Wednesday, 9 December 2015

'Ada Lovelace' by guest blogger John Faulkner

"We may say most aptly, that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves."

This Ada Lovelace quote describes her belief that complicated logical problems could be solved by machine, just as the recently invented automatic loom could weave brocade cloth. 

In 1833, at the age of 17, gifted mathematician Ada became an associate of Charles Babbage the Cambridge University Lucasian Professor of mathematics. He named her The Enchantress of Numbers. Then, tables such as for navigation, were calculated by human 'computers'  but prone to mistakes. Babbage saw mechanical processing could eliminate error and started to design a machine called the Analytical Engine. Translating a Babbage lecture about the engine inspired Ada to produce the very first published computer program. This required a mathematical algorithm to be converted into the sequence of steps necessary for the engine to compute. The program formed a table for punched card instructions. The cards were to operate the engine and in this case produce Bernoulli numbers, for use by mathematicians. Ada proposed that beside numbers there would be no reason why machines could not work with symbols such as musical notes.

Born on 10th December 1815 Ada grew up during the Industrial Revolution. With a scientific upbringing she had a natural desire to find out as much as she could about the world of engineering. She was married to the Earl of Lovelace and lived in Horsley with her three children. At the age of only 36 she died of cancer but her legacy is computer programming which lives on with us every moment of the day in the modern world.

Ada was a visionary and here are some of her quotes:

"A new, a vast, and a powerful language is developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our possession have rendered possible."

"The Analytical Engine might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine… Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent."

.....and here, much like a modern day spreadsheet, is the first published program:

There is an exhibition at the Science Museum until the end of March 2016 of Ada's life and work...

- John Faulkner, SATRO Volunteer

If you would like to find out more information and/or book tickets for the Ada Lovelace Evening taking place tomorrow in aid of SATRO follow this link. Alternatively call Guildford Tourist Information on 01483 444334

Monday, 7 December 2015

'Are You Ready To Rock n Role?' by guest blogger Dr Elaine Hickmott

Recently I have been pondering the subject of leadership and role models.  When the SATRO team invited me to write a blog post supporting our celebration of Ada Lovelace in December I immediately knew my theme; role models and the part they play in innovation and encouraging future generations.

To explore this further let’s begin with two definitions:

Of all the potential links between role models and innovation, the one that resonates most strongly for me is inspiration; something or someone that stimulates the mind and can foster feelings of confidence and encouragement.  All of which help provide a fertile ground for innovation.

Sharing stories, explaining experiences and interacting with others provide the insights, spark the ideas and bring the human dimension needed to fuel creativity and the desire to make a difference.  Both of which are necessary to bring about innovation.  This is particularly important in STEM.  Science, technology, engineering and maths are part of our lives every day but not everyone appreciates or understands their contribution to society and the economy.  Therefore, we need role models who help raise awareness, showcase innovation in action and present STEM in a real world context.  And the best people to do this?  STEM professionals and their real life experiences.

In The Spotlight. Ready Or Not!
Like most people, scientists and engineers don’t wake up in the morning and declare, “Today, I am going to be a role model”.  It is a status bestowed upon us by others who see us as a positive example to be emulated.  This means it can happen at any time with any person.  Therefore, as STEM professionals and leaders we need to recognise the influence our behaviours and values have on others.  As well as embracing the fact that we have the chance to inspire those around us. 

A great example of this came from one of my clients; a scientist and director in the environmental sector.  During our work together she learnt that she was viewed as a role model by other females in the company who were pleased to see a woman on the Board. She told me, ”When I learnt I was viewed as a role model it was an amazing revelation to me, and made me even more determined to communicate successfully and be a positive example”.

A Stereotype-free Zone
Finally, there is an assumption that role models are people older and more experienced than us.  This is not necessarily the case.  Inspiration doesn’t have such a narrow outlook.  Personally, I continue to be inspired by the young people who I meet through working with SATRO.  Their ideas and fresh perspectives on the world add a new dimension to my own view; something I cannot achieve alone.  Plus meeting them makes me strive to be even better myself.  If by chance they see me as an example, I certainly don’t want to let them down!

Regardless of age, background, experience and aspirations, we all have the ability to inspire others to be their best, to innovate and to make a difference.  It’s a gift and it’s powerful.  How are you going to share your gift today?

by Dr Elaine Hickmott, Development Director and founder, EH Enterprises

If you would like to find out more information and/or book tickets for the Ada Lovelace Evening in aid of SATRO, follow this link. Alternatively, call Guildford Tourist Information on 01483 444334

Friday, 4 December 2015

'Are there sufficient women in non-traditional roles today?' by guest blogger Keisha Smith

The Ada Lovelace Discussion on 10 December is titled ‘Are there sufficient women in non-traditional roles/careers today If not, why not?’

I’m mostly familiar with my field of STEM and engineering and based on current statistics, the answer to the first question seems to be no. The latest figures (August 2015[1]) for the UK suggest that women make up 14.4% of all people working in STEM occupations and 8.2% working as engineering professionals.

