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ISSUE 15: December 2017

Celebrating 100 years of Mechanical Engineering at Sheffield

MechEngNews MechEngNews





100 years of partnership Centenary industrial event


Profile Dr Julia Carrell

2017 marked 100 years of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, and what a year it’s been!


Confirmation review Embrace it, don’t fear it


Engineer to olympian and back again


A windspiring graduate Sarah Barber


Inclusive design Nikolay Irmanov


KBullKlip Cable management


Seeds of hope Syrian refugee crisis


Research focus Printing for health


Race to space A week of engineering

18 Round up News from around the Department 20

The final word.

Now that year draws to a close and our centenary celebrations come to an end with our grand finale - the big race to space. But while we’ve all been celebrating, our research has continued, our students have carried on wowing us with their eagerness to learn and willingness to get involved in all we do, and our calendar keeps rolling into the next 100 years. This will be my last issue of MechEngNews for a while as I take a well earned break for maternity until 2019, but don’t worry - MechEngNews will not be disappearing from your inbox! Keep a look out for the next issue in March 2018.

Kat Kat Taylor


Follow us: @SheffMechEng /SheffMechEng


MechEngNewsThis publication is produced using 100% recycled FSC certified paper

100 years of partnership To mark the end of our centenary celebrations, we invited our industrial partners along to Sheffield’s Winter Gardens for our exhibition and to meet some of our inspirational students. We were joined by Mechanical Engineering staff, around 25 students and over 50 representatives from companies such as Rolls-Royce, Metlase, Meggit, Tufcot Engineering, AstraZeneca and many more.

the local community - especially younger children - about mechanical engineering.” says Head of Department, Neil Sims, “The students finished the week in style by giving some really professional presentations to a range our industrial friends and stakeholders.”

Guests received talks from our students about the various extra curricular projects they’re involved in, from Formula Student and Railway Challenge to Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA). Second year Mechanical Engineering student, Hannah Williams said, “Speaking about SELA was a great opportunity for me to practice the presentation skills that I’ve learned on the programme. After the presentation, I was approached by many new professionals who were all interested in SELA and how we were benefiting the community and informing people about engineering.”

“I had a number of interesting conversations with more of the students after the main speakers and extended an invitation for many of them to visit our company,” says Bob Birchley of Tufcot Engineering Ltd. “We want to build on the relationship with the university and events like this are an excellent window into the potential for industrial involvement and the future technology benefits the students will bring into the workplace.”

“The industry event was a great way to end our week of activities. Over the week the student volunteers had done an amazing job of enthusing



Profile: Dr Julia Carrell

What made you want to become a mechanical engineer? I never really thought about becoming an engineer! Between leaving school and starting my Engineering degree I had a lot of different jobs, most of them were really boring. I like mtorsport and cars and worked as a mechanic at BMW for a year, this is when I realised that engineering was for me. While working at BMW I got frustrated that we only ever replaced parts, rather than fix them, so I decided to do a degree so I could become an automotive engineer. This is definitely the best decision I’ve ever made, I absolutely love being an engineer!

Where did you train? At The University of Sheffield. I completed my degree in Mechanical Engineering here, then stayed on to do a PhD in Tribology. All thanks to Dr Tom Slatter really, he dragged me through my degree, supervising me in my final year and PhD and now even in my new teaching role. Tom can be blamed for getting me interested in Tribology, and I’m a Full on Tribology geek now, I love the subject and feel really lucky to be able to teach


the Tribology course, hopefully I can pass on some of my enthusiasm to our students. My time at the University hasn’t always been a smooth and easy path; during most of my studies I have had young children and spent time as a single parent (I’m not in the habit of making my life easy!). I still can’t quite believe that I’ve got a degree and (nearly) a PhD, and to top it off I’m now getting paid to do something I love. There’s always a way to achieve what you want, even if its hard work. I’m a determined person, which obviously helps. My supportive family and friends made a huge difference too! I think I chose a good university to be a student with caring responsibilities as the network of pastoral and professional support has been invaluable. A really tolerant department also helps! They’ve been more than tolerant actually, there were countless times that lecturers and staff have been extra supportive of my situation and never made it a problem.


