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Inventive Podcast – Series 2 – Episode One

Sian Cleaver

We’re blasting off this brand new series of Inventive Podcast with Spacecraft Engineer Sian Cleaver. Sian’s superpower wish is to be able to fly – all the way to the moon. When she was a child, her dream was to have the first baby in space! In Episode One, Sian tells presenter Trevor Cox about her work on the Orion European Service Module for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft, built to take humans farther into space than they’ve ever gone before. It’s not just men who are going to the moon this time – women are going too.
And Sian says the Orion mission will be a stepping stone on the
way to Mars.

If you listened to our first series – if not, you can listen to previous episodes below – you’ll know that we mix science and the arts by asking writers to create works inspired by the engineers’ stories. For this episode, we have something a little bit special. We asked rapping scientist and engineer Jon Chase to tell Sian’s inspirational story in rhyme. We love Jon’s approach – it’s an entertaining and fact-filled listen – we hope you do too!

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Curriculum and careers materials

NUSTEM are developing curriculum support materials around the personalities and stories featured in the Inventive Podcast, go to their website for more details.

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Inventive Podcast Episode Six

Ruth Amos

Inventor and Engineer Ruth Amos has a fantastic job! She runs YouTube Channel ‘Kids Invent Stuff’ where children get the chance to have their invention ideas built by Ruth and her friend Shawn. They’ve built some amazing stuff! A bike that feeds you cake, a three-storey bath, an electric dog car – farting staircase anyone? Ruth’s idea behind the channel was that she wanted children from all backgrounds to have the opportunity to see their ideas made. She didn’t go to university, her way into engineering was novel – Ruth was only 16 when she won a prize for a brilliant product she designed while still at school. Writer Jacqueline Yallop takes one of Ruth’s inventions as her inspiration for a very moving story. Ruth’s reaction to it? You’ll have to listen to find out! 

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Inventive Podcast Episode Five

Greg Bowie

Manufacturing engineer Greg Bowie didn’t go to university to become an engineer, he took the apprenticeship route. Now he makes trauma plates to mend broken bones and works with the same material used in undersea cables that carry the internet around the world. He tells presenter Professor Trevor Cox, acoustical engineer at the University of Salford, that he is influenced by former US President Barack Obama. The short story by award-winning science fiction writer Emma Newman, ‘Healing the Fractured’, based on Greg’s work, features a Neo-Fascist government in America. Emma is interested in the interaction between humanity and technology and this gripping story focuses on espionage and how people can use technology to fight tyrants. It’s a tribute to people who have gone against fascism – who experience absolute fear and know the risk involved, but go ahead anyway. Edge of the seat stuff! 

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Inventive Podcast Episode Four

Askwar Hilonga

Chemical engineer Askwar Hilonga grew up in extreme poverty – his mother and father didn’t have an education – and he suffered from water-borne diseases throughout his childhood due to drinking contaminated water when he was a youngster. Now, he wants to be a billionaire, by saving a billion lives. Askwar has developed a water purification system based on nanotechnology and a network of water purification stations around Africa. He tells his story to Trevor Cox in the fourth episode of Inventive Podcast and you can listen to a moving short story from novelist Sarah Franklin, who runs the ‘Short Stories Aloud’ events and is also a judge on the Costa Short Story Award, inspired by Askwar’s life and work.

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Inventive Podcast Episode Three

Sophie Robinson

In the third episode of Inventive Podcast, Trevor meets aerospace engineer Sophie Robinson. Sophie works on groundbreaking eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft that will change the way we travel in the future.  Writer Tony White‘s inspirational story ‘The Hotwells Cold Water Swimming Club’ captures perfectly what Sophie gets up to in her spare time – she’s a self-confessed mermaid! –  and the ethical dilemmas she has faced at work.

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Inventive Podcast Episode Two

Roma Agrawal

In the second episode of Inventive Podcast, Trevor meets award-winning structural engineer Roma Agrawal MBE – Mega Badass Engineer – that’s what Roma says! She designed the foundations of London’s iconic skyscraper The Shard and everything from train stations to footbridges. Roma’s book Built uncovers the stories behind iconic structures and her children’s book How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures is available from September 2021. Roma’s love of concrete influenced writer CM Taylor‘s story The Nightbuilder featuring a Banksy-like character and amazing concrete structures that appear in the middle of the night. 

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Inventive Podcast Episode One

Shrouk El-Attar

In the first episode of the brand-new Inventive Podcast series, Professor Trevor Cox meets Electronics Engineer Shrouk El-Attar, refugee and campaigner for LGBT rights, recently awarded the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Prize for her work in femtech, smart tech that improves the lives of cis women and trans men, at the Institution of Engineering and Technology Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards 2021. We commissioned a piece by award-winning writer and poet Tania Hershman based on Shrouk’s inspirational interview. Tania’s hybrid work Human Being As Circuit Board, Human Being as Dictionary combines fiction, poetry and non-fiction. There is beautiful and poetic imagery, “human being as circuit board”, and exploration of language, “human being as dictionary”.