Exploring our work-life balance: Women Like Me

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The latest group of women to join UWE Bristol’s engineering mentoring programme, Women Like Me, took part in an online re-balancing workshop on May 11th, delivered by Developmental Coach, Joyce Birnie.

The workshop

Designed as a guided, self-coaching workshop, the session encouraged self-reflection and supported participants to explore some key questions about their own work-life balance, with the aim of helping them to:

  • make sense of what work-life balance means for them
  • identify opportunities for change
  • harness their strengths to create the shift in balance they want

Many participants found that when their life-work was in balance they noticed they enjoyed better sleep, felt more calm, confident and productive. When asked their thoughts on potential barriers to achieving balance, the most common response was the expectations of others.

Women Like Me 2022

This workshop was delivered as part of the 2022 programme for Women Like Me, a peer-mentoring and outreach project for women engineers, run by the School of Engineering and Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol.

This year’s programme launched in March 2022 with a training and networking event hosted by the DETI Inspire team at UWE, in their new Prototype and Play outreach classroom within the new School of Engineering building. The launch event was very well attended, allowing mentors and mentees to meet in person, share their own experiences, and discuss the mentoring and outreach opportunities available to them as part of the programme.

If you would like more information on the re-balancing workshop, please get in touch with Joyce at joyce@joycebirniecoaching.co.uk, or if you would like to know more about the Women Like Me programme please contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk

UWE Bristol School of Engineering wins two Royal Institute of British Architects Regional Awards

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The School of Engineering building on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus was recently awarded both the RIBA South West Award 2022 and the RIBA South West Project Architect of the Year Award 2022 for Hira Silverthorne-Teirney.

The brief called for interaction between departments and spaces which promoted collaboration between students, staff and visitors in order to more closely reflect how modern engineering, research and problem-solving are tackled in industry.

Planning and design work on the new building was carried out in tandem with a renewal of the university’s engineering curriculum, drawn up in collaboration with industry to ensure engineering graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed, and promoting diversity within the School’s engineering intake.

These latest RIBA awards follow previous success for the state-of-the-art building, including being named Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards in 2021, where judges praised the building’s intelligent and sustainable design.

The layout reflects the pedagogical and philosophical drivers, including broadening access to engineering and promoting inclusivity.

You can read the full article with RIBA here.

Staff, students and guests at the official opening event in Nov 2021

Engineering trail featured at Bristol’s annual walking festival

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Bristol’s hugely popular, annual walking festival – Bristol Walk Fest is back! The month-long celebration of all things walking throughout our beautiful city will take place from 1st to 31st May 2022, with a wealth of in-person walking related events and activities, self-guided walking routes and challenges, and much more for you to enjoy throughout the national walking month of May.

This year you can experience an engineering themed walk around Bristol’s harbourside thanks to the Digital Trailblazers app created by the DETI Inspire team from UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering.

The mobile app features several self-guided trails found across the city, highlighting iconic engineering landmarks, organisations and businesses, allowing the user to explore the rich engineering heritage of our city, whilst also signposting some of our local Digital Trailblazers – organisations and businesses who are pioneering the latest in digital technologies.

The app is free to use and easily downloaded from the App Store or Google Play, so residents can enjoy the different trails at their own pace throughout the entire month of May as part of the city’s walking festival.

Events for May half-term

And for an extra special experience for the whole family to enjoy, this May half-term there will also be an opportunity to meet some real-life engineers at locations along the Harbourside Trail, on Saturday 28th May and Monday 30th May.

Beginning at the site of Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the Harbourside Trail loops around the floating harbour for an enjoyable 5km walk. Come and meet some of UWE’s student engineers at the start of the trail, who will have plenty of exciting tech for you to try, including the chance to explore and engineer our city digitally, using the game Minecraft!

You do not need to register for the events, just turn up at the starting point (by the SS Great Britain) at 11am or 2pm on either the 28th or 30th May. More information about the walks can be found on the Bristol Walk Fest website.

UWE student engineers delivering activities at Aerospace Bristol during April half-term

Digital Trailblazers has been developed by the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol’s Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics (EDM) with funding from the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation initiative (DETI). For more information about the project visit https://digitaltrailblazers.net/about

UWE Bristol professor wins prestigious engineering award

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UWE Bristol’s Head of Engineering Design and Mathematics has been recognised for her work to increase diversity in engineering.

Professor Lisa Brodie collected an Enginuity Skills Awards at a ceremony in London, seeing off competition from two shortlisted entrants in the Diversity in Engineering category.

