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!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sara Ahmed - SATROclub Extended Research Placement at Jacobs

Sara Ahmed of Rosebery School has just completed her SATROclub Extended Work Placement at Jacobs, an engineering company. Here she has been focussing on Civil Engineering, and completing a project on Building Information Modelling (BIM). We asked Sara to update us on her progress each week, here's what she had to say!...

Week One

"With the first week of my placement coming to an end, I am happy to say that it’s been such an amazing experience so far! Everybody I've encountered at Jacob’s seems only too happy to help me with any queries and I’m really enjoying the experience in Civil Engineering! My report, which seemed absolutely impossible on the first day, is now coming along nicely. I've even managed to fit in some 3D Modelling."

Week Two

"My second week is going just as well as the first!
In addition to having written the majority of my report, I've attended teleconferences and rail meetings as well as doing my own CAD Modelling on Bentley Microstation. I'm loving the experience and find the day going so fast."

Week Three

"As my last week at Jacobs draws to a close, I find myself feeling quite disappointed that I have to go. I've learned an incredible amount about Civil Engineering and the construction industry and everybody here has been so happy to help with my report!"

We wish Sara the best of luck for the future!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

SATRO Volunteer donates pre-war Meccano set

We'd like to send a huge thank you to our volunteer that very kindly donated a pre-war Outfit no.10 Meccano set for us to sell. After placing an advert on a specialist Meccano website, we are pleased to say that we have sold the set for a massive £555! Thank you so much to our very generous volunteer, this money will go towards inspiring more and more young people in Surrey about their future careers!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

John Faulkner on Sir Barnes Wallis

If you have been involved with Surrey SATRO Mega-Structures challenge you will have found that the strongest shape, that uses struts, is a triangle.  The triangle can be formed into a geodesic, a special curved design that can be used to form spherical shapes. The geodesic was used for the first time by Barnes Wallis to create strong lightweight airframes in his aircraft designs.

Sir Barnes Wallis was a pioneering scientist, engineer and inventor who used his skills during the Second World War to help defeat Nazi Germany. By designing powerful weapons to target vital war infrastructure he invented the bouncing bomb that breached the Ruhr dams and the 10 tonne earthquake bomb used to destroy hardened concrete defences. Surviving bombs can be seen at the Brooklands Museum, Weybridge. Barnes Wallis lived in Effingham and worked at the Weybridge aircraft factory developing his world leading designs.

He was a leading Effingham village resident and is buried in St Lawrence's Churchyard. He died in 1979 aged 92 and a headstone there depicts his achievements as one of our WW2 heroes. So if you are building Mega-Structures think of Barnes Wallis, one of our greatest inventors, giving a nod of approval at your triangles!

- John Faulkner, SATRO Volunteer

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Dr Rebecca Bowden to become Heathrow Community Fund New Director

SATRO are pleased that Beccy Bowden will have the opportunity to assist Heathrow with their charitable plans. She has proved to be an outstanding leader of our Charity over the last seven years and indeed will continue in that role but with a reduced time commitment.

SATRO have a small but very focussed staff, supported by some 800 volunteers from all sectors across the county, enthusing 15,000 students each year with the career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

What happens after you take part in one of SATRO's STEMX events?

What happens next after you take part in one of SATRO’s STEMX events?

This year Reading Girls School won our Siemen’s Challenge with a simple, yet highly innovative idea for addressing the issue of managing patients with Diabetes who live in remote areas. The DocSoc uses cutting edge piezo-electric materials to manufacture a simple sock which patients  can use, combined with a handy Phone App, to monitor the degree of feeling in their feet (a key indicator of Diabetes-related issues). The judges at the Siemens Challenge back in May were hugely impressed and awarded them first prize.

The girls had such fun taking part in the competition and interacting with Siemens’ staff that they exhibited their idea at the South East Big Bang Fair in Crawley – turn’s out they impressed the judges there hugely too! The team walked away with an amazing clutch of prizes:

KPMG Prize for use of Accounts
Network Rail Award for Women in Science and Engineering
Parafix Prize for Innovation
Pyroban Award for Design Technology
Society for Endocrinology – Rising Star in Medicine

Another couple of trophies and £220 prize money! 

There were many other schools there, some of whom also got 3 or 4 awards:  

We are very proud of them and their idea – and delighted that they took the initiative and went on to even better things after our competition had finished. We will keep an eye out in the future – we’re sure they will all go very far!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

John Faulkner, SATRO Volunteer on Paul Dirac, Theoretical Physicist

Ask any physicist today about who they rate as next best British scientist to Newton and the answer might easily be Paul Dirac. Dirac was a theoretical physicist and in 1928 he derived the 'Dirac Equation'. His genius was to construct a single equation that described electron behaviour in all conditions - from the weird world of quantum mechanics to the light speeds of Einstein's special theory of relativity. Put simply the behaviour of every electron that had ever existed in the universe! The power of the equation went further and predicted the existence of a new unsuspected type of matter called antimatter. At the age of 31 Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize for physics. The first anti-matter to be discovered was the anti-electron, or positron, in 1934. Our modern world of electronic wonders would not exist without reference to this one glorious piece of mathematical genius. Knowledge of the positron has enabled the invention of latest non-invasive medical scanners. The Dirac Equation is described in his ground breaking book The Principles of Quantum Mechanics.

Dirac was born in Bristol in 1902 and died in Florida in 1984. As a formidable contributor to quantum theory and one of the world's most respected scientists he held a glittering array of awards and professorships in Britain and the USA. Although happily married he was cripplingly quiet and shy, possibly suffering from autism. This may explain why he is not well known outside the world of physics.

His memorial can be found in a corner of Westminster Abbey - the Dirac Equation carved in stone.