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Innovative jet engine display gets royal welcome

An innovative exhibition that allows people to build and test environmentally friendly jet engines will be landing at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 24 October 2006.

The University of Manchester display is one of only a select handful to appear at a special Science Day in London as part of the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations.

The exhibit was originally created for the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition 2006 in London in July and the Glasgow Science Exhibition in September.

Due to its tremendous popularity, the Royal Society has invited a team from the University of Manchester’s School of Materials and School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering to the prestigious event.

The University’s stand will be visited by around 1,000 school children and teachers from across the UK, as well as VIPs from the science world and members of the Royal Family.

Visitors will be invited to put on 3D glasses and watch an exciting interactive video – created by Kuo-Cheng Wu and Dr Kevin Tan – that takes them on a tour of a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 jet engine.

The video reveals the innovative research, modern materials and novel manufacturing techniques and testing needed to create environmentally friendly aircraft.

People can then put their new-found knowledge to the test and use a special computer program to design their own jet engine.

By selecting materials and running a computer simulation, visitors will find out how far their plane would actually fly, and the cost and environmental friendliness of their engine.

The exhibition is designed to give students a fun and stimulating insight into the work of material scientists and engineers. It is hoped it will encourage them to look at science, engineering and technology as a career.

It also highlights the way in which the University of Manchester is playing a key role in the development of the next generation of fuel efficient jet engines.

The project team has also produced a set of illustrated Top Trumps-style playing cards, which show the properties of materials that could be used to make a jet engine. These will be handed out to teachers to use in the classroom for teaching at key stage 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum.

The University of Manchester display is one of thirteen chosen from all the exhibitors at the 2005 and 2006 Royal Society Science Exhibitions. It will be situated in the State Ballroom at Buckingham Palace.

After manning the stand during the day, Professor Phil Withers and Jill Horsman from the project team will don their best attire for a special reception, which will be attended by members of the Royal Family.

The project team behind the exhibition also includes Dr Mark Cotton, Sheu-Ching Hon, Alan Parlane and Dr David Stanley, and Nicholas Forder from the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Professor Withers, who led the team, said: “It is really exciting to carry out research that leads to the production of new jet engines.

"Using a 3D journey through one of these engines, we have tried to communicate that excitement to young people, who will hopefully become the next generation of engineers and scientists.”

The University of Manchester team put together the exhibit with help from a £25,000 grant from the UK government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

It is hoped that in the near future the exhibition will be installed in the Air and Space Hall at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Jon Keighren | alfa
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