2014 Engineering Impact Award winners

06 January 2015

National Instruments unveiled the winners of its 2014 Engineering Impact Awards at The Royal Academy of Engineering. 

NI’s awards celebrate engineering applications that have demonstrated groundbreaking solutions to some of the world’s most demanding engineering challenges. 


The 2014 Application of the Year Award was won by Sam Etchell, for his case study detailing London Underground’s use of NI CompactRIO for remote condition monitoring of track circuits on the Victoria Line, which carries 1.7billion passengers per year and is one of the busiest lines on the network. 


The Victoria Line utilises jointless track circuits to detect the presence of trains and to maintain separation. As successful operation of these circuits is vital for continued operation, London Underground implemented an intelligent, remote condition monitoring system to predict and minimise the impact from failures, by analysing signals in deep tube lines, across the 45km of the Victoria Line. They chose CompactRIO because it handles a diverse range of inputs; has customisation capability with LabVIEW software; and provides a scalable common platform for development of further condition monitoring projects. 


The system is now monitoring 85 jointless track circuits across 15 data collection sites. This data is then presented to displays in control rooms, helping to minimise costs associated with failures.
Etchell said that they took advantage of the accuracy, reliability and flexibility of NI hardware and software to implement an innovative system to reduce the lost customer hours experienced on the Victoria Line. The system is forecast to reduce lost customer hours by 39,000 per year - an estimated £350,000 savings per year in passenger disbenefit.


In addition to Etchell’s London Underground case study, which also won the Transportation category, the following winners were recognised in the 2014 Engineering Impact Awards: 


Advanced Research: Tracking WiFi signals to passively see through walls – University College London 


Biomedical:  Verifying devices that prevent HIV transmission between mother and child during breastfeeding – University of Cambridge 


Electronics Test & Measurement: Developing Earth observation cameras attached to the International Space Station for streaming live high-definition footage across the internet – STFC RAL Space


Machine Control: Improving the lives of Cerebral Palsy sufferers by creating a distributable therapy device – Key Engineering Solutions 


Physical Test & Measurement: Getting the Skylon Space Plane Project off the ground – Reaction Engines 


Education: Transforming physics students into modern practical scientists with hands-on, experiential learning – Royal Holloway, University of London 


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