Local school pupil presents at national event with help from Leicester engineers

A young learner from Leicestershire has had her work showcased at a national science event thanks to the support from engineers at the University.

Lucy Bennett, who secured a work placement with the University’s Department of Engineering through the Nuffield Foundation, presented her research in experimental aerodynamics as finalist of the National Engineering Science Competition, at the Big Bang Fair, National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham, on 16-17 March 2016. She was short-listed among strong competition from fellow pupils who took part to STEM-themed work placements over the summer of 2016.

Lucy also received a British Science Association gold CREST award, which recognises her extra-curricular project work.

Lucy worked with Dr Aldo Rona from Department of Engineering and STEM Ambassador, in exploring an intriguing comb-like pattern of striations that forms over the wind-ward surface of a circular cylinder in cross-flow. The striations could result from Görtler-type vorticity and Lucy used two needle Pitot probes, of new fabrication, for gathering evidence of this flow. These vortices may partly explain the scatter between measured correlations and Computational Fluid Dynamic predictions of the surface heat transfer coefficient on blades of axial turbines. Their control may unlock further enhancements in turbine performance, leading to more power output at a reduced cost and lower environmental impact.

Dr Rona commented: “I was delighted to see Lucy at the finals of the National Engineering Science competition. The Big Bang Fair was attended by a lot of younger learners who visited her stand and were drawn by the flow visualisation patterns. She is a role model for younger girls wishing to pursue further education in STEM subjects. I am very happy she got a gold CREST award.”

Lucy commented: “I had a fantastic time at the Big Bang Fair and was blown away by the level of work shown by all the finalists. It was a real honour to have been invited to exhibit my work at such a popular event for young scientists. I’m really thankful for Dr Rona’s supervision of the project and feel inspired by the experience I had at University of Leicester.”

Lucy’s Nuffield Research Placement was supported by the Nuffield Foundation, coordinated through the Leicestershire Education Business Company and STEMNET. Lucy worked in the Charles Wilson wind tunnel with help from Emeritus Professor J. Paul Gostelow, Mr Paul Williams (experimental officer), Mr Dipak Raval, (thermofluids technician), and Lauren Knott (fellow Nuffield Foundation work placement pupil).