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The Great Exhibition Festival, London June 2019

The Great Exhibition Festival, London June 2019

Two hundred and fifty years after the original Great Exhbition UNSW's Nick Matkovic and Professor Raper provide insights into the Great Exhibition Festival in London held 29th - 30th June 2019
Tuesday, July 09, 2019


The three-day Great Exhibition Festival kicked off in London from 27th – 30th June. The original Great Exhibition of 1851, (the brainchild of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria), attracted an audience of 6 million - marvelling at displays of locomotives, printing presses, an envelope-folding machine and a steam powered hammer.  The profits from this spectacle, which was literally held in a crystal palace, led to the building of some of the UK’s most popular museums, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Nick Matkovic who studies Industrial Design at UNSW, Sydney, is in London to attend the Engineering Summer School.  At the Great Exhibition Festival, he visited two shows at the Dyson Institute and the Royal College of Art (RCA).  “The key areas for innovation today are how to ensure a better future” He said, “There was a very strong focus on the importance of sustainability and environmental consciousness with many projects looking at new materials that could be a substitute for current ones that are harmful for the planet. There was also an emphasis on the importance of tailoring and customising products to make them inclusive for people from marginalised groups, for example creating accessible and inclusive scenarios for people living with impairments to access the same resources as more able-bodied people - such as in the fitness industry.”  He found that, “communication and presentation are everything. The students had a strong understanding of this - many of their projects looking as if they were almost ready to be put in the hands of consumers. Regardless of how technically impressive a project is – if it is not communicated well or if it is not presented appealingly, no one will be interested in it.”  In terms of crystallizing the difference between PLuS Engineering and institutions such as the RCA, Nick commented “from my perspective as an Industrial Design student, both the RCA and the Dyson School are both design first institutions teaching design-minded students to be engineers. My understanding of the PLuS Engineering project is that it will differentiate by teaching engineering-minded students to be designers. I think it will be extremely interesting to see how the students that graduate from each institution impact the world.”

At the Engineering Summer School (15th July – 2nd August) the three projects that the students will be working on are:

 A Smart City “Citizen Hub” – To design a smart streetlamp that also serves to provide free access to campus services.

Robot assisted rehabilitation - Significant parts of the globally population are aging.  There will be an increasingly need for more repetitive rehabilitation programs.  Robot-assisted rehabilitation could be one of the answers to dealing with the repetitive and routine tasks, eliminate the boredom and risk of accidents by inattention generated by the repetitive tasks.

Energy Sculpture/Drinking Fountain – Artwork for the campus should reflect the vision and values of our programs. The objective of the project is to design a sculpture that is also a drinking fountain that is visually appealing and uses different forms of energy to provide mechanisms to treat storm water to ensure it is drinkable.

If you are interested in attending the showcase on 31st July contact Bisi Olulode