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Teesside academic’s expertise gives flying start to BBC show


Sep 2, 2016

Alex Ellin, Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering in the University’s School of Science & Engineering, plays a crucial role in the programme surrounding the Ferguson monoplane.

Harry Ferguson was an Irish engineer and inventor, known for building and flying his own monoplane in 1909. He also had a role in developing the modern agricultural tractor and the first four-wheel drive Formula One car.

The three-part documentary follows the project team’s endeavours to build and fly a replica of the Ferguson monoplane. Alex has been involved in an expert role, offering technical advice and carrying out intricate testing throughout the project.

Having travelled to Belfast to take part filming there, Alex met the film crew again when they travelled to Teesside University to shoot footage of him at work in the University’s heavy structures testing laboratory.

Alex said: “We filmed in Ireland where we looked at the plans to consider whether the replica will be airworthy. Those initial assumptions were then tested in the University labs.”

BBC producer Darryl Grimason said: “We searched nationwide to find an expert in this field and we struck gold when we finally found Alex, as there is nobody else across the country with Alex’s expertise.”

Alex also enlisted the help of Teesside University MEng Aerospace Engineering student Rob Ives, 22, who assisted Alex in testing the structure.

Rob, who is originally from Leeds, said: “It was the engineering courses and the School of Science & Engineering’s facilities such as the flight simulators which brought me to Teesside University. I hope to eventually work on aircraft design and manufacture and I feel that studying at Teesside is helping to equip me for that role.”

View the programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07tmnwl