So why aren’t there more women? My recent 6 week secondment with WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) has helped me with this question. Even though girls continue to do out perform boys at GCSE/A-level STEM subject, many areas of research suggest that some girls still don’t see non traditional STEM careers or engineering for people like them and many aren’t progressing with the subject options, such as physics, that are required for the engineering profession. Although it’s about 50:50 at GCSE level for boy and girls doing physics, at A-level it approximately 80:20[2] and therefore this has a knock on effect in the work force.

Work force figures are also affected, not only by the limited number of women entering the profession, but also by retention issues whereby women leave the profession because of lack of progression/training due to the culture of some companies.

I believe that one of the actions we can do to increase the numbers in the workforce is to try and encourage girls, both at primary and secondary level, to see engineering as a career for them. As a STEM Ambassador I go into primary schools and show students (both boys and girls) what civil engineers do, the varied nature of engineering and the positive impact engineers have on shaping the society.

Working with organisations such as SATRO also helps in encouraging girls into engineering. The company I work for was recently involved in a SATRO programme where an A-level student was given the opportunity to undertake research based on an actual project. CGL provided the student a brief based on one of our major brownfield sites in London and during the 2 weeks with the company she gained an understanding of what ground engineering (both geotechnical and geoenvironmental aspects) is all about. I supervised this work placement and it was very encouraging to see the enthusiasm she had for engineering and she helped to show me that with the right encouragement more girls could be driven to consider a career in engineering.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


Unum are hosting a reception at the House of Commons to launch their report ‘ Making a Difference in Our Communities’ which highlights their extensive Corporate Social Responsibility programme. SATRO members of staff Jules Hall and Dr Beccy Bowden will be attending.  Unum say ‘we believe that helping our communities is a natural extension of the commitment we make each and every day to our customer. The launch of this report is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the charities, educators, voluntary organisations, sportspeople and performers who have inspired us locally and nationally’. Unum sponsor the SATRO Maths Challenge and also a mentoring programme at Therfield School which they support with many volunteers. Beccy Bowden said ‘Unum is an absolute pleasure for a small charity like us to work with because they care about what we do as much as we care – and that means that together we can achieve fantastic things!’

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Giving Tuesday - why give? by guest blogger and SATRO Patron James Dubois

At a time when our minds are full of the recent horrific terrorist murders in Paris, it is perhaps good to focus on what we, personally, can do to help others. Rather than sit back and leave actions to others, we should consider what difference each of us could make to the lives and opportunities of those less fortunate than ourselves.

Material objects and hedonistic pleasures are but a fleeting pleasure: how much better to give to worthy causes with which we can identify. Whether it be £1, £100 or £1,000 – start with some gift, of any amount, to help others. It’s a good habit that rewards the donor as much as it enriches the recipient. Gifts freely donated will probably not change your standard of life, but they may make a big difference to those who need the funds.

Are you ready to make a habit of giving and, in the process, enrich your own life?

- James Dubois, SATRO Patron

If you would like to give to SATRO you can do so by texting SATR11 to 70070 or visit our website to find out how else you can support us. 

Monday, 30 November 2015


SATRO, the Guildford based education charity, is delighted to announce the appointment of Howard Railton as the new Chairman of Trustees

Dr Beccy Bowden CEO of SATRO has announced that Howard Railton has been appointed as the new SATRO Chairman of Trustees. In addition, Dr Bowden is delighted that the outgoing Chairman, James Dubois, will join Jon Tickle and Dr Matt Perkins of e2v as Patrons of SATRO.

Dr Beccy Bowden commented, ‘I am delighted that Howard has agreed to take on the role of SATRO Chairman as we enter our fourth decade of inspiring young people about their future careers.  I know that our cause is one he feels passionately about. I am also very pleased that James will remain an active supporter by joining our Patrons and taking the lead on our fundraising activities. The last few years have seen the need for inspirational programmes for young people grow and grow – whilst the funding climate has been tough for all small charities. Without the hard work, dedication and active support of our Trustees and Patrons we would not be able to continue to grow and develop and we are indebted to them for everything they do for us’.

In June 2014, Howard Railton retired as Director of Projects for Air Products’ Global Engineering Organisation, Europe. Whilst there he was providing Organisational Management, Safety and Leadership consultancy and worked with various organisations to promote a greater interest in education and jobs in science and engineering in the UK.  Howard graduated from Bristol University with an Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering and he is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers who are devoted to promoting science and engineering in the City of London.

Mr Railton, Chairman of Trustees added “It is a great honour to be asked to take on this role.  James has done a fantastic job and I hope that I can continue the momentum he has created.  Enabling young people from all backgrounds to achieve their very best potential is a wonderful part of SATRO’s role.  Inspiring them with a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics is key to meeting a critical and worsening national skills shortage in those areas.”

