On 10th May 2021 we were given a talk by Martin Young (retired meteorologist) and Jonathan Smith (former IT specialist and research chemist) about "Chernobyl and its impact on the local environment". Martin and Jonathan talked about their visit to Chernobyl in Ukraine. Martin covered primarily the technical issues of the reactor explosion, while Jonathan showed pictures of the surrounding exclusion zone, much of which is densely forested and includes the city of Pripyat, whose 50,000 inhabitants were evacuated days after the explosion. The city remains eerily deserted to this day; its infrastructure now totally overwhelmed by nature.
On Monday 12th April 2021 We were given a talk by Brian Banks entitled “Meet the Antecessors – the Story of Human Evolution”. Brian was voted college lecturer of the year in 2019, and certainly hasn't lost his touch. He started with the discovery of "Lucy" in Ethiopia in 1974. Darwin and Wallace made people realise that species are not static and that all living things are a work in progress. Brian demonstrated the timeline of evolution of the earth and life on eart using a 2020 calendar where life started about March but humams appeared at 23.36 on the 31st December and the industrial revolution was about 2 seconds to midnight. Brian pointed out that our evolution is down to genes and that desognation by "species" is rarely used now (although convenient). Race also is undefinable, with people in Europe having more in common with a particular African tribe than it has with a neighbouring tribe. Brian also pointed out that Stone Age people fashioned stone tools, but used these to fashion things out of wood and fibre, and were much more sophisticated than many of us believe. Brian pointed out that archaic DNA can now be compared with modern DNA, using DA samples from soil which can tell us who built or made a certain artefact.
On Monday 8th March Geoff Pettinger presented a talk, titled “A Short Career in Aerospace”, about his work in Aerospace in the USA in the late 60’s and discussed environmental control systems in planes and spacecraft, including their history and development. He covered the manufacture and testing of these systems, explained how they work and how aeroplane passengers and astronauts are kept safe and comfortable at high altitude or in space. He worked for Garrett Airsearch in Los Angeles. He was involved in the design of ventilation and refrigeration units for aircraft, particularly aircycle refrigeration, invented in 1845 and still used today due to its low weight and efficiency. He was involved in the design of the water separator in the centrifugal separator, and in the testing of the unit on a shaker table. Geoff also talked about the way the engine oil in the 747 was coooled by using cold fuel from the wing tanks. He later worked on the evaporative cooling system for the Gemini spacecraft, before moving to work with Bechtel on nuclear plants - a subject for another talk perhaps?
On Monday 8th February 2021 John Davidson gave a talk entitled – Living with Volcanoes – how well can we manage volcanic eruptions? John has travelled extensively studying physical geography and writing articles on landscapes and natural hazards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Geographical Association.There are over 1500 active volcanoes in the world, and over 500 have produced significant eruptions in historic times. Volcanic eruptions can vary from predictable lava flows to cataclysmic explosive events. Recent estimates suggest over 500 million people live within range of active volcanoes, and several major cities are potentially at risk. This talk looked at different types of volcanic eruptions using examples from around the world,including Iceland, Hawaii, Japan, Montserrat and Etna, and some of the ways in which eruptions can be managed to reduce impacts on people and property. 23 members attended online.
On Monday 11 January 2021 Alan Bullock gave an excellent talk on health and safety in the china clay industry in Corwall, which he has been involved with from 1967 to 2008 when he finished as global production manager. The china clay industry involves so much in the way of processess and plant that there are innumerable H&S problems. Some of the problems were particular to the loaction in Cornwall, where most of the workers were brought up in agriculture and the size of the quarries made safety more problematic. Instances included sheep triggering cut-off wires on conveyors, lock codes broadcast over radio to all and sundry. Chlorine gas is used for bleaching clay, magnetic separator causing potential pacemaker problems and even radioactive waste from redundant plant due to the particles in granite from which the clay is derived. All electrical equipment was locked off by individual maintenance personnel but in a group of 3 pump starters a fourthe pump starter was installed out of sequence i.e 1243 (because there was a space) and the engineer locked off no 4 when he thought it was no 3.
On Monday 14 December 2020 Rodney Battey gave a talk about three concepts, Camouflage, Disguise and Impersonation, that are distinct but closely related, with examples from the military and natural worlds illustrating the potential effectiveness of camouflage and their limitations in 'fooling' radar and infra-red technologies. Examples of impersonations span Shakespeare's fictional and scarcely credible Twelfth Night, Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 real life evasion of George II's troops after Culloden impersonating a socially 'invisible' servant, the strange case of Dr James Barry, to the classic 1944 military deception in the run-up to "Overlord". Rodney would make a great TV presenter - what a lot of talent we have in the club.
