Category Archives: Engineers

Set a new World Land Speed Record of 1000 mph


My Role as an Army Reservist

Objectives

Inspire the next generation about science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Share an iconic research and development programme with a global audience

Set a new World Land Speed Record of 1000 mph

Mission Statement

Create a unique, high-technology project, focused around a 1000 mph World Land Speed Record attempt. Share this Engineering Adventure with a global audience and inspire the next generation by bringing science, technology, engineering and mathematics to life in the most exciting way possible.

In April I became a REME STEM Ambassador, an Engineering adventure that just entices the passionate Engineer to be drawn in and offered the chance to talk endlessly about the design challenges, make rocket cars, offered the challenge to inspire and ignite a similar passion in the next generation and not forgetting being part of a project that breaks the land speed record…who could say no!

Craftsman Sarah Dorey, 678 (Rifles) Sqn (REME)

Craftsman Sarah Dorey, 678 (Rifles) Sqn (REME)

Friday 13 June 2014 saw the reveal of Bloodhounds cockpit and what will be Andy Greens 1050 mph office. The project is supported by a stunning website and following the link you can take a 360 degree tour narrated by Andy Green http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/news/andy-green-guides-you-round-his-1000mph-office. The big press event linked live across the net around the world including South Africa where the car will be making its record breaking runs and the local community are supporting the project by every day collecting stones to ensure a smooth runway, to date 78 tonnes of stones have been collected. Ambassadors attending the event served many purposes; we experienced the event first hand – gaining first hand knowledge that we can pass on at other events (fuelling our own passions and interest helps transfer interest to others), met Andy Green and in speaking to the press promoted our project objectives and mission statement.

Goodwood Festival of Speed Schools day was my next big even on 25 June 2015. We had 300 school children visit during the day from primary and secondary schools, to listen to science demonstrations by build members, make Styrofoam rocket cars investigating how shape affects aerodynamics and the forces applied to an object travelling at high speed and then time trial them down a track, make K’nex cars powered by compressed air, show pupils round our 1:1 scale model of Bloodhound SSC and all of our interactive Bloodhound stand. The day was also open to the general public, many people are already following the project through the website (http://www.bloodhoundssc.com), Twitter (@Bloodhound_SSC, @spinningdorey), Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/95684012@N02/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BLOODHOUNDSSC) but many visitors came to see our stand out of curiosity…bright orange and blue car, soldiers in uniform, crowds of excited children! Everyone that came in to had a positive enthusiasm once they listened what we had to say. Many were amazed that this group of people were going to attempt such a challenge, more amazed that British Army REME soldiers were hand making individual components and building the car. Generally people are shocked that soldiers have the skills to do this but very proud to say its British and handmade by British soldiers.

Bloodhound SSC has many events and tours and is continuously tweeting and keeping project updates in the public mind. Personally I am beginning to get bookings to attend schools and organise activities so I now go forward with planning with teachers over objectives they wish to achieve from my visit then looking at tailoring my content to their aims. Quoting Maj Morgan “if we can leave the memory of a soldier coming into their classroom and build cars and taught them rocket science when a child looks back at their school days then we have done our job”.

Please follow the project and see the effect it is having, see the quality of Engineering from the REME team and see if we reach our objective. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on sjdorey@yahoo.co.uk

To know more about 678 (Rifles) Squadron visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/reservists/armyreserve/678squadronaac6regtaac.aspx

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On tour with 135 Independent Geographical Squadron Royal Engineers


Thelma in Helmand Province

Hello from Afghanistan!

I am now over 70% of the way through my tour and have just under two months left in theatre. However my return flight is yet to be confirmed so I am not pinning too many hopes on getting home by a particular date! I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support (and food!) that I have received from friends and colleagues so I wanted to provide you all with a bit of an update on what I have been up to. I hope this finds you well.

The arrival of our team out here was staggered over two and a half months with LCpl Wadlow the first to arrive five weeks before me and WO2 Coleman the last to be in post in mid January. During the past couple of months we have beenrotating through R&R, with at least one person out of theatre most of the time.

We are now a complete team for only a few more days before WO2 Coleman goes on R&R, by the end of which Lcpl Wadlow will have finished his tour and his successor will be in place. It’s these milestones that help us keep track of timeas otherwise most days are pretty routine and it can all blur together!

