Engineering is about innovation, and continuous improvements to existing products and systems are an essential part of engineering design. Modelling and simulation technologies have dramatically expanded engineers’ abilities to optimise products for use in everyday life and to develop products and services for special and individual needs.

Engineering makes a tangible difference to everyday life, allowing people to work in clean environments and remotely online; underpinning sport at every level; taking the drudgery out of maintaining a household and bringing new forms of electronic entertainment and communications into our homes and our hands.

Case study

Case study

If Draft Wheelchairs was a nation represented at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, it would have finished 21st in the medals table with seven gold and two silver medals. Not bad for an engineering company with just six employees.

Draft builds wheelchairs and has specialised in the stripped-down lightweight chairs used by disabled athletes to achieve amazing feats of speed and endurance, as well as those used in handcycling, rugby, waterskiing and rowing. It is an international business, and as much as 50% of output from the Huntingdon-based company goes for export.

This is a specialised business, but the challenges that Draft meets are common to many innovative engineering companies: the need to build strength into structures while reducing weight and the quest for new materials and designs to improve performance and the user experience.

Draft’s product lines uses engineering in areas such as healthcare, medical and surgical applications – meeting the demand for products and systems that are tailored to the individual and their health needs. Draft also makes custom, everyday use wheelchairs for clients, borrowing technology from its sporting heritage. But the market for personalised devices of many kinds is huge – and growing.