a DSc by the Victoria University of Manchester for his contribution to Nonlinear Dynamics, he was elected to a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Following that he established the Worldwide Universities Network with Sir Gareth 100. A Centenary Celebration

Roberts and the CEO David Pilsbury. At Sheffield he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) for External Affairs, created the Office of Corporate Partnerships, an Innovation Fellows Scheme, a New Route PhD programme and developed a strong platform of Knowledge Transfer activities via HEROBAC, HEIF, Objective One and Regional Development Agency (RDA) initiatives. At the same time he became the University of Sheffield representative in the White Rose Consortium, now seen as a leading exemplar of University regional collaboration. In 2003 he was appointed PVC for research, a role in which he was instrumental in a 10% increase in research awards on the previous year. His achievements at Sheffield were many and included working with Professor Keith Ridgway and Adrian Allen in 2002 to establish the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, the creation of the Kroto Research Institute in 2005 and the Nanoscience and Technology Centre in 2007. During his career, Geof published two books with contributions to a further four and 170 publications, successfully filed two patents, generated ÂŁ13.7M Research Income, spoke at 25 invited keynote/plenary lectures, and successfully supervised 26 PhDs and eight MSc students. In 2011, Geof received an OBE for his contributions to Technology.


Professor John Beynon Head of Department - 1999-2000 John Beynon’s first degree was in physical metallurgy, also the topic of his PhD, both from the Department of Engineering Materials at the University of Sheffield. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Ferrous Research in Düsseldorf, Germany, before taking up a lectureship in the Department of Engineering at Leicester University. He left Leicester for Sheffield to take up a Chair in Mechanical Engineering in 1995. Born on the Isle of Man, he spent much of his academic career at the University of Sheffield, where he held professorial positions in metallurgy and mechanical engineering, the latter including a period as Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1999 to 2000. For five years from 1995, John took on the role of Director of SIRIUS (Structural Integrity Research Institute of the University of Sheffield), created by Professor Keith Miller. He also helped set up IMMPETUS (Institute for Microstructural and Mechanical Processing: The University of Sheffield) with Professor Mike Sellars in Engineering Materials and Professor Derek Linkens in ACSE. John’s other research in Mechanical Engineering was in tribology, particularly as applied to railway track and rolling mill rolls. In 2001 John stepped down as Head and moved to the Department of Engineering Materials to take up the Posco Chair in Iron and Steel Technology. He left the 26

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University of Sheffield for Australia in 2005. John spent seven years as Dean of Engineering at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, before taking the role of Executive Dean of the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences in July 2012, John became the Executive Dean of Flinders University in Adelaide in July 2016. His research is industrially oriented, combining materials science, applied mechanics and computerbased modelling, and applied to manufacturing and structural integrity issues. He has published over 200 papers, edited several conference proceedings and co-authored a book on oxide scale behaviour in high temperature metal processing in 2010. He has served as President of the Australian Council of Engineering Deans and is Chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council for 2013-15. John is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering, of the Institute of Engineers, Australia, and of the UK-based Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. Since 2011 he has been annually listed by Engineers Australia as one of Australia’s 100 most influential engineers.

Professor Eann Patterson Head of Department - 2000-04 Eann Patterson joined the Royal Navy on leaving school and was sent to the University of Sheffield to study Mechanical Engineering in 1979. He graduated in 1982, with the Edgar Baildon Prize and the Mechanical Engineers’ Prize, and returned to the Royal Navy briefly before resigning and returning to Sheffield to study for a PhD in experimental mechanics. Subsequently, the development and application of experimental mechanics techniques in aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering and, most recently, nuclear engineering has been the focus of his research. He was appointed as a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering in Sheffield in 1985 and eventually became Head of Department in 2000. In the 1990s, Patterson’s research advanced along two tracks: computational modelling of natural and bioprosthetic heart valves involving fluidsolid interaction; and the development of digital photoelasticity for the automated measurement of strain fields in engineering components. The invention of the poleidoscope in collaboration with Jon Lesniak of Stressphotonics Inc. led to the award of the Zandman Prize from the Society of Experimental Mechanics. Patterson’s expertise in strain measurement has been used to advance understanding of material failure processes through detailed comparisons between measurements and predictions at the micro, meso and macroscales of material, component and structure scales in artefacts as diverse as osseointegrated dental prostheses to aircraft wings. Since 2000, he has led a series of European consortia involving universities, national labs and industrial organisations to develop 100. A Centenary Celebration

methodologies for the quantitative validation of computational mechanics models using measurement data with quantified uncertainties, which has led to the publication of a pre-standard. In 2001, Patterson succeeded Keith Miller as editor of the journal Fatigue and Fracture of Engineering Materials and Structures. He served in this role for five years before starting a ten-year term as editor of the Journal of Strain Analysis for Engineering Design published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. In 2004 Patterson moved to Michigan State University as Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering where he established the Energy and Automotive Research Laboratory with Professor Harold Schock and was a founding member of the Composite Vehicle Research Centre with Professor Gary Cloud. He is a fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and of the Society for Experimental Mechanics, from whom he also received the Frocht Prize in 2010. In addition to his current role at the University of Liverpool, nowadays Patterson is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the National Nuclear Laboratory, an Honorary Visiting Professor at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and a regular blogger on RealizeEngineering.Wordpress.com. In 2011, he was appointed to the A. A. Griffith Chair of Structural Materials and Mechanics at the University of Liverpool and awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for his work on the integration of computational and experimental mechanics. 27

Professor John Yates Head of Department - 2004-08 John Yates went to Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1977 to read Natural Sciences. Having become interested in fatigue and fracture through his tutor, G.C. Smith, he joined the School of Industrial Sciences at Cranfield Institute of Technology in 1981. There he undertook research into the fracture of offshore structural steels in a project associated with the failure of the Alexander Kielland oil rig. Upon graduating with an MSc by Research, John moved to Sheffield to study for a PhD under Keith Miller and Mike Brown. His work was sponsored by NEI Parsons, manufacturer of steam turbines for the electricity generation industry, and explored the nature of fatigue under the complex loading experienced by such machines. Several years of postdoctoral research followed, supported by the Admiralty Research Establishment and Rolls-Royce plc, before John took up a lectureship in 1991. He created a modular MSc in Structural Integrity that attracted a large number of full and part time students, and went on to lead a faculty-wide MSc(Res) programme which was one of the most successful of the original ESPRC MRes pilot scheme. John was promoted to a Readership in 1995 and a Personal Chair in 2000. He then served as Director of Learning and Teaching Development for the Faculty of Engineering before becoming Head of Department in 2004. He was a strong advocate of innovative, effective and professionally relevant teaching combined with world-class research and scholarship. Under his leadership the Department returned to the top of the national league tables for both research and teaching, 28

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student recruitment rose dramatically and the staff rated the department as one of the best places to work in the University. In 2008, John was honoured with the award of a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship. During his time as Head of Department, he had also been Director of the White Rose Centre for Excellence for the Teaching and Learning of Enterprise, linking the business and social enterprise teaching across the universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York. Since the late 1980s, John had built an international reputation for his research into fatigue and fracture and had served as Editor in Chief of the journal that Keith Miller had founded, Fatigue and Fracture of Engineering Structures and Materials. As well as making a contribution to the science of fatigue and fracture, his research had widespread application in the aerospace, defence, energy and transportation industries. His personal interest in all things related to cars and motorsport saw him working with many parts of the automotive industry, including the Motorsport Industry Association and the Canadian AUTO21 National Center of Excellence. John left the University of Sheffield in 2010 to become Professor of Computational Mechanics at the University of Manchester and Director of the Modelling and Simulation Centre, working closely with EdF. He retired in 2014 to pursue business and creative interests.

Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce Head of Department - 2008-15 Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce studied mechanical engineering as an undergraduate at Imperial College, London. In 1987 he was awarded a first class degree. Rob was sponsored during his degree by the National Nuclear Corporation, and worked on the construction of the Heysham 2 power station. He worked with the inspection teams in the very heart of the nuclear reactor core – like a giant Lego puzzle installing graphite bricks, keys, and restraint beams. He later did a PhD at Imperial College in the Tribology group where he worked on the lubrication of rolling bearings. During this time he learnt about the strange behaviour of the microscopically thin film of oil that surfaces in components and keeps all engineering machinery moving. Rob worked as a maintenance engineer offshore on the Rough field for British Gas Petroleum Production. The Rough field, just off the coast at Easington near Spurn Head, had the unique capability to produce gas during the winter months, and act as a storage reservoir in summer to supply gas during periods of peak demand. Not many engineers can claim to have pumped gas back into the North Sea! Rob was involved in a series of flow capacity trials, to determine the maximum possible production rate – pushing all the process machinery to its limits. In 1994 Rob joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield to take up a lectureship. Rob’s research is in tribology, which is the study of friction, lubrication and wear. He 100. A Centenary Celebration

created a research group in tribology, building up new experimental facilities and laboratories. In his work, he specialises in sensors for studying dry and lubricated contacts. He has developed ways of using ultrasound to measure the oil films that form inside machine components like bearings, seals, and piston rings. He has published extensively in this field with several prize-winning papers. The methods are used in industry to measure oil films in; passenger car engines, process plant seals, marine diesel engines, and giant wind turbine bearings. Rob was promoted to a personal chair in 2007 and was Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering from 2008 to 2014. He is the director and founder of the Leonardo Centre for Tribology, an interdisciplinary research centre specialising in tribology and surface engineering. He is editor of the Proceedings of IMechE part J Journal of Tribology. He is also Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Tribology, an EPSRC and industry funded centre that is training the next generations of PhD Students in tribology and surface engineering. In 2014 Rob was awarded the IMechE Donald Julius Groen Prize for Tribology. Rob is the holder of an EPSRC Advanced Career Fellowship funded by the EPSRC, in the field of TriboAcoustic Sensing.


Professor Neil Sims Head of Department - 2015-current Professor Neil Sims first came to the department as an undergraduate student in 1992. Like many undergraduates, he was captivated by Sheffield’s combination of the peak district landscape, the city lifestyle, and the staff within the department. He still recalls meeting (then Dr) Eann Patterson, who was admissions tutor at the time of his first visit to Sheffield. During his degree Neil was also heavily involved in the Students’ Union’s sailing club - this turned out to be an unexpected preparation for life as an academic: he was team captain in his second year, and was also involved in a successful funding bid to Sport England for a new fleet of boats for the team. For Neil’s cohort of students there was a new trend emerging, with a larger proportion of the cohort electing to study for a fourth year on the Integrated Masters (MEng) degree programme as part of the changing Professional Engineering accreditation requirements. Neil chose to study on the MEng programme and it was during his 4th year that he experienced research activities first-hand. His final year project was supervised by Dr Roger Stanway, and was subsequently published in the Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. His project was awarded the Ford Motor Company Prize by the Department. After graduating in 1996, Neil spent one year working as a graduate engineer for BP Chemicals in Swansea. However, his interests in research and the close 30

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links with Sheffield led him to return to study for a PhD in 1997. A combination of good fortune, fantastic mentoring and supervision (primarily by Dr Roger Stanway), and the determination that resulted from his meagre stipend compared to a BP salary, led to him completing his PhD in just 27 months. He started as a lecturer in January 2000. As an academic, Neil continued to investigate the behaviour of smart materials and their use for vibration control, following on from his PhD research. However he also became interested in machining dynamics, in particular the vibrations that arise during milling and turning. Here, his work was funded by an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, as well as a variety of EPSRC-funded projects in collaboration with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. Neil continues to work in these two research areas, as well as exploring other aspects of dynamics and vibration. His research publications have been recognised by three IMechE awards, along with the Journal of Sound and Vibration’s Doak Award in 2013. Neil was the Department’s Director of Research from 2009 to 2014, and became Head of Department in 2014.

3. Facilities 100. A Centenary Celebration


An ever-growing space It has never taken long for the Department of Mechanical Engineering to fill a space. Throughout its history, it has been bulging at the seams with the latest equipment and apparatus, increasing student numbers and a growing staff. This has resulted in a need for bigger teaching spaces, more study areas, bigger, better labs, more office space and whole new buildings. The University has always been quick to accommodate the Department’s needs and this has seen new developments and refurbishments popping up at least once each decade. Generous donations from alumni have also helped to ensure that our students have the best and latest equipment and accommodation. There have been sudden influxes over the years which have created an urgency for more space. After the First World War student numbers increased dramatically when funding was provided to ex-servicemen to study on courses such as ours. To meet the requirements of these extra

<< 32

Engineering campus map circa 1955 showing when each of the Faculty’s buildings were erected.

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students, as well as our usual numbers, and to provide better facilities for research, the Jonas Lab was opened in May 1923. Similarly, during the Second World War one of the machine shops was converted into the Structures Laboratory. In 1955, a £35,000 grant was awarded for extensions to the Mappin Building, the largest grant to that date for building projects in the University. Later still came the Broad Lane extension in 1955, and in 1959 the boiler house was converted into a two storey research lab for work in heat and fluid flow with a modern steam generator. Developments have continued at this pace to current times, and this decade alone has seen the construction of new buildings and labs such as the Pam Liversidge Building in 2013, and our shining new Diamond building in 2015 (pg 38-40). 2016 saw the decant of all staff into various other locations to allow for the complete redevelopment of our beloved Mappin Building (pg 97). Miss N Lea and Mrs M Hollingworth, daughters of Professor Lea with Dr J. M. Whittaker, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and Mr W. H. Higginbotham, Chairman of Edgar Allen & Co Ltd at the opening of the Lea Lab in 1954.


