UWE introduce teenagers to robots and programming

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Senior Research fellow from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Severin Lemaignan, took a team of students and plenty of robots to Bristol’s Teen Tech Fair earlier this month.

Teen Tech Festivals pop up across the UK to inspire the innovators of tomorrow -teenagers! On Thursday 10th October, local businesses turned up to Bristol’s Pavilion to help young people understand the opportunities in the science, technology and engineering industries.

Lemaignan was enthusiastic about how his robotic programming activity was received. “About 60 children came and visited us. They all went through a bit of robot exploration with the Thymios, trying to guess their different behaviours, and relate them to the sensors and actuators that the robots have; followed by a short introduction to programming with the Vectors: 
how can we get the robot to avoid a wall?”

Students, Ranvir Bhogal, Bethany Mackey and Jiangyin Sun, helped facilitate the short 15 minute activities.

“All of the instructors, activity leaders and ambassadors were tirelessly energetic with infectious enthusiasm. They used language to explain concepts to the pupils in an accessible way. Not all of mine are regular users of technical vocabulary but I felt that they understood all that they needed to and learnt loads! They have come away inspired and really excited about entering the TeenTech Awards. I also had a lovely day!”

Comment from a Teacher who attended.

You can find out more about Teen Tech below and read the report from the day here.

Cosy Compost

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Students taking the Engineering Competence Postgraduate Diploma have the option to take the community challenge module – Engineering in the Community. Five groups undertook varied projects, and this is the 4th in our blog series showcasing the results.

For this community challenge, William Holmes, Paul Trimble and Elisabeth Woeldgen, partnered with Incredible Edible Bristol, Airbus and the Science & Technology Facilities council, to create an insulated compost bin. The team delivered the prototype compost bin made of reusable materials to Speedwell Allotment, along with accompanying instructional material for Incredible Edible to use on their education sites. Read more about the project below:

Sustainable Outdoor Space

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Another chapter in our series, highlighting the real-world community challenges undertaken by students on the Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering Competence.

Jack Lewis, Samuel Whatling and Keshav Ooriah collaborated with North Bristol Community Project (NBCP) as part of the Engineering in Community module. NBCP is a charity that promotes well-being by running a variety of workshops for different people groups. They wanted to redevelop their outdoor space to further benefit the community and the students helped to structurally design and model various aspects of the new space.

Find out more below:

Identifying Healthier Workshop Heating Solutions

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In this blog series, we’re showcasing the Engineering Competence Postgraduate Diploma students’ community challenges, completed as part of the Engineering in the Community module.

For this project, Airbus‘ Ross Gardner & Ed Wheatcroft partnered with Residents Against Dirty Energy (RADE) to try and find ways to keep open workshop and garage spaces warm without producing pollutants that are detrimental to health. A number of potential solutions have been outlined in their poster below.

Clean Van Heating Solutions

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Read about the findings from student community projects

Students from our Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering competence have presented results from real-world community challenges set in the Engineering in the Community module. These group projects will be showcased in the next few blog posts, so stay tuned….

First up, are Airbus employees S. Cole,  D. Guerrero and  A. Hayes, who worked with Residents Against Dirty Energy (RADE) – a community group who aim to reduce emissions from static burning. The student project focussed on wood burning as a heat source for those who live in vans and found that improving efficiency was key for reducing emissions.

Read their poster to find out more about the project.

Milestone reached in construction of UWE Bristol’s multi-million pound engineering building

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UWE Bristol’s new multi-million pound engineering building has moved a step closer to completion – construction has reached the top floor!

A topping out ceremony was held on Tuesday 17th September to mark the occasion, with staff and students joining partners from contractors BAM and architects AHR to sign their names on a timber beam at the very top of the building. Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics Dr Lisa Brodie can be seen adding her signature above.

From left to right: Catherine Hobbs (Associate Dean Research and Enterprise), Matt Smith (BAM Construction), Richard Dewey (BAM), Steve West (Vice-Chancellor), Paul Olomolaiye (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean), Lisa Brodie (Head of Engineering Design and Mathematics), Tod Burton (Deputy Dean) and Graham Kingdon (BAM)

Due for completion in summer 2020, the facility will contribute to the University’s vision of being one of the top engineering schools in the country through promoting multi-disciplinary, collaborative learning and supports the predicted increase in demand for skilled engineering graduates across the region.

