Photo Contest Winners Capture the Beauty of Engineering
Isaac Maw posted on January 18, 2020 |
The Cambridge Department of Engineering has announced winners of its annual photo contest.

To some, engineering may seem like the furthest thing from art, but as a discipline focused on math, function and efficiency, the best engineering often creates simple, elegant and even beautiful things.

That’s why the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering has conducted the 2019 ZEISS Photography Competition, sponsored by the ZEISS scanning electron microscopy division. The photos are not only engaging on their own, but the stories behind them are fascinating, too. The panel of judges for this year’s Photography Competition included Roberto Cipolla, Professor of Information Engineering; Allan McRobie, Professor of Structural Engineering; Dr Kenneth Png, Senior Applications Engineer at ZEISS Microscopy Customer Centre Cambridge; Professor Richard Prager, Head of Department; and Philip Guildford, Director of Strategy and Operations.

Philip Guildford said: "These wonderful images show that engineering has no boundaries – it reaches into all aspects of our world bringing understanding, progress and practical benefits."

First prize is below, but first, the runners-up:

Third Prize: Turbulence and Sound

This psychedelic image shows a flow-acoustic simulation by Dr. Zhong-Nan Wang, research associate in computational fluid dynamics. In the image, a turbulent jet is interacting with a surface. The colored isosurfaces show the turbulent structures and the greyscale contour in the background shows the acoustic waves.

Dr Wang said: “This is a flow-acoustic model for a modern aeroengine installed under a wing, revealing the installation noise generation mechanisms. In addition to the noise generated by the jet itself, a new sound source is produced by the jet-surface interactions with strong acoustic waves emitted at the surface trailing edge. The challenge is to reduce the level of this noise source.”

Second Prize: Real-Time Human Body Parsing

This video is a demonstration of real-time tracking and segmentation of a human body via a system which uses real-time deep learning by Dr. James Charles, senior research associate in human pose estimation and tracking in video.

Dr Charles said: “When applied to video, tracking of individual people and their clothing items/body parts is accomplished by matching segments together along a temporal sequence. Our algorithm is also quite efficient and able to run in real-time live on a mobile phone. Such systems have many applications e.g. in making self-driving cars aware of the motion and behavior of pedestrians.”

First Prize Winner: Suspending Patterns

This macro photo by PhD candidate Elisabeth Gill shows complex fibrous architectures designed with an electrospinning and 3D printing method developed by Gill for her PhD. 3D printed support pillars and applied voltage are used to pattern suspended gelatin microfibers with a technique called low-voltage electrospinning patterning.

Elisabeth said: “Being able to design free-spanning protein fibers is of interest for tissue engineering as they can act as a simplistic template for cells to assemble into tissue-like structures. We have utilized such structures to observe the migration of cancer cells in 3D, which models aspects of the environment the cells encounter in the body. A motivation is to develop such models further for fundamental cancer research or as a drug screening application.” 

Microscopy Prize: A Model Brain Tumor with Blood Vessels Grown in the Lab

Taken by PhD candidate Agavi Stavropolou-Tatla, this image shows exactly what the title says. Tumoroids can be used to study the interaction between brain tumor (glioblastoma) cells and blood vessel forming(endothelial) cells, offering a platform for development of personalized therapies.

Agavi said: “This type of brain tumor, glioblastoma, is able to grow so quickly because it has the power to produce new blood vessels when needed. Moreover, it is highly infiltrative, and this is partially because tumor cells use blood vessels as 'highways' for their migration to different parts of the brain. Thus, this biomimetic model could provide insight into the mechanisms that drive tumor new blood vessel formation and invasion along blood vessels, and serve as a personalized tool for targeted drug testing.”

Head of Department Prize: 88 Pianists Cogs and Unicorns

This is an image of a STEM outreach project called 88 Pianists. This mechanism, along with 87 others also designed by children, allow 88 individuals to play one piano at the same time, from up to seven meters (about 23 feet) away. The mechanisms thought up by the children included giraffe and unicorn-inspired designs, which can be seen in the background of the image. The image was taken by Fran O’Neill Sergent, design and multimedia produce for the project.

Fran said: “88 Pianists began life as an exercise in inspiring young children to become engineers and evolved into those children inspiring us. This photograph was taken two days before the world record-breaking performance in Birmingham. The world record was smashed by 88 pianists, 40 engineers and 2,500 primary school designers. I'm incredibly proud to have played a creative role in this project which has had a profound impact on inspiring imagination in our wider work in climate change mitigation. I look forward to working on the development of our next exciting STEM engagement opportunity.”

See the Remainder of the Shortlist on Flickr

These winners were selected from a shortlist of exceptional photos by contest entrants. You can browse the album on Flickr at this link.

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