The award recognises organisations, individuals or a team that has delivered a specific scheme, project, or initiative, that significantly contributes to shifting the dial of equality, diversity, and inclusion within the engineering and manufacturing industries.

Professor Brodie has overseen the development of the new School of Engineering building to ensure it has been designed with neurodiverse students in mind. The facility was co-designed in conjunction with a new engineering curriculum, to create a supportive environment for students from under-represented backgrounds. The building is equipped with individual study spaces designed to support students with sensory issues, such as people with autism who can benefit from features including white noise bubble tubes and adjustable, muted lighting.

In addition, Professor Brodie leads the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Skills programme, which aims to improve diversity in recruitment into STEM industries (particularly engineering) while also enhancing retention of skilled engineers in the industry.

The Inspire programme has had particular success, reaching over 7,000 children in the South West so far. Some 42 per cent of the schools participating in face-to-face activities have been from the most deprived 20% of the country. The children have been exposed to innovative engineering workshops that connect them with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for STEM careers.

Professor Brodie said: “It’s just phenomenal to get this award. I’m really excited and proud. We’ve been working hard at the university to really make a change in engineering, particularly around autism and engineers and diversity. We need different minds. If we don’t have a diversity of minds, then we’re not going to get all the solutions we need.”

Tod Burton, Deputy Dean for the Faculty of Environment and Technology, said: “We are all very proud of Professor Brodie and the work her team have tirelessly carried out developing an inclusive Engineering community here at UWE. This prestigious award from Enginuity justly recognises her efforts and the influence Lisa is having across the sector – a true reflection of UWE values.”

This blog was first published by the UWE Bristol comms team, for more of the latest news visit https://www.uwe.ac.uk/news

DETI Inspire release Engagement Activity Report

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From September 2020 to December 2021, DETI Inspire has delivered an impressive array of outputs and engagement activities. In that time, the team have directly engaged 6832 children and 221 teachers from 73 schools and community groups in the West of England, with an estimated 96,303 children reached altogether through dissemination efforts. Along the way, children have been able to have conversations with real-life engineers through (online) Q&A sessions, card games and skill shares. 441 engineers have so far shared their experiences, as well as at least 17 industry partners and three charities.

42% of total direct engagements (that’s 2,515 children!) came through in-person BoxED sessions, all four developed and launched by DETI Inspire in 2021: The West in Minecraft, We Make Our Future, Engineering Curiosity, and WeCount. 42% of all the schools engaged in these BoxED sessions came from areas within the most deprived 20% of the country, and a further 17% came from the most deprived 30%.

The last 20 months has seen the programme: establish a network of 102 engineers from diverse backgrounds; pair female junior engineers with senior female mentors; distribute 132 Engineering Curiosity card packs to schools and community groups and launch 40 Tik-Tok style videos to accompany them; host a Sustainable Solutions Summit for 16-18-year-olds; champion sustainable engineering at COP26; beam in engineers to 3,500 children during the height of the pandemic; and reach over 250,000 people through social media.

Despite another year of uncertainty, with rules around in-person events frequently changing, the DETI Inspire programme has excelled under the circumstances. Adapting to the changing rules and guidance, the team managed to engage in-person when they could – enriching children and young people’s cultural experiences, limited by the pandemic – and offer well attended online events when they could not. For instance, from two online events alone, DETI Inspire reached 9,000 children and young people.

DETI Inspire will continue to deliver BoxED activities to schools across the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), with a full calendar of bookings right up until June. The programme will also support this year’s Leaders Award, Great Science Share, and take part in the long-awaited return of Bristol’s Storytale Festival, among other activities. DETI Inspire is excelling in promoting engineering for sustainability among children, young people and adults from diverse backgrounds, not only in the West of England, but also nationally and across Europe.

You can access the full report here https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/9031804

DETI Inspire is managed by UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering in partnership with the Science Communication Unit, with funding from the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI). The project is run in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador Hub, operated by Graphic Science.

Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre (NCC) in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England (UWE), the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry. 

Upcoming Event: Empowering Women in Engineering

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This event forms part of our celebrations for Women’s History Month, and will explore the historical and future role of women in shaping our cities.

This March 24th, the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering will be hosting a live event to celebrate Women’s History Month – Empowering Women in Engineering.

Joining us for the event as keynote speaker is Chartered Civil Engineer and Bridgemaster at Clifton Suspension Bridge, Trish Johnson.

During her talk, Trish will be sharing experiences of her career journey, including her current role supporting the conservation of Clifton Suspension Bridge – an engineering marvel, and iconic historical landmark in our city of Bristol.

There will be a Q&A plus Networking and Nibbles – an opportunity to meet and chat to other local women engineers and STEM professionals from the West of England.

