UKTech is a celebration of technological achievements and the part which the UK plays in them. The picture shows Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Woods, the founders of Oxford Instruments. Their story, and others like it, is not well known but is truly inspirational. They pioneered the use of superconducting magnets in medical imaging by developing the body scanner.
The aim of UKTech is to develop a set of resources which can be used by teachers to bring Engineering & Technology to life in the broader school curriculum, especially at Key Stages 2 and 3. The resources can be used in a variety of ways to suit any desired teaching style. One field which is particularly rich and relevant is in medicine and health care. The UK is a world leader in CAT: Computer Aided Tomography - such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging NMI. The Government recently appointed Nicola Blackwood as the first Minister for Innovation in the Department for Health and Social Care. It has also announced increased funding for research and equipment.
Two game-changers in imaging were the development of X-ray scanners and the Scanning Electron Microscope SEM. In 1960 I went with a party from my school in London to the horseshoe shaped lecture theatre in the Royal Institution for a practical demonstration of X-ray crystallography by Lawrence Bragg, He had won a Nobel prize for Physics with his father at the age of 25! Crystals, particularly Silicon, have played a key role in the development of integrated circuits (chips). It was 20 years ago that I met Lord Alec Broers who had pioneered the technology to allow an adapted SEM to use ions to etch circuits directly on crystals. While both Bragg and Broers had been born abroad, they received Higher Education in the UK and went on to make significant contributions to industry and academia in the UK.
My dentist is very much up-to-date with technology. When one of my top front teeth decided to drop out, he did a 3D X-ray scan of my upper jaw, and sent the image files to a laboratory which used them to 3D print the bridge in which my tooth is now refixed!
A year ago my body collapsed and I ended up in our hospital's Acute Medical Unit with pneumonia, blood-poisoning and fluid on the lung. They also found that I had acute anemia and so had been without a properly functioning immune system for quite some time. After 3 nights, much monitoring and a blood transfusion, I was sent home. But they booked me in for an endoscopy - another marvelous application of engineering in medicine. This was invented by Dr. John Macintyre at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1894 - not long after electricity was installed in the hospital! The modern version uses a fibre-optic cable to send back images from a tiny camera, with a bright LED, to display them on a video screen. My surgeon discovered that I had both a stomach and a duodenal ulcer. The business end of the device also has a small scraper which the surgeon can control remotely to take samples from the stomach lining. The laboratory analysed the sample (or biopsy) and discovered that I had an infestation of a nasty bacterium called Helicobactor Pylori. This was treated with a cocktail of 3 different antibiotics. Six weeks later I had a second endoscopy which found that the ulcers had healed and the H Pylori had been neutralised. So you can see why I am such a fan of medical imaging!
BBC Radio has an excellent programme called `The Life Scientific'. On 3rd September 2013 Jim Al-Khalili interviewed Prof. Mark Lythgoe from University College London UCL. Mark had left Grammar School with just one A-level: a D in Physics. He now directs CABI, the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging at UCL, This is the largest and most advanced centre of its kind in Europe, where computer scientists, engineers and technologists work in inter-disciplinary teams with clinicians. But, like Broers before him, Lythogoe recognised that the imagining device known as the Nuclear Magnetic Radiation NMR scanner could also be adapted to physically interact with body. In this case to treat brain tumours. At the 2018 Cheltenham Science Festival, Lythgoe explained how metal particles the size of a grain of rice could be tracked by NMI as they passed in the blood stream through a malignant tumour. At just the right time they are given a quick burst of energy from the scanner which heats them up and destroys the malignant cells.
The idea for UKTech came from a conversation with the Bloodhound Education charity last month. The Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car project was established in 2008, not just to break the existing World Land Speed Record but to achieve a speed faster than 1000 mph. The current record is held by Thrust SSC, powered by two RAF jet engines, designed by Richard Noble and driven by Wing Commander Andy Green. It achieved 763 mph, breaking the sound barrier, in October 1997. The Ministry of Defence gave support for the new project on condition that it's prime focus was to inspire the next generation of engineers and technologists. The Bloodhound project was rescued from bankruptcy by Yorkshire engineer and businessman Ian Warhurst last December. It has now been sent to South Africa for high speed testing. It was only at the Bloodhound Ambassador meeting that the penny began to sink about why the car was renamed from Thrust to Bloodhound. That takes me on to another personal connection - with Brooklands. The world's first motor racing circuit was built in 1907 at Brooklands in Woking, Surrey (near where I was born in 1946). In 1914 Lydston Horsted became the first British driver to break the World Land Speed Record there in a Benz at 124 mph. In the 1930s my father used to take part in cycle races there. During the WWII it was taken over by Vickers for building aircraft. In peacetime it became the HQ for the British Aircraft Corporation BAC.
In 1967 I began teaching at a school in Bagshot, Surrey. I inherited the Science Society which had a programme of filed trip already arranged. We went to Harwell to see a nuclear reactor, to the Esso Chemical factory near Southampton and the BAC factory at Brooklands. We met Barnes Wallis, then in his 80s, who had been responsible for the deign of many aircraft and systems, including the Bouncing Bomb. We also met Malcolm Sabin who demonstrated his `Numerical Master Geometry' Computer Aided Design CAD system using a huge flat-bed plotter. In 1981 I had a sabbatical with Malcolm at the CAD Centre in Cambridge. When BAC sold off the site the airstrip was divided up. One part of it is a shopping centre and the other is the Mercedes-Benz Experience Centre and hotel. But the original clubhouse and parts of the motor circuit were bought to establish the Brooklands Museum - well worth a visit. Part of the Museum is in a restored building where planes were built. As well as aircraft, it houses displays of inventions such as Barnes Wallis' Bouncing Bomb and Ron Ayres' Bloodhound guided missile. When Ron retired from BAC he became a volunteer at the Museum. He found some papers about 1930s attempts to design world speed record breaking cars, which meshed with his own interest in aerodynamics. He met Ken Norris who had designed Malcolm Campbell's record-breaking Bluebird Car. That led to meeting Richard Noble and for Ron to develop first the Thrust cars and then Bloodhound.