By Marcus Halik

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized access to clean water as a fundamental human right, stating that everyone around the world should be entitled to “sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.” The problem is, we need to overcome several challenges to realise that. Not only do we need to reduce access inequalities around the world, but we also need to stop polluting existing water sources and reverse the impact we’ve had thus far. …

Danielle George is a Professor of Microwave Communication Engineering at the University of Manchester and the incoming President of the Institution of Engineering and technology.

Starting her career as a scientist, Danielle studied astrophysics at university. However, she quickly discovered the allure of engineering and, after choosing the more practical subjects during her studies, secured her very first job as a junior engineer working on the Planck satellite.

Today, Danielle’s research is largely dedicated to engineering the tools of scientific discovery — one of the 14 grand challenges for engineering in the 21st century. …

Often considered to be the world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building was completed on 1 March 1885, on the corner of Adams and LaSalle Street in Chicago. At 138 feet (42m) high, it wasn’t the tallest building in Chicago at the time — but its historical significance stems not from its height, but its engineering.

Made possible by several technological breakthroughs at the time, the Home Insurance Building differed from traditional construction methods by using a structure made from iron and, more importantly, steel. This gave it a unique architecture and weight-bearing frame. …

Fold by fold, engineers have begun to recognise the innovative potential of origami beyond the traditional paper cranes and flowers. With its applications ranging from ingestible robots to deployable shelters, it is easy to see why the ancient art form has many excited for the future of robotics, medicine, and spaceflight.

Inspired by unfurling insect wings, foldable structures have been used for their space-saving benefits in spaceflight for some time; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) used the Miura fold for their 1995 Space Flyer Unit, and NASA is following suit in their upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. …

If you’ve ever stared up at the night sky with curiosity and a sense of wonder, then this week’s episode of the Create the Future podcast is for you.

This month, two huge engineering achievements are being celebrated. The first is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, where engineers rescued astronauts from sudden disaster; the second is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, which forever changed our perception of the universe in terms of both science and, through its stunning astronomical images, art.

In this episode of Create the Future, we speak to…

Whether you’re streaming your favourite TV show, video conferencing with colleagues, posting a photo of your food on Instagram, or helping to build a to a global, community-driven supercomputer — you need the internet.

Throughout history there have been several feats of engineering that have forever changed the way that we communicate, and how we see our world — inventions such as the printing press, the telegraph, and the steam engine all fundamentally altered daily human life. One of the most recent of these life-changing innovations is the internet. With around 4.5 …

If you’ve ever heard of Schrödinger’s cat, watched Avengers: Endgame, or binge-watched The Big Bang Theory, then a branch of physics called quantum mechanics may sound familiar. Quantum mechanics (or quantum theory) is one of two theories in physics that work to describe the fundamental properties of the universe, the other being Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Science fiction has wrapped quantum mechanics, which focuses on the atomic level, with an intimidating veil of esoterica and counterintuitivity — teleportation, things being in two places at once, particles also existing as waves, and so on. But the fact is a lot of…

Bringing a touch of Hollywood glamour to Create the Future this week, we interview two visual effects (VFX) engineers whose companies have, between them, received Oscar nominations for visual effects on the Lion King, Gladiator, Life of Pi, the most recent Jungle Book, and won an Oscar for the hugely successful World War 1 movie, 1917.

Unlike special effects — explosions, animatronics, and atmospheric conditions created on set — visual effects are added to a scene digitally during post-production. Visual effects have created some of the most iconic scenes in modern cinema: the liquid metal terminator in Terminator 2, the…

Image Credit: Ray_explores land licensed under creative commons by attribution 2.0

Earthquakes provide a complex challenge for engineers; they are difficult to predict, difficult to withstand and, subsequently, difficult to recover from. But that’s not all — as seen by the 2004 Indian Ocean and 2011 Tōhoku earthquakes, these events can also trigger unforeseen secondary disasters such as tsunamis and nuclear meltdowns, increasing the scale of the disaster several fold.

According to the United States Geological Survey, in an average year an estimated several million earthquakes occur around the world. Thankfully, most of these go undetected because they are in remote areas or are too small to register. However, 18 of…

Image credit: Rob Bertholf under Creative Commons licence with changes.

Opened over a century ago, the Panama Canal is widely considered to be one of the greatest feats in engineering history, and a contender for the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Not only did its construction produce the biggest earth dam in the world at the time, but it also, consequently, produced the largest artificial lake.

The Panama Canal allows ships to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through a 48-mile-long shipping route, saving over 15,000 kilometres around the South American continent. That’s the distance from London to Queensland.

Acting as a water elevator, the canal lifts…

Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a global £1 million prize that celebrates ground-breaking engineering innovations of global benefit to humanity.

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