Trish featured in our Engineering Curiosity card set, an educational resource for schools, which explores the diversity of engineering careers and people in the West of England

Time and Location

Thursday 24th March, 5pm-6.30pm at UWE Bristol School of Engineering, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY

Event Timetable

5pm-5.30pm Networking and Nibbles

5.30pm-6.30pm Keynote from Trish Johnson, followed by Q&A

How to book

To register for this event, please complete the following online form: Empowering Women in Engineering Event Registration

This event will be preceded by a training day for participants in the Women Like Me mentoring and outreach project. If you have any questions about the event or Women Like Me, please get in touch with the team at engineeringourfuture@UWE.ac.uk

New round of peer mentoring and outreach project, Women Like Me, for 2022

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Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project, aimed at boosting female representation in engineering.

How does it work?

Women Like Me pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to undertake mentoring and engineering education outreach in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Why is this important?

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. In order to support female engineers, more girls need to connect with engineering as a career, with positive female role models, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace.

Women Like Me is addressing this by pairing together women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Participating engineers deliver engineering engagement activities in local schools and at local public events, providing positive role models for young girls. Through this approach, the project will lead to impact both in the workplace today, and for the future of the engineering profession.

Who can take part?

Mid-career and early career female engineers working in the Bristol and Bath area can get involved in the project. Senior women engineers are those who have been working in engineering for at least five years. Junior women engineers are those with less experience than this, and can include apprentices, trainees, undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

What will it involve?

We will offer networking opportunities to all participants at the start (spring 2022) and end (winter 2022) of the project. We have an online training session planned for February, followed by an in-person networking event in March which will take place at UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering.

Senior engineers will receive support in mentoring and should meet with their junior engineer mentee at least twice during the project. This can take any form that best suits each pair.

Junior engineers will receive mentoring support from senior engineers and training in public engagement. They will then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities with local schools and public events. Coordination of activity is provided and supported by UWE.

Upcoming outreach activities include STEM workshops for schools and community groups, opportunities to get involved with regional competitions and celebration days such as the ‘If you were an engineer what would you do?’ competition by Primary Engineer, The Lego League, and the Great Science Share for Schools.

How do I sign up?

To take part in the project this year, interested participants should complete the appropriate online survey:

Senior Engineers (over 5 years experience) please complete this survey

Junior Engineers (less than 5 years experience) please complete this survey

The project coordinators will then be in touch having allocated the mentor/mentee pairs.

Want some more info?

This project was first launched in 2018 and is based in the Science Communication Unit and School of Engineering at UWE Bristol. The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs with support from Ana Bristow and Dr Louisa Cockbill, and was initiated by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers. It is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

You can read about the successes of the project in previous years and access the 2018-2019 project report. A paper in the Journal of Science Communication, Fogg-Rogers and Hobbs (2019) places Women Like Me in the context of recruitment and retention of women in engineering.

For any further information please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter for updates.

WeCount Schools resources featured in official British Science Week activity pack

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British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths that will take place between 11-20 March 2022

The British Science Week activity packs for 2022 have been launched today, providing over 40 simple, hands-on science activities which teachers, parents and community group leaders can use with students and children during British Science Week this year.

And one of the great resources featured in this year’s activity pack themed on ‘Growth’ is the WeCount for Net Zero Emissions pack, which explores proportion and graphs, as well as data collection, through the concept of climate change.

With packs available for primary, secondary and community groups, everyone can get involved with the WeCount activity this British Science Week.

The WeCount for Net Zero Emissions pack was developed by the DETI Inspire team with funding from the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative based at UWE Bristol. The materials are based on the WeCount Schools resources, created as part of the EU citizen science project WeCount.

WeCount Schools resources cover a wide range of subjects, all curriculum linked, supporting children to learn about the grand challenges’ cities face in relation to urban travel, air pollution and the steps they can take collectively to make their school streets, and cities, safer, healthier and happier.

You can read more about and download the WeCount Schools resource packs here.

Schools in the West of England can book a FREE WeCount Schools workshop, delivered by trained outreach coordinators from UWE Bristol by completing this online booking form.

Keen to equip local schools with their own traffic counting sensors, WeCount still have 5 sensors left to give away to schools across the West of England. Contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk to apply.

Prototype and Play lab open for school bookings

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The Prototype and Play lab, a purpose-built classroom in UWE Bristol’s new School of Engineering building, is now open and the DETI Inspire team have hosted their first school sessions this week.

