Bake Off star engineers gingerbread houses

Andrew Smyth, the Rolls Royce engineer who appeared in the final of this year’s Great British Bake Off, has been teaching youngsters about construction using gingerbread.

Teaming up with the IET, Smyth appeared in a short video alongside three children where he explains the principles of engineering by building gingerbread houses. He hopes that by showing the links between baking and engineering, more young people can be inspired to join the profession.

“To be able to show what an engineer can do outside of work and to break some stereotypes has been really great,” said Smyth. “I’m really enthusiastic about reaching out to young people and showing what a career in engineering can offer.”

“I’d say to young people, if you are curious about how the world works or questioning why something is the way it is, and you want to make a difference, then engineering is absolutely the career for you.”

In other news that could help inspire young engineers, researchers at Warwick University are working on toys that can be controlled by children with their minds.

Instead of using handheld controllers, children (and their parents!) may soon be able to use their brainwaves to engage with toys such as Scalextric and remote-controlled robots. A headset is used to create a brain-computer interface, with sensors in the headset measuring the electrical impulses from the brain at different frequencies. Each frequency can be controlled to a degree, with the outputs processed by a computer, amplified and fed into the electrical circuit of the electronic toy.

“Whilst brain-computer interfaces already exist – there are already a few gaming headsets on the market – their functionality has been quite limited,” said Prof Christopher James, director of Warwick Engineering in Biomedicine.

“New research is making the headsets now read cleaner and stronger signals than ever before – this means stronger links to the toy, game or action thus making it a very immersive experience.”