What are your research interests? My PhD is on the subject of Bio-lubricants, looking at the possibility of using them in automotive applications. This stems from an interest in working on solutions that help to reduce pollution and our dependency on fossil fuels. 50% of all lubricants are incorrectly disposed of, not hard to imagine if you look at how many oily patches are on driveways and roads, but also when engine oils are drained, they aren’t always disposed of as they should be. In Addition to the fundamentals of Tribology (wear and friction), my research developing bio-lubricants has led me to work with novel multi layer coatings and assessing material compatibility. I recently stood down as a director of a community energy organisation, for which I worked as a project manger for 5 years, this has also been a significant area of research interest for me. If there were more hours in the day I would love to develop solutions to decentralising energy (heat and electricity) generation and supply.

What are you working on at the moment? I’m just writing up my PhD and really looking forward to being able to move on with my life and concentrate on building my research interests! Teaching has taken up most of my time recently. I’m trying to find engaging ways to teach students that suit my teaching style.

If there was one Mech Eng problem you could solve, what would it be? Power for the people, or decentralised community owned energy!

What words of advice would you give to your student-self about the future? Be nicer and less critical of your lecturers, its a tough gig!



Confirmation review: Embrace it, don’t fear it. Razvan Apetrei is a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Earlier this year he won the Best Presenter Award in the Engineering Researcher Symposium. He enjoys public and motivational speaking and writes a blog ( about his experiences at university and other motivational topics.

examination. I for example, was so stressed about the confirmation VIVA that I prepared 40 back-up slides for a 16 slide presentation. (I successfully ended up using only one of them!) The reality: It’s a massive opportunity for the research students. Here are 5 reasons why:

After undergoing his own PhD confirmation review recently, Razvan wanted to share his experience with others in the same situation and show why the confirmation review is not something to fear but something to use to your advantage.

What does it mean for accreditation / funding institutions? The wording and practices may vary from institution to institution but in fact, the confirmation review is just a way to assess students’ ability to perform research at a doctoral level. It is suggested that from the beginning of the doctoral programme and up to the confirmation review, the student’s status is probationary. Failing to undertake and PASS a confirmation review can result in withdrawl of funding and demotion from PhD student status to, for example, MPhil.

What does it mean for students? The myth: We’re faced with the uncertainty that after putting our heart and soul into a research project we might indeed be obliged to give up on our dreams. And from personal experience, it’s a feeling that many first year PhD students have, especially in the weeks preceding this



You get to talk about your work

The sad reality is that, as researchers, we don’t always get the opportunity to share our work. The confirmation review is a great way of exposing our research to others. It is also a great opportunity to rehearse a conference presentation or an upcoming talk.


You can get feedback

Q: How many times have I felt that I’m completely immersed in my work and got tunnel vision? A: All the time! (hands up if you feel the same!) The confirmation review is the one chance you get to see your project from different perspectives. As the examiners will have had little to no previous contact with you or your project, they can easily identify strengths and weaknesses you’ve probably completely missed out. It’s nice to pass, but it’s amazing when you leave the examination room with pages filled up with feedback and suggestions.



Good practice for your final VIVA

In most institutions, the confirmation review will also include a short VIVA. In other words, the student will be questioned based on the written mini-thesis they submitted and the presentation they’ve given. Now, I’ve had a VIVA before during my MEng degree so I knew what to expect. Not everybody is that lucky. Thus, it’s a good way to get an idea of what your final VIVA will be like. Some of my fellow PhD colleagues did mention that the confirmation VIVA can be more excruciating than the final PhD VIVA. And to quote a research group colleague “once you pass the confirmation review, you’re half a Dr.”.