In February I managed to get to Kandahar for a two day visit and to see the Theatre Map Depot where another colleague from my TA unit is working. It was good to catch up with him and to see another base; it is completely different to Bastion which feels really quiet in comparison. Kandahar is based around the airfield and there is a lot more permanent infrastructure there including brick buildings, tarmacked roads and the famous Boardwalk which is an area of shops and restaurants (including TGI Friday’s!) on a raised wooden walkway surrounding a square where they play basket ball etc. It has almost a village green feel to it. Kandahar also has it’s very own tourist attraction in the form of a poo pond where all the waste is deposited and aerates and bubbles away. It is the done thing to go and have your photo taken next to the biohazard sign and I even managed to find a T-shirt advertising the Poo Pond Cafe (I was disappointed not to find the actual cafe though!) Kandahar generally felt a lot more sociable than Bastion as there was definitely a lot more to do outside of work.

At the Poo Pond, Kandahar

At the Poo Pond, Kandahar

I also managed to get out to Lash Kar Gah for a day a few weeks ago. The city is in the Green Zone, about a twenty minute helicopter flight away from Bastion. I went down to deliver some maps and to meet the Geo Cell that are based there. The flight was by Chinook and I took the opportunity to film it from the window. The loadie saw me with my camera and I thought he was going to tell me to stop filming but instead he invited me to sit up next to the door so I could get a better picture! He then spoke over his mic to the pilot who then flew us low over the town and for the first time I saw normal Afghans going about their daily business. There were people on bikes, in trucks and walking their donkeys. At one point we were so low that the wash from the back of the helicopter was making peoples washing flap up violently around on the washing lines in their compounds. It gave me a very brief glimpse in to the world of the every day Afghan and made me wonder about the challenges they face dealing with the insurgency that are all around that area.

Being stuck on base at Bastion can be frustrating at times and I would love to be able to get out more but the job I do does not warrant it. I can’t complain though; at least the chances of me coming home in one piece are pretty high. The base at Lash is tiny in comparison to Bastion and the perimeter fence is only a mile or so long but it seemed friendly and more relaxed Also there were flowers there – tulips, marigolds and poppies (of course). It was the first time in three months that I’d seen any form of vegetation as opposed to just sand, dust and rocks and it was delightful. We travelled back that night by Merlin helicopter in pitch darkness; they switch the lights off to make it less of a target for anyone aiming an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) at us.

Arriving at Kandahar Airfield

Arriving at Kandahar Airfield

I had my R&R during March and it was great, but over far too quickly. Amazingly the RAF got me back to Brize Norton on schedule and we landed at lunch time on my birthday, which was a lovely birthday present in itself. On the way to Salisbury and within an hour and a half of landing I managed to do a skydive, still in my uniform (we were passing Netheravon Airfield anyway and the sun was shining so I took the opportunity!). I visited my family in Somerset and then I went skiing for a week in Austria, where the snow was fantastic and I treated myself to a new pair of skis with my hard earned army wages! I then just had time to see some friends for dinner in London before driving up to Brize Norton and flying back that same night.

All this was lovely but the dashing around took it’s toll (a rookie mistake I’m told – the more experienced, wiser ones just go home and do nothing!) and I returned to theatre ill with a cold…and then got worse not better! After a week of trying to “griz it out” I eventually dragged myself to the med centre where a doctor listened to my chest, confirmed bronchitis and prescribed 7 days of penicillin and as much rest as work would allow. It took another two weeks to start feeling anywhere near 100% again though and it took me a long while to get back into any kind of routine fitness wise with a lot of ground to make up! Sadly there has been another vigil service to attend for another lad who was shot by a rogue Afghan soldier. He was only the second British soldier to die in the time that I have been here which I believe is an improvement on last year but we are only really at the beginning of the Taliban fighting season so incidents could start to increase again soon. However the move towards the transition of power over to the Afghan Army is continuing apace and they are now in the lead for the majority of operations. This means that there are less of our boys out on the ground doing the actual fighting than previously so hopefully the numbers of deaths and serious injuries should remain low. However it also means that the afghans are the ones taking the brunt of the casualties now as the insurgency are not simply giving up. Every so often we get an IDF attack on the base (Indirect Fire – someone trying to rocket us) The loud bang is preceded by tan alarm as there are instruments which detect incoming fire and we have to don our body armour and helmets and get ourselves to the nearest blast shelter (which are located pretty much everywhere). The last one was at 2am on Sunday night and it was the bang and not the alarm that woke myself and my room mate up (although we’re told it did sound). We had to leave our room and congregate in a shelter at the end of our pod while a register was taken and we waited for further information. Apparently there were six rockets in total and eventually the all clear was sounded and we were allowed back to our beds after about 45 minures. Sunday was the Mujahadeen Victory day and we were told to anticipate some kind of action as it is the day that marks the official beginning of the fighting season for the Taliban so things could get more interesting from now on in!