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1955 Broad Lane extension


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1959 - Replacement of equipment in the Ripper Lab

1959 - Royle Lab - Generating electricity using a steam turbine

Mechanical drawing office

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#Mech100 - A Centenary Celebration

Factory 2050, opened in December 2015

Changing technologies As technologies change, so must we. Over the years it has been necessary to build new facilities to house the latest cutting edge technology, In the 1930s it was hydraulics and internal combustion engines, which replaced our old steam engines. In the 1960s it was heat and fluid flow and we had to make space for the latest wind tunnel. In the 1980s we had to find a home for a robot to teach students the capabilities and limitations of industrial robots. Since then we’ve created new spaces to teach things like biomechanics and additive manufacturing. Since its earliest days, the University of Sheffield has been a world leader in metallurgy and engineering research, working closely with local industry to develop new manufacturing techniques and technologies. Keith Ridgway joined the Department as a lecturer in 1988, and became Professor of Design and Manufacture in 1997. At the close of the 20th century, he and local businessman Adrian Allen began to work with Boeing to apply Sheffield’s traditional expertise to new materials, focusing on machining research. The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing was established in 2001 as a £15 million collaboration between the University of Sheffield and aerospace giant Boeing, with support from Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund. In 2004, the AMRC moved into a purpose-built facility as the anchor tenant for the Advanced Manufacturing 100. A Centenary Celebration

Park (AMP). The centre grew rapidly and, after securing a further £10m funding, opened the 4,500m2 AMRC Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future in 2008. The original building underwent a major upgrade and expansion to create what is now the AMRC Design, Prototyping and Testing Centre. An 1,800m2 extension to the Factory of the Future was opened in 2012 to house an expanded Composite Centre. In December 2015, the AMRC launched its cutting edge Factory 2050, advanced manufacturing research facility. The revolutionary, glass-walled “reconfigurable factory” is home to the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group, which installed the cutting edge digital manufacturing and assembly technologies, advanced robotics, flexible automation, next generation man-machine interfaces and new programming and training tools that will drive its research. The AMRC enjoys a global reputation for helping companies overcome manufacturing problems and is a model for collaborative research involving universities, academics and industry worldwide. The wider AMRC group now includes the Knowledge Transfer Centre, AMRC Castings, the Medical AMRC, the National Metals Technology Centre, Industrial Doctorate Centre and the AMRC Training Centre, which opened its doors in January 2014 and is currently training over 500 employed-status apprentices from age 16; who have the chance to gain qualifications up to degree, doctorate and MBA level.


One of the state-of-the-art labs in the Diamond

The Diamond main atrium


Lecture theatres in the Diamond can accommodate up to 400 students

#Mech100 - A Centenary Celebration

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39 The Diamond opened in September 2015

The jewel in our crown In 2013, work began on The Diamond, a building for the future. This building was to be the University’s biggest ever investment in teaching and learning with 19 specialist engineering laboratories and over 5000 engineering students benefiting from the extra teaching space with total lecture theatre capacity of over 1600 spaces. The 19,500m2, six storey building constructed around a central atrium and with an exterior lattice frame made of anodised aluminium and glass in the iconic diamond design, was completed in time for the start of the 2015/16 term. In addition to its extensive lab spaces and teaching facilities, The Diamond boasts a library and IT services and student study spaces available for use by all students at the University. The large engineering labs, which include a semiconductor clean room, bioengineering lab, virtual reality suite, aerospace simulation lab, robotics arena, machine shop and chemical engineering pilot plant are shared by departments to encourage multidisciplinary learning and house modern, industry standard equipment. Students are not limited by traditional discipline boundaries, learning both advanced practical skills focused on employability as well as core scientific principles. The specialist engineering laboratories, project spaces and workshops offer our engineering students more practical learning opportunities.


#Mech100 - A Centenary Celebration

The Diamond was not only built for our engineering students, it was built by our engineering students; four University of Sheffield engineering graduates worked on the building, employed by structural engineering company, Arup. With the facilities in the Diamond, we are providing students with an engineering education that is distinctive to Sheffield, underpinned by research-led teaching and excellent technical staff.

In 2015/16...

159,90 22,030 hours of lab sessions

hours of lectures

106,837 people accessed The Diamond

4. Teaching. 100. A Centenary Celebration


The way we teach With the advent of the Information Age, the way we teach and the way students learn has changed somewhat in recent years.

Hands-on experience is just as important to engineering education as it ever was, but in addition to hand technical drawing classes, students will use computer-aided drawing packages, and other computational analysis techniques. Making and breaking, and doing experiments haven’t changed, although much of the equipment has modernised. As well as lectures and labs, students have the opportunity to work in multidisciplinary teams on real world problems and with industry experts, usually our own alumni, as mentors. 42

In Engineering You’re Hired, students will again work in multidisciplinary teams and bring their own discipline knowledge to collaboratively propose a design and a plan that proposes a solution to real life engineering obstacles to take to the “proof of concept” stage. A number of the projects have been suggested by industry, creating a current and relevant opportunity for students to apply their academic learning to industry. Students are mentored throughout the event by leading industry experts to whom they will eventually present a pitch for hypothetical funding of their project. Many students have developed the “soft” skills such as team working and leadership through these initiatives, which they have then been able to reference in job interviews. Other specialist modules like Railway Engineering and Additive Manufacturing are also well regarded by industry and have led directly to job offers from 100. A Centenary Celebration

the knowledge and experience gained through doing these courses. All programmes are accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers so the syllabus and assessments have to be to their high standard. Teaching in the Department of Mechanical Engineering is led by its research so, particularly in advanced modules, students can be learning about the very latest developments in engineering. Student feedback is very important when it comes to the continual review of teaching content and delivery and ensuring that aspects of the course that students really value are retained, such as our small-group tutorial system that, although staff-intensive, provides the tailored support that students need. Faculty of Engineering students and alumni working together at Global Engineering Challenge.


Lectures have evolved over the decades from a lecturer using a blackboard (“talk and chalk”), adding pictures and diagrams, first with slide projectors, then overhead projectors; with the students taking notes as they listened. Today we still have lectures, but they can be interactive, where students use special apps on their mobile phones to answer questions in class, with the results automatically displayed on the screen. This allows the lecturer to gauge understanding in real time and adjust their explanations. Lectures are likely to include video clips, more data, live problem solving, and be supplemented by online learning through interactive quizzes. We have “flipped classrooms” where the “lecture” is taken online prior to the class, and then the contact time is used more for interactive problem solving and examples and applications of the material.

Global Engineering Challenge brings together students from all Departments, who may not otherwise get to work together, to work on real life problems from a global perspective. This week-long project encourages students to think about the challenges they may face as professional engineers, how their decisions impact on the people around them and throughout the world and how they will promote and defend their projects. Working with students in other departments, just as they would in industry, teaches them to think outside their own discipline.

A typical 40 hour week in the first year

21 hrs are spent in private study

10 hrs are spent in lectures


3 hrs in tutorials

3 hrs lab classes

3 hrs

design activities

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Make a change One of the Department’s most popular modules, and one attended by students throughout the Faculty of Engineering, is Make a Change (also known as MEC414). In this module students work together in teams applying their theoretical engineering knowledge to find technical solutions to real world problems, provided by a member of the community with an illness or disability. Heavily influenced by what they learned in that module and their extra-curricular activities with Engineers Without Borders, students Kit Hughes, Andy Morgan and Jonny Charlesworth decided to take their learning further and create a business expanding on an idea borne out of the Make a Change module. “The Make a Change module was the ideal opportunity for us to put our toes in the water with this kind of thing.” says Kit, “Combined with hands on enterprise support from USE (University of Sheffield Enterprise), and encouragement from Prof Rodriguez-Falcon, we got the opportunity during our course to get to know a) how we would work together in a start-up environment, b) the foundational elements and tools to starting up a product-centred business, and c) to discover a vision for what has now become Exyo Design Ltd.” Exyo, short for Express Yourself, started with a core belief that if a person relies upon something for core function it should be accessible to them, and it should be a joy to use.


The complete lack of posterior walking aids suited to uneven terrain in the UK and developing countries for people with conditions such as cerebral palsy means that accessibility to un-paved areas is severely limited. Since graduating in 2014, the trio has been growing their network, testing their assumptions and refining their plans to develop the first truly off-road walking aid for people with cerebral palsy. The walker that Exyo have developed is much sturdier and more lightweight than conventional walking aids, making it more suitable for use on rough outdoor terrain. This allows users much more freedom to walk in the countryside and take part in sporting activities. In the UK this will allow children to access the playing field and play football with their classmates, it will enable people to access previously inaccessible places, like the Peak District. In many developing countries, because of the lack of infrastructure this could unlock the opportunity to walk anywhere independently. “The new walker will mean that all of our users will have more motivation to stay active due to the new level of accessibility that our walker brings.” says Andy. Exyo encourages a co-design culture within their user-base. Working with physios, product designers, and patients, they have developed a frame that their community of users will adapt to meet their needs and share innovations for others to follow. Exyo has gone from strength to strength since its inception. In 2015 they applied for the Inclusive Technology Prize and made it through to the semi100. A Centenary Celebration

finals for a £50,000 grant. Although they didn’t win the full grant, they did receive £2,000 which they used to travel to Malawi with Cerebral Palsy Africa and Motivation International where they carried out their own feasibility study. Kit says, “Despite the fact that we didn’t succeed in the competition, we did pivot toward a less social enterprise, more traditional commercial model for our business, due to the sustainability of efforts (or lack thereof) we saw in Malawi at the time. We then won an innovation voucher with Innovate UK and developed our prototype and business case to the point where we were successful in receiving the proof of concept programme award in January 2016. As a result of this Exyo has been working with Devices for Dignity, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Clinical Engineering Department, carrying out tests, design for manufacture and the medical device certification procedure, and now have a final prototype being manufactured with a local manufacturer. Around the same time, they did Pitch@Palace which has resulted in invaluable support from a handful of very experienced people in their sector, and ultimately, the ability to secure a patent. “We are currently seeking Angel investment, and putting together a research proposal with Devices for Dignity, members of CATCH (www.catch.org.uk/), and researchers from Sheffield Hallam University as co-applicants. We are also aiming to crowdfund the launch of the product as soon as we are able (current aim is June/July 2017).” says Kit.

>> Andy Morgan testing the latest model of the Exyo walking frame with the development team in 2017.


Exyo’s first client, Louis, trying out their first prototype model on the beach and, right, on rough terrain in 2015.

The Department offers a range of scholarships for home and international students, to support students through various aspects of their study, from covering tuition fees for the entirety of the course, to covering the costs of a Masters or PhD. Scholarship funding comes from a number of sources including generous alumni, industry and department.

James’ final year project is investigating whether pigment has an effect on the mechanical and geometrical properties of FDM parts. James breaks it down: “With the rise in popularity of desktop 3D printing, the capabilities of simple, low cost machines have improved dramatically, as has the range of materials available for them to print. FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) is by far the most common type of desktop 3D printer and some of these cheaper machines are matching the quality of the much pricier industrial ones. “Most of the new materials created for desktops have 46

James has always had an interest in additive manufacturing; he built his own 3D printer from scratch and is currently in the process of upgrading it. The printer has progressed from something incapable of printing simple calibration cubes, to a machine that can build parts with complex internal structures and free-moving assemblies. “This scholarship means that I will be able to continue working in an area that I am fascinated by,” says James, “it will enable me to carry on learning, while providing the opportunity for me to give back something to the University. After my PhD, I hope to carry on working in the additive manufacturing (AM) sector. Although most of the technologies for 3D printing have been around for about 30 years, the use of AM in industry is only just starting to take off. By doing this PhD, I will be in the ideal position to enter this exciting and dynamic industry.” 100. A Centenary Celebration

James Wingham is the recipient of the Mechanical Engineering Centenary Scholarship towards his PhD study. James is investigating whether pigment has any effect on the mechanical and geometrical properties of FDM parts.


As part of its centenary celebrations the Department announced the Mechanical Engineering Centenary Scholarship, a three year award that will enable an excellent applicant to undertake their PhD studies within the Department, with full tuition fees and an attractive tax-free stipend. Applicants were asked to submit their CV, two references, academic transcripts and a statement of purpose, which included the PhD project description and their motivation behind wanting to do it. The applicant who shone through all the competition and won the scholarship is 4th year student, James Wingham.

been developed solely for novelty purposes (things like flexible filaments / wanting to make a specific shade of pink etc.), with little consideration of the mechanical properties of the printed parts. With industry starting to use these desktop systems, there is a demand for greater knowledge of the mechanical and geometric properties of these materials.” James’ project is investigating whether the additives used to create the different colour filaments result in different part properties, even though the base material (type of plastic) is the same. His PhD project will be in powder polymer processes, determining what material properties make a material “good” or “bad” for 3D printing.


Supporting our students’ learning

5. Our research. 100. A Centenary Celebration


Our research The Department of Mechanical Engineering is internationally renowned for its high quality research with over 80 members of academic and research staff and more than 230 PhD students carrying out cuttingedge research spanning both fundamental science and industrial applications. Our research looks at some of today’s most challenging issues such as renewable energy, alternative fuels, strong and lightweight aerospace materials, advanced manufacturing and the mechanics of the human body.

Government £6,469,035

Charity £2,345,567

Other £1,234,958

Innovate UK £9,223,698

research funding received since electronic records began (1993) Industry £16,101,356

EU £21,987,156

Research Council UK (RCUK) £73,091,215


The Department applies its core strengths in mechanical engineering science addressing key challenges facing society to advance fundamental science, and to achieve stakeholder impact.

our top research grants of all time, by research theme:

Research activities in Mechanical Engineering are divided into six main themes (opposite), and within those themes a number of research groups and expert teams, which together encompass the wide range of research undertaken in the Department.

DYNAMICS - £9,863,878 was received in September 2015 for the laboratory for validation and verification to enable testing and research of engineering structures and systems from the component level to full scale, allowing testing across a range of environments previously inaccessible to academic research.

Each research area contains staff whose work incorporates both fundamental and applied engineering. Our focus is on scientific innovation with the ultimate goal of solving real-world problems, improving efficiency and reducing costs in industry. These themes are also closely linked to our teaching groups, with both our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes shaped to reflect the research strengths of our staff. 48

BIOMECHANICS - £4,810,491 was received in April 2013 for the multisim programme to develop and research a modelling framework focused on the human musculoskeletal system.