The bright and colourful lab is fully equipped for a class of 30 pupils, and also functions as a lending library for local schools and community groups. The engineering outreach equipment includes robotics (Lego Mindstorms, Thymios, MekaMon and more!), drones, VR goggles and a library of inspiring STEM themed storybooks, all of which can be loaned out to schools and local groups for use in their own engineering activities, or with the support of our trained outreach coordinators and student engineering ambassadors.

Earlier this week, two classes from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary school visited the lab, where they each took part in an engineering outreach session called The West in Minecraft, and enjoyed a tour of the engineering building including the digital gallery courtesy of Andy Hill.

A huge thank you to Andy for coordinating the tour and sharing the experience of virtual reality with the children – they had a brilliant time!

Both classes also got to meet some of our Student Engineer Ambassadors, who were on hand throughout the day to answer questions from the pupils about what it is like to be an engineer and what it is like to study engineering at university. Thank you Student Ambassadors you were fantastic!

Education Coordinator for the DETI Inspire project, Josh Warren, delivered The West in Minecraft session, which had pupils crafting improvements to their home city of Bristol and imagining solutions to problems in their local communities, all using the popular block-building video game Minecraft.

Whilst the pupils were exploring the digital gallery, they had the opportunity to meet with some of our Student Engineers and play with our Engineering Curiosity top trump cards, discovering new engineering careers and skills.

The West in Minecraft and Engineering Curiosity are two of the workshops currently on offer by the School of Engineering DETI Inspire team. A full list of workshops can be found at https://digitaltrailblazers.net/resources or in the brochure available for download below.

Thanks to funding from the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative, these workshops are currently free for all schools in the West of England area, and can be delivered in the Prototype and Play lab or at school.

If you would like to book a free workshop please complete this online booking form.

Prototype and Play Lab now open!

Official opening for School of Engineering building

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UWE Bristol’s state-of-the-art School of Engineering building was officially opened at an event on Thursday 18 November.

Completed in 2020, the striking multi-million pound facility on Frenchay campus has transformed engineering teaching and learning at UWE Bristol and has already been named Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards where judges praised its intelligent and sustainable design.

To formally declare the landmark building open, a special event was attended by students, staff, alumni and industry partners, along with guest speaker Dawn Bonfield MBE, former president of the Women’s Engineering Society, and celebrated sculptor Alice Channer who was commissioned to create an engineering-inspired public artwork in the atrium.

Staff, students and guests at the opening event

Designed with diverse student engineers in mind

Planning and design work on the new building was carried out in tandem with a renewal of the university’s engineering curriculum, drawn up in collaboration with industry to ensure engineering graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Moving to our wonderful new building with its complementary practise-based curriculum has signalled a real cultural shift. Our students are now known as professional student engineers, rather than engineering students. They are studying during traditional working hours, learning in spaces that closely resemble actual engineering workplaces, and use the same specialist equipment as professional engineers. We are placing an enhanced focus on problem solving, trialling and testing, because it is beneficial for students to try and fail as it builds resilience, creativity and innovation.

Professor Lisa Brodie, Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol

In addition to a new building and curriculum, UWE Bristol is redoubling efforts to increase diversity within its engineering intake. This includes enrolling more students with neurodiversity, and providing them with enhanced levels of personal mentoring and support from enrolment to employment, and doubling the number of female engineering students.

If we want to solve the challenges we face as a society, we need to attract different types of people into the engineering discipline. We need to embrace different ways of thinking and doing, and celebrate differences. Our mission is to change the perception of the roles that engineers fulfil and raise aspirations in underrepresented groups. 

If we carry on seeing the same intake entering the profession, we will continue to come up with the same old solutions. Engineers will need to think differently and 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.

Professor Lisa Brodie, Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol

Professor Lisa Brodie was recently interviewed by BBC Points West and ITV West Country News, sharing her thoughts about the need for a more inclusive and diverse engineering workforce. You can read more in this BBC article or catch up with these short clips:

BBC Points West: https://youtu.be/pZNAwXSveIE

ITV West Country News: https://youtu.be/IF3gQ_LnKYQ

Graduate Laura Dixon, Professor Lisa Brodie and Student Engineer Thomas Dixon with BBC film crew

Inspiring the next generation

The university also aims to help attract a broader range of engineers by sparking interest among younger age groups, with school children as young as five invited to visit the building’s Prototype and Play Lab to participate in inspiring engineering outreach activities.

The school of engineering outreach team have developed a series of free engineering workshops for West of England schools and community groups, all designed to engage young people with engineering careers and solutions for sustainability.

Workshops are available to book now, details can be found in the brochure available for download below.

Local primary school students exploring engineering marvel SS Great Britain during The West in Minecraft engineering workshop

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