Our new Patron, James Dubois initially worked with Beccy for three years as her Coach/Mentor during which time he helped her to shape the Board of Trustees to be fit to compete in a new world of Charity competitiveness. Beccy suggested that James might like to tackle the role of Chairman, which is a role he undertook with relish for three years. During that time, he oversaw SATRO’s biggest challenge - the survival of SATRO which had just lost all its central State funding (almost half total income).

Due to the generosity of various funders and the careful financial skills of the Trustee Board the financial deficit has steadily reduced. The published results for the year ended March 2015 showed a surplus which was a major achievement.

Over the period of James’ tenure, he has met many students who have had the benefit of being awakened and inspired by our staff and volunteers which confirm the vital work SATRO does.  James thanks all the staff and the Trustees for their many and varied contributions he believes that if we can give something back to the community then that is only as it should be.

James hopes to concentrate as a SATRO Patron on the role of liaising with major donors to keep them informed and in-touch, continuing to donate generously of their time and money whilst also spreading the word to their wider networks of additional potential financial supporters.

James is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and qualified in 1968 with top insolvency firm, Cork Gully.  In 2012, 40 years in public practice, he retired as Managing Partner of Body Dubois, a firm of Chartered Accountants specialising in different aspects of wealth creation, working mainly with owner-operated companies, professional partnerships and divisions of multi-nationals providing high levels of service on a personal basis.  He continues to work with the Firm as a Consultant.  He continues to serve as a Director or Consultant to various Companies and also some Pension Trustee Boards. Until 2011 he ran a Footdown Coaching/Mentoring Group for Chief Executives and Business Owners assisting them to improve their business and personal performance, involving Group mentoring issues as well as one-to-one personal coaching.  James has served as Chairman of Trustees since 2013 until 2015.  

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Dorothy Hodgkin by SATRO guest blogger John Faulkner

Many people will have been prescribed antibiotics to cure a nasty infection or even to save their lives. Behind the development of modern medicines like these is Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin who remains the only British woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. She won the 1964 chemistry prize outright for her techniques to find the atomic structure of biochemicals. Among her discoveries were the molecular structures of Penicillin (1945), Vitamin B12 (1955) and Insulin (1969). Knowing biochemical structure allows chemists to understand how drugs work. Microscopes cannot magnify to atomic level so the technique that she used was X-Ray Crystallography.

If you shine a laser through a fine lattice onto a screen, instead of a blurred shadow, a sharp diffraction pattern can be formed. It is possible to find out the shape of the lattice by using advanced mathematics along with the diffraction pattern measurements and the laser frequency. More energetic X-Ray's beamed through solids can create a diffraction pattern in a similar way. By focussing X-Rays through a crystal's lattice of atoms to get a diffraction pattern the molecular structure can be calculated. This was virtually impossible for the molecules that build living organisms but Dorothy Hodgkin was able to grow, mount the crystals and reveal their 3D atomic structure. With the relatively primitive equipment of the time, finding each structure took many years of science and engineering effort.

She was a mother with three children and worked as a scientist well into her eighties. Besides her Nobel Prize, Awards and Fellowships in 1965 she received the Order of Merit, given personally by the Queen and limited to only 24 living British Commonwealth citizens. Transforming the lives of the sick Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was the first woman to be conferred this honour since Florence Nightingale.

- John Faulkner

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Guest blogger Charlotte Grobien OBE of Give it Away on 'Giving to charities'

Give it Away was formed with the sole purpose of trying to make profits from the property market in order to support a variety of Charities. Since its beginning in 2006, I have built 8 new houses and supported over 12 different Charities.  Building houses is not traditionally a work place where you find an abundance of women but I often think that with a feminine approach to the detail of how a house needs to be finished (and on time) in order to make a good sale, it is an area well suited to us!

In terms of choosing which Charities could benefit from these donations I took a similarly detailed approach.  By researching those who supported children with multiple physical and mental challenges in homes where finance was strained together with finding concerns who mentored young people out of difficulty to face a better future, I formed the basis for Give it Away. Donations are made to “projects” and because I choose the smaller Charities working locally I am able to see exactly how these monies make a difference to many families.

I am a firm believer in trying to create career opportunities for young people and to develop skills and interests they may not know they had so that they are less likely to face a crisis in their formative years.  SATRO do this at a time when there is considerable need for young people to focus on technology and innovation giving them practical experience in a range of related subjects they may never have considered exploring . If this happens to include more young girls taking an interest in non-traditional career roles so much the better – I have not found it a problem!

If I could exhort more people in their middle years to use their valuable experience and resources to “earn” money or offer “time” to help young people find a better future, I will have achieved something!

- Charlotte Grobien, OBE

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Mathematician, Sir William Oughtred by Guest Blogger John Faulkner

In mathematics when "x" is used as shorthand for "multiply" thank Sir William Oughtred. He was rector of the Surrey village of Albury from 1603 to his death in 1660. A Fellow of Kings College Cambridge he taught mathematics free to anyone interested in the subject. One of his many students was Christopher Wren, the acclaimed architect of St Paul's Cathedral. He authored mathematics text books and these had other familiar terms such as Sin and Cos for the first time. His books were used by scientists such as Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle.

