skip to content

Centre for Digital Built Britain

Blog: Find out about the future of construction at this year's Cambridge Science Festival

Dr Kate Parsley, Head of Engagement (maternity cover), reports on CDBB's preparations for Cambridge Science Festival - at the Maxwell Centre, Cambridge at 1.30-4.30 on Saturday 23 March 2019.

It's that time of year when families carefully pore over the Cambridge Science Festival programme, circling in biro the activities they’d like to visit and logging onto the website to plan their itinerary. Every year, the Festival is produced by an army of volunteers, all working to encourage young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Activities include talks, interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities, film showings and debates, and the vast majority are provided for free.

In the CDBB office we have been busily making our own preparations for our very first participation in the Festival. Our drop-in, hands-on afternoon in the Maxwell Centre on Saturday 23 March from 1:30-4:30pm is intended to encourage young people towards a career in construction by highlighting the future skills and knowledge that might be needed in the future. Robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and new technologies are transforming the way we will build schools, homes and hospitals – and we will need the next generation to help us to deliver this. We are delighted to be working with Bricks McGee to deliver one of our activities using Lego to exemplify off-site construction and using modular components. 

Our partners and colleagues will also be delivering activities in support of the Festival. The Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction will be in the Department of Engineering on the afternoon of Saturday 16 March providing hands-on activities demonstrating how technology is used to make infrastructure smart. At the same time, research students from the Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment will be helping visitors build coastal defences to try and survive a tsunami. On the evening of Wednesday 20 March, there are still a few tickets left to hear colleagues from the departments of Architecture and Land Economy with Cambridge Ahead discuss the future economy of Cambridge, and how our housing and transport infrastructure might need to change to be able to cope.

I have been on secondment to CDBB for 4 months, providing maternity cover for the Head of Engagement. I have supported and volunteered at the Festival through my previous role in the Bioscience Impact Team and even before then as a researcher in Plant Sciences. I know the huge amount of effort that goes into planning for and delivering enriching, engaging and educational activities that are accessible to all. I also know that my feet will be sore, I will not manage to eat or drink all day (despite definitely trying to this time), and that I will yet again be amazed and impressed by the enthusiasm, intelligence and energy of the young people I will have spoken with during the afternoon.

CDBB StickerWe would like to encourage you to visit CDBB at the Festival to talk to our researchers and staff, interact with our exhibits and activities, and discover how construction is going digital. You might even get a sticker like the one here!

More information:

Science Festival General Booking site

CDBB: The Future of Construction - Saturday 23 March 2018

Smart building, smart construction - Saturday 16 March: 1:00pm - 4:30pm

Looking into the future - Wednesday 20 March - 7.30pm - 9.00pm

Future Infrastructure & Built Environment - Saturday 16 March: 10:00am - 4:00pm

About the Cambridge Science Festival 

The Cambridge Science Festival provides the public with opportunities to explore and discuss issues of scientific interest and concern and to raise aspirations by encouraging young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Each year, the Festival welcomes visitors to hundreds of events and receives extensive national and local media coverage. Over 170 event coordinators organise talks, interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities, film showings and debates with the assistance of around 1,000 staff and students from departments and organisations across the University and research institutions, charities and industry in the eastern region. In addition, over 150 people volunteer their time to act as stewards to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable Festival experience. 

Centre for Digital Built Britain – Event: The Future of Construction  

The Centre for Digital Built Britain will host a session aimed at highlighting to young people the construction jobs of the future and the skills they will need. As part of the government’s industrial strategy, digital is being championed as a way of improving efficiency in the construction industry. CDBB will demonstrate how many of the toys, tools and technologies they use for entertainment and learning can to eventually lead to dynamic and fulfilling employment in digital construction.  

CDBB Lego City 

There will be a Lego-based activity which will demonstrate how a platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly achieves a much more efficient and scalable approach to construction.  The drop-in drop-out activity will be run by a facilitator who will guide children through the construction of various components for buildings that will comprise a growing CDBB Lego City. 

Building Information Modelling and Digital Technology Demonstrations 

CDBB is partnering with Bouygues to a host of digital activities to demonstrate how virtual reality and gaming pursuits can be adapted and utilised in the construction industry. Children and adult participants will engage with virtual reality headsets, 3D scanners and time-lapse film while learning how these technologies are being used to construct and manage built assets that have better outcomes for citizens and society.  

The digital activities will also demonstrate how Building Information Modelling (BIM) is implemented to better design, build, operate and integrate various buildings that better serve the people who use them. 

Other CSF activities going on at the Maxwell Centre from the EPSRC CDT in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NanoDTC)

Mind the Gap 

In healthcare it is critical to be able to measure traces of molecules with great accuracy - to diagnose or monitor the progression of diseases, check for allergens in food, or for drug testing. At this exhibit you will find out about the biosensors of the future that use nanoscale techniques to detect molecules in extremely small quantities. Many interesting and important biological molecules like DNA and proteins are very small, and scientists are constantly improving our ability to see and measure them. But to really progress, we need vastly improved, affordable detection technologies to measure the millions of times rarer signaling molecules that indicate our health. By pulling molecules of interest into the small space or nanogap between our tiny sensor components, they now become visible to our instruments. New techniques are emerging to do this using nanopores, atomically thin membranes, and tiny gaps between gold nanostructures that are just billionths of a metre across. 

Nanovignettes – nanoscience through the eyes of artists 

NanoVignettes is a series of micro-films presenting latest research from the EPSRC CDT in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NanoDTC), in an inventive and accessible visual format. NanoDTC students and associates were paired with MA-level artists, and together these teams explored crossovers between their disciplines. Scientists introduced the artists to their labs and research, and the artists then created dialogues and imagery to explain their understanding of the scientists’ work. The micro-films communicate their shared understandings, across unusual divergences in ideas, language, and idiom. By harnessing the creativity of scientists and artists working together, the videos speak to wide audiences on many levels. 

Perskovite solar cells and lighting for a fully sustainable energy future 

See state-of-the-art approaches to low-cost solar energy and high-efficiency lighting solutions using metal-halide perovskite semiconductors. Join the Optoelectronics Group for live demonstrations and hands-on experiments that bring scientific concepts and challenges to life. 

Contact: Dr Kate Parsley