A magic formula There isn’t one and that’s the beauty of it. Find one that suits you best, but here are a few tips to consider when preparing for the confirmation review: Show your passion for the subject Explain why the research is important to you, to society and / or industry Make it interesting; a picture speaks a thousand words Be humble Believe in yourself

You get to ask for help

Feeling stuck? Remember that the examination board has many years of research experience. The confirmation review is a good opportunity to voice your concerns and to ask for help. Nobody is perfect.


A great first writing exercise

As researchers we need to disseminate our work. We do such things through conference presentations and talks, as well as through a huge PhD thesis and many research articles. Writing a research-based paper can be daunting, specially for those of us with no previous experience. The confirmation review is a good chance to practice and improve this skill.



From engineer to Olympian (and back again...) Many of our students are inspired by what they study at University into a career that follows their research interests. Michael Guest graduated from the Department in 2015 and took this concept to the extreme. In the final year of his degree, Michael’s research project was looking into the vibrations, performance and perceptions of hockey sticks. Supervised by Dr Matt Carré and Dr Jem Rongong in the Human Interactions Group, Michael conducted a field test and a couple of lab tests with kit such as high speed cameras and accelerometers.

guidance of Dr Rongong and Dr Carré. In the end the results were quite useful for me and actually changed the kind of sticks I bought and played with. For example, I began using heavier sticks with a lower centre of mass as the results showed that it improved the performance of the slap shot which was a technique that I personally used a lot as a defender.”

His aim was to understand the vibrational properties of hockey sticks in relation to the “slap” and “hit” shot techniques and the results showed that they behaved fairly distinctly due to the different impact locations. Michael says, “I remember picking the project because it involved vibrational analysis which was a topic I particularly struggled to grasp in 2nd year but wanted to prove to myself I could understand it eventually.” Having taken up Hockey 10 years earlier, when he moved back to the UK from Brazil with his family, there was also a deep personal interest in this project. Michael had played for the university hockey club throughout the four years he was in Sheffield and enjoyed playing for MechSoc in the Intra Mural league. “I think knowing the game as I did helped a lot when deciding the direction and scope of my research project. When doing the initial literature review, I noticed a couple of gaps in previous research that hadn’t considered new aspects of the game (e.g. the slap shot) and went off and carried out a few tests that I designed with the


Michael’s project came to an end, and like many other students, he decided to follow his research and sporting interests into a career with an unusual twist. However, unlike other students, Michael had started this career long before his graduation came. “Rio de Janeiro hosted the Pan American Games (kind of like the Commonwealth Games of the Americas) in 2007 and my aunt who was visiting the UK gave me a magazine with information on all the sports at the event,” says Michael, “I read that


hockey was a brand new sport in Brazil and that they were looking for hockey players on social media to help get the sport up and running. Not long after, I was in contact with the national team coach and eventually got invited to play for the youth team in 2008. With time I ended up having the privilege of playing for the men’s team in a few tournaments.” Michael signed up, full time, to Team Brazil when he left University and began training immediately.

out well since. “Although I didn’t get to play, I was in Rio during the games and got to watch my team-mates represent Brazil in their first Olympics. It was a very proud moment seeing the team play in front of large home crowds as well as seeing my close friend score Brazil’s first ever Olympic goal against Team GB! I also managed to watch Justin Rose win gold for GB in the golf with my dad which I’ll remember fondly for a long time.” Instead of going straight into the world of work, Michael chose to extend his degree and took on a Masters in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University and recently started working for Jaguar Land Rover as a graduate manufacturing engineer. “This is my first engineering job and so I am very much trying to find my feet still so that I can contribute to the team I work with.

“There were a few aspects to the training camps that I attended after university. The first was in Buenos Aires where we played friendlies with local clubs. There was then a lot of focus on fitness before getting back on the pitch and practicing with stick and ball. There were some memorable moments such as training with the Dutch team who had various players whom I looked up to.”

