Tea Bag Rockets!

To complete a full circle, as I attempted these in my first presentation, I ran the session on tea bag rockets. To try, empty out the tea bag, chop both ends and stand the cylinder upright (ne careful of fire). You set fire to the top, as it burns it heats up the column of air. This increases volume so decreases density (mass is the same) which allows the hot air to rise to the top, in convection currents. This causes an upwards force to launch the tea bag (made easier by the smaller mass as the tea bag is burnt). This was my last individual presentation, which is upsetting after a fantastic year leading Eng soc!


Visit from Henry Cooke

Yesterday, EngSoc hosted Henry Cooke to give a presentation on his thrilling work.
Henry is an ex-Borlasian, who studied a Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Nottingham, before work experience with Sellafield. Sellafield deal with nuclear power stations.
However, now, he has embarked on a new journey with the charity ‘Engineers Without Borders’.Henry will fly out to work with the partner company ‘Prakti’ to provide low emission, high efficiency cookstoves to women and children in rural Southern India. This should help decrease respiratory problems associated with cooking on an open fire. Despite the simplistic design, a great challenge is keeping the cost under the purchasing power of women in these areas (about £10).
Additionally, Henry offered his advice on career paths and encouragement via inspirational quotes.
We look forward to hearing from Henry!

-Sara 😊

Marshmallow Catapaults

Following on the theme of marshmallows. We set up a small competition for building catapults. Firstly, we went through the upcoming engineering news including sail drone’s autonomous sailing boats and the launch date for Musk’s Falcon 9 Heavy. We then took the society through how catapults convert potential energy to kinetic energy very quickly in order to cause a damaging blow to an enemy. With the science explained, the group set about building their catapults out of lollipop sticks, plastic spoons and rubber bands (with the marshmallows as projectiles). After a 12 minute build, the designs were ready to fire, We had each of the catapults compete in two events, distance and accuracy. The accuracy of the catapults was not all to great with the winner being 70cm away from the target (firing form 2.5m) but the distance showed a much better promise. Each catapult shot further until we were left with the winning group whose marshmallow comfortably cleared the length of the room, about 7m, before hitting the wall on the other side and landing. Finally, the winners of each category got to eat some of the leftover ammunition to celebrate their victory.

Engineering Opportunities

Here are some engineering opportunities to look out for:

  • Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) scholarships and awards (£500 to £10,000)
  • Small piece trust engineering courses
  • Big bang fair and  big bang engineering and science competitions (for next year)
  • Nuffield research placements
  • Royal institution membership (organise public events on technology and engineering)
  • Year in industry -EDT, work placements, for after A-levels and undergraduates
  • Villier’s park, apply online, new engineering course on the sustainable environment in May
  • Apprenticeship recruitment open days at RAL, Feb 21st and 22nd
  • Deadline for registration for ‘I’m an Engineer’, 29th March (to ask engineers questions)
  • For more information talk to me or Mrs. Barclay

-Sara 🙂

Race Car Visit

Eng soc, in collaboration with PhySoc, (shout out to Alexander, Sam and Max ;)) managed to organise a thrilling event: a race car, wheeled into the school hall!

After copious amounts of organisation, we were able to invite back the former Borlasian Andrew Evans! We hosted Andrew, and two of his team members, who very generously brought ‘UB 20’, the twentieth generation of the university’s formula student racing car, to present to us from the University of Birmingham. After displaying it in the hall it was encouraging to see such an impressive number of younger students interested.
Their presentation also looked at engineering feats, such as the aerodynamics, which provided sufficient downward force, and the integration of the Yamaha motorbike engine. Another exciting prospect for the twenty first car is using carbon fibre for the wheels (in order to make it significantly lighter).
Birmingham were one of the first UK universities to import the Formula Student project from the USA, twenty years ago. It has since become a major UK competition, in which many Universities compete. Teams build a car to compete in four types of dynamic testing – including the 22 km ‘endurance’ race – as well as justifying their design decisions, expenditure etc. and pitching the ‘prototype’ to a panel of judges.

-Sara 🙂


Hi guys!

For our first presentation, we introduced ourselves and some engineering opportunities (like the Big Bang Fair which I recently found I was in the final for).

I also fortified the presentation with some news about Space X launching their new rocket, as well as the exciting collaboration of Toyota and Mazda. This could provide hybrid vehicles, with Mazda’s rotary engine as a range extender and the possibility to use cheaper batteries. The rotary engine is quiet, compact and has the ability to add more rotors. They have also combined this to make a driverless pod to deliver pizzas and the like! (Which Black Mirror ominously tweeted ‘ we know how this ends’ in response…)

Louis and Matt also presented an interesting engineering idea to maximise space on aeroplanes (but at what cost?), as well as updates on Trump’s wall!

-Sara 🙂