A safe space in a neurotypical world

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It is estimated that 1 out of 7 of the UK population are neurodivergent – that’s almost 15%*. A high percentage of people with neurodivergence are unemployed**. We need more solutions to make learning and workplaces more inclusive.

Angharad Davies’ designs are just that. Her MSc Computational Architecture final year project is a desk-based modular screen, designed to address neurodiversity in the workplace.

She’s also designed the Joey Pod. The calming pod is a solution for schools, hospitals, and public spaces. It’s a safe space for someone to retreat to, before experiencing sensory overloading.   

Digital drawing - design for sensory pod
Digital design drawing for Joey Pod

Designing for neurodiversity

Named after Angharad’s son Joey, the idea for the pod was born during the second year of her BSc(Hons) Architecture course, when Joey received an autism diagnosis. That diagnosis changed Angharad’s whole perception of architecture.

“I realised his outbursts were due to his surroundings. In my final project, I reached out to the autism community and realised I wasn’t the only person who felt isolated due to poor building design and a lack of understanding of autism.”

Angharad said.

There has been a lot of research about separate Special Educational Needs (SEN) rooms at schools, but Angharad’s concept offers the child a pod in the corner of a room – like a den.  The pod uses audio-visual effects and provides a ‘safe zone’ for people with sensory processing problems.

It’s a place to rest and reset, something which is often necessary when interacting with the neuro-typical world. Crucially, this safe space can help avoid an oncoming anxiety attack or an exhausting and alienating meltdown.

“I want to see these solutions everywhere: workplaces, schools, hospitals, airports, festivals, concerts, commercial and sporting events – any busy or public spaces”

she explains.
Joey Pod

Entrepreneurialism

Angharad’s story is one of firsts. An entrepreneur at heart, Angharad has grabbed every opportunity available to her at UWE Bristol.

She founded the Inclusive Design Network (IDN) whilst studying for her undergraduate architecture degree. Thanks to donations from alumni, the UWE Bristol Fund supported IDN to host a series of talks on equality, diversity and inclusion within the built environment. The network has also been supported by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bristol and Bath.

As one of the first students on the new MSc Computational Architecture course at UWE Bristol, Angharad hopes to go on to complete a PhD in designing for neurodiversity, to enable her to become a Sensory Design Consultant.

Angharad’s modular screen will be on display at the Faculty of Environment and Technology’s degree show in 2022 (our first physical degree show since the coivd-19 Pandemic), alongside many more innovative ideas for products and services which aim to fill gaps in the market.

Degree Shows

Emerging talent at UWE Bristol will exhibit work at the annual graduate degree shows for the Creative Industries and Faculty of Environment and Technology. The events will celebrate the University’s ambitious and creative graduating students, through a mix of physical exhibitions and a digital showcase.

The degree shows kick off on Thursday 9 June with The Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET) Degree Show – covering architecture, creative technologies, computing, engineering, geography and the environment, and product design. The free event takes place between 17:00 and 21:00 at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.

The Creative Industries Degree Show, covering art, design, animation, drawing and print, fashion, media, performance, photography and filmmaking, opens to the public at the University’s vibrant City Campus – Bower Ashton, Arnolfini and Spike Island – on Saturday 11 June. The week-long showcase features a series of events including live music, drama performances, a festival stage and outdoor art gallery.

*reference from Local Government Association presentation.

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Queen’s birthday honours list recognises alumni

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Some of our amazing alumni have been recognised in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours. We’re incredibly proud to celebrate the hard work and dedication of these members of the UWE Bristol community.

Aisha Thomas (LLB(Hons) Law) has been awarded an MBE for her services to education. Aisha is the Founder of Representation Matters, whose mission is to challenge the lack of representation and the inequality in our current education system.

Mark Ryall Edwards (Doctor of Arts) has received an OBE for services to Photography and to the Environment. In 2017 Mark received an honorary doctorate for his work in the medium of photography and via the Hard Rain and Whole Earth exhibitions.

Whole Earth? Aligning n Human Systems and Natural Systems, by Mark Edwards and Lloyd Timberlake (book cover)

Zara Nanu (PhD Social Science) has received an MBE for services to tackling global workplace inequalities and promoting fairness and inclusion. Read our blog post about Zara to find out more.

Dr Zara Nanu
Dr Zara Nanu

Paul Phillips (Doctor of Education) was knighted (received a KBE) for services to Further Education. Paul is the Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College. In 2016 Paul received his honorary doctorate for his service to education across the South West.