ENERGY - £1,856,291 was received from EPSRC in October 2016 for a UK carbon capture and storage research centre providing key research outputs and coordination activities to help the uk meet its future energy targets. MANUFACTURING - £892,226 was received in March 2015 to build a large scale high speed sintering machine capable of building 3d printed products at less than 1 second per part. SOLID MECHANICS - £914,234 was received in February 1999 for the Rolls-Royce university technology centre in Materials Damping Technology developing new materials that would absorb vibration in aero engine components. THERMOFLUIDS - £485,800 was received in Juine 2017 for research and development on Digital Nuclear Reactor Design aimed at developing solutions to accurately model reactor thermal hydraulics to aid the design and development, and evaluation of future reactor designs.

The department was rated amongst the top 5 in the uk for research excellence (research excellence framework 2014)





Energy generation

additive manufacturing

policy and analysis

ergonomics sustainable design

diagnosis, treatment and monitoring

active and semi-active control

Biomechanics-based In silico clinical trials

advanced damping techniques structural health monitoring

Personalised medicine

infrastructure and integration

uncertainty analysis


energy use

Medical devices

Nonlinear Structural Dynamics

the institute for in-silico medicine - insigneo

Laboratory for verififaction and validation

Solid Mechanics durability of engineering components and structures tribology composite materials stress analysis mechanics of materials

Energy 2050 low carbon combustion centre (LCCC) PaCT

centre of advanced additive manufacturing - adam

leonardo centre for tribology

composite systems innovations centre - csic

Human interactions group rail innovation and technology centre - ritc

Thermofluids aerodynamics combustion turbulence biofluids Computational fluid dynamics nuclear thermal hydraulics sheffield fluid Mechanics group




Biomechanics is a rapidly developing research theme within the Department, reflecting the growing number of mechanical engineers whose work sits at the interface between engineering and the life sciences. Many research activities in this area are based around the concept of ‘engineering for life’, using engineering techniques to develop innovative healthcare solutions. Key research themes within this group include biomechanics, computational modelling, medical image registration and mechanobiology.

The Dynamics Research Group conducts research into vibrations and the dynamics of structures. In the field of nonlinear dynamics, the main area of research is concerned with nonlinear system identification, currently centred on Bayesian methods, machine learning and optimisation-based approaches.

Energy 2050 is one of the UK’s largest energy research institutes based at the University of Sheffield. The institute brings together more than 120 academics, and nearly 300 PhD students from across all Faculties and over 20 departments in the University. The group goes beyond traditional research boundaries with several projects delivered in collaboration with industry partners, focused on competitiveness and de-risking large scale investment in new technologies both in the UK and internationally.

Much of the Biomechanics research within Mechanical Engineering is focused on computational modelling of human anatomy. Recent work has included modelling of the neuromusculoskeletal system to aid research in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis and modelling blood flow in diseased and treated vessels for better design and deployment of cardiovascular devices (stents, flow diverters or clot-retrievers). This work is supported by the University’s Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine, where simulation technologies are used to develop the medical technologies of the future. Another key research area is mechanobiology, examining the mechanical properties of cells and tissues, in particular, the effect of mechanical stimuli on biological response. Other research staff are applying fluid mechanics research to physiological systems, such as studying flow through the small intestine.


The group’s research into Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is mostly focused on machine learning and pattern recognition methods - an approach pioneered in Sheffield in collaboration with colleagues from Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. Both vibration-based and ultrasonic SHM methods are pursued within the group. Experimental verification and validation is a strong element of the SHM work. Many of the machine learning algorithms are based on biologically-inspired ideas, such as artificial neural networks and evolutionary algorithms. In terms of active and passive vibration control, the group’s main efforts have been in the development of novel material damping technologies. Technologies developed and extended within the group – like particle dampers – have been successfully adopted by aerospace industry. The group also has expertise in active control applied to manufacturing processes. In the area of smart materials, the group has considerable expertise in piezoelectric actuation, shape memory alloys and Electro- and MagnetoRheological; applications include automotive and railway damping systems and biomechanical systems.

100. A Centenary Celebration

The group covers all aspects of power generation, including carbon capture, utilisation and storage – where the Department leads the £6m UK CCS Research Centre; nuclear; and renewable energy technologies including wind energy, fuel cells, bioenergy, energy from waste, biomass, solar, and anaerobic digestion. One example project on renewables, was designing and implementing an offgrid energy project for a village in India. The group also works on aspects of energy use in buildings – such as low energy ventilation systems, transport – including low carbon aviation fuels, and infrastructure. The institute’s work is of growing importance given the need to move to a low carbon energy system, and has showcased their research at the UN Climate meetings in Paris in 2015, and Morocco in 2016. Energy 2050’s cross-cutting work complements activity in other research areas in the Department such as thermofluids and aerodynamics.

Manufacturing and Design

Solid Mechanics


The Manufacturing and Design group delivers research across a wide range of sectors, often through multi-disciplinary activities. The group’s academics have expertise in a number of disciplines, including mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, ergonomics and chemistry, and engage in research with experts from fields as diverse as biomechanics, psychology and biology.

The solid mechanics research area covers a very broad range of activity across the discipline. A unifying theme is the application of core science to solve real industrial problems. Work in the Leonardo Centre for Tribology focuses on building experimental tools for industrial friction, wear, and lubrication problems with applications across industrial sectors. This theme also incorporates the Department’s research for the railway sector within the MERail group, which studies maintenance, durability, and lifecycle issues for railway infrastructure, particularly wheels and railway track.

The Thermofluids group conducts research in energy, aerodynamics and fundamental fluid mechanics. In the area of aerodynamics, the group’s research focuses on efficient aerodynamic design to reduce aircraft fuel consumption, improving wind turbine blade efficiency, shock control, drag reduction and development of advanced modelling and meshing methodology and tools. Research topics include active flow control, laminar flow wings, blended wing body aircraft, low Reynolds number micro air vehicles, and adaptive and Hex meshing techniques.

Research in manufacturing technology focuses on additive manufacturing, composites and machining and spans a wide range of technology readiness levels from fundamental to applied research. This includes a number of activities with the University’s multi-million pound Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. Design activities include close interaction with the University’s Institute for in silico Medicine (INSIGNEO). Much of the group’s research is published in high quality journals and is valued by industry across many sectors including aerospace, medical devices, automotive, consumer products etc. Our labs are home to world class manufacturing and testing facilities; in order to facilitate an open approach to collaborative research that enriches our activities. Our facilities are located in a variety of labs, each with complementary equipment and expertise that help to push the boundaries of technology forward. We believe that the most productive research emanates from the fusion of expertise from different disciplines. The group’s research spans many different departments, disciplines and sectors, often in projects that are inter-disciplinary in nature.

The experimental mechanics group are developing a wide range of experimental and practical tools for assessing failures and damage in solid structures. Research combines extensive experimental work with detailed numerical modelling to produce solutions that can be applied in industrial circumstances. The human interactions group work closely with industry and other stakeholders to improve the design of consumer, healthcare and sports products, while the wind turbine transmissions group is developing new tools and techniques for improving reliability and understanding maintenance requirements for the offshore wind industry. The computer aided engineering group develop advanced computer methods and predictive tools to find solutions to industrial problems. Their research is focused on advanced computational analyses of nonlinear structures and innovative aerospace designs through the advancement of numerical tools. #Mech100 - A Centenary Celebration

A developing theme within the group is nuclear engineering, focusing on thermal hydraulics, with researchers working closely with the nuclear industry to ensure improved safety and efficiency within the currently deployed reactors, as well as in new generation reactor concepts. Fundamental fluid mechanics research covers flow instability and transition, fractals, unsteady turbulence, drag reduction and multi-scale/multi-phase flows. The group develops and uses advanced computational approaches which are backed up with measurements using advanced technologies PIV, LDA, hot-film/wire in wind tunnels and water loop facilities. The energy related apsects of the Thermofluids group also support the work in Energy 2050, this research focuses on water pipelines technologies (leak detection, flow metering and smart fluids) and renewable energy technologies.


100 years of research The Department’s earliest research focussed on steam, steam engines and boilers. Most Mechanical Engineers will recognise Professor Ripper’s little red book, aptly titled Steam, which was first published in 1889. Ripper’s research on the theme continued throughout his career at Sheffield paving the way for later railway research. In the 1950s/60s, Professor Bill Tuplin’s love of the steam locomotive came from a fear that the automobile would one day kill the British countryside. His observations on resonant vibrations were included in a paper by H.J. Andrews on stresses in locomotive coupling and connecting rods. After a period of quiet, rail research was resurrected by Professor Rod Smith in the late 1980s and fully reignited in 1991 when ‘the wrong kind of snow’ greatly disrupted British railways with Rod being asked to join an enquiry about the operation of the railway in snow conditions. Rod travelled to Japan, where he had had contacts for many years, to find out how they dealt with the problem. This, and his cooperation on a British Rail Committee of people outside the industry who advised on research directions and spend, led to Rod receiving a grant to set up the Advanced Railway Research Centre at Sheffield (ARRC). Rail research has since moved on again as the needs of the industry have changed over the decades. As transport hubs world-wide have frequently been the subject of terrorist attack, focus has shifted towards rail security. Designing resilience to such attacks is a vital component in minimising disruption but must 52

be achieved without compromising public access or creating a fortress environment. Research has been undertaken by Dr David Fletcher and his team into material response to blast loading, and the potential for blast containment in rail vehicles and stations. Passenger safety is another concern that has been addressed by the team at Sheffield who have been looking at the platform-train interface with the aim to design for faster and safer passenger movement. And of course, protecting the environment is something that is becoming ever more important. Railway network simulation is being undertaken for optimisation of timetables regarding energy use. The basic models are now being extended to include energy storage for reduction of peaks in energy demand, and to understand the impact on passengers of such network optimisations. As railways increasingly move to electrical rather than diesel propulsion, mechanical aspects of overhead line electrification systems are being studied by combining dynamics modelling of the line to pantograph contact with understanding of material degradation. Another theme that has spanned the century is Solid Mechanics, taking us from fractures in steel and plastics to fractures in human bones. In the 1930s, 40s and 50s Professor Swift was renowned for his research on lubrication and wear (Tribology), which remains an important part of our research, with Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce of the Leonardo 100. A Centenary Celebration

Tribology Centre now using ultrasound to measure the lubricant film in machine components in all kinds of machines and applications; rolling bearings, car engine main bearings, hydro-electric power station thrust pads, and marine diesel engines. Other Leonardo academics are applying tribological models to such diverse applications as human skin friction and shoe grip. In the 1960s Professor Duncan and Brian Kenny started looking at photelasticity for stress analysis and in the 1980s this work was continued by Professor Eann Patterson looking at load and stress distribution with Dr Rachel Tomlinson now taking the reins and working on projects supported by EPSRC ROPA, Airbus UK, Rolls-Royce plc, SNECMA (Paris), and the Defence Research Agency. Rachel develops and uses optical instruments to measure strain in a wide range of applications, such as particulate reinforced materials, automotive glass, and aircraft components. In the 1970’s Professor Keith Miller and Mike Brown began their research into fracture mechanics at Sheffield and established the Structural Integrity Research Institute at the University of Sheffield. When Norman Watts wrote his paper on ‘the Sheffield Knee Prosthesis’ in 1974, little did he know that an international biomechanics research centre would be found thriving in the department 40 years later. Led by Professor Marco Viceconti, Insigneo was formed in 2012 and coordinates 140 academics and clinicians from a multiplicity of disciplines who collaborate to improve health outcomes by developing subject-

>> Daniel Ura, PhD student, assessing the friction between tennis shoes and playing surfaces.


The Laboratory for Verification and Validation will be built on the second phase of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Park.

specific computer models able to predict ‘biomarkers’ – measures of physiology that can support a clinical decision – which are difficult or impossible to obtain directly. These advanced computer simulations can then be used directly in clinical practice to improve diagnosis and optimise treatment, offering a path to a more personalised medicine.

research facility for the testing of large engineering structures under realistic environmental and dynamic conditions, helping to validate the computer simulation models used in the engineering design process. It will be larger and more versatile than any facility of its kind currently available for open academic and industrial use.

Dynamics research has a slightly more recent history in the Department. The Dynamics Research Group (DRG) was brought to Sheffield from Manchester University in 1995 by Professor Geof Tomlinson where he had one of the biggest dynamics groups in the country. The DRG focused on structural and nonlinear dynamics, structural health monitoring and damping technologies and worked with a range of companies such as Rolls-Royce, British Aerospace, Airbus, Qinetiq, MoD, VSEL, and Fiat on topics ranging from Nuclear Submarines, the latest Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, automotive shock absorbers and noise/vibration suppression in cars, health monitoring of large structures such as bridges and offshore platforms, fan blades for gas turbines (jet engines), smart materials and structures and development of new materials for absorbing energy. The 2003 Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Damping Technologies was a jewel in the Department’s crown.

A modular environmental chamber in the laboratory will be able to control temperature, humidity and wind speed as well as simulate rain. The ability to test in realistic conditions at full scale will pave the way for engineers to create lighter, greener, safer structures. The laboratory will offer significant benefits across a range of industrial sectors including energy, aerospace, automotive, renewables and medical engineering. It will drive forward collaborative research with industry and cement Sheffield’s position as a world leader in structural dynamics.

