Over 1200 students discuss solutions and skills to reach net-zero in School Eco-Week events

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Three secondary schools in the West have recently held Inspire Sustainability Eco-Weeks, with their students learning about the challenges that we face in order to reach net-zero by 2030, and the green skills and solutions needed in order to overcome them.

Bristol Brunel Academy, Digitech Studio School and Hans Price Academy have held events including career stands with prospective employers from the area, where students challenged them on their green credentials; sessions from the DETI Inspire team debating sustainable solutions from real engineers in the area; and interactive hook-a-duck stands encouraging students to identify their own green skills and apply them to the net-zero challenge.

The Eco Weeks form part of the Inspire Sustainability project, funded as part of the Green Futures project from the West of England Combined Authority. Through meeting all our real life role models working on sustainability solutions, it’s hoped young people will gain a greater awareness of the diverse green jobs available in the West.

In the DETI Inspire sessions, students debated targets for net-zero, including lowering waste by 65%, and Bristol City Council’s promise to reduce traffic by 40%, all by the year 2030. Then the students of various age groups, discussed the different solutions to the challenges faced when reaching for those targets. Such as insulating new homes and retrofitting older ones, city planning focussing on low-carbon transport, ways to hold their schools to account for their eco-choices, and the many green skills and careers that would come from the push for net-zero.

Across the week, the DETI Inspire team delivered a whole-school assembly, multiple live school online broadcasts tuned into by whole year groups, 15 fully facilitated sessions, and hosted an employer careers fair.

In total the team directly delivered to over 1200 young people, with future events and engagements also being planned. Many of the students reached have formed school eco-clubs, where they work together with the school to become more sustainable. Many of the students have taken inspiration from the sessions, and brought real solutions for sustainability to the school’s leadership. It’s really great to see that the students are turning to climate action and developing their green skills, and actively making a difference in their school.

To learn more about the sessions, the plans for future Eco-weeks, and to book the DETI Inspire team for future STEM and sustainability outreach, please contact the team at the engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk inbox. You can also download the lesson plans and materials from the sessions at the link below: https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources

DETI Inspire Engages Kids with Engineering at South Gloucestershire Libraries

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This November, DETI Inspire have been heading out to different libraries in South Gloucestershire to deliver sessions to school groups that teach them about the different engineering careers open to them.

The team have been joined by STEM Ambassadors as well as Student Ambassadors from the UWE School of Engineering, who have discussed their engineering work and favourite projects, what inspired them to get into engineering, and their career paths. The kids then have the opportunity to flood the engineers with questions and discover that engineering really could be something for them.

The sessions also aim to break down commonly-held misconceptions of engineering amongst young people, by introducing them to a whole host of different engineering careers, and engineers from diverse backgrounds. Using the DETI Inspire team’s ‘Engineering Curiosity’ cards, which feature 52 real West of England-based engineers that also sent in TikTok style engaging videos about the ups and downs of their job to help inspire the young people. Where young people may believe that engineering isn’t for them, thinking that engineers need expert maths and science skills or are always covered in oil underneath cars; the session seeks to instead highlight skills such as creativity, communication and problem-solving.

In total, the sessions reached 325 Year 6 students from 11 different local schools.

Feedback from the school teachers involved included:
“I think the workshop had great energy and will definitely get the children thinking about engineering, which in turn will get them reading and researching in books and online.”

“An engaging event. Fun, clear presenters. Good use of resources which encouraged the children to read more about different types of engineering jobs. Lots of good knowledge to draw on and changed many perceptions of an engineer’s job/profile.”       

“Very engaging and kept the children focussed. Learning about new engineers work and what they learn about – education, apprenticeships and universities. The event may help children learn more about other engineers and what their work involves.”

To learn more about the work of the DETI Inspire team, and book similar STEM engagement outreach for your school or organisation, please contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or visit https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources to read about the workshops available.

Local pupils share their science and LEGO creations at UWE

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Teams of pupils from across the West were invited to be LEGO engineers and STEM investigators at UWE Bristol recently, and share their projects at a celebration event in the new School of Engineering building.

The pupils brought together so many great ideas and presented them to the other teams, before engaging with several STEM workshops and outreach sessions.
Amongst the team’s wonderful projects and designs, were a LEGO sorting machine, a powerful trebuchet, and an automatically operated LEGO bridge-lift.

In addition to the chance to share their projects with the other teams, the pupils were able to experience various STEM workshops.

The workshop activities included:

  • programming a robot to draw patterns, with the University of Bristol Digimakers team
  • learning about sustainable housing to limit energy-loss in their houses, with UWE’s Dr Deborah Adkins
  • ‘The West In Minecraft’ digital engineering workshop from UWE’s DETI Inspire team – the talented young engineers created solutions to real-world problems in the popular Bristol digital worlds

Andy McGovern, teacher at Stanbridge Primary, said: “The children had a brilliant day overall, and being able to showcase the LEGO project was great.”. 

