Engineering awareness campaign includes Hawk-Eye vision tech

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A campaign to raise awareness among young people about careers in engineering has drawn up a list of seven technologies rarely recognised as feats of engineering.

The This is Engineering campaign, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, worked with students on the Academy's programmes to compile the list, which includes Hawk-Eye, the vision system developed by engineers for real-time tracking in ball sports.

The other technology on the list is: Gore-Tex fabric, the iPhone, YouTube, Dolby Atmos, 3D printed bone implants, and engineering for providing clean water.

There is generally considered a shortage of engineers in the UK, as well as in a lot of other countries, and machine vision firms have spoken about the difficulties they face in hiring qualified staff.

Stemmer Imaging runs its own foundation to try and inspire young people to follow careers in engineering.

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s list was informed by a survey of 2,000 11-18 year olds’ attitudes to and awareness of engineering careers and industries. Just 14 per cent of teenagers were aware of engineering roles in the music industry, such as audio, recording and live sound engineering, and only 8 per cent were aware that the sports and food and drink industries rely heavily on engineers.

Despite owning or using many engineered products or services, most teenagers were unaware that engineering was involved in designing and creating them. More than two thirds of teenagers own a pair of trainers or sports shoes, but only 20 per cent were aware that they are designed by engineers. More than half of teens use Facebook and YouTube, yet less than 16 per cent were aware that these have been created by engineers.

The research showed that young people tend to have a stereotypical view of engineering. More than half of those surveyed correctly listed famous construction projects such as the Eiffel Tower, London Underground and the Shard as examples of engineering, but less than 20 per cent were aware that social media apps such as SnapChat and Spotify have been developed by engineers.

Professor Mark Miodownik MBE FREng, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: ‘Engineering plays an essential part in everyday life, from the water we drink to the gadgets we use, and it’s also vital to addressing the challenges of the future. However, our survey shows that many young people don’t associate engineering with the technology they use day to day, and the things they’re interested in, which could mean they miss out on the opportunities to change the world as an engineer. We hope our list of surprising, 21st century engineering wonders will inspire today’s teenagers and give them new opportunities.’

The Hawk-Eye system, which is used in tennis, cricket, football and a number of other sports, takes information from a number of cameras positioned around the sports stadium. It works by first calculating the centre of the ball within each frame of the camera and then triangulates the information from each calibrated camera to give the ball’s 3D position. This process is then repeated for each frame to give a trajectory of the flight of the ball.

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