Sir William Oughtred's greatest contribution to STEM however, was to invent the Slide Rule. Four hundred years ago this year John Napier invented Logarithms making mathematical problems easier to solve. Using this, Oughtred inscribed logarithmic scales on two sliding wooden strips creating a powerful and simple calculating device. A slide rule is about the size of a ruler. By sliding the scales and aligning your numbers quick calculations can be made. Until the introduction of computers the slide rule was a fundamental science and engineering instrument. A slide rule needs no electricity or software and because of their simplicity were used by NASA as computer backup for the Apollo moon programme. Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin took his slide rule with him to the moon and in 2007 it famously auctioned for $77,675.

So if you visit Albury remember that it was here, four hundred years ago, some of our common mathematical symbols were defined and a device invented that flew to the moon!

- John Faulkner

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Charlotte Grobien OBE visits SATRO Mobile Classroom at Woodlands School

GIVE-IT-AWAY to make a difference!
A real example of social entrepreneurship

Surrey-based charity SATRO is delighted to announce that Charlotte Grobien OBE, a unique and very special social entrepreneur, has stepped up to the challenge of changing young people’s lives by supporting our programmes to inspire them about their future careers.

Charlotte visited Woodlands School on 1st October 2015 to see the SATRO Mobile Classroom in action accompanied by SATRO Chairman, James Dubois and Fundraiser, Lucy Miguda.  Charlotte has very kindly sponsored this very special activity for the students for this academic year, the students were delighted to present her with a bird box they had made during their sessions with the SATRO Mobile Classroom.

Charlotte Grobien, said “I loved the visit to Woodlands.  Such a lovely school in all respects: beautiful grounds and buildings with dedicated staff and happy children.  It is a pleasure to help them with funding for the SATRO Mobile Classroom”

During the course the students have also made planters which so impressed Charlotte that she has commissioned the students to make two for her next project in Woking.  The students are thrilled with this opportunity to showcase and sell their work; for Charlotte this is real social entrepreneurship!

Charlotte runs Give-it-Away which is unique in how it raises money for charity – it builds  houses, sells them and then gives the profits to charities that fit with Charlotte’s charitable interests.  Charlotte supports small, local charities who work with vulnerable children and young people who have disabilities, learning problems, difficult home backgrounds and where there is also financial deprivation. 

Gill Lloyd, Teacher at Woodlands School commented “The students look forward to working with the tutor from SATRO each week and are very proud of their new skills and of the useful items that they make”.
Woodlands is in Leatherhead and is a school for children aged 2–19 with a range of difficulties including severe learning difficulties and complex needs. The SATRO Mobile Classroom will be teaching the schools 6th Form Students construction skills to enable them to extend, enhance and learn new manual skills.

The school have appreciated the benefit of the SATRO offer which gives the students opportunities to develop their awareness of safety, how to follow instructions, learn new and different vocabulary, work as part of a team or in a group, learn to take turns and work independently. The SATRO Mobile Construction Classroom is very exciting for the students; and provides them with different stimulation and the opportunity to learn by doing which suits the learning style of many of the students. The school very much appreciates that this opportunity would not be available to us without the financial support of the “Give it Away” Charity or the expertise of Surrey SATRO. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


The 13th October is Ada Lovelace Day which is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).  She was a Guildford resident and is credited with creating the first computer programmer and this year it is 200 years since she was born.

History of Ada Lovelace

She was born Ada Gordon in 1815, sole child of the brief and tempestuous marriage of the poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, and his mathematics-loving wife Annabella Milbanke.  Fearing that Ada would inherit her father’s volatile ‘poetic’ temperament, her mother raised her under a strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics. Ada herself from childhood had a fascination with machines– designing fanciful boats and steam flying machines, and pouring over the diagrams of the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution that filled the scientific magazines of the time.  She spent her childhood at what is now Horsley Towers, Horsley, Surrey.

At the age of 19 she was married to an aristocrat, William King; when King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838 his wife became Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace.  She had three children.  In 1833, Lovelace’s mentor, the scientist and polymath Mary Sommerville, introduced her to Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics who had already attained considerable celebrity for his visionary and perpetually unfinished plans for gigantic clockwork calculating machines. Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace both had somewhat unconventional personalities and became close and lifelong friends. Babbage described her as “that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects could have exerted over it,” or an another occasion, as “The Enchantress of Numbers”.

Lovelace was deeply intrigued by Babbage’s plans for a tremendously complicated device he called the ‘Analytical Engine’, which was to combine the array of adding gears of his earlier Difference Engine with an elaborate punchcard operating system. It was never built, but the design had all the essential elements of a modern computer.

