University on Supersonic drive to inspire the study of STEM subjects in Wales
Swansea University’s top engineers, researchers and education specialists are embarking on an ambitious three-year drive in association with the BLOODHOUND Engineering Adventure to help ensure that more young people in Wales study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
The all-Wales STEM education drive was launched on Saturday November 1 2008, at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea.
Speaking at the launch, Swansea University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies, said: “STEM subjects underpin and shape every aspect of our society and in order to ensure that Wales and the UK develop strong modern economies, we must continue to attract increasing numbers of bright young people into STEM at the School and University level who can then progress to a leadership role in technology based industries.
“Engineering has been strong at Swansea University since our foundation in 1920. We are delighted to be involved in promoting Engineering and Science through this challenging and high profile project.”
The BLOODHOUND Education Team (BET) is the education arm of The BLOODHOUND Project, the engineering adventure launched by Richard Noble OBE targeting a World Land Speed Record of 1,000mph. In the process the record attempt will showcase the UK’s expertise in engineering, science and research and highlight in the most awe-inspiring way, the diversity of career options available in these fields.
In promoting the study of STEM subjects, Swansea University’s School of Engineering has unveiled a year-long educational campaign. Engineers from Swansea’s BLOODHOUND Team will go into secondary schools across Wales to present the importance of studying STEM subjects and highlight the multitude of engineering career choices available. As the campaign progresses, more in-depth technical issues relating to The BLOODHOUND Project and curriculum subjects will be studied through specific BLOODHOUND technical studies in the classroom.
Swansea’s educational activities as part of the BET will tie in with a national education and engagement campaign, led by a dedicated team of teachers and education specialists. This will make available a number of resources, from curriculum-based lesson plans to a school visitor center featuring the classroom of the future, to children and young people aged five years onwards.
Dave Rowley, Head of The BLOODHOUND Education Team, said: “It is a matter of national concern that at a time when there is a growing need for engineers and scientists across the UK, there are lower numbers of students opting to study STEM subjects at GCSE and A levels. The deficit in engineering is even more serious in Wales, with 40% fewer students than in England, and 65% less than in Scotland, opting to study it at University.
“Through The BLOODHOUND Project we will be able to give every young person in Britain the opportunity to engage in an iconic engineering challenge, which will be played out on an international stage. This ground-breaking experience will enable young people to recognize the excitement and the importance of science, technology and maths inside and outside the classroom.”
The BLOODHOUND Project is the catalyst for a raft of cutting edge research in the fields of aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics and materials technology, among others.
Swansea University, through its multidisciplinary and innovative engineering technology is at the heart of both the design and educational aspects of the project.
Richard Noble OBE, Project Director, said: “I am delighted that Swansea University is at the heart of this Engineering Adventure. Our relationship spanning 15 years started with the highly successful ThrustSSC. And now with The BLOODHOUND Project, Swansea is giving us not just its expert engineering, research and project management, but also leading the Education Adventure for Wales.
“The primary objective of The BLOODHOUND Project is to motivate, encourage and help deliver a new generation of engineers who will be able to help us all face the changes and challenges needed to exist in the new low carbon world – this takes precedence over BLOODHOUND SSC’s speed and performance objectives. Together we hope to see a substantial increase of students in Wales enrolling to study these all important Science subjects.”
BLOODHOUND SSC is being aerodynamically designed by Swansea’s School of Engineering experts who have pioneered Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software for this purpose. Research at Swansea’s School of Environment and Society has identified potential test sites for the record attempt and staff from the University’s Institute of Innovation are working as BLOODHOUND Design Engineers on vehicle design and engineering management.
Swansea University’s CFD Technology is used to simulate the aerodynamic flows that affect the vehicle at extreme speeds. These findings are then used to predict how BLOODHOUND SSC will perform under extreme conditions. This in turn is used to optimise the aerodynamic design of the supersonic car, thereby helping it achieve the 1,000mph target.
Dr. Ben Evans, Research Assistant at Swansea’s School of Engineering and member of The BLOODHOUND Project design team, said, “As one of the new generation of engineers, I am delighted to be a member of the BLOODHOUND SSC design team and want to encourage young people across Wales to really find out about how maths, science and engineering translate into the real world before making their subject study choices.
“Swansea’s School of Engineering helped ThrustSSC to achieve the World Land Speed Record in 1997. And it is fantastic now to be involved in further refining and customising the technology for BLOODHOUND SSC.”
The BLOODHOUND Project also benefits from expert engineering project management and vehicle design contributed by Bjorn Rodde and Will Krawszik of Swansea University’s Institute of Innovation.
The BLOODHOUND Project is the brainchild of Richard Noble OBE and Andy Green OBE, current World Land Speed Record holders, who smashed their way through the sound barrier and into the record books in 1997 with Wing Commander Green driving ThrustSSC at 763mph.