Summer Challenge 2019 – Engineering Solutions from Nature

At UCL, within the Faculty of Engineering and UCL’s Access and Widening Participation team, S4CE held the 2019 Summer Challenge, which had the theme: Engineering Solutions from Nature.

A six week summer challenge in various STEM and humanities subjects for 12 students attending state schools in or near London, who are academically high achieving 12 students. Four Ph.D. students enrolled in the Chemical Engineering programme acted as moderator and tutors for the pre-university students.

Several Academics from UCL, as well as researchers and scientists involved in S4CE contributed to this outreach programme. Two Academics from the Department of Chemical Engineering provided continuity of engagement with the pupils: Prof. Alberto Striolo and Dr. Matteo Salvalaglio.

The meetings took place once a week, for 6 consecutive weeks, in June 2019 at the Faculty of Engineering. The pupils had the chance to visit several laboratories, including undergraduate and graduate research labs.

The students have been working on finding solutions to various problems by taking inspiration from nature. They were exposed to various chemical engineering themes within the summer challenge including motivational talks and lab demonstrations from Nature Inspired Engineering, Industries (notably United Downs, S4CE field site in Cornwall, and GSK), Biochemical Engineering, Electrochemical Innovation labs, Catalysis and Reaction Engineering, AdReNa and Fluid Dynamics labs. PhD students Nidhi Kapil, Mehzabin Patel, Turan Erkal and Zeynep Sumer were mentoring and guiding the students through their projects.

The challenge was concluded with an interesting and inspiring talk by Head of Department and Director of the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering (CNIE) Prof. Marc-Olivier Coppens (see picture) on describing nature inspired solutions which can help and provide guidance in solving the grand engineering challenges.

The summer challenge ignited lot of curiosity and enthusiasm among the students towards the field of chemical engineering and its various aspects in day to day life.