Our next zoom meeting will be at 10.30am on Monday 14 December 2020 when Member Rodney Battey will give a talk titled "Camouflage, Disguise and Impersonation" which sounds fascinating. Don't miss it!!
On 9th November 2020 the club held a regular meeting online for the first time. 20 members attended. After the usual attention to club business, Martyn gave an interesting presentation on his life as a highway engineer, with particular emphasis on maintenance of the M4 in South Wales. Martyn illustrated his talk with slides, and quite a few amusing anecdotes including a rugby player on the maintenance team tackling (literally) sheep on the central reservation. Another included a police car pulling in front of a gritter to stop it, with unfortunate consequences for the police car. There was much more, and Barry will no doubt cover it in his next monthly report. As before, thanks to Ken for facilitating the meeting.
On 12 October 2020 the club held a Zoom meeting to discuss the possiblity of regular monthly virtual meetings with presentations or debates. There were 17 attendees for the meeting. Ken facilitated the meeting and Geoff chaired. Participants were asked to mute their microphones when not speaking, and to indicate when they wished to speak by raising a hand. This eliminated extraneous sound and kept the meeting under control. It was agreed that there will be monthly virtual presentatons, with Martyn giving one on 9th November. On 14 December Rodney will host a "Balloon" debate, and in January and February there will be talks on the china clay industry and on the bronze age. Ken has offered to help speakers with practice sessions. The committee will meet on 19th October to review the Zoom meeting.
The PECE committee met online on 14 September 2020. The committee discussed how the club could meet again and agreed that in the current COVID situation (which may last until early 2021) it will only be possible to have virtual meetings. The committee will therefore organise talks and wider meetings via Zoom, on a monthly basis and perhaps fortnightly if successful. The committee agreed that Geoff would act as Chairman/coordinator.
An informal picnic was held for members and partners at King George V park in Exeter on Monday 10th August. Thanks to Rodney who organised the venue, social distancing, and supplied hand sanitiser. We were fortunate that the forecast rain held off and allowed us to have a pleasant hour despite Covid-19. Photograph by Geoff.
The PECE committee met online on 13 July 2020. The committee decided that we would try to hold an informal outdoor meeting of the club in August, and this has been set for Monday 10th August at 10.30. Barry has already emailed members with the information, and those interested should contact Rodney who will be coordinating the event. The newsletter covering May and June has now been emailed by Barry to all members. A third presentation, on church organs, has been added to the members' section. Well worth a look!
The PECE committee met online on 8th June 2020. Items discussed included the participation of members in the next online meeting in July and ways of members getting together outdoors when Covid19 rules permit. Barry will be sending out the newsletter soon and will be asking members for their views on online meeting. He will also identify members of the committee able to assist those members unfamiliar with Zoom. It will be helpful if you can let Barry know what browser and operating system you have. Ken will be investigating possible venues for an outdoor meeting - if members know of anywhere suitable please advise. There are now two presentation links on the Presentations page, GP's Photography, and PP's Projects. More are sought from members! GP's is a video in YouTube, but PP's is a video uploaded to the web site. If you are not keen to use YouTube your video or slideshow can be sent to the webmaster by Dropbox, Google Drive or similar.
The committee meet by Zoom online meeting on 11th May. 9 members participated. Items discussed included the Flux award, membership subscriptions, continuation in office, presentations and a newsletter. Barry has made useful contacts with the University for the Flux award, and he will be sending out the newsletter in two weeks time. It was agreed that the AGM should be postponed until we are back in EGCC and make the first meeting the AGM. Current committee members will continue in office, but understudies are sought for webmaster and treasurer. Membership subscriptions will be reduced pro rata during the lockdown period. Barry will send out the accounts with the newsletter.
