Year of Engineering – Back to School

Year of Engineering – Back to School

September is upon us and many children are heading back to school across the UK this week. Engineering research continues to find ways to improve the school environment, from creating a sustainable classroom building, to taking a closer look at what causes chicken pox.

The Active Classroom is SPECIFIC’s full-scale demonstration project at Swansea University’s £450 million Bay Campus. The classroom is based on SPECIFIC’s vision for ‘Buildings as Power Stations’, which use integrated systems to generate, store and release their own solar energy – both heat and electricity. In other words, buildings that are ‘active’ rather that passive structures.

The classroom uses new saltwater batteries, which have many benefits including no maintenance, being safe and large scale and using abundant, nontoxic materials, and is the first building with solar cells integrated into the roof panels. Inside, new resistive heating is integrated into floor panels, using electric powered by the sun. Outside, a living wall has been planted with the help of local school children, helping to reduce the building’s carbon footprint and improve air quality.

The SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre is an academic and industrial consortium led by Swansea University and funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK, as well as the European Regional Development Fund.

Chicken pox is caused by a common herpes virus, which researchers have recently discovered more about thanks to Nobel Prize-winning technology, cryo-electron microscopy.

Researchers at UKRI’s Medical Research Council-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research used the cutting-edge technology to reveal, in high resolution, the biological mechanisms the herpes virus uses to infect people. The researchers hope that these findings could lead to the development of new drugs to treat the virus.

Throughout 2018, UKRI is marking the Year of Engineering, a government campaign to celebrate the world of engineering and its impact.

Find out more about how engineering impacts going back to school in our interactive infographic below.

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Further information

Find out more about the Year of Engineering here