Laura McMillan (BA(Hons) Drama) received an MBE in recognition of her services to culture and to the community in Coventry. As Director of Audience Strategy at Coventry City of Culture Trust, Laura was critical to the success of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021.

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Kit’s top five tips for learning more about LGBTQ+

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To mark LGBTQ+ History Month, we interviewed Kit Million Ross, LGBTQ+ Editor of Bristol 24/7, an independent online newspaper for the city.

We talked about queer culture in Bristol, what’s still to be done to promote inclusivity, the importance of LGBTQ+ History Month and we get their top five tips for learning more.

What pronouns do you use?

I use they/them pronouns.

What do you love about your job?

First of all, I just love writing. And I love feeling really deeply connected to Bristol’s wider LGBTQ+ community.

There are so many awesome queer people, groups and communities doing wonderful things in Bristol, and the fact that I’m constantly discovering these things is such a joy. Bristol has a uniquely broad and diverse queer culture that I think few cities can match.

What responsibility do you feel in your job as LGBTQ+ Editor at Bristol 24/7?

I feel a real responsibility to the grassroots aspects of the LGBTQ+ community. I feel incredibly lucky to have access to the Bristol 24/7 platform, and I want to use that to tell the stories of those who don’t get heard.

I also want to bring light, uplifting things to people. Share things that people can enjoy and gain benefit from and hopefully put some good into the world.

Why is it important for universities to celebrate LGBTQ+ history month?

I think it is really important for universities to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month because so much of queer history has been buried and hidden.

We need to bring our history to light and celebrate the role that queer people have had. It’s an opportunity to bring more understanding to people, and that should be seized.

Kit studied both BA(Hons) Drama with Creative Writing and MA Radio Documentary at UWE Bristol.

How were LGBTQ+ role models important to you whilst you were a student?

Role models within university and generally within queer culture have always been important to me and my friends – to have LGBTQ+ role models who are able to be out and proud within all of sort of the academic areas – queer people doing awesome things not just in the arts but in science, medicine, engineering. In fact, doing anything and everything.

It comes back to the phrase you can’t be what you can’t see.

I realised I was non-binary, I was trans, when I was in my final year of my undergraduate course. I was scrolling through Tumblr blogs and I saw a definition ’genderflux’ and it connected with me deeply. At university I was introduced to trans people and it showed me that being non-binary was okay, it was ‘a thing’.

Can you describe a time someone made you feel especially included or supported?

When I was doing my masters, I was writing cover letters and I was quite hesitant to mention that I was non-binary and also that I’m autistic, because I worried that it would look like I was ‘playing the diversity card’ or trying to make myself look like a ‘diversity hire’.

I was speaking to Dr Anne Harbin from the Journalism department and she encouraged me to mention these things, because they represent a unique and valuable perspective that should be shared and heard. That made me realise that these aren’t just details about me, they’re things that are valuable to the world.

The theme for LGBTQ+ History Month this year is Politics in Art: The Arc Is Long, which prompts us to think about the journey, how far we’ve come and also what is still to be achieved.

What do you see as the greatest achievements of the LGBTQ+ community in the last few years?

It’s really hard to say because so much has happened. In terms of achievements, the first thing that springs to mind is the change to the marriage laws.

But in terms of societal changes and shifts, I think the community is just getting a lot more attention and traction. I think that the way LGBTQ+ representation in the media has changed is a really significant achievement. It’s something that ripples outwards and feeds into popular understanding.

What work do you think is still to be done to promote inclusivity and understanding?

As a trans person, I think trans rights in this country have a long way to go.

The rise of narratives that trans and queer people are a threat is deeply concerning. For me, if your feminism doesn’t include all women, including trans women, it is incomplete.

I think we need to think more about intersectionality, about the layers of difficulties that marginalised people face. Within queer culture we need to think about people of colour, disabled people, and other groups, and the way that these things stack and intersect and how that actually impacts upon people’s unique experience in the world.

We should ask ourselves – are the things we’re doing for queer rights actually available, applicable and accessible to large groups of people within the population?

There’s a lot of learning still to be done. What are your top 5 recommendations for where our readers can learn more about LGBTQ+ issues?
1.

Logical Family – A Memoir by Armistead Maupin, Harper 2017.

2.

Quick and Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson, Oni Press 2018.

3.

Gender Reveal by journalist and educator Tuck Woodstock, explores the vast diversity of trans experiences through interviews with a wide array of trans, nonbinary and two-spirit people.

