Published: 02 October 2014

TV’s Greg Foot fires up young scientists and engineers

‘Inventing the Future’ saw self-proclaimed ‘science daredevil’ Greg Foot interviewing four Surrey scientists and engineers about their inspiring work.

Celebrating scientific creativity becoming reality, ‘Inventing the Future: An Evening with Greg Foot’ took place on campus on 23 September and welcomed an audience of schoolchildren, members of the public and businesses.

An Engagement Fellow of the Wellcome Trust, Greg Foot is the resident science expert on ‘Blue Peter’ and ‘Sunday Brunch’ and regularly tours festival with live shows such as ‘Kaboom!’, which uncovers the science of explosions and how they shaped the modern world.

True to his reputation for eye-catching stunts, Greg kicked off the evening at Surrey with a bang. Following a welcome by Pro Vice Chancellor of Research Michael Kearney, Greg took to the stage and demonstrated how to achieve the optimum explosion by applying heat to a balloon filled with the perfect mix of hydrogen and oxygen.

Between experiments – which included the firing of a cannonball overhead – he interviewed four Surrey academics who have each recently seen their research becoming a reality.

Dr Radu Sporea, Royal Academy of Engineering Academic Research Fellow, explained how printed electronics have enabled the development of smart packaging which could replace traditional instruction manuals. Senior Lecturer in Computing Dr Helen Treharne talked the audience through an app she has helped developed – due to be launched early next year – which will enable visitors to museums to access a range of information about exhibits based on image recognition. Professor of Computing Steve Schneider demonstrated his secure electronic voting system which was successfully in the state election in Victoria (Australia). Lastly Dr Chris Bridges of the Surrey Space Centre explained the science behind STRAND-1, Surrey’s nano-satellite based on smartphone technologies, which is currently in Low Earth Orbit.

Giving an inspiring message to the audience, the researchers spoke of the unique thrill they got when their research began to make a difference in the outside world. Asked by Greg to give their best piece of advice to scientists and engineers of the future, Dr Chris Bridges said, “Don’t stop. Never think that certain careers, for example in the space industry, are out of your reach. These things are absolutely possible if you want them.”

Greg Foot said, “The thing that has struck me here are the many connections there are. People tend to think that scientists work just in their own team but I’ve seen that you have to be interdisciplinary so that you can jump on each other’s expertise and bring it all together. I think this is something Surrey does so well.”

‘Inventing the Future: An evening with Greg Foot’ followed on from ‘Innovation in Action’, an event for the technology, engineering and research community exploring how research and innovation can be exploited for maximum benefit.




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