I intend to complete the two year graduate scheme at JLR and earn a permanent contract at the end of it. There seems to be a lot of opportunities at the company to experience different parts of engineering which I think will be important in the future as I try to carry on my engineering development. Besides that, I hope to make some lasting friendships in my new surroundings which has been made easier by the huge number of Sheffield alumni that work at the company. We always seem to end up reminiscing over the good times that we had at university!

Having decided to give up the sport to focus on his engineering career, Michael didn’t get to compete in the 2016 Brazil Olympics. “There were various reasons why I decided to leave the game, but the main one was that I realised I was no longer playing hockey for enjoyment and saw it more as a chore. I had dedicated a lot of my holiday time to training and playing, which meant that I had no work experience despite now having a shiny degree certificate. It just felt like the right time to begin my engineering career and thankfully it’s worked



A windspiring graduate Sarah Barber came to Sheffield in 2004 for her PhD after studying Mechanical Engineering at Cambridge University and worked in the Sports Engineering Research Group looking at the aerodynamics of footballs. After three years, Sarah returned to Switzerland to set up her own business. She says, “I’ve actually founded two separate businesses – windspire ( focuses on wind energy consulting, supporting organisations to improve their technical capabilities in order to enable them to make better management and investment decisions and to develop new business areas. This involves giving seminars and courses on wind energy technology, developing strategies and concepts as well as doing feasibility studies. Mindspire ( focuses on soft skills for engineers and diversity at the work place.”

During her PhD, Sarah became more and more conscious of issues such as climate change and decided to take a postdoc position at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, working on wind turbine aerodynamics and wakes, and got very passionate about wind energy. “I decided to switch to the industry and worked at one of the larger electricity providers in Switzerland doing wind resource assessments for international wind energy projects,” says Sarah, “After that, I worked as Chief Technology Officer at a start-up company developing vertical axis wind turbines.” Next was a move to northern Germany where Sarah was a Group Manager at Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems.


“During my time at Fraunhofer, I took part in a career programme for women in research and did a year-long coaching qualification, which made me realise the importance of soft skills such as communication, conflict management and decisionmaking. I was shocked at how much engineers and academics underestimate the importance of soft skills and became passionate about helping others to come to this realisation too. I had lots of ideas for concrete coaching programmes and workshops that I could offer, leading me to the idea of setting up my own two businesses.” “I have no idea where this adventure is going to take me! I’m regularly documenting my progress as well as my feelings and plan to try to publish a book of my experiences, so if the businesses don’t work out at least I’ll have something to show for it!” “It takes much longer to find first customers and projects when you are starting from nothing. It’s really important to be prepared for this, both psychologically and financially! What’s worked well is gaining visibility via my blog and by offering to give talks at events.”


Inclusive design First year Mechanical Engineering student Nikolay Irmanov was recently invited to the Furniture Builders’ Guild to exhibit a radio he designed for visually impaired young people. experience living with visually impaired people as both my father and brother suffer from a genetic visual impairment condition,” says Nikolay, “Further research into this area revealed that not much was actually out there for visually impaired young people in terms of attractive, stylish radios which were inclusively designed to accommodate the needs of the visually impaired.” Nikolay’s design won the Furniture Builder’s Guild school prize after being nominated by his DT department, and was then selected out of many other schools to participate in their exhibition in London this Autumn.

As part of his college course, Nikolay designed a simple ergonomic radio that would be easy for someone with a visual impairment to use . With only three moving parts; a retractable antenna and two dials, distinguishing between the dials is very easy. The two dials are very distant from each other and easy to distinguish in terms of shape, size, feel and position. The power/volume dial is a bright acrylic triangle with a ribbed edge right at the front face of the radio. The circular aluminium frequency dial has smooth edges on the slanted edge. Although Nikolay was given an open brief for his project, he wanted to tackle a real life problem that he felt strongly about. “I have first-hand

“It was a fantastic event to showcase the talent of young designers and engineers throughout the country in a display of innovation, craftsmanship and elegant problem solving. Not only do you get to show off what you have worked very hard to accomplish, you get to see and appreciate what others have designed and made. It is an event which can provide a stepping-stone into the professional world as well as inspiring you to take your ideas further. Many accomplished real life professionals were also at the event which gave me the opportunity to ask questions and gain further insight as well as professional opinion. “It was a great experience in learning how to present myself and my ideas to others, being able to talk openly about how and why I did things on my project. It made me even more sure that this is what I want to do with my life: work in a design engineering problem solving world. ” This project has pointed Nikolay towards inclusive design, something he’d like to do more of in the future.