UWE Bristol staff can read more on the staff intranet.

Free engineering consultancy for local community organisations

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The Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE, Bristol are seeking to partner with local community organisations with project ideas relevant to engineering Postgraduate Diploma students. We welcome project proposals from community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors, and small businesses.

The project is an opportunity for organisations to receive free engineering consultancy from a small team of students (3-6 people), who will be learning skills in team-working, client liaison and applications of engineering as part of the Engineering in the Community module. The scheme is open for applications until December 2019 with projects completed from February to August 2020.

Projects could be researching and scoping opportunities or issues on behalf of your organisation, planning or providing designs and proposals, or in some cases students may be able to produce an item or intervention for the organisation. Examples of projects might include: auditing and developing concepts for a new engineering project in your area; researching community problems and engineering solutions; or adapted infrastructure to meet the needs of a community garden.

Information about last year’s projects can be found here and here.

For further information and to apply, please download the Organisation Brief below and return the form within to engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk.

The successes of Women Like Me 2018-2019

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In 2018, Women Like Me launched at UWE as a tiered mentoring project for women in engineering. Delivered by Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs, the project was a great success, engaging over 10,000 children with engineering outreach and significantly improving engineers’ confidence. Some findings of the first year’s project report are summarised here.

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. For democratic, utilitarian and equity reasons this is not enough. Both recruitment and retention are important – more girls need to connect with engineering as a creative, socially conscious, collaborative discipline, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace. 


Funded in 2018-2019 by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant, the ‘Curiosity Connections – Women Like Me’ project aimed to change this through tiered mentoring and role modelling. Previous research by Laura Fogg-Rogers indicates how important peer group and leadership support is for women, providing vicarious experience and changing social norms. This means that women need peer support to thrive in the workplace, and that girls need to see women succeeding in STEM careers in order to feel that engineering is for them. 


This project therefore paired 21 mid-career (senior) women engineers with 21 junior women engineers (less than five years’ experience) in the Bristol and Bath area, in order to provide career and public engagement mentoring. The outreach activities resulted in over 10,240 children being engaged in public engagement with women engineers, through a variety of methods including school visits, public events and nationwide online presentations. 

Junior engineers felt significantly more equipped to take part in public engagement


The junior engineers reported that they now feel significantly more equipped to take part in public engagement; 54% of junior engineers felt fairly well equipped before the project and this increased to 68% after the project, with 38% indicating they were very well equipped. Similarly, the mean score on the Engineering Outreach Self-Efficacy Scale significantly improved from 6.80 to 8.41 (out of 10). This indicates that the engineers are now much more confident to undertake education outreach, and are then more likely to continue public engagement following the project. 

The report therefore concludes that mentoring is highly important to ensure a supportive workplace, which means that women are more likely to be retained in the engineering industry.

The full report can be downloaded from the UWE research repository and a paper in Journal of Science Communication, drawing on the results, is now available (open access).

Women Like Me will relaunch in October 2019. To express an interest in taking part, please register your email address here.

UWE BEng graduate Gemma Christian featured by Institute of Mechanical Engineers

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From leaving school with no GCSEs to becoming a chartered engineer

UWE Bristol BEng (Hons) in Aerospace Systems Engineering graduate Gemma Christian has been featured by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, describing her non-traditional route into engineering and reminding us that it’s never too late to pursue a career in the industry.

After leaving school with no GCSEs and later reaching UWE through a BTEC in engineering, since graduating Gemma has gone on to complete a Masters, work for Airbus, GE Aviation and Avant, and become chartered. Read her inspiring story on the IMechE website.

Engineering in the Community poster event 19th September 2-4 pm

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UWE Bristol staff and students are warmly invited to the final poster celebration of our Engineering in the Community event. This module brings together our Degree Apprentice Postgraduates from industry (Airbus, Babcock, and STFC) with members of the community. Our student engineers have been working with local projects to find engineering solutions to community problems.

This poster celebration is a chance to view the results, ask questions about the project designs and process, and solidify our community connections for future development.

Thursday 19th September, UWE Frenchay Campus

14:00 Arrival and poster viewing

14:30 Groups answer questions about their projects

15:30 Community connections and further developments

16:00 Close

For more information about the module or event, please contact the module lead Laura Fogg-Rogers.