With the DRG still going strong funding was agreed in 2016 to develop the Laboratory for Verification and Validation (LVV), which is part funded by the EPSRC and by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The LVV will create a world-leading

In 2010 Dr Patrick Smith took the first tentative step into additive manufacturing with his research into applied inkjet printing, but it wasn’t until October 2011 when a team of three academics came to the Department from Loughborough University that

100. A Centenary Celebration

More recent fields of research, such as energy and additive manufacturing, may not be traceable back to our roots, but are likely to be an important part of our next hundred years and beyond. With manufacturers constantly striving for more streamline processes, Additive Manufacturing is fast becoming the technology of the future.


this was solidified. This was formally recognised when the Centre for Additive Manufacturing (AdAM) was approved by the University in early 2013 (led by Mechanical Engineering and covering several departments). Additive Manufacturing is expected to become an important part of the Department’s research in the coming years because it has the ability to produce complex shapes and geometries without a big cost increase, meaning we can make products and components that perform better (e.g. lightweighting or streamlining) or simply look better. It also translates across multiple industry sectors from aerospace to medical, with the things we learn from one area having the potential to impact on lots of others. In the future we will see more use of multiple and functional materials, where we can start to make products do things they’ve never done before! Energy is an issue that has been building for many years, culminating with the 2008 Climate Change Act that introduced a 2050 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels. This imposes ever-greater constraints and obligations to power generators and energy users. There are also growing concerns over pollutant emissions in general, and not just greenhouse gases, as can be seen, for example, by the recent concerns over diesel engine particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions. Professor Chris Wilson from the Department of Mechanical Engineering was working with Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, then at the University of Leeds, now in Sheffield, to start the Low Carbon Combustion Centre (LCCC) in 2004. The LCCC provides a range of combustion and fuel injection 54

facilities covering the entire carbon combustion cycle: from alternative fuels, combustion systems to post combustion capture and possible utilisation. LCCC works closely with Rolls-Royce and Airbus in the UK and the European fuels research community. The group has a particular specialisation in the measurement and modelling of the thermal stability of any proposed fuel for the aviation sector, a performance parameter which is crucial to realise the potential CO2 emissions reductions associated with novel engine architecture such as Very High Bypass Ration Turbofans. Energy 2050 is one of the UK’s largest energy research institutes, brought to Sheffield by Professor Pourkashanian in 2015 with research covering energy generation, use and demand, infrastructure and integration and energy policy. In Mechanical Engineering, Energy 2050 works on diverse projects such as portable air-breathing fuel cell systems and virtual reality energy system simulation tools. The team aims to create a tool for future zero emission power generation systems that combines the flexibility of conventional process modelling software with the sophistication of computational fluid dynamics modelling, and package it in a virtual reality environment. The tool will be able to simulate the operation of a power plant in a virtual environment in order to investigate the integration of new technologies to the power plant, to optimise the control of the plant performance under high renewable penetration conditions and to improve power plant staff training and education. 3D printed parts on the Voxeljet VX200 high speed sintering machine.


6. Student activities. 100. A Centenary Celebration


Mechanical Engineering Society

“From the students’ perspective the Society was to provide a social framework within the Department but it was also to provide a platform for ‘getting to know’ the real world of engineering better through talks, visits and a closer link to the local branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.” The Society was also plugging a very significant gap in the way the year groups tended not to integrate. Fast forward a decade to the first female president of Mech Soc, Jane Kirby. When it came to the annual ball, Jane’s year decided that they wanted to up the ante 56

Nowadays, the Society still holds regular socials, including trips abroad and other events to integrate the year groups. Current president, Georgia Kenyon, says, “We are planning a coffee morning this term whereby the older students will be able to answer any questions the younger years have and give support if they are under high pressure from coursework or exam deadlines. Some fourth years wish to give a talk about writing effective applications for graduate jobs and placements and provide accounts of their experiences in applying for jobs.” A key aim of the Society now is to provide for every member. With this in mind, they have created the role of Social Inclusions Officer to organise events that all members can attend and enjoy. The Society now uses social media to share things related to their course, jobs and placements, this is also a great way for them to promote their socials and ensure high rates of participation. Due to low turn out at guest lectures, the Society has started to move away from this kind of activity. The Mech Soc ball, however, is still as popular as ever, with tickets being sold out each year. #Mech100 - A Centenary Celebration

Programme of events for the launch of the Mechanical Engineering Society in 1977. Jane Stephens, nee Kirby (holding the sign) was the first female president of Mechanical Engineering Society in 1986.


Alumnus Rob Fisher was one of the founding members and explains that the formation of the Society was part of a shift in attitudes as to how the degree courses were run and a move to a more holistic approach to creating engineers rather than simply teaching engineering. “There was a feeling that a much more open dialogue between students and the Department would be helped by having an active forum outside the academic timetable,” says Rob.

and move towards live bands and bigger attendance. “This was a definite leap of faith but our strategy of telling the first years that it was the pinnacle of the social calendar and the must attend event of the year seemed to work and the numbers were massively increased that year.” says Jane. “I also had to give an after dinner speech (which I did not look forward to). Picking the brains of various friends to help write it made all the difference. All very good learning for later life.”


The Mechanical Engineering Society, or Mech Soc as it’s known now, was the first society to be set up within the Department. The society was founded by a small group of five students in 1977 with around 30 members. The society received an inaugural address on 20th October from Professor Ken Royle, head of Department at the time, and an inspiring talk from Professor Keith Miller. On the 26th October and 9th November, the society held works visits giving members the opportunity to go down a deep coal mine and a tour of the British Steel plant.

MechSoc at Freshers Week

The renowned Mech Soc ball

2016 trip to Budapest

The Society on a Sheffield night out

#Mech100 - A Centenary Celebration


Sheffield Formula Racing Like many of the staff and students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Sheffield Formula Racing co-founders Marissa Bole (now a Programme Manager for Project ONE, the Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains F1 Hypercar), and Joshua Peckett (now a Race Engineer for Manor F1 Team), have a keen interest in the motorsports and automotive industries. They said “We knew that to successfully secure a position in motorsports we’d need a competitive edge over the other applicants. The opportunity to manage, design, manufacture and present a single seat racing car at the Formula Student Event at Silverstone seemed like the perfect fit, so in 2009 we secured some initial funding through an external sponsor, iSport International, and the University of Sheffield’s Alumni Foundation to start the team. With the full time support and guidance of academic Dr Tom Slatter we were able to appoint a team of 40 from 150 applicants which, after many of the trials and tribulations a new start-up experiences, building the chassis out of newspaper and wood to get going, then went on to become the University’s first successful entry to the competition”. The team, which is split into five design groups, now has 48 members, the majority of whom are from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. It is managed by three senior leadership roles: the Team Principal; Technical Director; and Manufacturing Director. Each of the design groups has a Team Leader who manages that area of the car and helps to ensure that all sections integrate perfectly together. There are also secondary positions available for members to take on in addition to their design roles. These roles cover 58

areas such as sponsorship management, leading the cost and business events at competition and being responsible for all marketing activities. These are often taken on by team members in their second year, allowing them to develop their leadership skills on a small scale before taking on a Design Team Leader role in their third or fourth year. 1st year students from the Faculty of Engineering are invited to apply to the team in their first couple of weeks at university and go through a rigorous application process. All applicants, normally around 80 students, are invited to lab visits, giving them an opportunity to learn about different areas of the car before being asked to submit a short technical report on a topic set by the team. This is to test their ability to research an area likely to be unfamiliar to them and sets the level of commitment expected of new recruits. Approximately 40 students are selected to progress to the next stage based on their attendance and engagement at the lab visits and their mark in the technical report. The selected students are split into groups where they work together over a couple of weeks to produce a business proposal with costings and marketing strategies to present back to the team at the end of the selection process. The final 10 – 15 students are then selected to join the team based on their performance over the entire selection process. Sheffield Formula Racing is supported by a number of external companies and research departments who help both with funding and the manufacture of the car. Their senior partner is Meggitt PLC who has supported the team for the last four years, providing 100. A Centenary Celebration

them with guidance in the fields of composite design, marketing, and the static business event as well as providing placement and graduate opportunities for team members. Additional financial support comes from the University Alumni Fund and outreach activities. The team also receives manufacturing support from the AMRC, Mercury Centre, Composite Systems Innovation Centre and AdAM. Current Team Principal Isabel Brown is primarily focused on ensuring the smooth running of the team and providing support to all team members. “This year I have placed a large focus on helping the team to become more organised in their approach to all tasks and ensuring we are laying good foundations for future years.” says Isabel. “One way I have approached this is through introducing progress trackers that allow individual team members to track which activities they have completed for the design and manufacture of their parts and highlight the areas that are causing issues.” The team have had much success at Formula Student over the years, progressing from 62nd to 38th in the opening seasons and going on to record a best place finish of 37th overall in 2012. Notable achievements also include a second place finish in the costing event. Although reliability has hindered the team at the more recent competitions, they now have a fantastic platform to build upon. The experience gained through the process means they will join an already impressive list of alumni now with companies such as Jaguar Landrover, Ford, Aston Martin, McLaren and Rolls-Royce to name but a few.




2012. 100. A Centenary Celebration



2010. 59

Shell Eco-marathon is a unique competition that challenges students around the world to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient car. The competition dates back to 1939 when Shell Oil Company employees in the USA made a friendly wager over who could travel furthest on the same amount of fuel. Since then it has expanded to two more continents, includes many energy types and sparks passionate debate around the future of energy and mobility.

The team has been given two large seed funds from the Faculty of Engineering and Shell as well as Departmental funding from Mechanical Engineering and Automated Control Systems Engineering in order to get started on the manufacture of their car, however, they anticipate that their car may be slightly over budget so they were also very grateful to receive some additional support from an alumni donor.


The project has allowed students to apply concepts that they have learnt in lectures on a self-directed project, in addition, team members develop a range of new skills that employers say are vital: teamwork, leadership, and creativity. David says, “Team members have learnt about the design process in lectures and, as they are implementing it in a real-life project, it starts to make more sense.” Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce is the academic advisor for the team and is excited to watch the team develop: “It is great to see the Eco-marathon team working with such enthusiasm and the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie. This is an excellent way for the students to bring the material they have studied in their degree courses to life. There is no better way to learn than by solving the real problems that arise when designing a competition ready car.”

100. A Centenary Celebration

Epoxy putty is applied to a polystyrene mould of the car body.

Students sanding the polystyrene mould after the epoxy putty has been applied.


In 2015, final year Mechanical Engineering student Abdelkhafe Kawafi and Aerospace student Janith Petangoda set up a team to design and build an electric battery powered car to be entered into the 2018 competition. The 20 member team, Sheffield Eco Motorsports, is open to all engineering departments and they are currently represented by students from Mechanical, Automated Control and Systems, Electrical and Electronic, and Aerospace. This diversity gives students an opportunity to appreciate exactly what each engineering discipline does and the limitations and strengths of each, a quality that will be useful to those who are pursuing a career in industry.

“Our long-term goal is to become more of a research team than typical student led activity. Many members of the team intend to go on to do a PhD and have chosen to be part of the team as it lets them innovate and create rather than being constrained by a mark scheme. Even in our primitive design, there are things that are entirely innovative.” Says team leader David Scott. “Once we have built the first iteration of our car, we intend to contact specific researchers and try and integrate some of the IP at the University in our designs. Space and resources are very tight and so to ensure the long-term efficacy, we must prove academic value for the project, rather than just value to the students who participate in it.”


Shell Eco Marathon


The team set about producing a novel design, and eventually settled for a flying-wing – an aircraft with no tail. Possessing an interesting problem, and being surrounded by students, enthusiasm was never lacking. The original team of around 5, quickly grew close to 30. After about 8 months of sketching, drawing and calculating, design work was finished and manufacturing started in summer 2013. The design concept was novel and not tried before in the context

Two problems faced the team – money and space. ANSYS were quick to offer a small starting sponsorship, followed by the Sheffield University alumni fund. The fuselage, propeller and other bits were being built in a large room, but to build the wings more money and space was needed. When Professor Stephen Beck spotted some students sanding away at a fuselage and asked what it was all about, it was not hard to convince the university to provide further help with finance and temporary space. The wings were finished over a fun summer, where work often started at 9am and finished at 3am.

Team assisted take off at Volaticus’ first competition in 2014 at Lasham Airfield. Volaticus ready for take off in the 2016 competition.


Human powered flight has been around for a while, but progress in this area is slow given the difficulty of sustaining flight using human muscle alone. From a design perspective this implies long wings, a very lightweight structure, and a very powerful and skilled pilot. For this reason, HPA’s are not practical. The two remaining Kremer prizes require an aircraft that is fast, practical and manoeuvrable. It was clear that copying an already existing design concept was not going to do the job.

of human powered flight. It involved a complex wing pivoting mechanism, much like a hang-glider but with unimaginably long wings. The handling characteristics of this aircraft were simply not known and no one in the team had experience with this. The idea was presented to Bill Brookes, the world’s authority at the time in flex-wings – the closest thing to Volaticus. He was excited to hear this and was quick to invite the team to fly in one of his micro-lights to try out the handling and give technical advice.


Sheffield’s Human Powered Aircraft (HPA) project was born out of the dream of a small group of students of building a flying machine. Apart from just flying, there was a strong sense of also doing something that somehow would contribute to the pool of new (and good) engineering ideas. The Kremer Prize is a prestigious prize set by Royal Aeronautical Society to a team who achieves a preestablished flying task. The last time a prize was claimed was 1984. Since then nobody has been able to claim the remaining two. This was motivation enough for the original team to get started designing their Human Powered Aircraft: Volaticus.

The aircraft had a first assisted flight in the summer of 2014. Since then it has been all hands on deck to achieve fully sustained flight under human power alone, but there are still a lot of hurdles to go through. The team currently comprises 20 to 30 students each year, from engineering and other disciplines across the University. As the Department goes through a centenary, the team is working hard to improve all the structures of the aircraft; to make it more lightweight, but also safe. 100. A Centenary Celebration


Railway Challenge

The aim is to build a miniature (10¼ inch gauge) locomotive to compete in a series of tasks in the competition, e.g. a traction challenge, a ride comfort challenge and a business presentation.

Unfortunately an element of the bogie design was to be their downfall, after a successful test run, persistent derailment issues on tight curves within the station sidings, believed to be caused by the large wheelbase, despite filling the locomotive with sandbags to prevent it, meant that the team was unable to compete on safety grounds. The competition was a huge learning curve and the experience gained was invaluable, standing the team in very good stead for the 2016 competition when they achieved the fastest time in the maintainability


According to Martin, “Our initial failed attempt in 2014 meant that we had a first iteration of designs which we could revisit and improve for our 2015 attempt when we actually built a locomotive to compete. Our 2016 loco was much more advanced, with much greater potential, but control system issues thwarted competition success and caused us to miss several of the dynamic events, leaving us in 7th place overall.” 2017 Team Principal Luke Clover says, “Over the years we have learnt lots from the project, whether that’s specific technical aspects or interpersonal and communication skills, even business techniques. Although we have yet to compete in all challenges, every year the team members come out with a great experience and increased knowledge. This has made our university studies more interesting and useful and has pushed us to be more adventurous with the project each year. In 2017 we plan to build on the fundamentally good design of 2016, improving reliability and adding an innovative mechanical regeneration system. Hopefully we will be able to compete in all challenges this year and show the full potential of our team and loco. We are also increasing our sponsorship and partnerships with industry with the aim to become financially self sufficient to guarantee that future Sheffield students will have access to this project and provide students with links to engineers in industry.

