Researchers funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering explain the impact the Academy's support has had on them and their careers.

A net that captures space junk in orbit, a portable sensor that can quickly diagnose traumatic brain injuries and power systems to enable electric flight were a few of the cutting-edge technologies on display last week (20 November) at the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Forum.

The annual Forum gives Academy-funded researchers an opportunity to share the stories behind their latest work and brings together researchers, industry partners, funders and government representatives to discover how engineering is transforming the world we live in.

Research projects featured at the Forum included:

  • Space junk: Professor Guglielmo Aglietti FREng, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair at the University of Surrey, is the principal investigator for the RemoveDebris space mission, which in September 2018 successfully deployed a net in orbit to demonstrate how to capture space debris.
  • Hip action: Professor Sophie Williams, DePuy Synthes/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair at the University of Leeds, is investigating hip replacement failure caused by mechanical factors. By assessing different variables, such as bone geometry, prosthesis design and an implant’s position, her research has led to a better understanding of how these factors interact and affect the performance of an implant. 
  • Data disclosure: Dr David Haynes, UK Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellow at City, University of London, is examining the risks people face when disclosing personal data online and whether we can predict behaviours that endanger online safety. He is developing a common classification of risk, which he believes is the first step towards effective responses to online threats.
  • Electric flight: Dr Min Zhang, Research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, is developing light and compact electrical machines that can be used to power next-generation electric aircraft. These new superconducting machines provide more than four times the power density of conventional machines and are light enough to be used for electric propulsion on aircraft.
  • Brain trauma: Traumatic brain injuries are a leading cause of death and neurological disability worldwide. Dr Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, is developing portable sensors that can be used to test blood and urine for minute levels of biomarkers associated with traumatic brain injuries, leading to better patient care.

Opening the Forum, Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE FREng FRS reflected on the impact her appointment as the Royal Academy of Engineering’s first Senior Research Fellow had on her career, including the life-long benefits of the mentorship provided through many of the Academy’s research programmes.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The Academy’s research programmes facilitate high-calibre collaborations between business and the research community. For example, our long-standing Research Chairs/Senior Research Fellowships scheme, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, supports five-year strategic partnerships centred around an excellent researcher.

“These partnerships cover a huge range of engineering disciplines and technology areas, from hip-replacement technology to machine learning, and include a variety of industry partners across key sectors, from aerospace to construction and manufacturing to pharmaceuticals.”

Find out more about the Academy’s research programmes.

Notes for Editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering Research Programmes promote excellence in UK engineering research and innovation by supporting outstanding researchers in universities and bringing them together with industry. The Academy runs a series of fellowships that support aspiring and current world-leading individuals who are delivering high-quality engineering research.
  2. Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession. 

We have three strategic priorities:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
  • Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
  • Position engineering at the heart of society

We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.

For more information

Siobhan Pipa at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0745

E: Siobhan Pipa