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How engineers & STEM subjects benefit public health on #WorldHealthDay

Published: Apr 1, 2021 3 min read

STEM learning

How engineers & STEM subjects benefit public health on #WorldHealthDay

 

April 7 is the World Health Organisation's #WorldHealthDay - so we spoke to two of our STEM Ambassadors whose roles are closely linked to the area of public health to find out how they got into their roles, what they enjoy most about them and how young people aspiring towards an exciting STEM career can follow in their footsteps.

First up is Peter Roseveare, a retired engineer and transport planner at Kent County Council.

What was your dream job when you were 10?

I loved reading (and still do), so working in a bookshop or library.

What do you do now?

My job was to encourage more people to walk, cycle, or use public transport where possible, rather than travel by car. Now I am retired, I have been volunteering for STEM activities and exploring the coast and countryside of Devon.

Why is your area of STEM important?

Young people will already feel the effects of air pollution in busy towns and cities now. As they grow up, they will have the chance to make choices about where and how they live and travel, and how they may be able to help reduce these effects on other young people in the future.

How does your job link to health?

Vehicle exhaust fumes cause breathing problems and have other harmful effects on human health. Persuading people to drive a bit less in future would reduce these fumes, encourage them to take more exercise, and improve everyone’s health. Studying STEM subjects leads to a greater understanding of these problems, and how improvements can be made.

What do you do day-to-day in your job?

When I started my career I worked on bypasses and other improvements to the roads to make journeys by car easier. At the end, I was working on plans for the next 20 years for large housing estates, shops, and offices that showed how people could also travel easily to and from these sites by walking, cycling, bus, and train. My job was to show what effect these plans would have on the towns, cities and countryside around them, and how to keep these effects as small and as safe as possible. I did not need a hard hat for this, but I did need a lot of knowledge, patience and a large mug of coffee.

What is your favourite part of your job?

The excitement of meeting lots of people with different jobs who are all trying to make the future as healthy and safe as possible, and learning from their knowledge and experience.

What challenges do you face in your job?

A lot of people don’t want to change their habits and would like to drive everywhere, even for very short distances. Finding ways to lead them towards a healthier way of life (both for them and the planet) is the biggest challenge. This type of work combines the technical understanding that STEM subjects gives you with the ability to share your knowledge and listen to other peoples’ point of view.

Ajmal Roshan is mechanical design engineer and designed an innovative walking aid...

What was your dream job when you were 10?

I always dreamed of being a detective - I found it really interesting to go behind the scenes and solve a problem.

What do you do now?

As a mechanical design engineer, I research design concepts and evolve them into products, creating a better standard of living for everyone around us.

Why is your area of STEM so important?

Pushing the boundaries of imagination has consistently helped humans plan for a better future. Mechanical design engineers (and mechanical engineers) turn those ideas and concepts into real world products.

How does your job link to health?

During my studies, my group and I designed an innovative walking aid. This functioned both as a crutch as well as a Zimmer frame. When planning it we had detailed discussions with doctors, physiotherapists, social workers and individuals using the walking aids. We came to realise that people tend to use a Zimmer frame in the beginning and move towards using a crutch in the later stage. A product with these two features incorporated into one was not available in the market. 

You can see examples of our work here and here.

To make this product, we needed to decide what material to be used, the thickness of the material, the maximum weight by which it should withstand and the ease of use. We utilised our knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to evolve this product from the design stage on paper to a real world product.

What do you do day-to-day in your job?

In my day-to-day work, I develop engineering CAD (Computer-Aided Design) models from design concepts as well as run engineering simulations verifying if the factors taken into account lead to successful functioning of the product. 

What is your favourite part of your job?

Witnessing a product evolve from design concepts to working real world products is really exciting.

What challenges do you face in your job?

Sometimes, we have an exciting design, but it does not serve the purpose. Simulation software is helpful to find such issues before we start manufacturing. We could incorporate various factors and assumptions into the software and verify the designs and find it if it will function properly. 

 

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