In 1842 Lovelace translated a short article describing the Analytical Engine by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, for publication in England. Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood the machine so well”. The final article is over three times the length of the original and contains several early ‘computer programs,’ as well as striking observations on the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music. Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for his engine before, Lovelace’s are the most elaborate and complete, and the first to be published; so she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer”. 

The Analytical Engine remained a vision,  until Lovelace’s notes became one of the most critical documents to inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.

Monday, 5 October 2015


SATRO, the Guildford based educational charity, is delighted to announce the appointment of Alan Foster, McLaren Automotive Operations Director as new Trustee

Dr Beccy Bowden CEO of SATRO has announced that Alan Foster has been appointed as a SATRO Trustee.  Dr Bowden said, “We are delighted that Alan has joined the Board of SATRO – I know that his wealth of business experience will be a huge benefit to us in continuing to grow and develop our organisation. The Trustees of a small charity are very much unsung heroes – we truly could not have survived in recent years without our hard-working and knowledgeable Board."

Alan Foster commented, “Having not excelled at school and chosen an apprenticeship route, I have an affinity with SATROs vision. I was influenced by a couple of business leaders when I was young and now find myself in a position where I can hopefully light a blazing passion in people, so that they too can be supported to fulfil their true potential. I bring enthusiasm, professional business knowledge and lots of practical expertise to SATRO that will support the broad spectrum team in many aspects of their pioneering work.”

Alan Foster’s career has spanned 39-years in the international automotive manufacturing industry, with over 20 years in management, executive and board positions. The last eleven years he has been with McLaren as their Operations Director. McLaren Automotive are manufacturers of some of the world’s most advanced, fastest and most expensive high performance cars.

Alan also acts as a Brand Ambassador for McLaren Automotive and regularly hosts internal events; expanding the global awareness of the brand through interviews and videos. Alan says, “The simplistic elegance of the manufacturing systems deployed within McLaren has been referred to as “genius”. The philosophy is constructed around simple visual controls and metrics, people systems and engagement.”

Before McLaren, Alan who started as a Press Tool making Apprentice, went on to work in engineering, management and executive roles at Ford Motor Company, Toyota UK at Burnaston, and from 1997 to 2005, for General Motors in the UK, Germany and in Switzerland, where he was their Lean Consulting Group manager. Alan supplemented his work career with academic qualifications, attaining a 1st class Honours Degree in Manufacturing from Liverpool and an MBA from Cranfield. He was recently acknowledged by The Manufacturer publication as one to the Top 100 most influential people in the UK Manufacturing industry. He also holds Advisory Board positions with Liverpool Superport and ICON Aircraft.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Juliet Martin - SATROclub Extended Research Placement Blog

Juliet Martin has recently completed her SATROclub extended research placement at St George's Hospital. Juliet was tasked with investigating sudden cardiac death in the young: The sudden death of a young person from a silent cardiac disease is a very tragic event.  In most instances the deaths are due to inherited conditions of the heart, therefore evaluation of first degree relatives is recommended. Her project included assessing the experience of these relatives while attending an expert clinic. 

Here's what Juliet had to say about her first week at St George's Hospital...

"This week I have arrived at St George's Hospital where I will be working with another SATRO student and my mentor on a research project concerning the profiles of the hearts of young sports players.

The best thing about this week has been having the opportunity to sit in on 'clinic': consultations between cardiac outpatients and the cardiologists I'm working with. I've been able to observe how the doctors interact with patients as well as beginning to understand the process of diagnosis. Each patient that is seen comes with a completely different set of symptoms, risk factors, history and lifestyle, so that the two or three hours spent observing is extremely varied and flies by.

My mentor challenges us to look at the patient's ECG report and try to identify any abnormalities before he tells us what's already been flagged up which means that we are much more aware of the real-life link between what we see on paper and the patient's health. It's been really exciting beginning to understand and be able to interpret the various patterns we can see.

This ties in with how we are beginning research for our project. We have been provided with hundreds of ECG traces, echocardiogram reports and general health and family history information from adolescent football players. At this stage, we are entering all these details into a database for analysis later on.

Alongside the practical experience of clinic, these data become more significant and comparable and I am beginning to become familiar with 'normal' readings for the PR interval, QRS duration, QRS axis and various other pieces of information which made no sense to me when I first arrived. It's been amazing how much you can learn in a week!

The ultimate interest of our project and the day-to-day research of my mentor is enlargement of the heart. I have begun to read about HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), a disease in which the myocardium becomes thickened, and the data I've been examining so far as well as some of the patients I've observed in clinic have demonstrated instances of thickening of the heart muscle in sports players due to extreme exercise. All the knowledge I'm gaining is allowing me to develop a keen appreciation for the real research being undertaken here at St. George's Hospital and to begin to understand the importance of and motivation for large-scale medical research projects.

I'm looking forward to beginning to compile our data and hopefully analysing the trends that come out of it next week. I also hope to have opportunities to sit in on different types of scan to see how the results I've been reading are actually generated."

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Michael Collis - Extended Research Placement Blog

Michael Collis recently completed his SATROclub Extended Research Placement at the University of Surrey under supervision of Dr Radu Sporea. Michael was tasked with investigating next-generation electronic circuit applications made on large areas with unconventional technologies such as inkjet printing and resulting in flexible, low-cost and power efficient electronics. 

Here's what Michael had to say about his time at the University...

Week One:

This week I have been learning all about transistors, and preparing for the lab work that I will be doing during the next few weeks. First, I read part of “Electronics for Today and Tomorrow” by Tom Duncan, particularly the sections on semiconductors, diodes and transistors. I learnt the differences between n-type and p-type semiconductors (the former has electrons as charge carriers, the latter has positive “holes” as charge carriers), as well as about the junction that is created between the two when they are placed together. I then went on to learn about the junction transistor, which is the less common, but simpler type of transistor often used in high current applications, followed by the junction field effect transistor, and how they work. With this base understanding, I then learnt about Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect-transistors, otherwise known as the MOSFET, the most common of transistors today, used all the time in integrated circuits, which is very close to what my project is on. I went into more detail in these, also learning about its’ electronic characteristics and equations to model it, as well as how and where they are used. Finally, I applied this knowledge to the source-gated transistor, which my project is on. At this stage, I also learnt about possible production techniques, as well as the theory behind using an inkjet printer to create them. Finally, I made a general plan of the next three weeks with Dr Sporea, so that we can make the most out of the time available.

Week Two:

This week started with safety talks, first for the general labs, then for the clean room. I also obtained my amazing blue clean room suit. The first two days were getting used to the inkjet printer, which I printed a protective layer on copper covered plastic in certain designs (starting simple, but getter more complex on Tuesday).  On Tuesday morning, I met Professor John M Shannon, the person who discovered and wrote the first paper on the Source Gated Transistor. On Wednesday, I etched my previously made designs in the copper in the clean room, before attempting to print silver electrodes on glass. I spent the whole day on Thursday in the clean room, preparing substrates, coating them in different substances and using masks, using the JLS Sputterer and other pieces of equipment, as well as making a semiconductor solution. During which, I made metal electrodes on glass, followed by a dielectric and them more metal, putting via holes in some of them, to test Via holes. On Friday I measured the current and resistance of the samples from Thursday, which gave out good results. Afterwards, I attempted to print a semiconductor ink, which failed due to clogging, before reading through numerous papers on Via hole printing so that we can try and improve our process.

Week Three:

This week I started by cutting around 30 glass substrates, for creating source gated transistors on. Before I could do this, I had to clean all the glass by first blowing each substrate with high pressure nitrogen gas, to get rid of any dust particles. Then, I placed them in beakers filled with acetone, and placed the beakers in a agitated water bath for five minutes. Next, I took them out of the water bath and rinsed them with acetone, before blow drying them with nitrogen gas. I then placed them in another beaker filled with isopropanol and then in the agitated water bath for 5 minutes. I rinsed the samples with isopropanol and blow dried with nitrogen gas. Finally, I placed them in a machine that fired high energy oxygen ions at the substrate, finally giving us a atomically clean substrate. Afterwards, I used the JLS sputter machine to place source and drain electrodes on the substrates, using different metals. Then I deposited two different semiconductors, insulator and finally a gate on the substrates. On Friday, I finally got to measure the electrical characteristics of the transistors; even though most had short circuits, the one that worked showed great electronic characteristics. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Marie Curie by guest blogger John Faulkner

Born in 1864 Marie Curie, one of the great pioneering scientists, remains the only person to win Nobel prizes in both Physics and Chemistry. She initiated the theory of radioactivity and discovered two new elements. With her husband Pierre, also a Nobel Prize laureate, they designed techniques to analyse radioactive uranium minerals that she suspected contained new elements, discovering Radium and Polonium. Their equipment included an ionisation chamber to convert the mineral's radiation to electric charge and an electrometer to measure the tiny currents generated. Isolation of the first element, Radium, took many years of chemical processing. Following their discoveries Marie went on to demonstrate the benefits of radiotherapy to treat cancer. During WW1 she personally deployed field X-Ray machines and later founded the Curie Institutes for medical research in Paris and Warsaw. However, the dangers of radiation exposure were not known, she kept a jar of luminous Radium by her bedside as a nightlight and radioactive samples in her pocket. She died at the age of 66 from a rare form of anaemia it is believed resulted from overexposure to X-Rays from her life saving war work. It took until the 1980's to decontaminate her laboratory sufficiently to open it as a museum!

Did you know that you may have a device based on Marie Curie's research equipment in your house? It is the ionising Smoke Detector. Smoke particles, which are electrically charged, entering the detectors' ionisation chamber will trigger the alarm.