IMG_0931

The future of this country relies on the Afghans being able to run effective operations against the insurgency and it is no secret that huge numbers desert the army every year when they have enough of battle conditions. At the end of next year ISAF (international Security Assitance Force – ie us, the USA etc) support will be withdrawn all bar special forces and small mentoring teams so everyone is feeling the pressure.

The team I work in is training a small group of Afghan soldiers to be geo technicians so they can produce their own mapping. These people however did not grow up with computers so it takes them a long time to grasp even basic concepts so the training objectives are constantly being revised and adjusted to fit in with what is feasible as new challenges come to light. Also they do not have the same levels of discipline and timings are not as key in their culture as in ours so they turn up when they feel like it. The training is all conducted through our interpretor, Abdul, a native Afghani who escaped to Canada with his family when the Russians invaded. He is a lovely man who is very patient and humble and is excellent at his job which he has been doing for three years so has worked with many versions of our team. The other day during a tea break in the training he was interpreting for one of the soldiers who was telling us a little about his life. I always want to ask more but there is never enough time. Here we are enjoying a break in training with the Afghans and partaking in tea and some of the cakes and treats sent by friends and colleagues at both Southwark Council and the City of London.

In other news our team chill out area that we started working on before R&R is now finished – complete with decking and hammocks! My contribution was to source all the materials from around the camp and I managed to acquire decking wood, nails, paint, paint brushes and rope. Lcpl Westhead and WO2 Coleman did the construction work and Lcpl Wadlow added the finishing touches by painting Royal Engineers Crests on the walls. We also acquired a barbeque and have had a couple of Saturday evenings eating al fresco, which has made a pleasant change to the noisy and over crowded chow hall!

Also on the entertainment side of things, every so often there is a CSE show (Combined Services Entertainment) for the troops. Celebrities and entertainers arrive and travel round to the different bases for a few days doing a show in each location. Katie Melua was over here a while ago did a gig outside the NAAFI which was very good and drew quite a big crowd. The comedians who did the warm up act though were probably the highlight for most people as they had the whole audience in stitches. Needless to say the humour was pretty rude and appealed to squaddies of all ranks. In the cookhouse after the show I found I was in the queue next to one of the comedians and he invited me to join him on their table for dinner where I got to meet Katie herself.

For more information please visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/reservists/ta/135independentgeographicsquadronre.aspx

Exercise Cockney Etrangeres


Tech Task

Whilst on annual camp, 135 Geographic Squadron RE was tasked with carrying out a live technical task – to produce orienteering maps of four areas on the island of Jersey in order to practice our core GIS and Data Collection skills. This essentially involved two disciplines in three stages, Data Survey and map production using ARC GIS 10 (Geographic Information Systems).

The first stage involved the GIS team to conduct a desktop study of existing geographic data.  The field computer banks were transported from Ewell to Jersey Field Squadron HQ via MAN trucks and set up as a working Geo cell.  Using existing aerial imagery of the designated orienteering areas, the GIS team interpreted and plotted overlays on top of the imagery according to the international orienteering map standards.  Due to the fact that the imagery was five years old, features, both manmade and natural had to be verified.  Interpretation of the imagery could be incorrect and there was a requirement to go into the area to confirm and gather information.  For example, what looked like a grassy field on the imagery could now in fact be an impenetrable field classed ‘as wooded area’.

