Students Use Supercomputing to Design Future Aircraft

July 16, 2014

LEAMINGTON SPA, U.K., July 16 — From 7th to 10th July, twenty-four budding engineers from across the UK recently took on the challenge of designing future aircraft at the University of Southampton.

Organised by The Smallpeice Trust and delivered in partnership with the University’s Faculty of Engineering and the Environment and Microsoft, the course opened up the eyes of the 16 and 17 year-old students, showing them how computers influence how we live, what we do and where we travel.

During the four-day residential programme, students were set the challenge of building high performance computers from scratch, using components including processors and motherboards. The students applied a range of Microsoft technologies, including Windows Azure, .NET Gadgeteer and Touch Develop, to the design of future aircraft to make them quieter, cleaner and cheaper. They were put through their paces when they took the controls in the University’s state-of-the-art flight simulator. They also toured the University’s pioneering mu-VIS 3D imaging service and the Iridis High Performance Computing facility with 12,000 cores of compute power – the largest UK Consortium-owned supercomputer on a University Campus.

The course was overseen by world-leading engineers from the Microsoft Institute for High Performance Computing at the University. Students had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing engineers and the career opportunities available in this fast-paced and ever-changing field.

The social aspect of the course included a games night, a trip to the local bowling alley and a formal course dinner on the final night where students and supervisors socialised and shared their experiences of the week.

Professor Simon Cox of the University of Southampton explains, “The students are an amazing group to work with and we are very pleased to welcome them to the University of Southampton. Computing technologies play a huge role in engineering – not only for designing, building and testing new aeroplanes, sailing craft, and cars but also the ways in which we control these vehicles and use them to collect data from the environment. During the course they have been using high performance computing, cloud computing, electronics devices and smartphones in a range of engineering applications. They are very enthusiastic and have a huge range of skills to be an excellent next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Spokesperson for The Smallpeice Trust, Claire Fisher added: “Computers have the power to change the future; they have a massive impact on everyone’s lives as they are integrated into so much of what we see, do and learn. This course has demonstrated to some very intelligent and enthusiastic young people just how important this subject is and what a great impact they could have if they decided to pursue a career in this area.”

The Supercomputing in Engineering course is organised by independent charity, The Smallpeice Trust, and is part of an on-going programme of residential courses to help young people aged 12 to 18 learn and develop skills in engineering, design, technology and manufacturing. Through running residential courses and STEM enrichment days, The Trust has reached out to 17,495 students across the UK in the past year.

The new course timetable for 2015 will be launched in the autumn school term. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. To find out more, visit, or telephone The Smallpeice Trust on 01926 333200.

About The Smallpeice Trust

The Smallpeice Trust is an independent charitable trust which promotes engineering as a career, primarily through the provision of residential courses for young people aged 12 to 18.

The Smallpeice Trust was founded in 1966 by Dr Cosby Smallpeice, a pioneering engineer and inventor of the Smallpeice Lathe. Following the stock market flotation of his company Martonair, Dr. Smallpeice invested his energy and part of his personal fortune to set up the Trust to ensure that British industry could continuously benefit from his proven design and engineering philosophies: “Simplicity in design, economy in production.”

Source: The Smallpeice Trust

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