Developing industrial insight amongst diverse engineering students’

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Udonna Okeke, leader of EDM’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Programme, together with the Student Experience Team, partnered with the Royal Academy of Engineering in the 2019 Graduate Engineering Engagement Programme (GEEP). The programme focuses on bringing together the most successful and talented engineers from across the engineering sectors for a shared purpose; to advance and promote excellence in engineering, and to increase the transition of diverse engineering graduates from diverse backgrounds into engineering employment.

Through this partnership, five EDM students were sent to a Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London event. SEO London prepare talented students from ethnic minority or low socioeconomic backgrounds for career success, and on 19th to 20th of November 2019 EDM students attended the SEO GEEP programme of events.

The programme mentored, nurtured and supported the students in developing industry insights, inclusivity and diversity, CV writing, interview and presentation skills.

Below is some of the feedback from the students that attended:

“I found it useful to gain the knowledge on how to create a CV, how to prepare myself for an interview of every kind and how to stay in touch with future and past employers.”

“I would say that I met a lot of diverse people, we worked great as a group for that 2-day event and the network we built would be very useful in the future.”

“The time spent talking to different companies helped me make it clear for myself how I want to further develop myself. It brightened my horizons and I wish I had the opportunity to be part of this event earlier in my studies.”

“This is one of the reasons I would definitely recommend sending more students to such events. I have already told my friends all about it and few of them are interested in the event happening on 4th-5th of December in Manchester”.

“Thanks to Udonna and EDM for giving me the opportunity to be part of the engineering future.”

“I would 100% recommend that students attend in the future! It was exceptionally helpful for everyone and the general thoughts from all students was that it was extremely helpful.”

Making children’s inventions a reality

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UWE Bristol partners with the Leaders Award, an annual children’s engineering competition, to help run the competitions’ masterclass, grading days and celebration events in the South West. Last year Engineering students made a prototype of one of the winning inventions – a car braking systems where the red braking lights vary in intensity according to the pressure applied to the brake. This year, a new team of engineers are making children’s ideas into reality…

Second year mechanical engineering student – Georgina Packham – is heading up the ‘EWB UWE’ team to try and make a ‘Rain Catcher’.

The Rain Catcher was designed by Year 1 student from Headley Park Primary School, Tristan Sta Ines – pictured here.

The design’s purpose is to catch the rain which then turns into clean water. This benefits those who are thirsty helping to keep them healthy.

“We chose the Rain Catcher as we are not aware of any existing products that function in all the same ways that this design does, and we were also instantly drawn to the bright colours of the design. Tristan’s design will not only have little to no negative impact on the environment, but could also benefit those who don’t have easy access to clean water.”

Georgina explained why EWB UWE chose Tristan’s design.

The rest of the team is comprised of first year Engineering, Design and Mathematics students, Chase McLaughlin, Simbarashe Sibanda and Sonny Ngo.

Good luck team EWB UWE!

UWE students challenge kids with engineering activities

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Last week engineering and teaching students teamed up to bring engineering challenges to children across schools in Bristol.

The 35 engineering students and 22 education students currently taking the Engineering in Society module, used their different skill bases to peer mentor one another, and then deliver engaging activities to ~720 pupils at six Bristol schools on Wednesday 27th November.

Children aged 8 – 11 years old at Bannerman Road, Hambrook, Illminster Avenue, May Park, Shield Road and Victoria Park Primary Schools took part in one or more of the activities:

  • Gliders (High Flyers)
  • Floating Platform (High and Dry)
  • Vacuum Cleaner (Super Sucker)

Senior Lecturer from UWE Bristol and module lead, Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers was enthusiastic about the engineering day. “Visiting our engineers as they undertake their education outreach is always an exciting experience. Not only do we see our students flourishing, but I can see the impact they are having on the children as well. There is always so much fun and excitement in the classrooms as the children come up with their own designs!”

“Engineering can change the world, basically”

“This is the best day of my life!”

“Engineering can make life better for us all”

Quotes from participating children

UWE Taster Day for Year 12s

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33 local Year 12 students spent a day in the Engineering Design and Mathematics (EDM) Department, getting a taste for engineering and mathematics.

