The future of smart materials
With a reputation for producing top engineers, Edinburgh Academy was pleased to host SMART.mat, the ‘smart’ technology group within the Materials KTN, in late June. Running hands-on experiments and exploring the theory and applications of smart materials, the SMART.mat team helped students lift the lid on this new scientific world.
Making the session go with a bang, guest speaker Michael Ross of QinetiQ illustrated the importance and thought process of material selection. Once the students had seen a destroyer sunk with an underwater explosion and a composite panel blown up, they were keen to know more.
The youngsters learnt how biomimetics, physics, design, testing and chemistry are being used to bring smart materials and systems into the everyday world. Whether it was self-cleaning glass, imitating the complexity of a butterfly’s wing or seeing shape memory alloys and their unusual behaviour, pupils enjoyed this snapshot of materials. While the prospect of working with a large number of 14-17 year olds clearly terrified some of the SMART.mat technologists, this fear soon evaporated as debates opened up. Evaluating the pros and cons of piezo-electric devices, designing glass ‘body-armour’ and getting a ‘flash’ from chemical reactions kept students enthralled.
Events like these are crucial to the future of science and technology in the UK. Maintaining the enthusiasm of these young engineers can only result in a stronger economy long-term, and will be essential if the UK is to compete successfully against developing nations.
For further information, contact:
Project Co-ordinator - David Arthur
Structures Co-ordinator - Fiona Lowrie
Surfaces Co-ordinator - Helen King
Or visit the SMART.mat website
Date Posted: 5 July 2007