Members are asked to try their hand at presentations of between 10 and 30 minutes. This could be on your hobbies, or career or anything else you fancy. Our first presentation is by Geoff, which you will find on the Presentations page in the members' section. If you have forgotten the sign in details contact Barry. There will be a guide on the presentations page on how to put tgether a presenation using freely available software.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 13 March 2020 - The committee has consulted with members and has decided to cancel future meetings for several months, until further notice. Six members of the committee met on Monday 6th April by video conference. The committee decided that a newsletter will be distributed to members on the 3rd Monday of each month by email. any contributions from members should be sent to the secretary by the preceding Friday. The AGM will be postponed, and members will be given 21 days notice of a new date (after consultation). The committee also intends to produce presentations to members, either from members themselves, or from already contacted speakers. Various options are being considered, such as slide presentations, videos, or a combination. If any members have media experience please contact the secretary
On 9 March 2020 John Davidson gave a talk on Earthquakes and their Effect on Structures. John Davidson taught geography, geology and world development at Exeter School until 2018, and was a member of the school’s senior management team. John has travelled extensively studying physical geography and writing articles on landscapes and natural hazards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Geographical Association. His talk used examples of earthquakes from different parts of the world to show how hazardous they can be, and why some structures survive and others fail. Every day the earth experiences over fifty measurable earthquakes, and over a thousand a year have a magnitude of 5 or more, making them potentially hazardous. Earthquakes are hard to predict but property and infrastructure can be designed to reduce the impact of earthquakes. John showed many examples from around the world and included the effects of tsumnamis. Liquefaction of alluvial soil and made ground is amajor cause of building failures, and ground lowering, by up to 2 metres can reduce the effective height of sea defences against tsunamis, as happened in Japan with disastrous effects. The talk concluded by looking at methods of predicting earthquakes from seismic waves and providing warnings to areas at risk.
On 10 February 2020 Graham Andrews gave a talk entitled “In the National Interest - Recollections of a Test Pilot” given by Graham Andrews. Aged 18 Graham Andrews went to Cranwell and became a RAF pilot. He eventually became a test pilot with the RAF before moving on to Rolls Royce. He was made Chief Test Pilot for Rolls Royce in 1976 and flew everything from the Harrier to the Phantom and Concorde. In his career he has had 27 engine failures and one hairy ejection, and has flown 178 types of plane. There is too much to record here so do look up https://www.pilotweb.aero/graham-andrews-test-pilot-1-6049802
On 13 January 2020 Bill Harvey of Bill Harvey Associates gave us a fascinating talk on the behaviour of masonry arch bridges, and a brief resume of his career in bridges, including the Humber Bridge, and the worlds largest plastic bridge. Every civil and structural engineer involved in bridges should be able to learn from Bill's experience, as a formulaic approach to masonry arch bridges and viaducts does not work. Detailed measurement of bridge behaviour under load is essential to the understanding of how they support loads. These bridges can have very different internal structures and as a result stiffness which affects the bridge behaviour. Bill also showed details of bridge roller bearings on a box girder bridge, where temperature variation due to sun on the vertical side/web of the box girder caused extreme wear and fracture of high tensile steel in the bearing.
On 9th December Dr Clare Maudling gave a most interesting talk on "The Rebuilding of Exeter after the Blitz". She described the Sharp plan for the replanning of the city, which showed a garden city with a northern ring road between Northernhay Gardens and Central Station and many parks around the perimeter of the city wall. The planned northern road was never built due to the cost involved, but the start of Western Way could be clearly identified. One proposal to take traffic along Southernhaywas fortunately re-situated in the current location of Western Way. Clare explained how the rebuilding of the city was constrained on cost grounds by the government, and illustrated her talk with old photographs
On Thursday 21st November members and partners met for the Chairman's Lunch at the Langstone Cliff Hotel, Dawlish Warren. Once again the hotel did us proud with an excellent menu and impeccable service.
On 11th November 2019, Hamish Hall of WSP gave a talk on "Moving the River Taw at Colleton Mill". In 2017 the River Taw was dangerously close to the railway line between Exeter and Barnstaple (Tarka Line) near Colleton Mill. Part of a mass concrete wall had collapsed due to scour at a sharp bend in the river adjacent to the railway, and the remaining wall was also close to collapse. The remedial work adopted was to move the river Taw back into the flood plain, to create a backwater channel for wildlife in part of the original channel, and with the excavation from the new channel to backfill the old channel adjacent to the railway line to provide permanent long term support. The project was remarkable for its short duration and relatively low cost due to the close collaboration of client Network Rail, designers, contractor, and specialist advisors on wildlife fisheries and ecology. Although the Environment Agency was consulted at all stages, the short project timescale was only possible as the whole works were within the Network Rail curtilage.