The Hon Col Dr Vanessa Lawrence being shown one of the new orienteering maps by SSM Les Hunt

The second stage commenced with the data survey team going into each of the four areas to be mapped to collect data, armed with the image maps compiled by the GIS team.  Each area was recce’d to choose two suitable base station locations which are fixed in position for the duration of the survey.  Their job is to take continual readings from satellites and between each other to make error corrections in position and then transmit these corrections to the roving GPS poles which are used to collect data.  This improves the accuracy of the positions being surveyed.  We found the perfect location for base station one, on the top of the tallest hill above a second world war bunker. Unfortunately this also meant we had to keep traipsing up and down said hill!

Base station two had to be on the other side of the area being surveyed as there were no obvious high points so we had to settle with a sand dune.  The next day we returned to commence the task, only to find that the wind had picked up, so much so that the instrumentation that we had set up on tripod legs blew straight over.  Down we went to the Land Rovers, retrieved the sandbags and shovel and weighted down the tripod legs, having used the convenient abundance of sand from the dunes all around us.  To minimise the likelihood of a passer by stealing our base station survey equipment, we hid all of the survey equipment boxes (used to transport it) within the bunker.  Base station two was assembled and we were off, capturing data.  Two hours in and the satellite signal died; the battery powering the base station antenna had died. We learned our lesson and opted for the bigger battery the next day.  On top of all this, it was raining each morning but by the time base stations were set up, the Jersey sunshine came out for us.

Cpl Carl Presswood setting up on site

Two survey teams worked in conjunction in each area, communicating by radio.  Comms were critical since requirements were updated throughout the day including location of transportation vehicles and logistical challenges; we had to transport people from camp HQ to survey area and vice versa; this used up resource and slowed up the progress of the task in hand.

Second World War bunkers and gun emplacements were a strong theme of interest throughout our data collection and acted as useful markers and interesting history lessons!

A memorable highlight was when the survey team came to the aid of a lady stranded on the beach in her car. Like good Sappers, we safely recovered her vehicle before the incoming tide swamped it.  She turned out to be the daughter of the founder of Butlins but unfortunately we weren’t offered any free accommodation for next year’s camp!

Myself and Cpl Morley were busy ‘pinging; points when to our horror, as we were approaching our base station being guarded by our sergeant we saw him, stripped to the waist, his pale white body glistening like a beacon as he took in the radiant Jersey sun.  Embarrassed by our heckling since he thought no one could see him hidden in the undergrowth, he quickly got his top back on before any more blinded sea gulls fell out of the sky.

Cpl Carl Presswood and Spr Kieran Terry

This tech task was also a training exercise and the time taken to overcome problems rapidly diminished as the team became slicker.  Once all the information was gathered in the form of GPS linked photographs and GPS data points, they were transposed onto computer and read in conjunction with the existing imagery. The time consuming task of creating the correct international orienteering standardised symbology and correctly classifying parcels of land to the ease of movement was a challenge, especially as we had very little experience of using orienteering maps previously. By day five, tensions were rising in our makeshift Geo Cell; French spellings were being scrutinised, debates on whether bunkers were bunkers or gun emplacements got technical and Naafi breaks had been cancelled. However we were kept entertained throughout by the Radio Jersey karaoke by the chefs in the kitchen next door!

Cpl OJ kept morale high in the Geo cell; as an invaluable asset to the team, he also made certain that it was easier to get into FortKnox than locating the files we were working on!

Sergeant Windle kept us motivated and encouraged us, with comments like ……. unrepeatable in print, and “get this kit set up”.

Cpl Presswood took overall command but like all good leaders, he omitted to tell us that the witness marks had not been taken and then flapped when we told him we didn’t have time to cover for him…haha, funny – we sorted him out after letting him sweat.

LCpl Walmsley did a smashing job in creating the orienteering map and then died of shame when the visiting CO pointed out that there was a spelling mistake.

This same CO caught Cpl Presswood and Sgt Windle eating lunch; the exact time when they downed tools for a brew was the exact time that he rocked up in the car park to see them ‘working’ flat out – busted.

Sgt Trepanier (American exchange) did a great job in collecting survey data on vegetation until she found that she had used the wrong base point and she had to do it all again – next time check first

We had all checked that each team had the correct kit before leaving base, and then one team promptly drove off without the booking sheets meaning that they had to write everything up after the days surveying, doh – special. All good learning points for the next time!

