Speaker: Dr Diane Aston, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.
Materials play a central role in our lives but to a great extent we take them very much for granted. How often do you consider the science and engineering that has gone in to producing all of the things you see around you?
In this presentation we will explore how materials have helped to change and improve the technology we rely on by looking at how they are used in computers, aircraft, sports equipment and medical devices. Metals, polymers, ceramics, composites and smart materials will be discussed in terms of their uses in these applications.
Materials have played such an important role in developing our technology that we have named periods of our history after the materials we learnt to use. We have already had the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, but what material do you think we could name our current time after? Perhaps it could be silicon that we can process on a nano-scale to produce postage stamp-size microchips containing the equivalent of 250 million components.
Maybe you would choose the very lightweight aluminium alloys or composite materials which have allowed us to develop large aircraft such as the new Airbus A380 or Boeing 787.
Biomaterials must surely be a contender as the use of these biocompatible materials inside the body has allowed us to improve the quality of life of millions of people. We are now able to successfully replace a number of different joint, lenses in eyes and even sections of blood vessels. Smart materials such as polymers that change colour with a change in temperature or UV light level are now available in every day products and shape memory alloys can be used in a variety of medical and space-related applications.
Join us and discover how materials scientists and engineers have helped to develop the materials that we use in our every day lives and maybe you will go away taking them a little less for granted!
About the speaker
Diane studied for her four year MEng degree in Materials Engineering at the University of Birmingham and specialised in ferrous metallurgy. Her PhD, sponsored by Corus and also at Birmingham, focussed on understanding the changes taking place during the processing of steels used in the offshore industry. It was during this time that Diane started to work with schools as a Neighbourhood Engineer and Researcher in Residence. She was also involved in helping out with events for schools in the department.
After completing her research Diane remained in the materials department and took up the newly created role of Schools Liaison and Admissions Officer. She was responsible for working with schools through open days, visits and residential courses, amongst other things.
Diane joined the Institute of Materials (now the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) in late 2001 and took over managing the 11 to 19 education activities in 2009. Diane’s role involves developing curriculum-related resources for teachers, attending conferences for students and teachers and putting on events to support the materials taught in schools. A key part of her role involves visiting schools and colleges to talk to students about the importance of materials in our everyday lives and since starting she has spoken to over 55,000 young people!