4.

Out with Suzi Ruffell, is a podcast all about the inspiring lives of LGBTQIA+ people. Comedian Suzi Ruffell talks about coming out, being out, and finding one’s place in the world as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

5.

Bristol24/7 Queer Catch-UpAn eight episode podcast series by Kit and Lowie Trevena exploring all things Bristol and LGBTQ+.

Information, advice and support for staff and students

For information and FAQs on support at UWE Bristol please see our policy and guidance referring to trans and non-binary staff or students.

Please report any inappropriate behaviour to Report + support.

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The host of engineering past, present and yet-to-come

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Our landmark building marks a new era for engineering at UWE Bristol. Designed to revolutionise the way engineering is taught, it’s equipped with the latest digital technology.

So what are the roots of engineering at UWE Bristol and how has the way we teach engineering changed over the years?

Where we started

Although UWE Bristol is a modern university we can trace our educational roots back a long way.

In 1894 the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College occupied a premises in Unity Street, Bristol city centre. By 1909 the basement was a motor car engineering workshop run by England’s first professor of motor engineering and housed a collection of equipment including a 12-14 horsepower Talbot car*.

 This college divided and in 1949 the Bristol College of Technology in Ashley Down was born, later becoming Bristol Technical College (college engineering workshop pictured above, from an early prospectus circa 1950 – 60).

By 1974 construction was underway to build Bristol Polytechnic at Frenchay, housing the new Engineering department. N block was the home of engineering up until last year.

Photo of machining workshop, N block Frenchay campus
N block machining workshop

Photo of the exterior of N block, Frenchay campus
N block exterior

Our new building

Officially opened on 19 November 2021, our School of Engineering sets new standards for the industry. It won Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards where judges praised its intelligent and sustainable design.

The new School of Engineering

It also achieved an “excellent” rating for its sustainability credentials from the international scheme BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).

The building is home to specialist laboratories equipped with the latest digital technology, including engine test cells, driving and flight simulators, a virtual and augmented reality cave, and ‘smart factory’ testing facilities. Watch a short video tour on twitter of the new facilities by MSc Mechanical Engineering student Emaan.

New light-filled workshop

Tod Burton, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Environment and Technology at UWE Bristol, said:

“With our fantastic new contemporary building, fit for the 21st century and the digital era, we now have one of the top engineering facilities in the South West that will inspire the engineers of the future.”

Engineering the future

The new building has been designed to attract a new more diverse engineer. The department actively seeks to enrol more students with neurodiversity and double the numbers of female engineering students.

Lisa Brodie Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol explains why we’re aiming to produce more ‘non-standard’ engineers in the coming years, and attract different types of people into the profession. She says,

“If we keep having the same type of people, we’ll keep having the same types of solutions.”

Brodie is clear that to solve tomorrow’s problems, we need to embrace different ways of thinking and doing, and celebrate differences.

“Engineers will need to be far more creative and innovative over the next decade, particularly with some of the challenges we face in areas such as the climate crisis. We aim to be the difference,”

she explains.

Your memories

Did you study engineering at UWE Bristol? We’d love to hear about your memories. Share your stories and photos with us.

*taken from ‘University of the West of England, A Family History’ by William Evans.

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Dr Zara Nanu – women’s economic rights activist and visionary entrepreneur

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Dr Zara Nanu is passionate about creating Fair Pay globally. She’s an unstoppable campaigner in workplace gender equality, and an entrepreneur at the forefront of women in business in the South West. She believes business can drive social change.

“The World Economic Forum predicted it would take 217 years for the global gender pay gap to close! We thought that this was too long,”

says Zara.

She started her career combatting human trafficking and campaigning on women’s rights issues. Inspired from years spent working for women’s charities in Moldova, the U.S. and the UK, she identified an opportunity to use technology to break down gender bias in the workforce.

She’s now CEO and co-founder of Gapsquare, leading the drive for technology to build more inclusive workplaces. Launched in 2017, her pioneering tech company is transforming pay equity, using data science and technology to help companies narrow their gender pay gap faster. Gapsquare offers diversity and equality data intelligence, report generation, and expert consultancy.

 “We know for many businesses transparency around compensation, fairness, and pay reporting is high on the agenda,”

Zara explains.

Zara as campaigner

Dr. Zara Nanu is an expert on how diversity and inclusion can shape more dynamic and productive teams and a more engaging and empowering workplace. She is Chair of the Women in Business Task Group and a member of the Global Future Council on Equity and Social Justice at the World Economic Forum.

