Success for the Department at this year’s SET Awards

One winner and two finalists from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science were announced at the 2011 Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) awards ceremony, which took place last month at the Millennium Hotel, in Grosvenor Square, London. The SET Awards are Europe’s most important Science, Engineering and Technology awards for undergraduates. Congratulations to finalists Kirsty McNaught and Scott McLaughlan, and to Mark Baker who was winner of ‘The Airbus Award for the Best Aeronautical Engineering Student’.

The SET Awards were presented before an audience comprising hundreds of technology students, academics, senior industry executives; as well as senior figures from government, scientific and technical institutions and the media. Judges were from a number of scientific and technical institutions and sponsors from a range of companies.

Entries for SET Awards are made by lecturers who nominate students they believe will receive, or are expected to receive, a first class degree.  Supervisors, submit a citation and nominated students enter a 2,000 word synopsis or poster about their project.  Supervisors of this year’s finalists and winner were Professor Paul Taylor, Professor Ron Daniel and Dr Budimir Rosic.

Mark Baker (St Edmund Hall, 2011) was the winner of ‘The Airbus Award for the Best Aeronautical Engineering Student’ for his project titled, “Automatic meshing for turbo-machinery simulations”.

Mark said: “Advances in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) have played an important role in the development of high efficiency turbomachinery designs. However, limited meshing strategies specialised for turbomachinery applications are available to generate the complex meshes required for the analysis of optimised turbine geometry. As a result, meshing is often time consuming and creates a bottleneck in the design process. A novel systematic meshing strategy and user interface has been written, which allows fast, robust construction of detailed meshes for turbomachinery applications. For example, meshing of a complete turbine stage with associated shroud leakage flow paths using conventional commercial meshing tools could take up to a few days, using the novel TBLOCKER system the required time is reduced to one hour.

Automatic meshing for turbo-machinery simulations

Mark has been sponsored throughout his undergraduate studies by Sulzer Pumps UK and started working for them last month as a Trainee Hydraulic Design Engineer.  This involves an extended CFD and 3D training period in Winterthur (Switzerland) before returning to Leeds (UK) where he'll be involved in the hydraulic design department.

Scott McLaughlan (St Edmund Hall, 2011) was a finalist for his project titled, ‘Wave loading on offshore wind turbines’.

Wave loading on offshore wind turbines
Photo courtesy of Henrik Bredmose.
Scott said: “'Renewable energy is a growing market and the plausibility of offshore wind energy is dependent upon accurate force analysis. Winds are much stronger offshore, which means more energy can be captured by the turbine. However, high winds mean large waves offshore which can cause unexpected structural damage. Understanding the nature of these force cycles is essential to making sure the wind turbine stands up for its intended life time”.

In 2010 Scott undertook an internship with BP and was then offered a job.  Today, he is working with BP as a Flow Assurance Engineer.  Scott’s role is to ensure the flow of oil, gas and water in deep water pipelines reaches the oil rig efficiently.  Problems such as ‘hydrates’ - a high temperature ice that can block the pipelines, and preventing large surges of oil overwhelming the processing systems on the rig are dealt with in the daily running of the fields.

Professor Paul Taylor, Scott’s project supervisor said: “Present design methodology for wave loading on offshore turbines is based on simplified models from offshore rig design. For the single column of a turbine the physics is somewhat similar but the loading differs in detail. Scott’s project denotes a first attempt to produce a new approach more suited to turbine structural design”.

Kirsty McNaught (Lady Margaret Hall, 2011) was a finalist for her project titled, ’Automatic diabetic wound classification’.

Automatic diabetic wound classificationKirsty said: “I worked with a spin-out company from the University, Eykona Technologies, which has developed a 3-D imaging system for wound analysis. My project investigated the potential of using machine learning algorithms to automatically identify and classify the tissue types present in a wound, based on the 3-D image provided by the system”.

At present Kirsty is working as the Research and Development Engineer for Eykona Technologies Ltd, which develops innovative technologies to meet current NHS healthcare priorities.  During her GAP year Kirsty worked with Ove Arup and Partners. Kirsty has received sponsorship from Ove Arup throughout her undergraduate degree at Oxford as well as for a number of placements.

Professor Ron Daniel, Kirsty’s project supervisor, said: “Kirsty’s project demonstrated the feasibility of computer recognition software to impact the care of thousands of people suffering with diabetic ulcers or pressure sores.  I am very proud of what she has done and that the judges of the SET awards were able to recognise her achievement”.

For more information about SET Awards please visit:

Acknowledgement: Dr. Jun Zang from Bath University, Professor Taylor’s collaborator in the ‘Wave loading on offshore wind turbines’ experiment.