The pioneering work of Marie Curie and her husband Pierre continue to have a profound affect on our world today, particularly in medical research and treatment of cancer. You may also recognise the daffodil emblem for the Marie Curie appeal for cancer care.

- John Faulkner

Wednesday, 2 September 2015



SATRO is delighted to announce that Heathrow Community Fund has donated £5,000 towards the cost of the SATRO Mobile Construction Classroom to attend Sunbury Manor School, Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex on a weekly basis. SATRO runs a fleet of five mobile classrooms which attend schools across Surrey and its boards teaching up to BTEC Level 1 Building and Construction Skills to Years 10 and 11 students. 

Louise Duncan, HeadTeacher said “We have worked for years with SATRO Mobile Classroom for our Year 10 and Year 11 students and it has made such a difference to them.  They have relished the opportunity for more hands on practical work, enjoyed developing their skills and working in a completely different environment.  For some students it has given them an opportunity to succeed in a way which more academic subjects have not always offered them.  It has also had such a beneficial impact on their other students as they have seen the Construction Classroom as something special for them, somewhere where they can succeed and work in a different way and for many it has shown them a way into college.  We were so disappointed that for financial reasons we were not able to continue this provision and so grateful for the injection of funding from Heathrow Community Fund which means we will be able to do so.  It will make such a difference to our next cohort of Year 10 students, thank you.”

Heathrow Community Fund also donated £5,000 to SATRO to help fund a new van for this much needed programme.

Heathrow Community Fund is part of an independent grant–making charity set up by Heathrow’s owners to support and strengthen local communities close to the airport.  In the past two years it has donated more than £1 million through three grant programmes, funding projects which support young people, help protect the environment and support active local communities.  Funds come from an annual donation from the airport, donations from airline passengers and fine imposed on aircraft that breach noise limits.  

Friday, 21 August 2015

What is it like to complete a SATRO Extended Work Placement? Case Study by Toby Peterken

My name is Toby Peterken.  I am currently a student at Esher College.  For my AS year I studied maths, further maths, physics and philosophy and now, for my final year, I am continuing with maths, further maths and physics.   Following my A Levels, I am hoping to complete a degree in either physics or theoretical physics.  I aim to remain in academia - achieving a Ph.D. and then staying on as a research fellow and with any luck becoming a professor of physics. 

I heard about the SATRO placements through an email from college and applied for a placement for several reasons.  Obviously it looks amazing on a UCAS form or a CV, however that wasn’t my motivation.  My main draw to this placement was that it was the first opportunity I have had to make a real contribution.  With year 10 work experience placements or with 1 week summer academies you learn a lot, however you never seem to do any actual work, whereas my work at SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technologies Ltd) did matter – it was the first time this technique had been looked at on land in such significant amounts, so everything I did was new. 

My project was to analyse the data from a satellite to see if there were any correlations between the strength of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) reflections and the landforms below and by doing this, see if there were any useful applications of this.  The first 2 weeks were spent mainly programming; I had to create the tools that mapped the data onto Google Earth.  Then we realised that there was too much data and the computer kept crashing, so I had to program another tool that allowed me to load only the data in a certain region.  Then I had to analyse the data, discovering correlation with different landforms below and showing that this technique could potentially be used for mapping deforestation.  I also got to reprogram the timing system for the receiver on the satellite.  

The main skill I learned was programming, this includes more than just learning what a particular line of code does.  I had to learn how to break down large problems into small tasks.  I learned how to go through and debug a program with rigour.  I wrote a program in my first week which, although it worked, was written inefficiently and it just felt messy, so during my last week I rewrote it.  From what I had learned initially, I was able to make the code more elegant and I completed it in much less time. I also understood what other job opportunities were on offer, as I had no idea how much variation there could be with applied physics.    

Friday, 14 August 2015


Apprentice/Junior Administration Assistant
Full time - salary £10,500 per annum

We're looking for a bright, motivated individual to help with all aspects of business administration, including: 

• Answering telephone and email enquiries 
• Preparing materials for events 
• Support on financial matters, including invoicing 
• Database updating 
• Support on sourcing materials for events 

There would also be an opportunity for the post holder to learn basic finance, with coaching and mentoring provided by our Finance Officer. 

Future Prospects

The right candidate would ideally be interested in picking up basic finance skills, which could lead to other roles in finance if they had an aptitude for it. This position would give them a sound working knowledge of office administration and business practices, allowing them to progress into any office/business environment. SATRO works with hundred of volunteers from all types of companies across Surrey, so this is a great opportunity to find out about lots of career opportunities too. 

Skills Required

The right person needs to have good communication skills and be comfortable making internal and external telephone calls.

You need to be organised and be able to work well on your own, as well as part of a team.

You need to be able to take instruction and work effectively.

IT Skills i.e. Word, Powerpoint, Excel. Specialised training will be reviewed frequently and provided where necessary. 

The candidate needs to have an out-going personality as they will be expected to communicate with customers.

All SATRO members of staff are required to have an enhanced DBS check.

