Archive for July, 2013

Bob Spence, still going strong at 80

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

I have rediscovered a fascinating interview with Professor Bob (Robert) Spence, Professor Emeritus of Information Engineering & Senior Research Investigator in EEED. Today, Bob turns 80 and what better way to help him celebrate than bringing to your attention this interview from 1994. At the time, the TV Studio was still in operation and I was making a monthly video for a computer company called Lantec. A former TV Studio colleague of mine, Steve Bell, who worked for Lantec, asked me if we would make these videos for distribution to their company clients. The result was a programme we called Video Interface. This video is from Edition 13, from December 1994 and Steve is talking to Bob about his research work. I take no credit for the remaining text below, as it comes from Bob’s own personal web page at Imperial. I have added however a few links to videos I made with Bob on some of the subjects mentioned.

Bob’s research has ranged from engineering design to human-computer interaction and often with the manner in which the latter can enhance the former. Notable contributions, usually in collaboration with colleagues, include the powerful generalized form of Tellegen’s Theorem; algorithms for improving the manufacturing yield of mass-produced circuits; and, in the field of Human-computer Interaction, the invention of the first focus+context technique, the Bifocal Display (aka Fisheye lens). The novel Attribute and Influence Explorers provide examples of novel information visualization tools that have wide application, including engineering design. Interactive computer graphics allows the electronic circuit designer to sketch the familiar circuit diagram on a computer display. This potential was pioneered by Bob and his colleagues in the late 1960s and eventually, in 1985, led to the commercially available MINNIE system developed and marketed by a company of which Bob was chairman and a founding director. More recently, Bob’s research has focused on the topic of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation in which a collection of images is presented sequentially and rapidly to a user who may be searching for a particular image. This activity is similar to the riffling of a book’s pages.

 

spence 51 yearsAnd yet more news about Bob in April 2014 is that he has now achieved 51 years of service at Imperial College. See this article and scroll down to read about it. In the article Bob says “I’ve always said that if something is fun, it’s worth doing – and I’ve certainly had a lot of fun over the past 51 years.  Imperial has always had a fantastic community, and it boasts some exceptional students. They are the reason I continued to teach after my retirement – I never tire of working with them….”

Colin Grimshaw April 2014

Honda Wind Tunnel Opening July 1985

Monday, July 8th, 2013

28 years ago today on July 8th 1985 a project between Imperial College and the Honda Automobile Company was celebrated with the official opening of the new Honda Wind Tunnel in the Department of Aeronautics.

The Aeronautics Wind Tunnel today

Earlier in that decade the Honda company had approached the college and offered to pay the costs of the construction of a large wind tunnel. It transpires that Honda were trailing behind competitors in their car design and needed help. They offered to pay the construction costs in return for the testing of car models and the training of staff in wind tunnel technology. Professor Peter Bearman from Imperial College oversaw the design and construction, he can be seen towards the end of the video. Former Rector the late Lord Brian Flowers makes the initial presentation, followed by the then head of the department, Dr Glyn Davies. The design and construction created, at the time, one of the world’s largest wind tunnels. The contract with Imperial College was also one of the biggest between a Japanese automobile company and an academic institution.

The tunnel was opened by Mr Fujio Ishikawa, Senior Managing Director of the Honda Motor Company. You can read a full page article about the wind tunnel in the Imperial College student newspaper Felix dated 17 May 1985, scroll down to page 6 on the PDF.

 

Colin Grimshaw July 2013