Rachel Szadziewska, EDM Associate Head of Department (Student Experience), introduced the day with a jigsaw ice breaker and then the students were broken into groups to take part in a range of problem based learning activities.

“From jigsaws that weren’t quite what they seemed through to learning the fundamentals of engineering stress and strain, density and material identification. The students seemed to have a good time and have hopefully been inspired to pursue a career in engineering.”

Rachel Szadziewska
An example of one of the maths based problem solving activities the students worked through.

What kind of engineer could you become?

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Engineering UK have released a short, fun careers quiz and whether you’re just starting out, or ready to think about your next steps, this is the quiz for YOU – Meet the Future You

Ever wondered what an engineer does? Could you see yourself exploring outer space, protecting the environment, designing apps or developing cures for diseases? Engineers do all this, and more!

There are eight questions about lifestyle and interests, which are used to match you to 12 different potential fields of engineering:

  • Coding Legends
  • Civilisation Savers
  • Crime Preventers
  • Cure Creators
  • Electric Dynamos
  • Materials Makers
  • Future Lifesavers
  • Mechanical Marvels
  • Electron Pioneers
  • Sea Crusaders
  • Universe Explorers

Take the quiz and get ready to be inspired…

Find out more about the importance of diversity in engineering

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Why is diversity important in engineering? According to, the Royal Academy of Engineering, addressing diversity and inclusion not only helps to bridge the UK’s engineering skills gap, it also drives innovation and creativity. 

“Addressing diversity and inclusion will not only help bridge this gap, it will also help drive innovation and creativity”. 

Royal Academy of Engineering

They present a business case for diversity which includes:

  • Addressing the engineering skills gap;
  • Improved financial importance;
  • Greater innovation and creativity;
  • Inclusion-driven higher business performance;
  • Increased motivation, productivity and retention;
  • Improved customer orientation, and
  • Increased customer satisfaction.

Retention of women in engineering in particular received attention this summer when UWE’s Dr Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs published their paper ‘Catch 22 — improving visibility of women in science and engineering for both recruitment and retention‘. Drawing on their mentoring and outreach project Women Like Me, which relaunches next week, they propose that enhancing self-efficacy (Laura Fogg Rogers, along with Dr Tim Moss, also recently published research on a new Engineering Outreach Self-Efficacy Scale) for female scientists and engineers to mentor others will generate more supportive workplaces. Alongside this, supporting a female STEM professionals to undertake public engagement activities improves the visibility of diverse female role models for young girls. Ultimately, these social connections will enhance science capital for girls and other minorities.

Diversity in engineering isn’t just important in the UK. Sharon L. Walker writes about why diversity is key to the future of engineering for the University of California, highlighting the low proportion of women and people with Latino and African-American heritage in the US engineering workforce. Innovation and talent, profit, fair treatment and shifting demographics are explored as some of the reasons behind the need for a more diverse future workforce.

And Kerry Baker, posting on STEM Learning on the importance of diversity in engineering, explains how this affects all of us:

“…have you ever used something and thought: “This doesn’t work how I would like it to” or “If I’d made this I would have put it together differently”? If the answer is yes, then this is the reason why engineering needs people from all backgrounds and walks of life, it needs people with all sorts of different life experiences and thought processes”.

STEM Learning

Students aim to house the homeless

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UWE’s department of Engineering, Design and Maths (EDM) ran a project week for students, with a focus on finding novel solutions to homelessness.

Homelessness in the UK is a growing social issue and matter of concern for local councils and residents – and so a highly relevant regional challenge for the students to address.

Approximately 400 Project Management Level 2 students piled into the ECC on 28th Oct – 1st Nov, to take part in the project led by Poonam Kashyap and supported by the Aero cluster and module team.

Talks set the context-highlighting the issues and challenges faced by the target population, as well as the communities they live in. Speakers included, Jim Longhurst, Professor of Environmental Science and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability at UWE, Bristol, alongside various EDM alumni. And Stuart Phelps from Residents Against Dirty Energy, gave insights into van dwellers and residential areas.