KbullKlip® is a unique way to organise, manage and secure cables without causing damage by crushing the insulation through applying over-pressure or over-tightening. Designed by IDC Machining Science EngD student, Tom Helliwell, KbullKlip® is perfect for data and structured cabling installation as it has a unique cable tie channel at the back, giving the option of permanently securing wires without applying pressure to them. This eliminates “pinch points” and prevents insulation damage to cables and wires. Once clipped in, cables can be labelled easily to identify specific wires for future reference.

a company in Barnsley. After about 2 years to make the process consistent, whilst the patent was pending, they gave up. By then Tom had also got an e-commerce site ready and was receiving inquiries from building contractors, one, in particular, was building the new ExxonMobil Houston site, a huge development, and a missed opportunity. Tom was not deterred: “Although it is very common for new products, difficulties in manufacturing were incredibly frustrating, so around this time, I came across the concept of licensing, where you share IP with a company and receive royalties. I am since in partnership with experts in industrial and commercial markets for KbullKlip®. “KbullKlip® needs more brand awareness and higher volume sales; I would like to see it in the AMRC and across University.”

Tom originally came up with the design in 2010 as part of his A2 level in Product Design. “I took the product to Tom Fripp at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) next door to the then much smaller AMRC, who encouraged me to simplify the design in order to reduce manufacturing cost,” says Tom, “Further advice led to me applying for a patent on the product.” Having met a number of Yorkshire based manufacturers (Tom was keen to maintain local production), Tom invested in tooling with


From a research and design perspective, KbullKlip® will become a modular system of cable management, covering a huge range of potential applications. Tom’s EngD with Safran Landing Systems is about introducing contemporary computing into the factory environment; Internet of Things, Big Data and AI are all part of this paradigm. In addition to the qualification, Tom wants to have a commercial output. “Unfortunately,” he says, “the only real link between them is that factories are going to need much more cable management!”


eeds of hope The Syrian refugee crisis started in 2011. 13M people fled their homes, about 6M are internally displaced, meaning they are still in Syria but not in their own homes. Of the 7M who left Syria, around 1.5M are in Jordan, around 600,000 are registered with the UNHCR and 85,000 of these are in the Zaatari camp. According to the World Bank 41% of Jordan’s population are refugees. This places a large burden on a country’s resources; the sudden influx of people puts a strain on the sanitation, power and education infrastructure.

The camp is on a flat dusty plain, about an hour’s drive from Amman, with very little vegetation beyond olive trees in the area, and many of these were dug up between the camp and the Syrian border for security reasons. The refugees are primarily from Daraa, the breadbasket of Syria. Most are farmers and used to lush green fields and abundant crops. The camp is nothing like their old home.

Camp regulations prevent the planting of shrubs and trees, the erecting of wind turbines, and a range of other activities. The issue the host authorities have centres around the degree of permanence the camp has. The refugees live in “caravans” assembled from sheet steel with foam insulation, a great improvement on the standard refugee tent, this is just one of the compromises of the temporary/permanence balance. Professor Patrick Fairclough in the Department of Mechanical Engineering recently visited Zaatari, with colleagues from the Department of Chemistry, as part of the process of helping the refugees to find something useful to do with their time. “They are skilled, intelligent people but often the ‘help’ they receive from outside is just not appropriate, mainly because they are not asked what they want to achieve.” says Patrick. “I worked on ideas to generate power. We made some windmills partly to test how the dusty conditions affected the bearings and partly as a test to see what we could get away with in the camp, in terms of windmill size and design.”