100. A Centenary Celebration

Team members dealing with derailment issues in the 2015 competition. RCAS 2016 Railway Challenge entry in which the team achieved the fastest time in the maintainability challenge.


After a failed attempt in 2014 the team entered their first competition in 2015 where they finished 6th out of eight entrants to the competition, and 4th in the business presentation. The team received unanimous praise from the judges and other teams, whose members were either final year group project students, postgraduate students or graduates working within the rail industry.

challenge, removing and replacing a wheel set in only 7 minutes.


Railway Challenge at Sheffield (RCAS) is a studentled activity primarily composed of Mechanical Engineering undergraduates in their first or second year. The team was formed in 2013 by PhD student Martin Evans and the group now has over 20 members from all levels of undergraduate study.

UAV Challenge

In 2014, Mechanical Engineering student Yun Hang Cho and Aerospace student Jonathan Eyre formulated a plan to enter a Sheffield team into the 2015 competition. In their first year, the team achieved 3rd place overall and 2nd in the design, manufacturing and business categories - a great first attempt! They competed against 14 other teams from universities around the country, developing an autonomous carbon fibre quadcopter with image recognition technology to identify the drop zone and precisely deliver packages without any human interaction. In their second year, the team built on their 2015 model to produce a fully carbon fibre hexacopter

The team, which has involved over 60 students and staff since it has been running, receives funding from a variety of sources, including from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, local industry such as Arco, CSIC, Floreon, GeoMapper and Teamwork.com as well as support from generous alumni. “Being associated with the project for the last three years, I have been able to watch it grow from strength to strength.” says 2015 team leader, Lewis Parsons. “It has been incredibly rewarding being able to contribute to the exciting forthcoming field of UAV delivery. Every year the team is able to generate great new ideas as well as working to refine and develop their existing designs. I hope the project will continue to expand and evolve and I can’t wait to see what advancements the team make over the coming years.”

2015 Team Leader Lewis Parsons working on the final touches of their UAV. Team members complete their final checks on the 2016 entry.


The competition allows students to apply knowledge from the course to a real world design challenge, which they can follow through from design to manufacture then finally testing and delivery. It also allows team members to develop a range of skills not covered in their courses, including; composite material production, advanced electronics and programming flight control and image recognition systems. Of course the project also gives students a unique experience of the rapidly growing industry of UAV flight and parcel delivery.

with a unique octaganol arm structure and aerial optical character recognition capable of searching for a desired target on the ground and came away with first prize for the most viable business proposition.


The Institute of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) Unmanned Aircraft Systems Challenge is an annual event that challenges undergraduate teams to design and build an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capable of autonomously transporting a payload of fragile medical supplies over a two kilometre course in under two minutes.

For the 2017 competition, the team have already built a smaller hexacopter for the purpose of testing the autopilot and image recognition systems separately to the manufacture of the main UAV. Current team leader Neil Harrison explains, “This allows different sub-teams to work in parallel and will prevent any delays in testing. With the purchase of a 3D printer, the team can quickly develop their own custom parts for the UAV. This will provide students an excellent opportunity to develop their CAD skills and use tools that will soon become essential in industry.” 100. A Centenary Celebration


Leaders of the future

Only a small number of places are available each year for second year engineering undergraduates who show the necessary aptitudes and potential. Applicants are judged against seven key attributes around which the programme has been designed.

Students also attend an annual bootcamp where they will be mentored by industrial partners, hear talks on various aspects of leadership and take part in leadership and presentation activities. John Daly is Aviation Director at John Daly Consultants Ltd and took part in the 2016 SELA bootcamp as an industrial mentor. “I shall remember the weekend for the collective hospitality and friendly attitude from all 64

Jake Brown is a Mechanical Engineering member of the 2014 inaugural cohort and is now completing his year in industry at Rolls-Royce. At the first SELA graduation in 2016 Jake said, “Completing the two group projects as part of the SELA scheme has given me valuable team working skills that I am now applying in my day to day job. The SELA programme played a big part in me securing the Engineering Leaders Scholarship from the Royal Academy of Engineering. This scholarship has allowed me to secure a placement in Singapore and the skills I’ve developed in SELA will allow me to make the most of this opportunity.” “I wanted to become a member of SELA as soon as I heard of it,” says Igor Gawron, a Mechanical Engineering student in the first year of the SELA programme. “I have always been interested in the topics of leadership and communication, and have been involved in several projects like organising TEDx or MUN conferences prior to coming to university. Getting involved with SELA came as a perfect opportunity to further develop my non-technical skills. “Not only does SELA give training in crucial leadership skills, but also inspires, helps develop and fulfil a personal vision. It also allows driven individuals to meet and work together, creating a unique community.” 100. A Centenary Celebration

Mechanical Engineering inaugural cohort members: L-R Yun-Hang Cho, Patrick Downey, Sam Cheney, Mike Portnell and Jake Brown. Mechanical Engineering student Devan Darshane and Professor Neil Hopkinson during De Bono’s ‘six thinking hats’ exercise.


Industry involvement is central to the programme. Industry partners provide motivational speakers, summer work placements, deliver skills training and offer mentoring to the SELA cohort. Involvement in the programme offers substantial benefits for industry, helping companies to identify exceptional candidates and starting their leadership education early.

I engaged with.” says Jonh. “The students are a credit to the University and clearly will be successful in their chosen careers.”


Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA) is an extracurricular leadership scheme covering all the engineering disciplines. Inspired by the acclaimed Gordon Leadership Programme at MIT, SELA was set up in 2014 by Professor Neil Hopkinson in the Department of Mechanical Engineering with the aim to address the UK skills gap in engineering by equipping graduates to take on leadership roles and create a positive impact in research and industry.

7. Our achievements. 100. A Centenary Celebration


Changing the world we live in

There has been everything from scholarships, grants, fellowships and best papers to OBEs, CBEs and KBEs, and we have the opportunity to share a few of those successes over the coming pages, One such example is 1966 alumnus Ed Gallagher who was awarded a CBE in 2001 for services to the environment. During his university studies, Ed’s aim was to be able to design and build cars or aeroplanes. “At the time there was little consideration of the environment in engineering and the land and rivers were seen as a source of raw material and a place to dump waste.” says Ed, “Energy was to be provided at the cheapest cost, irrespective of other considerations, to keep industry internationally competitive. “Sheffield’s Mechanical Engineering course was ahead of its time in many ways - integrating aspects of civil, electrical and electronic engineering with economics, accountancy and law to broaden our understanding of the world of work - but it wasn’t really until 20 years later that the environment became a factor in decision making and design. “But when that time came, having had that broader background helped, as did my time in the Sixties in 66

Sheffield when I saw at first hand sublime countryside and the polluting effects of heavy industry alongside each other.” After graduation, Ed embarked on what would be a long and productive career spanning five decades in the manufacturing and environmental sectors, becoming First Chief Executive of the Environment Agency in 1995 and Founding Chair of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures in 2009 which raised £27 million over a five year period for a consortium of northern universities, including Sheffield, for research into low carbon technologies. Ed was a Board Member in the early days of ECUS Ltd, a spin off from the University of Sheffield, a successful independent environmental consultancy now in its 29th year. In 2008 he authored The Gallagher Review of the Indirect Effects of Biofuel Production, commissioned by the Department of Transport. His recommendations in this report were accepted and implemented by the UK and the EU. On the award of his CBE, Ed says, “My first reaction was one of pride and surprise, quickly followed by a recognition that this was more about the achievements of the Environment Agency and its staff than me. On later reflection I was pleased that the Honours System had recognised that the Environment mattered - there had been very few honours previously - and it was now mainstream.”

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Over the past 100 years, staff, students and alumni from the Department of Mechanical Engineering have gone on to greatness in whatever they do. They change lives, they solve problems, they make a difference.

1966 alumnus Ed Gallagher being awarded a CBE for services to the environment in 2001.

commercialise the technology with a focus on the entertainment and gaming industry. She believes that her technology will be best controlled using a smart phone app, so when she saw an advert from Google offering scholarships for Android app development using Udacity programs she couldn’t resist applying and won a scholarship for an initial 3-month course.

In our daily routine we all interact with a variety of computers, for example, smart phones, tablets, laptops, smart watches, etc. This interaction is mainly done with our sense of sight and hearing, and less with our sense of touch. “What many companies are looking for, is to implement our sense of touch to make this interaction more efficient and enjoyable. This is done through vibrations.” says Anna.

“When I applied for the scholarship I had to provide my educational background and submit an essay stating the reasons I should be chosen and what I will do if I manage to learn app development.” Anna explains. “In the first phase only 14% of the applicants got chosen and I was one of them! In this phase we are all enrolled in an online beginner course, developing app layouts, in Udacity. In our cohort, we have several tutors and lecture slides from Google, to help us program and develop our first app. In three months time the top 1%, will get another scholarship to continue with a Nanodegree program, which is equivalent to an MSc.”

Anna designed an easily programmable wearable device able to transmit vibrations. “I began with a sensitivity study, to see what areas of the body are more sensitive and where I can position it effectively. I found that the most sensitive area was the lower part of the arm. Once I found a circuit board able to transmit haptic vibrations I 3D-printed the device making it resemble a smart watch. I then tested different vibration patterns, to see which and how many of them are differentiable and then at what point are they learnable.” All this while the user was occupied with other tasks (the moment the vibrations were sent, the participants were playing an online game or listening to music). With very promising preliminary results, Anna decided to move forward and attempt to

Anna testing the different vibrations on her watch.

Anna has been working to commercialise her device and has even developed an attractive brand.


Anna Georgiadou is a PhD student in the Department looking at modelling dexterity and characterising manipulation. During her MSc with us, Anna designed a haptic device (using sense of touch) to see how people perceive different types of vibrations, particularly to see if people can understand the context of a message only through vibrations.


Let’s get ready to rumble!

Dr Beverley Gibbs has mentored Anna throughout the project, “Anna is an enthusiastic student and a passionate engineer. In her MSc project she prototyped a haptic device and completed a segmentation, targeting and positioning analysis to think seriously about potential users and their preferences. This commitment to innovative technology and its practical implementation is a hallmark of her approach, and I look forward to seeing her develop this during the course of her doctoral research.”

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Engineering goes to Parliament It’s not every day that a young engineer has the opportunity to present their research in Parliament. The STEM for BRITAIN Awards (previously SET for Britain) are made on the basis of the very best research and results by an early-stage or early-career researcher together with their ability to communicate their work to a lay audience. 3 poster exhibitions end with a reception and prize-giving with approximately 35% of successful applicants selected to present their work in Parliament. Alistair John, a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering was one of the lucky few invited to present his research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges in Parliament in March 2016.

His work investigates the use of a novel design shaping method to produce blades with increased efficiency. A 3D geometry design approach is used where the blade shape is controlled by a Free-FormDeformation grid comprising of a series of points that can be moved to deform the geometry. Advanced computational fluid dynamics simulation allows the 68

Alistair was shortlisted from around five hundred applicants to appear in Parliament and his poster was judged against dozens of scientists’ research in the only national competition of its kind. “I was honoured to have the opportunity to promote my research to members of parliament and leading industrial figures,” says Alistair, “One of the aims of the event was to showcase the work of promising early-career researchers and raise awareness of the importance of investment in UK research. It felt good to be able to contribute to that. “One of the main things I learnt was how to explain my work to people outside my field, who might not have a science based degree. I had to write the abstract, create the poster and explain my work in a way that anyone could understand.” President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Professor Dame Ann Dowling, said “Engineers make a difference in all our lives. They create solutions to the issues we face as individuals and as a society. SET for Britain provides a great opportunity for these innovators to connect with the decision makers in Parliament, to showcase the superb engineering research being carried out in the UK, and the new technologies that can help improve our lives and drive new growth in our industries. From new materials that ensure safe drinking water to novel uses of 3D printing for efficient energy storage, the research 100. A Centenary Celebration

exhibited at SET for Britain provides a glimpse of the talent at work in the UK today.” Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, “This annual competition is an important date in the Parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. “These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.” Alistair in front of his poster at the SET for Britain Awards.


Alistair’s research is into the aerodynamic design of the rotating compressor blades that form the first section of a jet engine. The blade tip speeds can be in excess of 1000mph and complex conditions with supersonic flow features mean that they are very challenging to design. The blades must be capable of compressing the incoming air against the natural direction of flow while maximising aerodynamic efficiency to minimise losses and fuel burn.

assessment of hundreds of designs, and optimisation techniques are used to search for an optimal blade shape.

Speaking out for engineering

The competition was originally established in 1964 to challenge young engineers to prove they could communicate effectively, which is still an important area in developing engineers today. The competition provides young engineers with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and develop their verbal and visual presentation skills and competence in public speaking. Competitors must give an oral presentation on a subject relating to mechanical engineering, with 90% of the total marks being awarded for presentation skills and 10% for technical content. Area heats are judged by a panel of professionals chosen by the local committee and a winner and runner-up from each heat is awarded a place in the Yorkshire Region Final in April. The Department of Mechanical Engineering had not one, but two finalists in the 2016 competition. Rasan Chandra, a fourth year MEng, and Diyana Tasron, a PhD student were both put through to the final at the Yorkshire Regional Dinner on 15th April 2016 where the winners were announced. Rasan was named the overall winner with his talk on abradables in jet engines. Rasan breaks it down: “An abradable is a material which is sprayed along the circumference of the inner casing of an aero engine. During a flight, the compressor and turbine

blades tend to expand in diameter which could strike the casing and cause damage to the blades. The abradable acts as a sacrificial layer so that when the compressor or turbine blade strikes it, the blades do not wear out. Instead, this material wears out and it is much cheaper to replace compared to replacing blades. The material also acts as a seal which reduces air flow around the blades, hence, reducing engine fuel consumption. Using a scaled test rig, I was investigating how this material actually wears out by taking images of the debris ejecting from the surface of the material as the blade strikes it.” The competition is open to any Affiliate or Associate members of the IMechE, who have been professionally registered for less than 10 years. So Rasan and Diyana were not only up against other students, but people with years of industry experience as well, which makes this an even greater achievement.


