Children inspired engineers at the South West Leaders Award exhibition held at UWE Bristol

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The winners of the 2019 Leaders Award gathered at UWE Bristol for the South West awards ceremony on Friday 14th June.

The competition challenged children to answer the question: ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ by identifying a problem that engineering could solve, and devising a solution.

From magnet wielding helicopters that tow broken down cars skyward, to surveillance parrots that alert wildlife trusts to hunters – the children’s designs tackled a great diversity of problems in modern society.

Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore joined UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West and MOD DE&S Air Marshall Julian Young to congratulate those who entered the competition. While the competition launches by using online interviews with real-life engineers to inspire the children, they all agreed that in the end it’s the children’s designs that inspire engineers!

Throughout this year, engineers in EDM have been supporting the competition, by grading 4385 entries, and taking part in the final judging panel. UWE Bristol is the South West regional supporter alongside Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) – the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation.

The ceremony finished with a flourish, with student engineers Katy O’Hara Nash and Miriam Cristofoletti from the EDM WISE society, presenting the prototype they have made based on the winning design from last year’s competition. The system, designed by Year 8 pupil Philippa Griffiths, displays variable red lights on the back of a vehicle to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed.

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of Department for Engineering Design and Mathematics said:

“We are always inspired by the children’s designs for the Leaders Awards. This year our female engineering students have gone one step further by actually taking a design, and building a prototype. It shows the passion and ingenuity in our region, both from local children, but also our own students. Through these public events we want to demonstrate our commitment to developing STEM technologies and a highly-skilled workforce which can enhance our future together.”  

The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, were on display on Saturday 15th June at the University’s Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC). Hundreds of visitors of all ages were able to try it out, as well as taking part in exciting STEM activities provided by the MOD, Aerospace Bristol, and UWE. The displays included having a go with drones, Lego Mindstorm, and a virtual reality tour of the new Engineering Building.

Post by Laura Fogg-Rogers.

UWE student team semi-finalists in EWB-UK Design Challenge

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The Engineers Without Borders award-winning Engineering for People Design Challenge prepares students, the engineers of the future, to become globally responsible engineers. This year, a team from UWE Bristol made the finals, as Maryam Lamere tells us in this guest post.

I am really proud of our L1 students who took part in the Engineering for People Design Challenge last week.

This year, 6500 students from Universities across the UK took part in the challenge organised by EWB-UK. Fewer than 200 got through to the Grand Finals. The UWE team (Amelie, Marwan, Liberty, Conrad, Caner and Nicholas) were amongst the talented few.  They presented their PEEPOWER inspired solution with much enthusiasm.

The judging panel particularly gave good feedback on UWE integrating high impact research (innovative PEEPOWER technology) into undergraduate teaching. Students were introduced to the technology by Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos and Dr Tosin Obata of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

The students very much enjoyed their experience in London at the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

Well done to them  for doing their best!

Wheels up the Ben

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Last year, Sam ‘Wheels’ Harper-Miller, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, was carried up Snowdon by his friends. Now, the UWE Bristol Engineering Technical team have redesigned a wheelchair to allow him to conquer Ben Nevis.

Special mention to Doug Nash, our composites technician (seen here testing the chair), for the redesign of the base.

Sam and his friends made the trek up Snowdon, which he would not have been able to undertake without help, to raise money towards a new wheelchair. During the climb, Sam’s friends carried him for six hours on a stretcher, which they made themselves and integrated the top of a wheelchair.

The chair was uncomfortable and unstable, so the UWE Engineering Technical team have redesigned a new one with a bespoke composite frame and new seat – a special thank you to Cobra Seats Limited for helping with the seat and harness.

The next challenge the team plan to undertake is to reach the summit of Ben Nevis. For Sam, the mountain ascents are about far more than raising money, and with his new chair the next one should be much more comfortable.

Bristol Tech Fair taking place in November 2019

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Saturday 9th November 2019

10:00-16:00

Colston Hall, Bristol

Bristol Tech Fair is a celebration of technology, engineering and science for young people and families in Bristol.

It will be a full day of hands-on activities to explore the latest developments in Virtual Reality, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in engaging and affordable way.

Bristol Tech Fair is a free event which aims to get young people and children to explore, learn and get excited about the opportunities that new technologies are bringing into our lives.

Hosted at Colston Hall, a prime location at the heart of the city, the fair will be using four floors for exhibition and display of technology, engineering and science -related projects and products.

Bristol Tech Fair is a featured event within Bristol Technology Festival 2019. This is a brand-new platform that seeks to raise the profile of the Bristol tech sector locally, nationally and internationally, by showcasing the existence of a broad breadth of activity in sectors and technologies.