Team members worked on hydroponics, concentrating on herbs, tomatoes and flowers, to give the refugees the tastes and smells of home. The plants were decided by the refugees, to invoke pleasant memories of home. Others worked on a trailer for the recycling staff and a hand cycle wheel chair; the refugees had made something similar previously but it was not used so the Sheffield team discussed better options. To switch from road to house use the hand cycle needs to detach from a standard wheel chair, and the hand cranks need to facilitate the use of back as well as arm muscles.



Research focus: Printing for Health Dr Candice Majewski in the Centre for Advanced Additive Manufacturing has received a Bright IDEAS award of approximately £150,000 from the EPSRC’s Engineering for a Prosperous Nation funding call. The project will combine 3D printing with a silver-based anti-bacterial compound in order to produce complex products incorporating anti-bacterial properties. Centenary Scholarship winner, James Wingham, will also be focusing his PhD studies in this area. The average person comes into contact with millions of bacteria every day, especially in areas with a high throughput of people. In the majority of cases we are peacefully oblivious, with this having little tangible effect on our lives. However, where a person has a lower immune system than normal these bacteria can become deadly. With an increase in drug-resistant strains of bacteria, preventing them from settling or spreading therefore become a critical challenge, particularly in hospital wards and care homes housing the most vulnerable members of our population. ‘Normal’ products and surfaces all become potential breeding grounds for bacteria, and therefore potential routes to infection. The overall vision for this research is the production of medical and consumer products and devices with inherent anti-bacterial properties. For the majority of products for which this is important, standard techniques include rigorous (and often complex) cleaning or sterilisation procedures, or coating the product with an anti-bacterial compound. Whilst these provide a level of protection, each has limitations; for example cleaning and sterilisation procedures can be subject to human error and coatings may become scratched or damaged, leaving some areas unprotected. Products with complex geometries (including those incorporating some degree of personalisation), are of great interest in the healthcare sector but also present the greatest challenge in ensuring consistency of antibacterial protection. By introducing anti-bacterial behaviour into a product directly, many of these issues could be reduced or eliminated. This project will


provide crucial early-stage investigations into the possibility of combining cutting-edge Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) techniques with a silver-based anti-bacterial compound in order to produce highly complex products incorporating anti-bacterial properties. Additive Manufacturing techniques are well-recognised for their ability to produce complicated geometries with little or no cost penalty, and the anti-bacterial properties of silver have been known for millennia. Bringing the two together presents a real opportunity to provide a significant impact on our ability to guard against infection. This, and future, projects will investigate the potential of this technique for applications in a wide range of areas including medical devices (e.g. endoscopes or other intrusive devices used for multiple patients), general hospital products subjected to high levels of human contact (e.g. door handles or taps), oral health products (e.g. dentures) and consumer products (e.g. mobile phone cases or personalised shoe insoles). The project has already opened up new contacts for collaboration within the University, including biofilm expert Esther Karunakaran in Chemical and Biological Engineering and microbiologist Joey Shepherd in the school of Clinical Dentistry.

Growth of Staphylococcus aureus at the early stages of a biofilm development


Research funding received

Innovate UK £100,126 Industry £102,273 H2020 £72,336

EPSRC £2,604,554

£2,879,289 our top 5 research grants this quarter: Professor Keith Worden, led by Zi-Qiang Zhu in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering - A New Partnership in Offshore Wind: Siemens Wind Power Prosperity Partnership - £2,551,502 from Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC). Dr Bhupendra Khandelwal - PM and NOx testing by using Novel Instruments - £100,126 from Innovate UK. Professor Marco Viceconti - Centre for New Methods in Computational Diagnostics and Personalised Therapy - £72,336 from European Commission (Horizon 2020). Dr Simon Blakey - Boeing Elastomer Work - £58,784 from Boeing Defence UK Ltd. Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian - SupergenBioEnergy-2 - £53,052 from Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).



