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Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads!

Mark Smith | 20 Oct 2015 | Comments

Ok! I admit it, 2015 isn’t quite as predicted 30 years ago in the film Back to the Future Part II and we still all need to use roads. However on the 21st October 2015 we will finally ‘arrive’ in the future of Marty McFly and Doc Brown and the exciting thing is that many of their experiences of the ‘future’ aren’t too far away from our lives today.

As part of the early careers team our job to look ahead and ensure we have the skills and experience in Atkins to adapt to our clients’ future needs. So over the upcoming weeks the team will be travelling all over the UK talking to students about Atkins and the kind of projects they could be working on in the years ahead.

With this in mind I was inspired to look more closely at Atkins and a few of our current projects to see how we are influencing the next few decades and beyond.

Great Scott!!

We might not be travelling to work by flying car or hoverboard just yet, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t experiencing a new age of transportation. Here at Atkins we work on some of the most innovative and exciting transport projects in the world: from major rail tunnelling projects like Crossrail, which has created 42km of new railway tunnels under the capital, through to schemes supporting connected and autonomous vehicles that are inspiring the ‘roads of the future’. Building an integrated and sustainable transport network fit for the 21st century is what we do.

We are currently working on one of the world’s most challenging projects, the Bloodhound supersonic car. Designed to reach record breaking speeds of over 1000mph, it will cover a mile in just 3.6 seconds, at its top speed it would be travelling over 11x faster than the 88mph that Marty and Doc needed to get the DeLorean to 2015.

A huge part of the Bloodhound project is focused on inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. Over 4,000 primary and secondary schools have signed up to find out more about the Bloodhound through the projects education programme, taking the project into the heart of the community and society. In addition this project also offers a unique opportunity for university level engineering and technology students as they are being given access to the project’s design challenges and test data.

“I need fuel”

Speed was not the only concern in the film, there was also the issue of how to power the car. Doc Brown was able to refuel the DeLorean with technology from 2015, a ‘Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor’ that converted household waste into fuel. Although we aren’t quite refuelling our cars this way yet, we are looking at our waste from a new perspective. Reports from the World Bank (2012) state that across the globe we are creating 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste per year, expected to double in the next decade.

At Atkins we are working with partners to develop waste technologies, such as Advanced Thermal Treatment (ATT), a process that uses raw waste and converts it into a useable fuel. One current Atkins project, a new £146 million facility at the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre, will use ATT technology to generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 22000 households. Although there is still much research required in this field, there is huge potential of waste-to energy technology as a resource for the future.

A ‘future’ with Atkins

But it’s not just our projects that are defining the future. Our people make these innovations possible so it’s really important we continue to find the right people fill our graduate opportunities and become leaders and innovators for our future. With over 400 graduate vacancies and 200 placement opportunities available at Atkins in 2016, we will be looking to fill our largest ever intake, ready to take on the next big challenges…I wonder if any of them could have the solution for a time travelling DeLorean?