On 14 October 2019 Alan Bullock who is one of our members gave a talk entitled -Engineering Equipment used in the China Clay Industry. Alan described his career with English China Clays and illustrated the equipment used to extract the china clay from the huge deposits around St Austell. Alan told us how prior to the construction of the Tamar bridge, Cornwall was isolated from the rest of the country and ECC had to be totally self-contained, making and maintaining its own equipment (which wore out in days or weeks due to the friction from the pumped material). He also described how the company looked after its staff and pensioners
On 9 September 2019 Alison Langmead gave a talk entitled- ‘The Legal Aspects of Securing Water Resources’ Alison deals with Town & Country Planning law. She has been an in-house lawyer for 31 years, but for the last 5 years a private practice lawyer in the niche subject of water supply. Her client list includes Devon County Council and Dartmoor National Park, the Pennon Group, SW Water, and Viridon Waste Management. The major impact is with housing, where services are always in second place to the development. Under planning law the developers look for the necessary permissions to be in place, but don’t think about the needs that require many other orders, powers and privileges to be satisfied. There are penalties for not considering such requirements. Penalties were revised in 2015. There is now no maximum fine, the Court taking into consideration any advantages to the Defendant. See minutes of meeting for a more complete decription.
On Monday 12th August Professor Richard Handy gave a talk on nanotechnology. Professor Handy has spent the last decade researching and writing about the science of nanomaterials and how we use them. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and one of the world’s leading experts on the dangers of new technologies. He has travelled extensively including North America, the Arctic, India, China and Africa. He holds a chair in Environmental Toxicology at Plymouth University. Nanotechnology is finding its way into every aspect of our daily lives including our food, clothing, and household goods; but it is also pushing the frontiers of science with revolutionary new medicines, imaging technologies, electronics, robotics, industrial materials, and synthetic biology. Nanotech offers many potential benefits, but what are the dangers of going down this ‘high tech’ road? Professor Handy's work has focussed on the hazards of nanomaterials. He works on many different organisms such as microbes, invertebrates, fishes and mammals including humans, across disciplines involving biology, medicine, dentistry, computing, engineering and material science. The dangers of nano materials become clear when their effect on algae and plankton is revealed, and these nano materials have to be designed to avoid these effects.
On Monday 8th July 2019 Robert Crawley of The West Country Historic Omnibus and Transport Trust gave us a talk on the restoration of a 1929 Exeter Corporation Bus, registraion FJ 6154 (Ex Exeter Corporation 5). This Maudslay / Northern Counties bodied bus was one of seven vehicles that the council purchased that year to supplement the tram system. This particular vehicle was withdrawn from service in 1939 and sold to a local farmer for use as family accommodation in Woodwater Lane. It later ended up in a barn at the top of Telegraph Hill where it remained until 1965 when it was purchased by a coach operator in Northampton. In November 2011 ownership of the bus changed hands and it was immediately placed in the care of the Trust (WHOTT) since when a lot of research into the original livery and interior design enabled a full restoration to take place. Robert described the restoration in details with the seating being the most challenging. On 2nd May 2015 the bus returned to the streets of for the outgoing Lord Mayor’s final charity coffee morning at the city’s Guildhall. FJ6154 is believed to be the oldest surviving Maudslay bus in running condition and carries the oldest surviving bodywork by Northern Counties Engineering of Wigan. The 32-seat interior is arranged in two compartments, the rear one allowing for smokers. Full details can be found at www.busmuseum.org.uk, and a video of the bus on its trip to Exeter can be found on YouTube.
On 10th June 2019, Neil Harris gave a talk entitled "30 Years of Wind Power". This was his personal account of his experiences in wind power generation, starting off in geotechnical engineering in Cornwall, and covering his work in various countries with ever increasing sizes of turbines. He particularly highlighted the problems encountered, and showed us images of turbines that had failed. Various types of foundations were discussed including concrete pads, deep foundations, and caissons. Pads are by far the most common type and seemed surprisingly small for such large structures. Neil also touched on vertical axis turbines but these are less common. Neil's profile can be found on LinkedIn or on https://intouchnetworks.com/member/18779.
On 13th May 2019, John Smith gave a talk entitled - "Roman Army in Exeter, Finds, Facts and Fiction" John Smith is an archaeologist, specialising in Roman Military History. His commitment to Archaeology started in 1971, participating in excavations that covered sites from Iron Age to World War 2. He has worked on Roman Villa Heritage sites, ultimately as Curator at Bignor Roman Villa. John presented Roman military equipment used and, in some cases, made in Devon and discussed its practicality, construction and uses. He illustrated the different types of armour, showing that the chain mail was the most effective and flexible type of armour. Lances were cleverly designed to deform or break on impact so that they could not be used by the enemy. In the process John debunked some popular portrayals of the Roman Army. The 2019 AGM followed the talk
On 8th April Peter Marsden gave an informative talk entitled "Cesspits, Cemeteries and Sewers - Adventures in Archaeology" Peter was formerly an archaeologist from the Museum of London, but has now retired to the Exeter area. He brought with him examples of artifacts that he has discovered in cesspits and rubbish pits. He is the author of several books on archaeology which can be found on his website https://petermarsden.net/
On 11th March Mark Maynard gave a talk entitled “Repairs and Strengthening Works to the M5 Bridge Over the River Exe”. Being a local structure, driven over by most members at some time, it was a fascinating insight into the problems encountered in a post-tensioned concrete structure. Some of the strands had failed due to corrosion adjacent to the anchorage. Lane closures were required to reduce the traffic load while emergency repairs were carried out. These repairs consisted of new strands external and internal to the structure to give an acceptable factor of safety. Eventually all of the original strands will be replaced.
