Engineering news

Perseverance rover takes off and assembly of largest fusion reactor begins: 10 top stories of the week

Professional Engineering

The first piece of the Iter tokamak is lowered into position (Credit: Iter Organization/ EJF Riche)
The first piece of the Iter tokamak is lowered into position (Credit: Iter Organization/ EJF Riche)

New and improved rover sets off for Mars

Professional Engineering

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover set off yesterday (30 July) atop an Atlas V rocket. Once on the Red Planet it will collect the first ever samples to return to Earth – potentially bringing evidence of ancient Martian life. We looked at how NASA engineers improved on the previous Curiosity rover to give Perseverance the best chance as it treks across Mars.

Drone charges in just five minutes

Professional Engineering

Ultra-fast charging technology has charged a drone battery from 15% to full in just five minutes. The huge increase in speed – commercial devices generally take between 60 and 90 minutes to charge – could revolutionise the sector by improving the economic case for drone applications and allowing much greater autonomy. Israeli firm StoreDot demonstrated the technology in a video call with journalists on Wednesday (29 July).

Virgin Galactic reveals cabin design


Virgin Galactic has revealed the design for its space cabin, where paying customers will float in zero gravity and look back at Earth from space. The design includes reclining seats of aluminium and carbon fibre, windows throughout the cabin and cameras to record the flight.

Assembly begins on world’s largest fusion reactor

New Atlas

Assembly work has begun in southern France on the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor. The seven-storey, ‘tokamak’ style International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) is due for completion in 2025.

Team Bath Racing wins Formula Student like no other

Professional Engineering

Designing an award-winning car from scratch during lockdown sounds impossible. Team Bath Racing has shown it can be done however, thanks to a strong commitment to design. The team came out on top at the virtual Formula Student competition last weekend.

’Astonishing’ drop in offshore wind costs could cut household bills

Professional Engineering

Huge new wind turbines operating further out at sea have contributed to an “astonishing” reduction in offshore wind costs, with households set to benefit from reduced energy bills by the mid-2020s. The findings, from new analysis led by researchers at Imperial College London, show the most recently approved offshore wind projects will most likely operate with negative subsidies – which could help reduce household energy bills.

Universities get extra places for engineers

Professional Engineering

More than 1,000 extra students will have the opportunity to start engineering degrees in September, after the government approved thousands of new places on courses that can boost innovation after the coronavirus pandemic. Universities minister Michelle Donelan confirmed more than 1,300 extra university places for engineering courses. There will also be 756 extra places for bio-sciences and almost 500 for maths courses, with more than 5,000 for healthcare courses.

Stem careers more desirable thanks to pandemic response

The Engineer

More than half (52%) of 10 to 18-year-olds are reportedly considering a career in engineering thanks to the sector’s impressive response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The research, carried out by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, is welcome news for engineering after a recent study revealed a fall in GCSE entries in the subject last year.

Slight increase in manufacturing optimism

The Engineer

Optimism on post-pandemic recovery has slightly increased amongst manufacturers in the last three months, according to the latest Manufacturing Barometer. Put together by the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service and the Manufacturing Growth Programme, the barometer shows 40% of companies expect an increase in future sales, compared to just 9% in April.

Soft robot material heals itself ‘immediately’

Professional Engineering

A new ‘biosynthetic’ polymer can quickly heal itself using just water and heat, leading the way towards soft robot actuators and protective equipment that repair damage automatically. The material, developed at Penn State University in Pennsylvania, mimics DNA found in squid ring teeth, which grip onto prey. It could be useful in many applications where small holes or cracks pose danger to the operation or safety of a device.

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