From the surge in tablet computing, smartphones and online businesses, the past 20 years have seen an explosion in computing and communications technologies and a convergence in terms of devices.

With concepts such as ‘cloud computing’ and the ‘internet of things’, engineers are creating new information flows and communication streams, bringing massive growth to existing channels and providers as well as opening up opportunities to innovative start-up companies. This has created a transformation of the way the world works, plays and communicates.

Case study

Case study

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) is proof that size does not matter in engineering: small companies can make a big difference and can compete and grow in sectors where once only huge government-backed enterprises could flourish.

Although now mostly owned by the giant EADS Astrium European Aerospace and Defence Group, SSTL started as a small spin-out firm from Surrey University.

Its fundamental concept has been the use of commercial off-the-shelf components in smaller, simpler systems produced in shorter timescales, increasing affordability and allowing new technology to be implemented faster.

SSTL designs, builds, operates and consults on satellites with payloads of less than one tonne, and has developed particular expertise in small satellites, especially those using cameras and other imaging systems. Its customers are governments, researchers and commercial companies using earth observation for applications such as urban mapping, agricultural and water monitoring, disaster response and in-orbit science experimentation.