EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/F057881/1
Title: Engineering Culture
Principal Investigator: Miodownik, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: Kings College London
Scheme: Senior Media Fellowship
Starts: 15 January 2009 Ends: 14 January 2012 Value (£): 159,108
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Creative Industries
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
21 Apr 2008 Senior Media Fellowships 2008 Interviews Announced
05 Mar 2008 Senior Media Fellowships Sift Panel Deferred
Summary on Grant Application Form
The relationship between culture and materials is most obviously demonstrated in the naming of ages of civilizations after materials, such as the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The defining material of the Victorian era, steel, allowed engineers to give full rein to their dreams of creating suspension bridges, railways, steam engines, and passenger liners. In doing so, engineers used steel as a material manifesto to transform the landscape and to sow the seeds of modernism. The twentieth century is often referred to as the age of silicon, in reference the materials breakthrough that gave rise to the silicon chip and digital computing. But this is to overlook the kaleidoscope of new materials that revolutionised twentieth century living. Architects took the new mass-produced sheet glass and combined it with structural steel to produce skyscrapers that invented a new type of city life. Product designers and fashion designers took the new plastics and transformed the home and fashion. Polymers were used to produce celluloid and in doing so ushered in the biggest change in visual culture for a thousand of years, the cinema. The development of aluminium alloys and nickel superalloys allowed us to fly cheaply and changed the rate at which cultures collided. Medical and dental ceramics allowed us rebuild ourselves and change the social context of disability and age. As the term plastic surgery itself implies, materials are often the key to new treatments used to repair a patient's faculties (hip replacements) or to enhance their features (silicone implants for breast modification). The Gunter von Hagen's Bodyworlds exhibition and Stelarc's plastic surgery experiments, also testify to the cultural influence of new biomaterials and illustrate that materials are not confined by discipline boundaries. Thus the twentieth century witnessed a materials revolution in which new materials played a central role in transforming architecture, product design, urban design, fashion, transport technology, medicine and the visual arts. I could describe a similar picture for many other branches of science and engineering, and so it is clear that it is not remotely possible to separate the development of music from science and engineering nor is it possible to separate art, design, architecture, film, or fashion, and yet, somehow, incredibly, we as a society have managed to do it. My agenda in all my public and media engagement activities is simple, to reinforce the message that science and engineering are part of culture, not separate from it. I will write for National newspapers, and develop TV and Radio programme ideas that explore this theme with interested production companies, and to pitch these to broadcasters.I will fight for more recognision for engineers, especially their role in project thats win high profile prizes such as Sterling prize for architecture, and the Turner prize for contemporary art.I will continue respond to media requests for TV and Radio interviews on breaking materials science and engineering stories, but also to be pro-active in alerting journalists to new research results.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: