High fliers swoop on high tech display

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High flying visitors swooped in on a high tech display by the Rolls-Royce / Swansea University Technology Centre in Materials at the Innovation Zone at this year’s Farnborough Air Show.

Visitors to the Swansea UTC stand ranged from David Willets MP, the UK Government Minister for Universities and Science, who opened the Zone, Rolls Royce Directors, Colin Smith and Ric Parker, Ruth Mallors, the Director of the Aerospace Knowledge Transfer Network, parliamentary visitors, engineering enthusiasts, Swansea University alumni and thousands of schoolchildren.

©Jon Hewitt

Lego engine Copyright Jon Hewitt

One of the main attractions at the Innovation Zone was the Rolls-Royce “Lego engine” which is a half scale model of a Trent 1000 civil gas turbine. Negotiations have been launched to bring this model to Swansea in 2013 as a major exhibit at the EPSRC Strategic Partnership Conference.

Although much of the focus was on research and training with aspects of the EPSRC and Rolls-Royce Strategic Partnership in Structural Metallic Systems taking centre stage, that all changed for the Futures Day event as 8,000 schoolchildren visited the show.

Swansea academic staff and postgraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET) ambassadors, helped the children with hands on experiments with shape memory alloys, thermo-sensitive coatings and a model gas turbine jet engine,

Vast numbers of visitors who flocked to the stand throughout the week learned more about materials research, links to the aerospace sector and the components on display, while many university alumni came along to discuss future initiatives such as the Innovation Campus.

Professor Martin Bache, Director of Rolls-Royce UTC in Materials at Swansea University’s College of Engineering said:  “This event was a great opportunity to illustrate engineering in action to a diverse range of people.  But it was when we watched the flying displays by the Red Arrows and the latest civil airliners designed and manufactured by Airbus and Boeing that I realised that aspects of Swansea based structural materials research, were literally flying past in the skies above our heads!”