Inventive Podcast Episode 12

Acoustician Trevor Cox

Ruth Amos visits the Acoustic Laboratories at the University of Salford. She gets to experience the test chambers with their extreme acoustics, from the oppressive silence of the anechoic chamber, to the booming reverberation chamber.

So this is an episode with a twist, as previous guest Ruth Amos turns interviewer, and we hear about the acoustical engineering done by Inventive’s normal host Professor Trevor Cox.

Inventive Podcast is all about mixing fact and fiction, as it features groundbreaking engineers and brilliant writers. This episode features a story exploring unusual hearing from science fiction writer Stephen Cox. And yes, Trevor and Stephen are related. Stephen’s story The Magic Flute draws on Trevor’s Cadenza project, that aims to improve how music sounds on hearing aids.


Inventive Podcast Episode 11

Jack Haworth – Electrical Engineer working with robots at Sellafield Ltd.

How can be robots be used in extreme environments? Electrical engineer Jack Haworth tells Trevor Cox how robots go where humans can’t at the UK’s Sellafield nuclear site and award-winning poet Katrina Porteous explores the relationship between humans and machines.

Inventive Podcast is all about mixing fact and fiction, featuring groundbreaking engineers and award-winning writers. This episode features sublime new poetry from Katrina Porteous interwoven with presenter Trevor Cox‘s interview with electrical engineer Jack Haworth.

When he was at school, Jack thought he was going to university to study business and become the next Alan Sugar. Instead, he took the long road into engineering. He’s working with robots collecting valuable information in the decommissioning of Sellafield. He tells Trevor what made him change career path and what attracted him to the nuclear industry.

Poet Katrina Porteous has worked with scientists for many years and believes the distinction between the arts and sciences is an unhelpful one. For engineers and artists alike, it’s all about imagining new worlds.

Katrina’s reading of her poem is interwoven throughout the episode and explores data-driven systems’ impact on society and the possibilities for interaction between human consciousness and machine learning.

Put your headphones on and take some time out to listen to this episode. Thanks to Adam at Overtone Productions, we’re bringing you outstanding sound design in the final episode of this series.


Inventive Podcast Episode 10

Larissa Suzuki – Head of Data and AI/Machine Learning at Google

A fascinating insight into the Interplanetary Internet and AI in our cities of the future.

Larissa Suzuki is a polymath – she’s a computer scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, writer, inventor, and philanthropist. She was awarded the Engineer of the Year at the Engineering Talent Awards 2021 and the Royal Engineering Society’s Rooke Award and she made The Women Engineering Society’s Top 50 Women in Engineering.

She has one foot in academia and the other in industry – she’s an Honorary Associate Professor at University College London and a Data Scientist at Google working on Artificial Intelligence for Smart Cities and the Interplanetary Internet – that involves connecting devices and satellites to ensure we have connectivity to provide services to the international space station and remote planets.

Larissa is autistic and she tells Trevor Cox that it’s important that companies hire people who don’t fit a particular profile as that’s not the way to create better products and be more successful. She’s an advocate for women in STEM. The pioneering computer scientists were women, so why were they not given credit for their achievements?

Trevor and Larissa delve deep into the ethics of collecting data on citizens for smart cities. Should we be even more concerned about our privacy in the future?

Author Tim Maughan‘s short story, My City is Not a Problem, focuses on the first AI system built for the public sector. It appears to know how to solve London’s problems better than its politicians.


Inventive Podcast Episode 9

Enass Abo-Hamed and Manjot Chana – The future of energy is hydrogen

How can we create carbon-free energy? The future of energy is hydrogen. As Glasgow hosts the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, engineer and activist Enass Abo-Hamed and systems integration engineer Manjot Chana from renewable energy company H2GO chat to Trevor Cox about their groundbreaking plans to help save the planet.

The carbon we produce in heavy industries, aviation and energy supply emits pollutants. 1.2 billion people in the world don’t have control over energy supplies – they can’t get it at the flick of a switch.

Chemical engineer Enass from Palestine is as much an activist as she is an entrepreneur. She is passionate about raising awareness of the problems associated with climate change and set up her company H2GO to provide a solution. Enass explains her vision to Trevor Cox – to store renewable energy as low-cost hydrogen with zero emissions.

Manjot began his career as an apprentice engineer with Jaguar. He tells Trevor how his desire to change people’s lives for the better led him to switch to a career in renewable energy – and it turns out the skills he learned in the car industry are transferrable.

We mix fact and fiction in Inventive and in this edition, writer George Sandifer-Smith‘s short story highlights one of the biggest challenges in the climate change movement – people. There’s conflict when engineers are sent to repair green energy boxes smashed by conspiracy theorists.

A must-listen for everyone concerned about the planet, especially the leaders attending COP26. The future of energy is hydrogen!

H2GO –

Enass Abo-Hamed –

Manjot Chana –

George Sandifer-Smith –


Inventive Podcast Episode 8

Josh Macabuag

The second episode in Series 2 of Inventive Podcast is an exciting insight into a profession we only get a glimpse of in news reports, through the eyes of an engineer who wants to make a positive impact on the world.

Disaster Risk Engineer Josh Macabuag has been at the scene of major natural disasters around the world. He was part of the SARAID (Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters) relief team in Japan in 2011, the earthquake in Nepal in 2015 and most recently the earthquake in Haiti 2021. As a volunteer with SARAID, he has to find the least dangerous way of getting people out of collapsed buildings, making on-the-spot decisions relying on his intuition. His day job involves quantifying the risks and costs of catastrophes for The World Bank. Josh was the first person in his family to go to university, studying engineering at Oxford. He counts his dad, a car mechanic, as one of his major influences. A humanitarian and engineer, Josh tells his remarkable story to presenter Trevor Cox.

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. Writer Nina Allen, a winner of the British Science Fiction Association Award, is included in The Guardian’s 2018 list of ‘Fresh voices: 50 writers you should read now’. We asked Nina to write a short story based on Josh’s interview with Trevor. On the process of writing her story, ‘Forces and Loads’, Nina says, ‘It was the most engaging and inspirational, most unusual participation that I’ve ever experienced’. Her sinister story uncovers more than people trapped in the rubble of an earthquake.


Inventive Podcast Episode 7

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!


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! 


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! 


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.


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.