Credit Gregg Wolstenholme

Image courtesy of Gregg Wolstenholme 

Lifeboat engineering and science enthrals at festive family event hosted at the University of Exeter

Families from across the South West were immersed in fun, facts and physics about lifeboats and the incredible work carried out by the men and women of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) during a special festive treat, organised jointly by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the University of Exeter.

More than 400 people of all ages came together to be inspired and entertained at an interactive, light-hearted event about safety on the seas.

The free IMechE Christmas Lecture, Saving Lives at Sea: The Science behind the Shout, was held in the University’s Forum Alumni Auditorium on Wednesday, December 12th 2018.

Steve Austen, currently Engineering Director and Chief Engineer at SC Group/Supacat, was Head of Engineering at the RNLI where he worked for 15 years on the design and support of a range of projects, including the new Shannon Class lifeboat and associated launching system on service at a number of lifeboat stations in the South West, including Exmouth and Ilfracombe.

Steve is passionate about bringing engineering, science, technology, and mathematics to life through exciting examples from the real world. Drawing on his work for the RNLI, he showed the audience how Engineers use science and mathematics to protect craft and passengers throughout each lifeboat mission.

Using hands-on demonstrations and videos, the talk gave an insight into exactly what happens on a lifeboat and how everyone is kept safe, enlisting help from the younger members of the audience.

Speaking after the event Professor Chris Smith, Deputy Associate Dean Research (Industry), College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences said: “I was delighted to see so many people of all ages come along to the event, it’s wonderful to see so many youngsters show their fascination and interest in engineering and science and we are all really pleased to be able to host such a fabulous event.

“This is the fourth Christmas Lecture organised by the IMechE and University and it has grown in popularity enormously, which I am delighted to see. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the event, and it was particularly pleasing to see so many of the children in the audience asking such perceptive and interesting questions.”

John Earp, Chair of the Devon and Somerset IMechE committee added: “These classic family Christmas lectures are the prestige event in our annual lecture programme and the largest event of its kind outside London.  We were delighted to welcome the CEO of the IMechE, Dr Colin Brown, to the evening and it once again proved to be an amazing success, far exceeding our expectations in terms of audience numbers.

“The talk itself was truly excellent, with the most pleasing aspect being just how engaged the younger members of the audience were. If just a few of these young people decide to study science and engineering as a result it will be judged an outstanding success.”

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Date: 20 December 2018

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