The event was hosted by the DETI Inspire team, in partnership with the FIRST® LEGO® League, and the Great Science Share

To learn more about the DETI Inspire workshops including other available activities and sessions, or to book a session for your school, visit https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources; or contact the team at engineeringourfuture

The West in Minecraft and subsequent worlds are developed with the support of Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, and Science Hunters through Building to Break Barriers (funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant).

Local school pupils digitally re-engineer Brunel’s famous designs, before exploring the real thing!

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Over 150 children and counting from schools across the West have enjoyed a long-overdue trip to the School of Engineering and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

In partnership with the Clevedon Learning Trust, the DETI Inspire team have invited local children to the School of Engineering at UWE Bristol, to dive into some digital engineering with their West In Minecraft STEM workshops. The hugely popular and in-person workshop allows the children to learn what it means to be an engineer, explore the Engineering Design Process, and jump into a unique digital model of the West in the popular block-building game Minecraft. They can design new engineering solutions to real world problems, through building, creating and inventing using the game that many are already familiar with.

The West in Minecraft world includes Brunel’s iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, and the workshop also allows the pupils to re-engineer it. The DETI Inspire team saw many creative and genius modifications to Brunel’s designs, including huge wind turbines, solar panels, water slides, rail lines, elevators, hanging gardens, cafes, and many more.

After joining the team in the Prototype and Play lab at the School of Engineering, the students then continued their school trip to Clifton to visit the real bridge! They were able to explore the hidden vaults under the bridge, and learn all about Brunel and the other engineers that played a part in designing the incredible engineering feat. Linking digital engineering to the physical world.

The iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge in DETI Inspire’s ‘The West in Minecraft’

Mark Davies of the Clevedon Learning Trust said; “Clevedon Learning Trust have been extremely grateful to DETI Inspire and the team of engineering ambassadors for hosting 12 different primary school groups with children aged between years 4 and 6. The children have had a great time with the STEM sessions.”

“The use of Minecraft has really engaged our children in an activity they are both familiar with and enjoy. This has helped to raise their awareness, understanding and interest in engineering and the possibilities it brings. To be able to link this with a visit to the Clifton Suspension Bridge has brought engineering to life and allowed children to use the STEM achievements of our past to potentially encourage aspirations for their future.”

To learn more about the DETI Inspire workshops including other available activities and sessions, or to book a session for your school, visit https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources; or contact the team at engineeringourfuture

The West in Minecraft and subsequent worlds are developed with the support of Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, and Science Hunters through Building to Break Barriers (funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant).

Making or Baking – there are many routes into STEM!

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Over 200 Year 9 and 10 pupils from across the country tuned in to an online webinar this week, to hear engineers in the West of England talk about their routes into STEM careers. 

The live Q and A panel was organised by DETI Inspire in collaboration with the EDT Routes into STEM programme.

The session had fantastic engagement, with pupils sending in over 100 questions to the panel of four amazing engineers from the West of England.  

Questions and discussions led by the students covered a huge number of topics, including job interviews, working abroad, the transition from school to the workplace, gap years, influences, chosen subjects, and being a woman in STEM.  All mixed in with the real stories and experiences of local engineers, from roast potatoes and chocolate, to the enjoyment of rooting through people’s bins!

Olivia Sweeney talked about her experiences studying Chemical Engineering, and her opportunities working abroad in Sweden, Romania and Pakistan.  She also surprised us all by saying that her favourite part of her job as a sustainable waste consultant was looking through people’s bins!  

Olivia collects first hand data to understand what people put in their bins, when they do so, and why so that she can work to make it easier for people to recycle, reduce waste and make the process more circular.

When asked about her route into a role as a Naval Architect, Laura Star got the pupil’s tastebuds tingling by talking about her experience as a food engineer working with lots of chocolate!  An unexpected route into naval architecture, where she helps plan how different parts fit together like a jigsaw to form enormous ships and sea-vessels.  

Laura also gave the pupils some strong advice about being a woman in STEM, and her experiences of working in a largely male-dominated environment.  

Rich Moorcraft spoke about his journey to becoming a technical design engineer and manager at a packaging company, through an aerospace engineering apprenticeship.  The pupils were really interested to hear about the choices he made when leaving school at 16, and his advice for pushing through into STEM without taking the traditional academic and higher education route.

When talking about the favourite parts of her job as a mechanical design engineer, Temi Odanye showed the pupils some great shots of her and hundreds of her colleagues that she helped to grow!  It was her first batch of crops at a company that works to make farming more sustainable and efficient, helping to tackle some of the world’s most important challenges. 

DETI Inspire also talked to the pupils all about some of the projects that we have been working on, including the Engineering Curiosity card games, lesson plans and resources being developed for DETI Inspire’s Big Beam In during Science Week from the 5th of March. 

It was clear that the pupils really engaged with and responded to the advice given, and our thanks go to the engineers that kindly gave their time to inspire the engineers of the future!

The session is available to view below at the following link:


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

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