There Will Come a Point Where You Can't go any Further...
Gary Menary studied mechanical engineering at Queen's where he did a Masters and a PhD. He holds an academic post at the university and is a leading figure in research into the complex field of stretch blow moulding which is used to make plastic bottles for the soft drink and water industries.
He is never away from work, even when he's in the supermarket. 'I'm always picking up bottles and looking at them. While other people look at the content, I'm studying the design and wondering how the manufacturers went about it.'
Gary's research at Queen's focuses on the development of mathematical tools to try to optimise the design of packaging, to make bottles made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) lighter and more efficient. The work has brought funding from the soft drinks industry and from EPSRC.
'The process used to make these bottles is very complex and there's very little real understanding of it. I've been researching in this area for 11 years. It's still very much trial and error within the industry. When engineers come up with a new bottle, it's a case of bringing it down to the shop floor where they then make loads of different bottles, to guess the proper design and process conditions.
'We're developing a more scientific approach, building mathematical models, simulations of the process, which will allow an engineer to design in a virtual environment without wasting material or energy.'