By the end of the five day task, we had captured over 2500 GPS points, taken over 400 photographs and successfully produced two orienteering maps to officially handover to the Combined Cadet Force and Jersey Field Squadron. The customers were happy and we had all learned a great deal.

For more information please visit : http://www.serfca.org/en-us/reservists/ta/135independentgeographicsquadronre.aspx

 

Life on Operations


Sapper Adrienne Crowe

I really didn’t know what to expect from my time with 8 Squadron.When you are in Bastion you could be anywhere in the world (anywhere that has been stripped of all vegetation and has a proportionality large amount of Americans that is) but arriving in Nahiduallah was a nice surprise I don’t think I was the only one ready to get out of Bastion, get the show on the road and start counting off the days.

So better than I expected was my first impression, a reasonable size, good accommodation, welfare, kitchen, food hall and of course an excellent gym. We arrived and settled in under darkness so it was left till morning for a full orientation.

The first little tasks we had was to fix the razor wire on the boundary Hesco wall which had fallen down in places from the down draft from the Helicopters. So we PPE’d up and got up on the wall.

Sapper Adrienne Crowe

This was my first sight of Afghanistan. I was surprised how green it was and how the small children knew so much swear words and hand gestures. The next few days were full of little jobs around the camp that would make life more pleasant for those residing here such as plumbing, drainage and furniture.

It was nice to hang around camp for a few days just to settle in and orientate ourselves and get a grasp of where we sat in the grand scheme of things. After a few days I got the opportunity to go out on the ground…….well in the Husky as it were. I was told to expect to see lots of ground sign everywhere and that I would get used to certain traits of the locals lifestyles.

One of the first things that stuck me is that people are everywhere! Everywhere, you think you are in a rural area, but there is people in the fields, working, children with their goat herds and small groups of men randomly sitting under tree lines no doubt gas bagging the hottest part of the day away.

This first time outside the wire I was amazed at how structured the villages were, I guess I was expecting to see a worn torn landscape that you see on BBC reports but since being here I have realised that the media is very picky of the images they send back home for all to see.

All in all my first impression of the real Afghanistan was positive, the children (though cheeky) look healthy and happy, the country seemed to be going about its business despite the fact that large ISAF vehicles dominate their roads and their children are getting selective language and hand gesture lessons.

The long move up to our first task was a slow move due to the light wheelie. It was a good chance to check out the scenery along the way and I am happy to report that I was not stoned once on top cover which I was told is an occupational hazard in that position.

On arriving at CP Lagay it didn’t seem too bad, things were basic but it was all there. Sadly things didn’t go quite to plan on this task at this time and it turned out to be more of a ‘Stagging on’ party for me.

There were two Stag positions and though a tedious and underappreciated job it is one that you just resign yourself too and try to make the best of, it wasn’t long before I got to recognise the families of the local compounds and one in particular forever barking dog in the hours of darkness.

Soon it became apparent that there was no need for everyone to be at the CP while the powers to be were debating vital decisions so the call was made for the majority of the troop to head back to Nahiduallah.

I stayed on at the CP which was not too bad……unlike the food.

Those of us left behind just helped out the Infantry lads as much as we could with Stag and bits and pieces and of course moaned…. just the usual….standard behaviour!

Then 3 days later Staff Tait appeared from round the side of the tent and gave us the good news that we were to return to Naiduallah. The route we took home to the PB was different from the route up, it was a bit longer but it was great to see a bit more of the countryside.

On this particular route down I did come under fire from some well-aimed projectiles from who can only be identified as juvenile delinquents in a dish dash. You have got to take your hat off to them they are a great shot and obviously spend a great many hours (no doubt whilst they are supposed to be watching their goats) practicing and honing their skills ready for the ISAF mounted patrols.

Arriving back in Nahiduallh, using the showers was like a dream and the food tasted like the finest in NATO.

I only got a day and a half of this bliss before packing myself off to the Medical Centre where I had to remain for 4 and half tedious very long days, after this period of time I was very happy to regain my freedom and use of gym facilities….oh….and Stag of course!

So we are all settled into our permanent accommodation now and the relief in place is complete so we all know who we will be seeing or bumping into for the next 6 or so months whilst we are here at least.

And so for now its………….. standby for the next adventure.

For more information contact 01252 333274 or email CIS Troop 8 Force Engineer Brigade terry.shipway301@mod.uk