The Speak out for Engineering competition is organised annually by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ local volunteer groups.

L-R: Peter Ingham, IMechE Yorkshire Regional Chairman; Richard Folkson, IMechE President; Rasan Chandra; John Bohan, Senior Director of Elevation Recruitment.

Rasan says, “When I saw the email sent out by the Department on behalf of the South Yorkshire IMechE it drew my interest as it was a public speaking competition about anything engineering related so I saw this as an opportunity to talk about my final year project. “When I was announced the winner, I was surprised and delighted at the same time. This gave me a boost of confidence to present my viva and I will use it to pursue public speaking at higher levels.”

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A breath of fresh air The prestigious Deni Greene Award is presented annually to an Australian who has made a significant contribution in the areas of sustainability, ethical investment, energy, environmental and social responsibility, or environmental communication. Past winners of the award include 350.org Australia campaigns director Charlie Wood; energy efficiency pioneer Alan Pears; and leading sustainable architecture academic Dominique Hes. In 2016 the award was won by a 1995 alumnus of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, Phil Wilkinson.

“This combined with my lack of particular passion about any specific industry in my fourth year led me to organising a year’s working holiday in Australia,” says Phil. Phil left the UK straight after graduation and headed to the other side of the world for what he intended to be a year. “I had heard a lot of great things from mates that had travelled here so thought I’d combine some more travel with some work experience if possible and give me some time to reflect on what I wanted to do,” says Phil.


Phil then worked in several roles from CAD draughtsman to project engineer before eventually realising that his heart was not in the technical side of engineering, which was when a Technical Manager position arose with the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH). So Phil went from working in the industry, to working on it. Phil has remained at AIRAH for the past 14 years in a variety of high-profile roles, including his current position as executive manager in government relations and technical services. Each role has enabled him to apply his enthusiasm and expertise to a raft of sustainability-related projects. Whether it’s through his work on best-practice guides, magazine articles, conferences or workshops, Phil has been a tireless champion of sustainability and energy efficiency within Heating, Ventilation Air conditioning and Refrigeration and represents AIRAH on several highprofile sustainability-related committees and bodies within the built environment industry.

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“It was such a pleasant surprise when I took the call telling me I’d won the award,” says Phil. “The Deni Greene Award has been won by some of the country’s leading sustainability advocates, so I’m honoured to be recognised in the same illustrious company. The award is testament to the fine work done by AIRAH to promote safe, sustainable, healthy and comfortable built environments – something I’m passionate about. “When I came to Australia I was really worried that I wasn’t doing the same as everyone else, but a Research Associate in the Department, Richard Burguetti, said, ‘just because one path is right for everyone else it doesn’t mean it’s right for you’. This has stuck with me throughout my career and given me the courage to be a bit different.”

Phil Wilkinson (centre), Government Relations and Technical Services, AIRAH.


After studying for a year at the University of Lyon as part of his Sheffield course in what Phil describes as ‘a tough gig’, he was close to giving up because of the language difficulty. He stuck it out, though, and the year overseas opened his eyes to the possibility of working abroad.

While staying with family on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Phil went door-knocking in search of engineering work experience. “In my fourth year at Sheffield I had taken an elective on air conditioning and it was a topic I enjoyed so thought this could be a useful pitch for me to get a foot in the door. A director at one of the firms (from Leeds) called me and interviewed me. They were interested in my CAD experience from university and offered me a job there and then,” Phil remembers.

A hat-trick for Tribology

“There are two kinds of sound plane waves: longitudinal (like the sound of our voice when we speak), or shear,” Michele explains, “At the Leonardo Centre we use these types of sound waves at ultrasonic frequencies to measure oil properties and performances in the engines.”

Shear waves have been used since the 1950s to measure oil properties, but no one has ever run this measurement in-situ in an engine before. “When a shear sound wave is incident to the boundary of two very different materials (in our case steel and oil) the wave is totally reflected back without interacting at all with the fluid. This phenomenon is called acoustic mismatch. I have overcome this by interposing a layer of material between the oil and the metal. The material thickness and mechanical properties are

Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce, is very excited about Michele’s device, “Friction in an engine depends directly on the viscosity of the oil. So knowing what the viscosity is, and changing an oil, not just at regular intervals, but when the oil is exhausted has important applications for industry. A key feature of Michele’s method is that it can be miniaturised and made at low cost - low enough to potentially install on every car.” Michele’s work has been selected to be published in Springer Theses. Internationally top-ranked research institutes select their best thesis annually for publication in this series. Nominated and endorsed by two recognised specialists, each thesis is chosen for its scientific excellence and impact on research.

Michele monitoring ultrasonic vibrations using his miniaturised sensors. Michele applies a thin layer of oil to the sensor.


Michele’s device produces an ultrasonic vibration using miniaturised sensors. “This vibration travels through the component until it is incident to the solid-oil boundary where part of the wave is reflected back, like an echo, and the reflection is the function of the fluid properties. When a shear wave is used, the reflection is the function of viscosity.” says Michelle.

chosen carefully to excite resonance at the solidmatching layer-oil interface. The mechanism is very similar to what happens in the lenses of conventional glasses. The lenses of the glasses have a non-reflective layer that allows light to be transmitted to our eyes limiting undesired reflections. With this layer, therefore, the ultrasonic measurement is sensitive to the oil. The matching layer can also be the existing coating in the component, so no existing material needs to be added to the component under study.”


Michele Schirru, a Research Associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has developed a potentially ground-breaking instrument that uses sound waves to measure the oil viscoelastic properties in the thin layers that exist in engine components, such as journal bearings. Michele has recently been awarded the Institute of Physics Innovation in Tribology prize for his work.

And as if that isn’t enough, Michele has also been awarded £60k in the Preparing for the Grand Challenge Award from the Advanced Propulsion Centre to develop his ultrasonic method and design novel automotive sensors in collaboration with industrial partners. Michele hopes this will lead to a new generation of automotive micro sensors. 100. A Centenary Celebration


Arthur Larking Project Cup Rob Fisher undertook his degree as part of what was then called a thick sandwich degree course sponsored by Vauxhall Motors Ltd in Luton. There he received a wonderful and varied exposure to engineering and the marvel of mass production. Vauxhall Motors ran an extensive graduate and apprentice training programme in the 1970’s and a key component for all graduate students was the ‘Design and Make’ project. In 1975, Rob and two colleagues won the Arthur Larking Project Cup for the development of an electrically powered conveyance, nicknamed ‘Scamp’, for a child suffering from muscular dystrophy. The 6 week long project was based in the training department where students had access to extensive design and workshop facilities. In addition the manufacturing plant were able to supply vehicle parts and specialist manufacturing capabilities, although, using welding, sheet metal and machining facilities in the training workshop, the majority of the custom parts for the vehicle were made by the team members themselves. Rob explains the project: “The scope of the specification was adjusted soon after the start as the intended ‘fibre glass model of a Viva’ proved unsuitable as a starting point. Instead we set about designing a completely new vehicle based around a body shape that had previously been developed for a pedal car but with new mechanical systems.” The resulting design incorporated a vacuum moulded 72

thermo plastic body with a steel chassis frame and mounting points for all mechanical systems and body attachment. The electrical drive was based on a truck windscreen wiper motor with the addition of a nylon reduction gear and was powered by a 12v car battery. Novel steering design incorporated turning and forward/reverse control through the steering wheel with rubber bushed nylon drum provided steering to the front wheels. All vehicle control was provided through the steering wheel: rotate to turn, push down to go, push up to stop or reverse and fail safe when released. Rob graduated in 1978 with a First in Mechanical Engineering and continued to work in the Product Engineering department of Vauxhall Motors for a further three years. There he developed what would become the theme for his career, the application of computers to the engineering design process. These were the early days of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Analysis and, amongst other things, Rob worked on the development of interactive 3D graphics modelling software for Nastran (a finite element analysis package) used for vehicle structural analysis, in those days hosted on an IBM mainframe. In 1981 Rob joined the Computer Aided Design Centre in Cambridge, then part of the Cambridge phenomenon and at the forefront of applications software development. He joined the team working on Manufacturing Industries software focusing on 3D surface modelling, numerically controlled machine tool simulation (GNC) and the emergence of 3D solid modelling as the bedrock to supporting the design 100. A Centenary Celebration

process. It was the dawn of the Unix workstation age which was to transform the delivery of advanced design software to the desktop. In 1986 he joined PA Consulting Group, the management and technology consultancy, based at their Technology Centre in Melbourn (Herts). Rob was to stay with PA for a further 27 years before retiring in 2013. During that time his expertise evolved from CAD specialist through to operating management consultant with particular emphasis on project management and improving the engineering design process, often in the context of Computer Aided Design and information management. During his time at PA he was lucky enough to travel widely and to work with companies that were often world leaders in their own fields. Typically working in joint client and consultant teams he helped deliver projects across a wide range of industries including automotive and power generation, defence, aerospace, mainline and metro rail, oil, shipbuilding, utilities and various government departments. “I consider myself fortunate to have practiced across such a diverse range of industries and to have met so many experienced and inspirational engineers and colleagues.” says Rob.

Rob’s project ‘Scamp’ was the 1975 winner of the Vauxhall Motors Arthur Larking Project Cup.


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Thriving under pressure

Alexander was nominated for the award by his manager Chris Brown while working as a design engineer in the Instrumentation Products Division at Parker Bestobell, a cryogenic valve manufacturer. Parker Bestobell says that the result is beyond anything it has previously manufactured. The challenge was made even greater as Alexander had to ensure the range was completed to meet a tight deadline with the launch of the valves planned for a major international gas exhibition in Australia. He ensured that components across the range were standardised, cost effective and designed to be efficiently manufactured in Sheffield. According to Chris, “This was a highly innovative project that only an inventive mind could solve, taking proven valve technology and blending it with new ideas. Alex delivered the valve on time and on budget, providing a truly pioneering solution that opens up many great opportunities in the marine fuel gas sector.” Up against approximately 3000 other nominees in this national competition, winning the award has given Alexander a huge confidence boost. He says, “It has 74

given me the confidence in my abilities and to go and pursue the wider engineering spectrum and enhance my knowledge in different areas. I’m starting my own business and manufacturing prototypes currently. It has also played a large part in my final application for Chartership. It has made me realise that nothing is too high to reach if you have the desire and motivation.” An accomplished communicator, Alexander has inspired a number of young engineers and apprentices. He has taken part in engineering projects with schools and the local community, including ‘Get up to Speed’ – an event designed to raise the profile of Engineering and Manufacturing attended by over 2000 students from around Sheffield; and mentoring a team from Bradfield School in Sheffield on a recent technology challenge, with the team achieving first place amongst all the schools in South Yorkshire. Of his time at university Alexander says, “The theory of engineering was important but the ability to think logically and problem solve was of much greater importance. Group projects and design issues were where I performed well. Also industrial connections with the group projects in the 3rd and 4th year of my degree gave me first hand industrial exposure and led to my sponsored dissertation, summer work experience and subsequent job at Siemens. This was my stepping stone into the engineering world. Getting into a large, well established company helped submerge me in a design department of talented, experienced engineers who I pestered all day, every day and led to my developed skills, knowledge and business exposure.” 100. A Centenary Celebration


Alexander McDiarmid is an enthusiastic and innovative design engineer who graduated from Mechanical Engineering in 2012. Alexander won Design Engineer of the Year in the British Engineering Excellence Awards in 2016 after his success in designing a complete range of valves suitable for high pressure marine fuel applications that needed to withstand temperatures of -196°C and pressures of 625 bar.

Alexander (centre) receiving the award for Design Engineer of the Year at the British Engineering Excellence Awards in 2016.

8. The changing face of engineering. 100. A Centenary Celebration


1949 1991 The first female student signed up to study Mechanical Engineering 1 in 9 undergraduates in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2016 were female

The first female technician joined the Department

1998 2012 The first female academic joined the Department, having completed her MEng and PhD here

Female students make up 15.8% of our research:

Sheffield’s Women in Engineering Society was set up by a Mechanical Engineering student

Manufacturing (17.7%) Biomechanics (17.7%) Solid Mechanics (22.2%) Thermofluids (13.3%) Energy (13.3%) Dynamics (15.5%)

Our female graduates secure jobs in a variety of roles including...

15.8% Female students in the UK studying engineering and technology 76









Other engineering services






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The object of the Department is to provide a course of instruction in science for boys, which shall have a reference to their future requirements in trade and manufacture. A course for boys When the Department of Mechanical Engineering was formed 100 years ago, it was written that it would provide ‘a course for boys for instruction in science’. Not for boys and girls, just for boys. And so the bar was set. Our course for boys grew in popularity over the years, with more and more boys signing up for our courses, until one brave girl, 32 years later, decided that she, too, would quite like to be a mechanical engineer. Did this mark the start of a female revolution? Sadly, not really, it would be another 11 years before the Department saw its next female student and many more years after that before women were a regular feature of our courses. Even today, female students only represent 11.8% of our cohort. According to the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), only 15.8% of engineering and technology undergraduate students in this country are female. Worse, the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in the whole of Europe with 8 times more men applying for engineering jobs than women.

