EYE-UK Reading List – Engineering News from the UK and Beyond

After a summer hiatus the EYE-UK Reading List is back! And it’s been an exciting summer, particularly in the energy industry. Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear reactor to be built in the UK since the 1990s, has finally been approved by the board of EDF. Once in operation in 2025 Hinkley Point C will provide 3.2 GW of power, serving up to 7% of the UK’s energy needs. However work is yet to commence after the Department of Trade & Industry has postponed its approval of the scheme, with the postponement coming only hours after EDF’s approval. Many commentators are unsure of the reason but speculation points to security concerns over the degree of Chinese involvement in the project.

It’s not only the Chinese investing in the UK’s energy future; firms from across the world, including Japan and the US are all vying for a place in the next round of the UK Government’s programme to develop Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to provide discrete, small-scale nuclear power (). £250m is available to a select few companies to develop new reactor designs that can be built en masse using ordinary assembly-line techniques, permitting power to be generated locally and for a much lower capital cost.

Of course small-scale nuclear isn’t the only way forward towards a coal-free future; solar power is taking off in a big way, with Elon Musk’s Tesla ‘gigafactory’ nearing the beginning of production. Despite their plans to employ as many as 10,000 people at the factory once fully operational, the factory relies heavily on automation and guided robots to move materials around the plant. Tesla has also acquired the firm Solar City, further consolidating Tesla’s expertise in the solar arena. It’s hoped that the acquisition will lead to an integrated all-services solar company. If you’re still not convinced on solar why not check out Solar Impulse’s website? Solar Impulse 2, the 71.9 m wide solar-powered glider has recently completed its round-the-world journey. EYE regulars will remember André Borschberg from his presentation at the WEC in Geneva in 2011, where he outlined the ambitious route he and his partner Bertrand Piccard planned to take around the world. Between them they now hold eleven world records, including first solar plane to fly through the night and first solar plane to fly between two continents – all without consuming an ounce of fuel!

Looking to the past, the ‘WorldWideWeb’ (as it was first called) celebrates 25 years in operation, with Vint Cerf’s first webpage having been active for over a quarter century. Its purpose? To explain what the web is of course! The internet has become so fundamental to our lives that the Associated Press now instructs that the words ‘internet’ and ‘web’ lose their capital letters as proper nouns, further cementing how ingrained they are into modern language. Similarly ‘Web site’ became ‘website’ in 2010 and ’email’ lost its hyphen in 2011.

With the increased effect of the internet on society perhaps you’d like to brush up on a few skills – Futurelearn have a two-week course to help get your feet wet in big data. Don’t know your Hadoop from your HBase? Perhaps you can spare a few hours to get an insight into how this groundbreaking technology will change the way businesses and governments can make decisions, all powered by immense volumes of data.

With Brexit dominating international finance and immigration it’s easy to forget that engineers will be affected by the UK leaving the EU. The Royal Academy of Engineering are leading a cross-institution project team to determine how they can assist the government to ensure the best outcome for the UK and UK engineering during negotiation with the EU. Check out the first of many informational webinars hosted by the IET to learn about what their plans are and how you can get involved.

The EYE Task Force are currently looking at ways to improve the user experience on their website. They’d love to hear your feedback on their current site and what they can do to improve both the virtual and physical experience of being an EYE! Take their short survey here.

That’s all for this time. We’ll be back in a month with another round up of the latest news and tips to keep you up to date with the activities of EYE members and your professional institutions.