On 11 February 2019 Andy Robinson gave an interesting talk entitled- Voyager: The Vision, The Achievement, The Legacy. The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are now in interstellar space moving faster and further than any other man-made objects. They entered interstellar space in 2012 and 2018 respectively. The primary mission when launched in 1977 was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn. After making a string of discoveries there — such as active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io and intricacies of Saturn's rings — the mission was extended. Voyager 2 went on to explore Uranus and Neptune, and is still the only spacecraft to have visited those outer planets. The current mission, the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), will explore the outermost edge of the Sun's domain, and beyond. Andy answered the many questions in great detail./p>
The lunch on Thursday 28th February at Lamb Inn Longdown was well attended and enjoyed by all.
On 14 Jan 2019 Michael Pitkeathly gave a very humourous and interesting talk entitled ‘Living in a nuclear submarine". He described the living conditions and equipment needed to sustain life on board HMS Courageous. This submarine operated from 1971 to 1992, and can be visited in the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre. See website https://devonportnhc.wordpress.com/warshiptours/ for information.
On 10 December Dr David Kernick gave a most interesting talk on rationing in the NHS. David started his carreer in chemical engineering and then moved into medicine. He has been a GP in Exeter for and has been involved with NICE and health service projects, including the Exeter Headache Clinic. He recommended that members should view a 6 minute video on YouTube made by Kings Fund -"An alternative guide to the new NHS in England". The link is https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8CSp6HsQVtw.
Members of the Club enjoyed an early Christmas celebration when they and their guests met at the Langstone Cliffs Hotel for a very pleasant lunch on 22nd November, where the Orchid Room proved an excellent venue. The Past-President, Neil Macaulay, proposed the toast to the Club and its Guests, and the Chairman, Rodney Battey, replied by taking as his theme some of the problems of attempting to stereotype the role (and personality) of engineers.
On Sunday 25th November a group of some 10 Engineers and partners visited Coldharbour Mill for a “Victorian Steam Day”. The mill opened in1799 and ceased commercial operation in1981. It is now restored and operates as a working museum. On offer were tours of the working woollen mill including the engine house where a beam engine was operating on steam. We were given demonstrations of how the fleeces were carded and spun into yarn and then how the yarn was woven into cloth or carpets. Production continues today by a team of volunteers who produce yarn and cloth or carpets for sale to visitors.
On 12th November David Pilkington gave us a fascinating glimpse into his time maintaining very expensive classic racing cars for the owner of the Mulberry fashion group. There was a good turnout for our first meeting in our new venue, the Exeter Golf and Country Club, and everyone seemed very satisfied with the arrangements.
On 17 October 2018 club members and guests enjoyed a visit to the Lidl Distribution Centre. Our thanks to Lidl for an extremely interesting and informative visit.
At the 8th October meeting the members showed a clear preference for a new venue with onsite free parking. Exeter Golf and Country Club, which the club has used in the past, was a clear favourite as it is well served by public transport and is close to the M5. Arrangements have therefore been made with EGCC for the next year, starting in November 2018. The meetings will not necessarily be held in the same room every month. The events page indicates the room we will use and has a link to a map.
At the September meeting our secretary said that the year book will be published with members names only unless permission is given to include details similar to those in the 2017/2018 yearbook
The Robert Flux Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the Exeter University engineering student who, in the judgement of the Department, has made the best oral presentation of a final year project report. The 2018 Winner is Ms A. O'Riordan, an MEng student in Engineering and Management, for her work - from initial concept to prototype manufacture - in the design of an encapsulating shell for an endoscope: of particular concern was the stress analysis of a component subject to peristaltic forces within the gastro-intestinal tract. The Award Certificate, prize cheque and letter of congratulation will shortly be sent to the successful student.