Your task is to create novel engineering solution required to tackle the current homelessness issues faced by the local councils in the UK.

The students were given a brief instructing them to incorporate the following in their novel engineering solutions:

  • Sustainable homes/solutions
  • Affordable homes/solutions
  • Smart technology with accessibility to all (e.g. child and disable friendly).
  • Security and safety, healthy environment and care.
  • This may further include use of disused buildings, reuse of materials, innovative ideas around spaces and open areas and active areas.

Poonam reports that the project week was a huge success, with high levels of student and staff engagement.

UWE draw a crowd at Bristol Tech Fest

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Bristol’s Tech Fair was held on Saturday 9th November, to celebrate local tech, engineering and science. UWE joined in with the carnival of family fun activities, with stands immersing approx. 200 attendees in a Virtual Reality experience and Robotic programming.

Simon Scarle, Program Leader for MSc Commercial Games Development, ran a VR activity and two student ambassadors ran the robotic activities.

“It went brilliantly. We had loads of visitors come to the stand. The kids loved the vector robots and we had families working with the thymio robots on the floor. UWE almost took up the entire second floor!” reported student ambassador Daniel Buckley, who alongside fellow student Magnus Sligo-Young, was in charge of explaining how the thymio robot and vector robots worked.

When using the thymio robots, children and parents alike were given worksheets on which they had to link modes to the response displayed by the robots. For example, in red mode the robots avoided objects, responding in a fearful manner – moving away whilst beeping.

The students were surprised by how well children did compared to the accompanying parents!

The vector robots were also popular. Magnus said: “Kids loved the emotions displayed from the eyes on the vector robots and enjoyed seeing how they reacted to different situations…. the issue was that kids didn’t want to leave the stand!”

Lottie looks in on changing perceptions and teaching of engineering

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The face of engineering is changing, and the #Lottietour – where a Lottie doll tours the varied world of engineering – helps to showcase that.

Science Stereotype Challenging Stories

This years tour has begun, with Lottie sitting in on a story about a young inventor, told by Marine Engineer, Tamsin Dobson. Tamsin read ‘Rosie Revere Engineer’ to children at Aerospace Bristol last week in one of many storytelling events held across the city during Bristol’s half term Storytale Festival.

Tamsin Dobson reading Rosie Revere Engineer at Aerospace Bristol on Tuesday 29th November 2019.

STEM Ambassadors read books that challenged science-stereotypes at 10 different locations. These ‘Curious Stories for Curious Children‘ were run by the Curiosity Connections team (the Bristol primary science network), including UWE Bristol’s Laura Fogg-Rogers and Louisa Cockbill, alongside Liz Lister from the STEM Ambassador hub for the West of England.

While perceptions of science and engineering were challenged for over 150 children across the city, Lottie moved up to UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus to witness how Engineering Education is changing….

Challenging Engineering Education

The quiet before level 1 student engineers get back to helping solve multiple issues that Makers Valley in Johannesburg, South Africa is experiencing right now. A jam packed week of research and learning how to develop a concept design for a problem.

Nearly all of UWE’s 700 first and second year engineering students,turned up for the first Scenario Project week of the year. Challenging the students with regional and global problems is a foundational part of the new engineering curriculum, all designed to improve inclusivity.

I think historically the education system precludes certain types of people from being successful, because it’s heavily examined and a lot of young people don’t find that an easy process to go through. We are trying to create a curriculum with a range of different methods to assess students, so that regardless of background and qualification, there’s the opportunity to succeed.

Lisa Brodie, Head of Engineering, Design and Mathematics

Read more about ‘Curious Stories for Curious Children‘ and hear Lisa Brodie wax lyrical about engineering.

Bristol Technology Showcase this Friday!

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The one day conference and expo coming to Aerospace Bristol this Friday (8th November), focuses on how new and emerging technologies will affect businesses and wider society.

Industry leading experts will be taking part in panel discussions and leading talks about the future of various technologies and industries. While local Bristol Tech will be showcasing in the expo.

Find out more on the Bristol Technology Showcase website.

Find discounted tickets on Eventbrite here.

And here’s a video from one of the speakers who is leading a session on the Future of vertical farming.