The best of University of Cambridge engineering has gone on show in the Department of Engineering's annual Carl Zeiss photography and video competition.

Even ignoring the video, the design is brilliant on so many levels - architecturally and in engineering.

Judges on the winning entry in the video category.

The winning entry for the video competition shows how engineering students were able to design a new Yacht Club building from scratch, in just one week.

The film, "Valencia Yacht Club Design Video" was made by third-year students at the University's Department of Engineering as part of project in which they had to design a tension structure for a (fictional) Russian oligarch. In the brief, they were told that money was no object and their client expected something that would "take his breath away". There was only one catch: They were given just seven days to do it.

The team, of Johannes Whittam, David Williams and Michael McCulloch, managed to produce the full design for a new building for Valencia Yacht Club's "high-end clientele". The structure is designed to resemble a racing yacht sailing through the ocean passing a buoy.

A film made for the client brief, featuring an artist's impression of the structure and a 3D model, has now also won this year's Cambridge University Department of Engineering video competition. The annual contest invites professors, students and support staff to submit photos and videos associated with their day-to-day work.

Commenting on the first prize award in the video category, the judges said: "Basically the video was just an added extra, a cherry on top of a full weeks' work in which the students had to come up with an interesting design for a tension structure and do all the complicated, nonlinear structural calculations to show that it would stand up. Even ignoring the video, the design is brilliant on so many levels - architecturally and engineering."

First prize in this year's photo competition went to "Thin Film solar cell" by Eren Ore, a second year PhD student in the Electronics, Power and Energy Conversion Group.

Taken using an optical microscope, the image shows a remarkably thin photovoltaic device made up of a series of films that are just a few nanometres thick. Researchers like Ore are trying to develop a model for producing these cells that could be taken to a mass market. If successful, this would drastically reduce the cost of solar cell production, which currently relies on more expensive silicon, wafer-based solar cells instead.

Other finalists in this year's competitions ranged similarly from epic projects, realised on a grand scale, to those that require a microscope even to be seen.

Second prize in the video category was Cambridge University Spaceflight's first-hand view of of a parachute being released on the edge of space. The team tested parachutes for the ExoMos lander, a European-led robotic mission to Mars currently under development by NASA and the European Space Agency. The video shows the parachute re-entering the Earth's atmosphere from the edge of space at a robust 450mph.

The third-placed video was "Dancing With The Flame", shot by a team of four engineers specialising in improving aeroplane engine design to reduce planes' fuel consumption. The footage shows an unstable flame being slowly extinguished inside a combustion chamber.

In the photo category, "Long Day Testing" by James Crosby came second and shows the long hours that were put in during the development and testing of "Red Herring", a prototype autonomous submarine that can be remotely controlled by humans. The intention is to create a robotic submarine that can be used for science and exploration, as well as more conventional tasks such as following underwater pipelines, locating buoys and navigating the environment using sonar.

Third prize went to "Cellular adhesion of Human Osteoblasts to Ferromagnetic Stainless Steel" by Rose Spear. The fluorescent microscopic image shows osteoblasts - the cells responsible for bone formation - on ferromagnetic stainless steel. It was created during a project designed to shorten the time needed for new bone tissue growth, by using magnetic forces that act directly on the implant to strengthen the bone.

The engineering photo competition had more than 130 entries in total, with the subject matter covering themes as diverse as eco-friendly concrete, zinc oxide nanostructures, and projects on the London Crossrail site.


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