Meet our Future Transport heroes who are researching and developing cleaner, greener and smarter transportation and fuel options.
Travel is necessary, whether that is to school and back, to another country on holiday, for work, or to visit relatives and friends. Cars, aeroplanes, buses, trains and other vehicles all need energy to run and our heroes are looking at new ways to reduce the impact that these vehicles and their fuel have on the environment. Whether that is using a fuel that has fewer emissions, reducing the vehicle’s weight so it doesn’t need as much fuel to move or fly, or reducing the costs and resources required when the vehicle is manufactured.
Meet some of our friends who help us and perhaps they could help you too?
Future Transport heroes
Hello, I’m Professor Helen Atkinson
I lead a team of about 450 engineers working on really exciting projects for air travel, transport and manufacturing. My job involves having ideas, inspiring people, helping them to keep going and do their very best when times are challenging.
My superpower is engineering and being a leader of teams of people. This is so important because we can make people's lives better through engineering. Make the difference – be an engineer!
I really like to understand why things are the way they are and how everything links together – those are my STEM strengths. This is important in my job because engineering is at the heart of making sure everything we do is sustainable.
Supporting people to do their best, understanding what is causing problems and helping people to overcome these are my teamwork skills. These skills help me in my job because I like to set a picture of what we need to achieve over the next five years.
I love the sense of achievement that comes from doing things well at work. Sometimes, this is a challenge because my husband and my children (who are now grown up) have to remind me to have a break from work. I overcome this by making sure I listen!
Currently, I am involved in a project which is kitting out an aircraft to be a flying laboratory. It will also be able to beam live information from the aircraft cabin to school children in their classrooms when it is in flight. This will help young people understand what flight is all about and the physics of it. That is really exciting!
My top tip! Really enjoy learning about the world around you. Always be curious and never stop asking questions.
Hi, I’m Romali Biswal!
I research advanced manufacturing processes which promote sustainability, particularly for aeroplane structures. My job involves staying up to date with the advances in technology and developing our own manufacturing process which can help in minimising the material waste generated with the existing methods.
My superpower is physics! I study the science behind manufacturing to understand the process and contribute towards developing it. All the processes follow the laws of physics and therefore I use physics in my job.
Mathematics and chemistry are my other STEM strengths. Maths helps to build the framework for any research activity. And, as manufacturing processes inevitably include different materials, such as steel, aluminium and titanium, I have to understand the chemistry of the materials as well.
My teamwork skills are that I am a friendly and easy-going person. This helps me in to establish good working relationships at work.
My challenge is that If I am not enthusiastic about a certain task, I have a knack of procrastinating about it until the last minute. For such things, the approaching deadline helps me overcome my resistance.
I am working on a project now which aims to develop an improved manufacturing process for aerospace materials, typically titanium. My role is to understand how titanium melts and solidifies under different conditions. I use various mathematical tools and physics theories to interpret what I observe in the experiments.
My advice is to gain interest in any subject, you need to know why you are studying it and how it affects you in everyday life. For example, in physics you would read about laws of motion. Now, if you try to visualise what you are reading, it will generate the interest for you.
Hello everyone, I’m Neda Shateri
I research batteries for green transport systems. Conventional cars consume fossil fuels, which are not sustainable. Electric vehicles are an alternative technology to use renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar. We need to store electrical energy in batteries and my research is focused on the development of a new battery technology for the next generation of transport systems.
My superpowers are testing, modelling and control! These are important in my job because batteries are useful components, however, they are complex. In order to use them in real life, we need to be able to predict their behaviour and control them effectively.
My STEM strengths are physics, chemistry and maths. A battery is a physical system, its behaviour depends on the electrochemical reactions taking place inside it. Maths is required to model such a physical system.
I think I am a supportive person with the ability of problem solving. I try to be friendly with my colleagues to have a good team. This helps in my job when I am regularly in contact with my peer group and we share and discuss our latest research findings.
Computer programming is sometimes required in my job, which might be challenging. But practice makes perfect!
I am currently testing new prototype cells in our battery lab. This work involves caring for the cells – by storing them at certain temperatures, and also connecting them to some electrical devices to charge and discharge them under different scenarios.
My top tip! Engineering jobs are not that complicated, it is a combination of fun and effort.
Hi! I'm Dr Bahareh Zaghari
I research and design hybrid-electric aircraft, to reduce emissions and save our planet. I create ideas and use my engineering skill to design new technology from those ideas. In addition to research, I teach the next generation of budding engineers at Cranfield University, and engage with other experts in the field to share my research, and to learn from others.
My superpower is that I solve problems that others can't solve, by approaching them from a different angle! The problems that face our air travel and our planet today are challenging – only a sustainable solution will be able to create a low-emission aircraft that flies well. That requires out-of-the-box analytical thinking!
Experimental, electrical, and mechanical design and engineering are my STEM strengths. We can't create new engines and electronics without first understanding the science. Scientific understanding guides us towards the best way to apply them to the task at hand. Engineering knowledge is my essential tool, and it powers my innovative ideas.
My teamwork skill is adaptability: I boost the characteristics of any team, to aim as high as possible. This helps in my job because the toughest engineering challenges require a diverse group of thinkers – being able to get the best out of everyone in a team, results in getting the best out of the technology we design.
Memorisation is my challenge: remembering specific numbers or projects. I remember concepts and relationships better. I overcome my challenge though my organisation. By effectively managing where all of my information is, I can find it, and interpret it quickly.
Recently, I applied my knowledge to an idea in electric bicycles, which reduced the effort a cyclist needed to ride. I used my knowledge of electric motors and dynamics, along with my ability to model systems both using mathematics and my computer. I used my hands-on skill to create a prototype, to demonstrate my idea to the electric bicycle research community.
My advice? Find the area that inspires you the most, but don't stick to only one thing. I was inspired by astronomy as a child – I learned the mathematics and physics associated with it. I took these skills and applied them to electric transport because I realised that's where I fit best. Do not be afraid of failures! Let your curiosity drive your passion.