{ This year we’ve been celebrating 100 years of Mechanical Engineering at Sheffield and our grand tour of events and activities finished during the October half term at Sheffield’s Winter Gardens. The department hosted an exhibition showcasing its 100 year history with lots of fun activities for kids (little and large) to get involved in, demonstrating the variety of projects Mechanical Engineers get to work on.

miniature locomotive and demonstrated how different types of wheels behave on a track with their miniature railway.

Insigneo were the human side of the week and demonstrated how the muscles in your body activate under different conditions, such as stepping and lifting, using a number of sensors placed on the body. Sheffield Formula Racing showed off their full size, working, formula racing car and ran competitions to guess the part and design your own livery. Engineers Without Borders had a pedal powered music machine powered by the little legs of many a Sheffield Child to play their favourite tunes. Women in Engineering brought their virtual reality game, allowing players to delve into the magical world of Suzie and Ricky to help a stranded alien build a rocket back to his home planet. Our Dynamics Research Group tested the stickiness of fingers using their Spider Man wall the grubbier the hands the better apparently! Railway Challenge at Sheffield displayed their


Jay Ellis visited the exhibition with his children on the opening day, “We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the stands and we were made to feel very welcome by all the students. The kids loved


making electricity using the pedal bike, and I quite enjoyed my turn on it too! We all learnt something new today adults and children alike. I never knew train wheels were oval shaped either, I thought they were perfectly round!” All week, we had been inviting the children of Sheffield to colour in and write on postcards that would be launched into space on 2nd November, as the grand finale to our year of public centenary celebrations. Children and parents travelled from far and wide to send their messages into space. On a particularly cold winter’s morning, a giant helium balloon was used to carry the payload of carefully coloured and lovingly written postcards, along with cameras and data recording equipment, from the roof of John Lewis carpark in the city centre, enjoying aerial views of Sheffield and the surrounding areas, before bursting through the cloud cover until it reached space where the view was altogether more spectacular!

-14.50C in 1895). You’d also need a special helmet for your journey as the lowest pressure we recorded was 2.5 mbar. If you climbed to the top of Mount Everest you’d experience around 300 mbar of pressure and the average sea level pressure on earth is 1013.25 mbar. Once back in Sheffield, the postcards were stamped to confirm that they had been to space and back and then posted back to all of the children who had taken the time to complete them - over 200 of them in total! Sheffield mum, Katerina Atherton, was thrilled to see her children’s postcards appear on their doormat, “Our postcards arrived today! Thank you so much for such a clever project and letting us be involved in it. My young daughter’s imagination has spun into all things engineering. It also helped her with her school homework. We will treasure these postcards for a very long time!”

The balloon burst when it reached a height of 33,862m (planes fly at around 11,000m) before parachuting back down to earth and landing in a bush in Belton, near Grantham, over 65 miles from its starting destination. If you think it’s cold here in Sheffield, you’d want to get your thermals on for a trip to space. Our balloon recorded a minimum temperature of -53.19 Celsius, slightly colder than the average temperature at the South Pole (the lowest temperature ever recorded in Sheffield was



A sheffield scholar The 2017 Royal Aeronautical Society Medals, Awards and Prizes including the Centennial Scholarship Awards honouring achievement, innovation and excellence were presented on Tuesday 21st November in London. The Society’s Awards Programme recognises and celebrates individuals and teams who have made an exceptional contribution to aerospace, whether it is for an outstanding achievement, a major technical innovation, exceptional leadership, or for work that will further advance aerospace. In 2003, the Royal Aeronautical Society launched the Centennial Scholarship Fund in celebration of one hundred years of flight and to look forward to the next generation of aerospace pioneers and experts. The award this year was bestowed upon Mechanical Engineering PhD student, Alistair John. Alaistair says, “The scholarship provides me with a few months’ support to continue my research into novel aero-engine intake design. I am currently in the process of completing my PhD which has been supported by RollsRoyce. I am planning to continue research as a post-doc at the University, working with Rolls-Royce, investigating the impact of fan blade manufacturing variations on jet-engine aerodynamic efficiency, and optimising fan blade design for reduced fuel consumption.”

