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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Setting sail to learn about engineering at sea

Published: 28 October 2013Origin: Engineering

Thousands of ferry passengers heading to the Isle of Wight on the Wightlink ferry St Clare this summer got the chance to find out about marine science and engineering from an onboard team of ‘science buskers’ led by the University of Southampton.

Marine engineers and ship scientists travelled to and fro between Portsmouth and Fishbourne carrying out ‘hands-on' experiments to entertain and teach locals and holidaymakers alike on the 40 minute journey.

"We talked to several thousand people over the summer," says Public Engagement Tutor Dr Steve Dorney. "Children in particular were fascinated by our maritime challenges covering areas such as climate change, energy, coastal heritage, trade and transport and we hope we have motivated at least some of them to take up a career in marine engineering on the south coast."

The ‘science busks' included Stirling engines, centre-of-mass mini-experiments, rattlebacks to start discussions about ship loading, Cartesian divers and various fluid flow/separation demonstrations.

One of the volunteers was Joanna Mycroft, a Specialist in Marine Structures in Marine Technology and Engineering Services at Lloyd's Register in Southampton. She says: "Demonstrating ideas, principles or solutions is the only way to get people to understand what you do and why it's important." 

John Burrows, Operations Director for Wightlink, adds: "We have a long standing relationship with the University of Southampton and we were delighted to be working closely with the University with this venture."

This engineering outreach project was funded through the Royal Academy of Engineering's public engagement grant scheme, Ingenious. It is led by the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, in partnership with Wightlink and Lloyd's Register.

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