UCL engineering at the BA Festival of Science

16 September 2008

BA Festival

UCL researchers took part in the BA Festival of Science last week as part of an exhibition to highlight the critical role that engineering and physical sciences play in healthcare. The event, entitled ‘Artificial Organs to X-ray Vision’, was organised by the British Association of Advancement of Science Engineering Section, led by Dr Dean Barratt (UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing) with Dr Claire McLoughlin from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Dr Eleanor Stride (UCL Mechanical Engineering), and Irina Waechter (UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing). The BA Festival is an annual event and one of the largest science festivals in Europe. This year, the Festival included a six-day programme of events held in Liverpool, the European Capital of Culture.

The Engineering Section event formed part of the Young People’s Programme of the Festival, aimed at Key Stage 2 and above, and included hands-on exhibits from UK universities, hospitals and industry which illustrated the principles and application of a wide variety of healthcare technologies. The primary aim of the exhibition was to raise awareness among young people of the enormous impact engineering and physics has had in advancing medicine. The exhibition attracted over 1000 visitors, including a large number of children from local schools and colleges.

UCL was well represented with exhibits presented by Irina Waechter, Baptiste Allain, Michelle Chen, and Dr Dean Barratt (UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing), Dr Clare Elwell, Professor Jem Hebden and Rob Cooper (UCL Medical Physics and Bioengineering), and Dr Gaetano Burriesci (UCL Mechanical Engineering). In their exhibit ‘Shedding Light on the Body’, Dr Elwell and Professor Hebden explained how optical techniques can be applied to numerous biomedical applications, such as in the measurement of blood oxygenation. Visitors to the exhibition also had the opportunity learn about medical imaging techniques and to try out their surgical skills using laparoscopic surgery simulators presented by the team from the UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing, whilst Dr Burriesci demonstrated how new materials have led to advances in the design, manufacture and placement of artificial heart valves.

BA festival

Recorder for the BA Engineering Section and Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC Research Fellow, Dr Barratt, said: “We were extremely pleased with how the exhibition went; the attendance this year was very high and the feedback from visitors and Festival organisers on the ground has been extremely complimentary. We were particularly impressed by the high quality of the exhibits put on by all our exhibitors, and delighted that a number of very well respected academics were able to come to Liverpool and engage with young people as part of the exhibition.”

To find out more, use the links at the top of the article. 

Image 1: Dr Gaetano Burriesci demonstrating artificial heart valves
Image 2: Trying out surgical simulators