She can be seen speaking at international events, sharing her ideas with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and through her recent TED talk, as well as in a range of reports and publications. Zara believes in putting the power and responsibility of equality and diversity in the hands of employers.

Gapsquare is acquired by XpertHR

Gapsquare was this year acquired by global organisation XpertHR. Together they’re dedicated to creating a fairer world of work.

Scott Walker, Managing Director of XpertHR:

“I am excited to bring Gapsquare into the XpertHR family. Our mission is a simple one: to create purposeful workplaces for every person in every organisation. Both businesses are dedicated to improving the experiences of millions of working professionals around the globe.”

Gapsquare’s innovative software FairPay® Pro provides businesses with instant insights into wage gaps across various demographics such as gender, race, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. They count organisations such as Vodafone, Conde Nast and The London Metropolitan Police among their clients, and their software has analysed the wages of more than 270,000 employees in the UK.

Notes

Dr Zara Nanu studied a PhD in Social Science at UWE Bristol.

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Eva Watkins: The photography graduate making waves in the UK and beyond

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From winning prestigious awards to having her work shown on billboards across the UK, UWE Bristol photography graduate Eva Watkins is quickly establishing herself as a rising star in the world of photography.

Despite only graduating in 2020, Eva already has a number of awards under her belt, including the prestigious Portrait of Britain Award. More recently, it is Eva’s images of synchronised swimmers which have been making waves.

Henleaze synchronised swimmers project

Photographed at Henleaze swimming lake in Bristol, Eva was introduced to the synchronised swimming group by one of her UWE Bristol tutors who also features in the images. While many people may feel apprehensive about being photographed in their swimming costumes, Eva put the swimmers at ease by getting to know the group and even braved the chilly waters herself.

‘‘I love getting to know the people who I’m making a project with and making sure they feel as comfortable as possible in front of the camera. I also love to get involved in what they do. I went swimming with the synchro team and they taught me synchro moves while they sang ‘Her bathing suit never got wet’ by the Andrew Sisters, it was such a great experience. ’’

says Eva

The images have gone on to secure a multitude of awards for Eva, including the 2020 British Journal of Photography: Female in Focus Award. As part of her prize, Eva’s photography will be exhibited in New York City in July; the first time her work has been shown internationally.

Swimmers pictured pre dip, at Henleaze lake, Bristol

Billboard campaign

Closer to home, Eva was one of 20 graduates selected for a recent UK billboard campaign run by Free Range and Clear Channel. Her image of swimmers emerging from the water on a ladder has been viewed by thousands of people, appearing in cities such as London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham.

‘‘It’s been a great experience walking around London finding my photograph. The synchro team have been finding billboards around Bristol as well. Neither me or the team thought the photo would be around the UK, it’s wild! I’ve loved receiving photographs from people around the UK of the billboards. It’s been surreal.’’

All images ○ Eva Watkins

UWE Bristol and beyond

Reflecting on her time at UWE Bristol, Eva says ‘going to university has to be one of the best decisions I’ve made’ and she credits her tutors and university technicians with helping her to develop her photography style which she describes as ‘documentary portraiture.’

Looking to the future, Eva has recently moved to London and hopes to further her photography career. She also plans on revisiting her synchronised swimming project which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘‘I plan on making more photographs with the team, swimming with them more and having a fabulous time with them when it’s safe to do so!’’

For more about Eva and her work visit www.evawatkins.co.uk.

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Tom Tucker on Minirigs – from the heart of Bristol’s music scene

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We interviewed Tom Tucker, co-founder of Minirigs, back in 2019. In case you missed it, here’s an introduction to the outstanding work of Tom and Minirigs, along with the film of his interview.

Tom Tucker – co founder of Minirigs

Minirigs evolved through a series of obsessive hobbyist fabrications.

At a time when portable speakers weren’t available, Tom and his friends started making DIY sound systems. Their creations became more and more refined, they went into production and Minirigs was born.

Intrinsically linked to the Bristol music scene, Minirigs are a proudly Bristol-based and forward-thinking company. Dedicated to producing top-quality portable audio products, they’re also passionate about sustainable manufacturing processes. They design and assemble all their products in the Bristol, use recyclable packaging and biodegradable plastics.

Tom studied Product Design Technology at UWE Bristol. In this short film he explains how they got started and why he loves his job.

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