Why is this, and what are we doing to change the face of engineering? There is no reason why women should not excel in engineering. Year after year, female students are outscoring their male counterparts in maths and science exams. And the industry is continuously telling us that they need engineers not only with excellent technical capability, but who are also good communicators, to work well in a team and be able to effectively communicate their work. All areas in which women tend to do well. There are few other industries that offer such an interesting and varied career with opportunities to work on some of the world’s biggest problems; climate change, energy, even disease. Yet, for the most part, girls still aren’t interested in becoming engineers. This could be down to a number of factors. Take the name, Engineering. In France, the word Engineer comes from Ingenious, and lets face it, most girls are. However, in the UK, Engineer comes from Engine. Add to that the word Mechanical, which makes us think of mechanics getting greasy under the 100. A Centenary Celebration

hood of a car, so we have a mechanic, a car and an engine. What if a girl isn’t interested in those things? She probably wouldn’t be interested in Mechanical Engineering either. According to research from Roevin Engineering Recruitment, the industry’s reputation is the biggest barrier to a career in engineering. Engineering is all too often thought of as a male career option and with so few female mentors in the profession, inspiring the next cohort of women to choose engineering presents quite a challenge. Due to a lack of recognition for the exciting experiences and good job prospects with a career in engineering, as well as a lack of understanding about what engineering actually is, parents and careers advisors also act as a barrier against engineering. Sometimes girls exclude themselves from engineering by choosing the wrong A-levels. Despite statistics that show that girls out perform boys in the sciences at GCSE level and a similar proportion of girls and boys study physics at GCSE, when it comes to A-level the number of females studying physics drops dramatically. In fact, in 2011, 50% of mixed state schools had no girls studying A-level physics at all. 77

Making change happen The Department of Mechanical Engineering has been working hard to be a welcoming place for female staff and students. Our aim is to attract the best and brightest students to study Mechanical Engineering. Mechanical Engineering is based fundamentally on maths and physics, however, we recognise that not all students choose to take A-level physics, especially girls. We wanted to remove this barrier to a degree in engineering so, in 2016, the Department introduced Pathway to Engineering, a free short course designed to teach students the bits of A-level physics that we feel are essential to their success on our courses, before they start their degree. Students spend three weeks receiving physics tutoring in our state of the art Diamond facility, where they combine small group classroom teaching with exciting laboratory sessions.

of engineering and the type of research we do here in the Department. We take part in events on and off campus, working with schools and colleges in areas of disadvantage to help raise the aspirations of young children who may be the first in their family to go to university, and to prepare older students for applying to university in the future.

And it’s not just about attracting women into engineering; the Department also works with schools and other stakeholders to help male and female students from disadvantaged backgrounds come and spend time in a research-intensive university. Our staff and students have worked together to develop a range of activities designed to give a taste

With the aim to make Mechanical Engineering a better place for all to work and study the Department created its Opportunities Committee in 2014. The Committee reviews all aspects of the Department and makes recommendations to the Executive Board where changes can be made to improve the way we work. One of the changes implemented by this group


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In recognition of all the positive changes it’s put in place, the Department was awarded the Athena Swan bronze award in September 2015 and will be aiming for silver in April 2018. The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Olivia Manfredi and the BBC Bitesize truck pull.


Physics is not the only barrier for girls; historically it has been more difficult to recruit women to Mechanical Engineering than men because of various misconceptions about what engineers do, and the way our courses have been sold in the past. To find out where we were going wrong and what we could do to improve, the Department invited an independent researcher to visit an open day and give feedback on any areas that we could improve.

In 2015, students from our Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Tribology (iT-CDT) worked with BBC Bitesize to produce a video for their resource centre to be used for Key Stage 2 Science. In the video CDT student Olivia Manfredi teamed up with a group of school children to find out how many 10-yearolds it takes to pull a 10 tonne truck. Olivia used the principles of pulleys to help the children pull the truck and demonstrated that they could do it using 6 times less force using a 6:1 pulley, while Eddie Hall (Britain’s strongest man) pulled it without the help of the pulleys. The children were shown that by increasing the number of ropes, and thus the number of pulleys, the easier it became to pull the truck. In the end it took 6 children to pull the truck across the car park with no effort at all.

was a move to core hours for all meetings so that staff on part time hours or flexible working for people with child care commitments would not be excluded from important discussions.

Finding the first female student Tracing our first female student was harder than you might expect. You’d think it would have been the talk of the time after many years of a wholly male staff and student cohort and that some sort of celebratory record might have been logged. Not so.

25. This struck us as unusual: what made a 25 year old woman decide to go off and study engineering in the 1940’s? Her record also showed that she had failed her course two years running and still came back a third time to pass. This woman was clearly tenacious.

Student/alumni records have only been held electronically since 1982, and although some of the old paper records were imported at that time, many of them were not. As a result, our only chance of finding our first female student was to go back to paper and search through ‘the blue book’.

At this point our interest was piqued, we had to know more about this pioneering 25 year old woman who had left the Welsh valleys to study engineering in a man’s world.

‘The blue book’ contains the names of every student graduating between 1908 and 1962, and from this we found what we thought to be the first female student in 1960, although we were unable to contact her to confirm this.

Undeterred, we made our way down to the basement archives where all of our alumni individual student records are held. After a quick search a record was found for a Marjorie Oates, enrolled in 1949 and awarded an MEeng in Mechanical Engineering in the summer of 1954. Marjorie’s record showed that she came to Sheffield as a mature student when she was

Back to the family tree now, was there someone there who might remember Marjorie? After sending a message to the owner of the record, our email pinged with a response not an hour later. Sahana in New York, was the second cousin of Ranajit and was still in contact with Marjorie and Ranajit’s only daughter, Karen. Sahana was only too happy to put us in touch with Karen who happened to be in Kolkata, India, at the time. One week later we had a date in the diary to speak to Karen and hear Marjorie’s inspirational story. Engineering Society visit to Newton Chambers, 1950. Marjorie Oates centre front.


Much later we were informed by a past student that there was a female student in his year in 1949, a woman called Marjorie Oates... could she have been our first female student, 11 years earlier than we thought? Armed with a name and a date, we consulted the blue book but found no record of a Marjorie Oates at that time.

The next breadcrumb in our trail also came from Marjorie’s student record. She had married at some point during her time with us and changed her name to Mallik. A quick Google search brought up a number of interesting records. First was a history of Claverham Quaker Meeting House in Somerset, where Marjorie had been warden in the late 80’s. Next was a reference to her at Leighton Park School in Reading. Was she a teacher, then? And finally, a genealogy site with the family tree of Marjorie’s late husband, an Indian man named Ranajit Mallik. Together they had one daughter who was unnamed on the record. Could that be why she failed her course? Because she had a baby? And still, she came back and she passed! The feeling of pride for our first female student, a woman we still knew little about, was growing.

but she had been a teacher, and she was a governor at Leighton Park: he had known her well. We were getting closer. He described her as ‘the epitomy of kindness’, and someone who would never give up.

A call to the school told us that Marjorie had not taught there after all, there was no record of her. Seemingly a dead end, we moved on in our search. Days later, though, we received a call from the archivist at the school. Marjorie had not taught there, 100. A Centenary Celebration


1949: Marjorie’s story Marjorie Oates was born on 21st October 1925 in Bargoed, South Wales. Her father was a sheavesman in the coal mine making rope and her mother was a cook for two local doctors. Engineering was not in her blood, it was not an inherent skill passed down genetically, but a subject she found a love for through playing with Mecano as a child. Always a good mathematician, she left school in 1944 and spent 6 weeks in sixth form before dropping out and taking a job in the back office at the local grocery store. Soon after, a friend saw a job advert for drawing office staff at the De Havelland aircraft factory in Hatfield. Marjorie was offered the job and moved to Hertfordshire to work on Tiger Moths and other aircraft damaged during the war. After the war ended, Marjorie and a group of friends stuck together and moved on to Berkshire to work at SMD Engineers, light alloy specialists, where she was encouraged to go back to college and study her inters (A Levels). Marjorie signed up for evening classes on a part time engineering degree course at City Lit in London, over an hour away from her home in Slough, where she succeeded in her qualifications. Encouraged by the people she worked with, Marjorie decided to apply to do a degree in Mechanical Engineering in Sheffield where she joined an all male class and quickly gained celebrity, not for being the first female student, but for drawing attention to an error in a piece of elasticity analysis by Professor Swift, which he conceded at his next lecture. A keen motorcyclist and proud owner of a BSA 80

Bantam, Marjorie regularly rode the 195 miles from Sheffield to visit her family in Bargoed at weekends. Marjorie never thought she was anything special intellectually, and believed her success was down to pure hard work and determination. She always said, “All you need is 101 plus P.” 100 being the average IQ, so slightly higher than average, P being perseverance. In 1952, Marjorie secured a graduate apprenticeship at General Electric (GEC) where she met her husband Ranajit Mallik. Marjorie Mallik returned to Sheffield in the summer of 1952 to take her finals but failed her exams. True to her usual determination, she returned in 1953, this time heavily pregnant, and failed again. Not long after this, and just 2 months before the birth of their daughter, Ranajit was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident on his way to a job interview. Marjorie did not let this deter her, maybe it even made her more determined: she returned to Sheffield in June 1954, now a single mother of a new baby, and finally passed her exams. Now a fully qualified engineer, Marjorie began applying for jobs in the industry. Her applications were accepted, but when it came to interview she was turned away simply for being a woman, with one company telling her they couldn’t possibly employ her as they didn’t have a ladies’ cloak room. Marjorie returned home to Bargoed to live with her parents while she made a plan. During that time, she took a job at the girls’ grammar school for one term as a physics teacher. There she discovered not only 100. A Centenary Celebration

that she was good at teaching, but that she enjoyed it as well. She briefly returned to GEC as a Methods Study Engineer in 1955 and became a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Teaching was her passion though and before long she had accepted a job at Garrets Green Technical College in Birmingham teaching engineering. In 1959, she took another job at Reading College of Technology where she would spend the rest of her career, later becoming Senior Lecturer. A newspaper article in 1969 entitled “Engineering Industry Open to Girls” features Marjorie as the only female engineering lecturer at Reading College of Technology in a department of 38 men. In the article she admits that the odds are against women in engineering. Indeed, she’d had only one female student who left at ONC level. Marjorie believed that employers were reluctant to employ women because they felt they would leave once the were married. She said, “It is so important that the first girl in a new position does not fail. That would make it ten times harder for those who follow her. If the first one succeeds, the rest will get a chance.” Marjorie was a member of the Women’s Engineering Society for many years and became a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Group around 1960. In 1966 she became Justice of the Peace and in 1975 Governor of Leighton Park School. She remained in both roles until her retirement in 1986. On 31st August 1998, on her way to a family celebration, Marjorie was killed in a road traffic accident. She was 72 years old.

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100. A Centenary Celebration

1988 campaign to attract women into Mechanical Engineering: “There is a shortage of female applied scientists in the UK. Comparison with other countries shows that we urgently need to develop the skills of women, particularly in Mechanical Engineering, and to attract females into such varied areas of Mechanical Engineering as those illustrated in these photographs.�

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1991: The first female technician After studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University and taking a role as a design engineer in a small local company, Wendy Birtwistle joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1991. Wendy was the first woman to join our technical team when she took the role as an electronics technician. “At first some of the older technicians were on their best behaviour because there was a woman in the room.” remembers Wendy, “That didn’t last long though and they just treated me like one of the lads, which I liked. I always found them very supportive, most noticeably when students from other cultures found it difficult to take advice from a young woman.“ The beauty of a university environment is that research is always changing and opportunities to take on new challenges and change direction arise. When the department bought a flight simulator, Wendy was asked to manage that before eventually moving into Additive Manufacturing in 2011. “I have never forgotten the first time I saw additive manufacturing and it looked like magic. I still get that feeling when watching the machines at work. I enjoy the variety of projects that I get involved in, from our own research to student groups like Formula Student to wide-ranging research across the University,” says Wendy. “I think the thing I enjoy the most about my role now is the interaction with the students. They are usually very interested and enthusiastic. I 84

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find that quite infectious. But also speaking about Additive Manufacturing in a wider context. In 2016 I presented a workshop at the Institute of Science and Engineering (IST) annual conference, which is something I never thought I would enjoy or even be capable of.” Like many engineers, Wendy loved Maths and Physics most of all at school, and outside of school she loved making things, everything from designing her own clothes to building Lego structures, anything that involved solving puzzles or using gadgets and preferably both. “Engineering seemed the best solution,” she says, “it combined my academic strengths with practicality and had the added advantage of following in my dad’s footsteps.” To get more people interested in engineering, Wendy thinks we are doing the right thing in improving our buildings and facilities. “When I first came here I thought the labs looked old-fashioned. Having modern looking facilities makes us look cutting-edge. I think engineers are problem solvers and I don’t think that’s got anything to do with gender. In describing engineering it’s important to have a wide range of problem solving examples that can appeal across the students whatever their gender, race or background.”

Wendy supervising a student using the flight simulator.


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1998: The first female academic “Mechanical Engineering? But you’re a girl!” is the kind of reaction Rachel Tomlinson gets when she tells people she’s a Mechanical Engineer. “I was used to being a minority female from A level, since there were only two girls in my Maths class and four in Physics.” says Rachel. “I’ve gone through my whole life having surprised reactions from people when I say what I do. “I considered accountancy and banking, but you didn’t really need to go to university to have a career in them, so I looked for something else. Mechanical engineering seemed ideal, since it used the problem solving skills I liked and it was a broad enough subject to keep my options open, since I still didn’t have a definite life plan.” Rachel studied both her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the Department, and gained lecturing experience demonstrating lab classes to undergraduates. “I like talking to students and sharing ideas and concepts.” Rachel explains. “I also took on a role as a mentor to a deaf student; I suppose that was the start of my interest in helping students with learning difficulties and disadvantages. When I was working as a research associate after my PhD I got involved in co-supervising projects within our research group and I did the odd guest lecture on my research area.” When Rachel accepted a role as the Department’s first female lecturer in 1998, she was also pregnant with her first child. “That was another first for the department - they’d never had to organise maternity leave for an academic before. Then I wanted to work 86

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part-time, another first. Insisting that meetings finished on time so I could pick up my children from nursery was less difficult, since several of my male colleagues were in the same situation.” Rachel’s research is in the area of experimental mechanics, primarily in the development and use of optical instruments to measure strain, fracture and fatigue. “I look at loading things and breaking things to see how and why they fail or might fail. I’ve studied a huge range of things; the strength and failure of new materials such as toughened composites or those made by processes such as 3D printing; how dental implants or dentures load on existing teeth and gums; stresses in glass car windscreens; failures in welded joints; lots of aerospace-related projects; I even helped with the safe design and construction of a huge chandelier made out of beer glasses for a play at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre. “The thing I love most about my job, though, is the ‘light bulb’ moment when a student understands a concept. Designing experiments; analysing results; looking at a graph of data and saying ‘that’s interesting’; understanding why things happen as they do. One of my former students sent me a broken jackhammer in the post recently. It had a beautiful fatigue crack in it - you could see from the fracture surface how the crack had grown slowly over time from a weak point before sudden failure. They knew that I would look at it and say, ‘now that’s cool’.” Rachel giving some of her first lectures as a PhD student in October 1992.