A network of supporters and collaborators include Set Squared, TechSPARK, Engine Shed, Hargreaves Lansdown and other organisations.

Sponsorship opportunities are currently available for more information please contact Karin Rudolph.

BAME Girls in Engineering great success at Bristol Brunel Academy

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Dr Udonna Okeke tells us about a hugely successfull visit of his project,  BAME girls in engineering, to Bristol Brunel Academy in this guest post.

BAME Girls in engineering in partnership with UWE BoxED, had an outreach event at the Bristol Brunel Academy on Thursday 9th May and I am extremely excited to say that the feedback from the school has been very positive.

The school is happy with our outreach project and are very keen for more outreach and other engagements with the project. Based on the feedback, the students are very happy with the outreach activities that took place and would like us to make a return visit.

Below is some of the feedback from the students:

“Excellent: it was fun, exiting and very interesting. The robotics coding was very fun, especially when we were controlling the robots”

“I thought it was very good and inspiring and I liked making the turbines and playing with the robots. I want the outreach to happen again on a Thursday”

“It was nice and fun when we listened to the talk and was given the opportunity to code and control the robots”.

This feedback means a lot to me and I am looking forward to the next phase of this project.

Women in Nuclear Workshop: Making the Most of Our Individuality

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Women in Nuclear are hosting a free workshop on self-awareness and individuality in Bristol on 20th June.

Greater self-awareness and awareness of others is key to increasing conscious inclusion. Caroline Brown and Emily Hutchinson will share the Strengths Approach used to shift our focus from the collective to the individual.

The Strengths Approach has its origins in Positive Psychology and has been proven to improve happiness and wellbeing, as well as performance and success, and inclusivity (and hence diversity). 

They will explain the approach and you will have the opportunity to identify your own strengths and to explore how using them could make a difference to your performance.  This understanding will also help you to be able to ‘strengths spot’ in others and help them to also embrace their individuality and operate at their best.

For information and to register please see the event page on Eventbrite.

First UK study into driverless cars for older people draws to a close

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On Tuesday 21st May an autonomous vehicle was used by older people around the St Monica Trust’s Cote Lane retirement village, bringing a world-leading research project to a close.

The £5.5M project, “Flourish”, is delivered by a consortium of organisations including UWE Bristol and is the only Innovate UK funded project focused on older people. Launched in 2016, the project aims to develop a driverless vehicle integrating older people’s mobility needs with a secure and connected infrastructure.

The project works across three specialist areas at UWE Bristol, including the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. The demonstration explored how driverless vehicles, known as CAVs (connected and autonomous vehicles) could make a difference to older people’s everyday lives.

More information is available through UWE Bristol news.

Opportunities still available at the Great Science Share

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18th June, 10 am – 2 pm

  UWE Bristol at the ECC, Frenchay Campus

 The Great Science Share is a national event nurturing children’s natural curiosity by encouraging them to share their original science investigations with scientists. At the regional Bristol and Bath event scientists and engineers are invited to attend, to find out what local children aged 8 – 13 have come up with, and to inspire participants with their research, demos and cutting-edge technology.

If you’d like to bring an outreach activity, please email Louisa Cockbill and see theCuriosity Connections website for more information.

EDM staff attend WISE conference

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On 14th May, Lecturer in Engineering Management Dr Udonna Okeke and Research Fellow and Women Like Me coordinator Dr Laura Hobbs attended the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) conference in London.

Hosted at the IET, the 2019 conference offered delegates a range of keynote speakers, plenary and panel sessions and breakout workshops. Highlights included insights into how women job hunt, the plasticity of our brains and the complexity of ethics in robotics and AI. Sessions can now be viewed online.

Udonna was able to make some useful connections for his project BAME Girls in Engineering, while Laura was able to discuss the new platform to support girls in STEM, My Skills My Life, with our Women Like Me partners from WISE.

Developing Responsible Robots for the Digital Economy

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Professor Alan Winfield will be starting a new five year EPSRC funded project with Professor Marina Jirotka (University of Oxford), staging mock human-robot accidents in order to deeply explore the problem of robot accident investigation and develop both technical (i.e. data logging and explainer systems) and process solutions (i.e. frameworks for how to responsibly conduct such investigations).

The team will explore three scenarios, likely to be: assisted living (care) robots; robot toys and Autonomous Vehicles – with human volunteers role playing as the subject of, witnesses to, and the investigators of the accident. Alan believes this will be the first research project in the world to fully and systematically study this important aspect of real world robotics.