If you would like more information visit this link. For a job description, please email Amalee Gamache using:

To apply please send a CV and a covering letter, answering the following two questions:

1. Why do you want to work for SATRO?
2. What attributes do you possess which are relevant to this role?

Closing date: 8th September 2015
Interviews: Week Commencing 14th September 2015

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sam Mansfield - SATROclub Extended Research Placement - KBC

Sam Mansfield of Esher College is currently completed his SATROclub Extended Research Placement at KCB Advanced Technologies, a leading independent oil and gas consulting and technology company. The research project Sam is doing will make use of process simulation to contribute to KBC's innovation program for 2015. The project will be on a refinery unit operation. 

Here's what Sam had to say about his experience so far...

"So far I have created a weathering model that simulates the effect of boil off on the composition of stored LNG and nitrogen injection into exported LNG to maintain wobbe index. It currently supports continuous import and export and adjusts the rate nitrogen injection so that wobbe index of export LNG stays at a constant defined value. It can manually simulate weathering and nitrogen injection for discrete imports and varying continuous exports, however this is a fairly high effor and time consuming process. I need to find a way to pass through values in the time series so that composition and flow rate of accumulation is conserved over each state within the time series without being overwritten by the next state's calculations so it can be done automatically. Neither I nor my supervisor could find an elegant way of allowing this within petro-sim. A meeting with the person who came up with my project idea has been arranged to discuss potential ways of coming up with a more elegant solution to this problem."

Thank you Sam! We wish you the best of luck for the rest of your placement at KCB. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Eloise Knights - SATROclub Extended Research Placement - CGL

Eloise Knights of Tormead School is currently completing her SATROclub Extended Research Placement at CGL (Card Geotechnics Ltd). 

A large site located in Silvertown, London, immediately to the north of the River Thames which is a former industrial estate, including an oil depot, that is to be developed for mixed residential and commercial uses with multiple basements across the footprint. The site is 15ha in area and divided into 3 former wharves. An investigation scope is required to assess the ground related risks to determine the likely impact to construction of the development, both in terms of risk due to contamination and risk relating to stability of the buildings (i.e. foundations and retaining walls). Research is required on the type of ground investigation techniques available, what would be applicable and cost effective and the likely cost of the overall ground investigation. Information is also required to show the Client the importance of ground investigations in the construction industry and how early spending on a detailed ground investigation limits risk and eventually construction costs. Eloise is working with the team at CGL to help conduct this research required. 

Here's what Eloise had to say about her placement so far...

"I began the placement having very little experience of the Engineering discipline which include, Geology and Geotechnical Engineering. Despite my minimal knowledge and understanding, it became apparent that these branches of engineering were more familiar than I had anticipated. Similar to chemical and electrical engineering, Geotechnics involves the analysis and observation of  problems in order to acquire the most appropriate method to resolve the problem. Fortunately, having a mind that enjoys logic and reason, I very quickly understood the processes and engineering methods used by the company to approach the environmental and geological problems. Throughout this week, my appreciation of the significance of what the company does has grown even greater, and likewise my interest."

SATRO wishes Eloise the best of luck for the rest of her placement!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Toby Peterken - SATROclub Extended Research Placement - Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

Toby Peterken of Esher College is currently completing a SATROclub Extended Work Placement at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). There is a GNSS Reflectometry Experiment on Tech Demo Sat, and data from this is being downloaded regularly. Toby's project is to post process this data, as guided by the team at SSTL, to try and find relations to geographical features on the ground. This could include streams, ice or other features. The project also involves processing the positioning data and relationship to previous ground testing. Here's what Toby had to say about his experience so far...

Week One

"When I first got here I was shown around the buildings, the different departments, the laboratories and the manufacturing area.

 I was then given a task to be able to make the data easy to visualise. I had to edit a Matlab script so that it automatically generates KML (Google earth) files that display the data from the satellite as coloured paths on the earth’s surface. So that first day was spent trying to learn KML. The second day I started on the Matlab program and got to control parts of the satellite. 

The next two days were spent finishing off/fixing the code. Now it displays signal strength, antenna direction and signal strength compared with antenna direction on Google earth. It automatically loads all the files in each folder and makes the path transparent if the value is too low. I also created a script that draws graphs of other data if needed. 

All of this will be so that it is easy to see if signal strength has correlation with landforms."

Week Two

"As the track data was processed by my program, I was asked to rewrite part of the satellite control program, so that the camera timings were automated. It took 3 days to get it so that the timings didn't clash with other collections and so that it always turned off over the same point over the Earth. It was used to set satellite timings and if it continues to work, could be used permanently.

I then started to look at the data. I realised there was too much information so I created a script to load only information in a particular area and time interval.
 Doing so I was able to look at isolated regions and look for patterns in the data. So far it seems to be sensitive to water."

SATRO wishes Toby the best of luck for the future, and hopes that he enjoys the rest of his placement with SSTL!