#Mech100 - A Centenary Celebration


2012: Women’s Engineering Society Mechanical Engineering student, Charis Lestrange set up the Sheffield Women’s Engineering Society (WES) at the start of her PhD in 2012. The aim of the society was to raise more awareness of engineering, encourage female students to get involved in larger extra-curricular projects and to improve employability of students through networking and career advice. The group was not just a first for Sheffield, but it was also the first university based society of its kind in the UK.

“It has always been incredibly important that the society is inclusive and promotes equality,” Charis says. “Our current inclusions officer is a male student from Aerospace Engineering and we have had students, both male and female, from outside the engineering faculty as society members too.”

With the help of course friend Emma Thompson (now graduated and working for National Grid), and with support from Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon (also Mechanical Engineering) and Amy Masson, the Women’s Officer at the Student’s Union, Charis started work on getting interest in the society.

Suzie and Ricky - The Crash Landing tells the story of Suzie and her friend Ricky who discover an alien that has crash landed in Suzie’s back garden. With the help of engineers at an Engineering Research Institute they build a rocket to send the alien home.

“All of these inspirational ladies helped to support me through the society sign-up process at the Students’ Union,” says Charis, “and with the help of some current students, we put in motion a welcome event to gather opinions and see where the society could best help students at the University. Over 50 students of both genders attended the welcome event and together we brainstormed how best to develop the society. A committee was then elected and we were on our way!” Within a year the Women’s Engineering Society was a recognised society at the Student’s Union and after just four years, the society had around 500 students signed up to the mailing list and over 4700 twitter followers. Not all of these people are women, and not all are engineers; everyone is encouraged to be involved in the society. 88

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In 2015, members of the Women’s Engineering Society launched a book to get children into engineering.

The book is offered free of charge to any child who engages with the University in outreach activities, with the aim to get them into every primary school in Sheffield. The Engineering Is campaign was launched in Parliament on 3rd November 2016, inspired by the Suzie and Ricky book to cater for a slightly younger age group and also to make the story and engineering more accessible to school children and families. The Society is already working on the second book in the series and in 2016 launched the website www.engineeringis.co.uk, with an animated version of the story, interactive games for children to play and tools for teachers, parents and carers.

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1957: “I very much enjoyed my time in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Outside the classroom I spent most of my time (which was very scarce) in the activities of the Engineering Society and on the University Lawn Tennis team. I played for the tennis team every year, and in 1957, we were fortunate to win the U.A.U. Championship. This was achieved despite the fact that we never had any time to practice, and we only played matches every Wednesday and Saturday. The only time we made the play-offs, where 8 teams qualify, was in 1957. In the play-offs we won all our matches by a 5-4 score with each doubles pairing winning at least one match. It was an incredible performance by the whole team because every member was a major contributor to winning the championship.” - Brian Rixham

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1957 Men’s Lawn Tennis Club UAU Champions including Mechanical Engineering students Brian Rixham (3rd from left, top row) and Team Captain Nookal Narender Reddy (bottom, centre).

1958: “I left Sheffield in 1958 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and engaged to the then Barbara Ball, secretary to Professor Boulton then Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. I took a Graduate Apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce where I spent my whole career, retiring in 1995 as a Company Executive. I am still married to Barbara for nearly 58 years. We have a family and keep in good health and retain fond memories of our time at St Georges Square.�


- Graham Jolley

Class of 1958.


Mechanical Engineering Student Graham Jolley using a milling machine in the workshop.

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1965: “In the mid 60s, PlayBoy Clubs were appearing in the UK so I proposed the "River Don Bunny Club" for the rag parade, and got landed with building it. We used department workshops the night before the parade! The main features were an electric driven stern paddle wheel powered off a lorry battery, smoke stacks with smoke generators, bridge allowing raising some defunct tram wires with barge pole to allow passage, traditional jazz band complete with piano and a bar serving hot drinks for the Bunny Girls and band. The Engineering Faculty then was 99% male, so I recruited enough eager bunnies from Totley Hall Training College. The picture (taken by Brian Davis, Fuel Technology Department) shows the float having stalled in Fargate, The battery by now was nearly flat and we managed a push start without wrecking the scenery. I am the anxious guy in the foreground in white shirt and bow tie (what else for the club’s first venue?) We made it past the Town Hall to collect 2nd prize; we were too busy to note the winner.


Having been in three rag boat races I know why "River Don Bunny Club" didn't catch on.”

The River Don Bunny Club’s first outing in the 1965 rag parade..

- Brian Richardson


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1985: “I always looked forward to Prof. Bill Bullough’s Fluids lectures, I think he did too. Bullough was an imposing figure who habitually carried around a very substantial wad of £20 notes in his shirt pocket during lectures. He was a great fan of Wigan Rugby League Club, whereas I was a supporter of their greatest arch-enemy St. Helens. I was sitting one of my finals when he walked past my table and casually threw down a folded up copy of “The Rugby Leaguer” carrying the stark headline ‘Wigan thrash Saints 5-4’. I naïvely thought this was a helping hand from the Lancashire Mafia and the publication contained hidden information to help me with the exam questions. Alas not, but I made a point of casually reading the broadsheet publication before the end of the exam. Still, the best memory is of Jock interrupting one of Bullough’s lectures to ask “Bill, could you lend me £400?” to which Bullough responded by producing a huge wad of notes and handing it to Jock in full view of the lecture theatre. He was a very generous man.

there...” I got on the number 89 –

In 1984 I put Sheffield down on my UCCA form because I had to have 5 Universities, I thought Sheffield would be an interesting day out. I was invited for interview and got the train from Manchester. As we pulled into Sheffield Station I saw a huge red flag on the side of a 20 foot container ‘Welcome to the Soviet Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire’. I got out of the station slightly bewildered and was blinking around looking for the right bus stop when an elderly lady in a headscarf approached me: “Are you looking for’t University love – you want the number 89, over

- Stuart Brennan

My future wife had a very similar experience with her Sheffield interview. We suspect that the little old ladies in headscarves were in the University Secret Service and working as student spotters.”

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When I got off the bus at the University, an elderly lady in a headscarf, who looked remarkably similar to the one at the train station approached me “Are you looking for’t University love?”. Hmm.. I bet she knows a short cut. Eventually, finding my way to the great edifice of Mappin Street via a graveyard I was welcomed and taken on a tour of the department by a 1st year student – Dave Gee, which was great. I was interviewed by Prof Boucher and then taken up to the Students’ Union before returning via a bus to the station. I’d had a great day – I liked Sheffield, the people I’d met and I liked Sheffield University. I turned down Imperial College and went to Sheffield and the rest is history...

Stuart Brennan in Sheffield city centre in 1987.




“University of Sheffield has certainly widened my horizons in terms of personal development, I am pretty sure I am never the same person if I never attended the University. Lovely city, lovely department, I can still remember every single thing I did there.

Sheffield Formula Racing (SFR) was one of the reasons that I chose to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield and so I was thrilled to find out I’d made it onto the team in my first year. Being on the team was a great learning curve and where I met some of my best friends at uni. The work carried out for SFR was extra-curricular, so as a team we spent many evenings together designing and analysing parts for the car. We then spent our Easter holidays and the weeks after the end of the summer exams manufacturing and assembling the car, ready for the competition at Silverstone. Being on SFR was a big commitment to make throughout my degree, but the great memories we shared and friendships made, made it all worth while.

To the friends I made there, (some may be still in contact, some not) all the best to your future endeavours and wishing you every success. Yes, it can be considered the best time of my life.”


- Bernard Tong

Bernard and a visiting Mechanical Engineering student from the National University of Singapore. Jess Batty at the Formula Student competition at Silverstone in July 2016.



Bernard with fellow Mechanical Engineering student Dorit Sobotta on a wintry walk in the Peak District.

Going to competition at Silverstone was the highlight of the SFR calendar each year. We would head off early in the morning, then normally stop off at a karting track to do some last-minute testing before arriving at Silverstone late afternoon. We then split up, some team members to set up camp and others to set up our pit garage. The next few days were spent competing in judged events, both static and dynamic, and making any necessary modifications to the car. The evenings then consisted of heading back to camp, where a few team members would have been assigned to cook for all 30-40 of us, socialising with the other teams and perhaps a game of Flunkyball! SFR was a huge part of my life at university and an experience I’ll never forget! - Jess Batty


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10. The way forward. 100. A Centenary Celebration


The way forward Predicting how the department will look 100 years from now seems an impossible task. After all, in 1917 who would have predicted that 100 years later we would be exploring how to capture Carbon Dioxide, how to predict aneurysms, and how to remotely monitor wind turbines? Initially I was daunted by this task but I have now realised that this is an opportunity to write something entirely speculative with little or no factual basis - so an unusual opportunity for an academic! Of course, there are things that are planned to happen in the near future - like the exciting Heartspace project (opposite) that will revolutionise the space that we occupy around the Mappin Building. But predicting ‘the Department’ even further ahead is difficult, particularly when tasked to think about the next 100 years. Nevertheless, it is possible to imagine what our students and researchers might have helped to achieve. There are of course many factors - often seemingly beyond our control - that could lead to huge challenges for society. History suggests that over a hundred year period there will inevitably be catastrophes for us to overcome. But rather than dwell on this, what is the potential? Perhaps climate change will have been addressed? We might have implemented nuclear fusion power stations. We might have built (and decommissioned) safer nuclear fission power sources. We will probably have electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles (autonomous and accident-free, of course), air travel fuelled from sustainable sources, and carbon negative buildings that store their own drinking water. 96

Presumably regional travel will involve ultra high speed trains - with no glitches in the wifi connection. But it would also be nice to think that we will have engineered the eradication of Malaria, achieved safe drinking water worldwide, avoided catastrophic flooding, and provided patient-specific healthcare that enables a high quality of life for all. On a less serious note it seems likely that humans will still relish sporting, leisure, and cultural interactions. But we will no longer struggle to enlist that final teammate for Saturday’s friendly match - if we don’t mind playing with robots. Of course our sports equipment will be even higher performance - enabled by new materials, and mass-customised to suit our individual needs. After a few digital generations, perhaps it will be natural for us to assemble choirs and orchestras over the internet and to visit museums from our living room. We will need mechanical engineers to achieve even a tiny fraction of this wishlist. So that’s good news for the Department at least. But how will students be taught? Presumably there will be no lecture theatres (goodbye, LT3) and practical learning will normally involve virtual and augmented reality instead of traditional labs. Analytics will enable digital content to be tailored to each student, but ultimately I would hope that making and testing stuff is still an intrinsic part of learning to be a mechanical engineer. And communicating - via any means - will be equally vital to the profession. The technical fundamentals - Newton’s laws, turbulence, and (sadly!) entropy 100. A Centenary Celebration

would seem to be as relevant as they are today and, yet, as technology evolves the higher level learning must shift in emphasis to reflect the latest research and technological progress. This also suggests that the link between research and teaching will remain intrinsic to, and a vital part of, the department’s ethos. How will we perform research? No doubt our progress in computing and visualisation will continue to have a profound effect, enabling us to model and predict systems of unimaginable complexity. But this will only come about by us being able to test and validate behaviour in the real world, and to demonstrate this validity to industry or stakeholders. Consequently whilst the nature of an ‘experiment’ might be radically different in 100 years time, it seems likely that engineering research will continue to culminate in pilot scale and proof-of-concept testing that satisfies investors and informs future endeavour. So, on balance the department could be an amazing place in 100 years time, if it has played even the smallest of contributions in this technical progress. Whilst we are immensely proud of what has been achieved by our predecessors (both staff and students), I hope that we can be even prouder of what will be achieved by those who are yet to join us. Professor Neil Sims Head of Department

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About the author Kat Taylor is the Marketing and Communications Officer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. Kat has been writing about engineering for web and print since 2013 and launched the quarterly print and digital publication MechEngNews in 2014. MechEngNews, which shares success stories from staff, students and alumni, is loved around the world by over 80,000 people in 117 countries and was nominated for the CASE Circle of Excellence Awards in 2017. Kat has always had a love of writing, both journalistic and creative, and has a long history of working on print publications; starting at 11 years old when she single-handedly produced a magazine for her junior school, albeit with a slightly smaller readership. Things developed from there to her own popular travel blog and articles published in magazines such as Lonely Planet. Kat has also worked with other businesses to produce in-house publications and e-newsletters with a variety of target audiences. Her biggest challenge to date was the launch of her own monthly city magazine promoting Sheffield as a tourist destination. 100. A Centenary Celebration is Kat’s first book, but she promises it won’t be her last. Her next is already underway.


100. A Centenary Celebration

Acknowledgements The stories and articles in this book have been written by Kat Taylor and are based on sources collected by the University of Sheffield, Faculty of Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as the first hand memories of staff and students, past and present. The majority of the photographs in the book are taken from the Department’s own collections, and those of the University’s archives, some have been kindly provided by alumni of the Department and others have been taken specifically for this book. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders; any omissions notified to the publisher will be corrected as opportunity offers. Although every effort has been made to caption all photos, some of them remain a mystery! If you recognise anything, or anyone, please get in touch at me-centenary@sheffield.ac.uk or on Twitter @SheffMechEng. All of the page layouts, including all infographics and illustrations throughout the book have been designed by Kat Taylor. With special thanks to all of the staff, students, alumni and the people who have been involved in the Department over the years who agreed to be interviewed and shared their own fond memories and photographs of the Department; they have brought this book to life.

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To purchase a souvenir version of this book in hard or soft back, please visit https://goo.gl/8twchp



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100. A Centenary Celebration