Engineering fuses with the arts for Sheffield city festival

  • Engineers join forces with local artists to showcase academic research at part of city-wide festival

  • Engineering Departments display their research using photography, virtual reality, dance and art installations

The Faculty of Engineering announced their programme of events in the city wide Festival of the Mind, running Thursday 20 – Sunday 30 September 2018.

Festival of the Mind is a unique collaboration between academics from the University of Sheffield and experts from the city’s cultural and creative industries. The Faculty will showcase how boundaries between engineers and artists are dissolving in the 21st Century, as Sheffield engineers fuse next-generation research with dynamic artistic projects.

As part of the festival, a number of the departments in the faculty will join forces with local artists to highlight engineering research using dance, photography, virtual reality and art installations.

The events will take place across Sheffield at a number of city and university venues.

Vice-President and Head of Engineering, Professor Mike Hounslow said: "At Sheffield, we pride ourselves on delivering pioneering, interdisciplinary research that makes a real difference locally, nationally and globally. At its heart, engineering is a very creative discipline, something we share with those in the Arts. We aim to inspire people with the power of engineering through these interactive exhibits and make engineering research more accessible to the general public at this family friendly, city-wide event."

For more information on the festival, including a full list of events and ticket information, visit:


Iconic Portraits of Mechanical Engineering - presented by Mechanical Engineering

Thursday 20 - Sunday 30 September, 8.00am - 6.30pm, Sheffield Cathedral

Through a series of photographs, visitors gain a glimpse into the diverse applications of mechanical engineering research – from the human skeleton, aero planes and wearable technology through to body organs, sports equipment, wind turbines, car engines, 3D printing and fuel combustion.

Generative Approaches to Robotic Movement and Vocal Synthesis - presented by ACSE

Thursday 20 - Thursday 27 September, 10.00am - 5pm, Millennium Gallery

The exhibit will feature a collaborative robot whose movements will be mapped to synthesised audio. The aim of the piece is to engage a broad audience in an open, absorbing and thought provoking manner, and to explore and confront attitudes towards robotics, automation and technology.

Material Space: The Electric Field - presented by Materials Science and Engineering

Thursday 20 - Thursday 27 September, 10.00am – 5.00pm, Millennium Gallery

Take a virtual reality tour of a mobile phone - the Electric Field will be a high-end virtual reality experience using the latest Oculus Rift headset. Wearing the headset the viewer will find themselves inside a flying vehicle. The journey will begin flying towards and inside a smartphone. In a Star Wars trench run inspired scene, the viewer will fly along a circuit board passing components researched and developed by the University of Sheffield.

Engineering: Think Inside the Box - presented by SELA

Thursday 20 - Thursday 27 September, 10.00am – 5.00pm, Millennium Gallery

A series of nine interactive cubes, each containing representations of a different discipline of engineering. Visitors will experience a virtual reality flight through the solar system, explore the engineering of drains, and try their hands at keyhole surgery. Audiences will also have the opportunity to meet Wobbly, a self-balancing robot demonstrating automated control, and race against the clock to wire up a control panel to launch a space rocket. Along the way, they’ll be guided by augmented reality assistants, who will give a personal journey into the world of engineering.

Strictly Nano Dancing - presented by CBE

Saturday 29 September, 3.00pm – 5.00pm, Speigel Tent, Barkers Pool

Learn science through dance! This performance will incorporate different styles of dance by Sheffield dance troupes and school pupils. The dance will be set to a background visualisation, bringing to life research on the environmentally friendly manufacture of nanomaterials. Nanotechnology is the general term for designing and making anything whose use depends on specific structure at the nanoscale. Local dance companies have joined together with research group SynBim and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering to visualise nanomaterials using an eco-friendly “green” Synthetic Biology (SynBio) approach.