Inspiring young people The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. They do this by mobilising the PhD community to share its academic expertise with state schools. Ana Sofia Ferreira, a PhD student on the MultiSim project, part of the Insigneo Institute, participated in the Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme. As a part of this programme she taught and designed a 5-week course for 14-16-year-olds at Yewlands Academy in Sheffield. Her course focused on the potential of computational biomechanics to support healthcare. Talking about her experience Sofia said: “I have really enjoyed the opportunity that this programme has given me to support young people into higher education. I was surprised with their engagement during tutorials. I hope that the experience and knowledge gained from being a part of this programme will give them the confidence to apply for higher education and help them achieve their full potential. The benefits of participating in this programme have been mutual as by designing and teaching this course my organisational and communication skills have developed further. “I found the staff very supportive and would definitely recommend this programme to other PhD students.” For more information about the programme:

Sheffield students flying high The Sheffield University Nova Balloon Lifted Solar Telescope (SunbYte) Team - made up of students and academics across the world, successfully launched their solar telescope from Esrange Space Center in Kiruna, Sweden, at 9:30am on 20th October. The telescope was lifted to 28km above ground to observe the Sun by a helium balloon as part of the REXUS/BEXUS program coordinated by the ESA. Student team leader and Sheffield Mechanical Engineering graduate, Yun-Hang Cho said: “The short development cycle of less than a year gave us practical, hands-on experience working with the latest technologies.” Dr Viktor Fedun from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering and lead academic advisor on the project said: “The SunbYte project is an excellent example of the quality of research led training we are involved in at the University of Sheffield.” With generous support from Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Team has now set up the Sheffield-Space-Initiative. Together, they are running more Space missions including cube-satellites (SunSat), lunar rovers (SunMore), and high power rockets (SunrIde). For more information please visit:

Riding for Richard Anne and David Pover, parents of the outstanding Mechanical Engineering student Richard Pover who tragically died from testicular cancer aged 21, have been tirelessly fundraising since 2015 to establish a permanent scholarship in his memory. They have held several fundraising events both in Sheffield and their home town. This latest challenge is a personal quest for Richard’s family to raise money for a scholarship for a student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a lasting tribute to Richard. David, a keen cyclist, recently tackled the Lakeland Monster Miles Adventure Cross, one of the UK’s most challenging cycle events, in Richard’s memory and has raised over £3,700 towards the Richard Pover Scholarship Fund. This latest event has pushed the family’s fundraising total to almost £40,000 – enough to allow the Richard Pover Scholarship to be permanently endowed, ensuring that this prestigious award continues into the future and that Richard will never be forgotten here at the University where he was so happy. Donate at:

Send your stories and photos to Kat Taylor at MechEngNews


The Final Word. If you blinked you might have missed it, becuase 2017 has been a whirlwind of a year! Our students have been particularly busy getting involved in all manner of activities and awards. There are so many more opportunities open to them today than there were a century ago, or even a decade ago, and they grab them with both hands, never failing to make us, their teachers and mentors, incredibly proud. It has been great seeing so many familiar faces back in the Department this year, be it graduates, long gone staff or academic partners, at various centenary celebrations: living proof that no one ever really leaves Sheffield. And, of course, our staff - both academic and support - have continued to work tirelessly to bring in the best, most interesting research, to give their students the best university experience possible, and to make this a great place to work for one another. I finish by wishing all of our readers a very happy Christmas and saying a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in our big birthday celebrations this year. We look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

Neil Sims

Head of Department, Mechanical Engineering

This publication is produced using 100% recycled FSC certified paper



MechEngNews // Issue 15 // December 2017  

Read about the latest developments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

MechEngNews // Issue 15 // December 2017  

Read about the latest developments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield.