Metro Mayor Dan Norris met the bright young minds behind some of the West of England’s leading green tech initiatives, during a visit to UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering on Frenchay campus last week.
Mr Norris met some of the skilled young engineers and entrepreneurs behind some of the region’s leading green initiatives as part of the Metro Mayor’s second Jobs and Skills Summit, as well as being given an insight into projects to inspire the region’s future innovators.
The innovative tech on display included drones that measure microplastics in the air, built by award-winning student engineers at UWE Bristol, digitally engineered leak-proof hydrogen storage containers and machines that optimise the growth of the crops people eat.
Some of the programmes are funded through the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation programme, a £5 million initiative from the West of England Combined Authority.
Mr Norris met learners from the Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship (Green Skills) project, a programme designed to upskill learners from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to help the region achieve its net zero target.
Green Skills is led by UWE Bristol and delivered in partnership with the Black South West Network and NatWest. It has received £760,000 of funding from the UK’s Government’s Community Renewal Fund and is overseen by the West of England Combined Authority within the region.
Mr Norris said the demonstration showed the abundance of talent across the West of England and applauded the talented youngsters supporting the region to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and commented:
“I’m so pleased to meet the teams of enthusiastic young people who are pioneering environmentally-friendly technology, boosting the West of England economy and supporting our efforts to reach our net-zero ambitions. It just goes to show how much talent there is in the region, as well as the good, high-quality jobs there are for local people in future-proof sectors such as the green economy, helping us to tackle the climate emergency alongside the jobs crisis.”
Inspiring a Green Future
Special thanks go to Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers who arranged the summit at UWE’s new Engineering building. She also arranged for the mayor to get a preview of the DETI funded We Make our Future planetarium show.
The team from Explorer dome persuaded the Mayor and summit guests to take of their shoes and crawl into the inflatable planetarium for a taster of the engineering sustainability themed show designed to inspire the next generation of engineers. Read more about the show and it’s new funding to go into more schools in the West of England.
Altered from the original post on https://intranet.uwe.ac.uk/whats-happening/news/Article/Metro-Mayor-meets-young-minds-behind-best-of-West-of-England-clean-techby Anthony Poploski.
We’ll have lots of exciting activities for the whole family – all the best local science-y activities in one place – robots, Minecraft & an amazing FREE planetarium show!
UWE is bringing all this together to celebrate the amazing inventions children in the South-West designed for the Leaders Award competition – with shortlisted entries on display alongside the robots, music technology, crafty activities, eco-house activity and did I mention a FREE planetarium show?!
A Better World is the theme for the event, with a focus on ethics, sustainability and recovery. The congress features Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety (following Grenfell); Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO of UKRI; Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Exec of the Royal Academy of Engineering; and Prof Steve West, President of Universities UK. Plus a host of expert speakers, dinner on the SS Great Britain and a UWE welcome to the cutting-edge Bristol Robotics Lab and brand new curriculum-led UWE Engineering building.
The Engineering Outreach team at UWE Bristol are sending engaging role models, alongside a fully immersive planetarium show, into schools to inspire local children to think creatively – like an engineer – and design a sustainable future for our planet.
The “We Make Our Future” show was developed in collaboration with the science entertainment wizards from Explorer Dome, the Bristol-based mobile planetarium company, and funded initially by the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) initiative. Today new support for the educational show has been announced by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s public engagement grant scheme – Ingenious.
This funding will allow Explorer Dome to take the show to 4000 more children in the West of England. As well as enabling the team to incorporate videos from local engineers, to showcase the breadth of people in engineering and inspire the diverse and socially conscious engineers of tomorrow.
“There are so many inspiring engineers and careers in the West of England and we’ve been celebrating this diversity with our Engineering Curiosity card set as part of our DETI Inspire work,” said UWE Bristol’s project lead, Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers.
“We’re now really excited to bring their stories to the big screen – inside a huge inflatable dome with surround sound to inspire the engineers of the future!”
We Make Our Future
The 360° digital projections in the mobile planetariums take children on a journey – exploring the history of human ingenuity, from the Stone Age to the Space Age, then pivoting to focus on humanity’s current big challenge – tackling climate change.
Reducing our carbon emissions means redesigning nearly everything we use in the modern world – a vast job that requires lots of imagination and a whole myriad of skills and techniques. And whilst the West of England is a hotbed for engineering, there is a shortfall of skills in the workforce.
This initiative looks to address the skills shortfall of the future by encouraging young people to see themselves as engineers. Role models are key to children envisioning themselves in future careers, which is why including diverse engineers is crucial.
“We were honoured to showcase our dome experience at COP26, and it was clear that seeing real-life engineers tackling these big problems was inspirational to audiences,” said Explorer Dome Director and Senior Presenter, Joshua Yates. “That’s why we want to hear from diverse engineers making a difference and support them to tell their stories to young people across the West”.
In the next few months, the team at UWE Bristol and Explorer Dome will be recruiting local engineers and training them to engage young people, then selecting five engineers to make inspiring films in their workplaces. Training will enhance the engineers’ ability to communicate sustainability solutions in a positive way – something which is hugely important to change attitudes and behaviours towards climate action.
Films of sustainability engineers at their workplaces will showcase how the engineering design process can address the Climate and Ecological Emergency. All adding to the show’s ability to light up the imaginations of the next generation as it travels throughout the region.
If you’re a local engineer with a sustainability focus – please do get in touch to get involved with our training – firstname.lastname@example.org
The show was first presented to the public at the COP26 Planetarium in November 2021 and has now visited several schools in the region. The Ingenious bid enhances the legacy of the show, by enabling Explorer Dome to physically visit 10 schools, along with 10 Zoom shows, reaching around 4000 children aged 8 –13 years from across the West of England in total. All with no charge to the schools or children’s families.
Diversity in the engineering workforce is very low, therefore this project will target underrepresented populations many of which can be found in areas and schools within the top 25% most deprived neighbourhoods of the West of England.
Explorer Dome is an internationally known, vibrant, popular science outreach organisation. Based in Bristol, Birmingham and London, we travel across the UK presenting live science shows for schools, festivals and special events. Hands-on demonstrations and stunning visuals combined with knowledgeable, enthusiastic and professional presenters: Explorer Dome is presenter-led, lively, interactive and fun!
Royal Academy of Engineering – Ingenious: public engagement awards
Ingenious is an awards scheme for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering while providing engineers with skills and opportunities in public engagement.
They prioritise projects that reach diverse and underrepresented audiences including communities in the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and that engage with engineers and people of different genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds.
DETI is funded by the West of England Combined Authority; it is transforming engineering for the digital era and inspiring the next generation of engineers. It is helping identify the technologies that will drive innovation in developing sustainable products, systems, businesses, infrastructure and transport that underpin a net zero environment. It is creating a new, diverse engineering community and systems to investigate, develop & demonstrate the advanced digital technologies and skills needed for the sustainable products of the future.
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. WECA funding of £5m is match funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.
The Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers – AFBE live – held their first annual conference in April, sending happy UWE staff and students home with some sparkling trophies.
The conference was held at IET savoy place, London, and UWE Research Fellow, Halimah Abdullahi, was runner up in the Next Big Idea Competition – Covid and Diversity & Inclusion category – for her presentation on UWE investigations on how to make engineering inclusive for everyone. This work was part of the Digital Engineering Technology Innovation (DETI) Skills project.
Halimah described the conference as “mind blowing” and “the best event I have attended”.
There was also success for UWE students Namlan Oulai Siaba and Moataz Hassan, who came 3rd and 4th place respectively in the Tech Innovation category.
The conference was also attended by UWE’s Associate Professor in Assistive Robotics, Virginia Ruiz Garate, who represented UWE at the speed networking event. And Lecturer in Systems Engineering, Amina Hamoud sat on the judging panel for the Next Big Idea Competition.
More about the conference
The conference theme was “The Future of Engineering: Sustainability, Innovation and Diversity”, and 537 people turned up to listen from a host of great speakers, and participate in the many networking opportunities and competitions.
The keynote speakers were Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO of UK Research, and Innovation (UKRI) and Chris Knibb, Head of Corporate Communications, IET. With Chi Onwurah urging everyone to consider getting involved with policy as a way of using engineering expertise and thinking to benefit the society.
Co-founders of AFBE-UK, Dr Nike Folayan and Dr Ollie Folayan, delivered speeches on the background and growth of AFBE. Other speakers included Mark Martin MBE, co-founder of UK BlackTech; Janice Mair, director of people, culture and diversity at EnQuest; Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, public speaker and political commentator; former NBA star John Amaechi OBE, CEO of APS Intelligence and best-selling New York Times author; Shereen Daniels, managing director of anti-racism and racial equity advisory firm, HR rewired; and Ortis Deley, host of Channel 5’s The Gadget Show.
Yesterday, a range of Engineers from across the South West scurried out of the rain and into UWE’s outreach classroom to find out what local children had invented in this round of – “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”
A nationwide competition, the engineers soon got dug into the entries (and the biscuits!) sharing the most inventive, interesting, and down-right crazy ones with the group.
“It’s fun!” said Paul Powell of Babcock International
Gill Richardson who works on rail projects at Porterbrook said, “There are some fascinating ideas…really inventive.”
For Darren Kewley, from the MOD, he returns year after year to these grading days to hear the stories.”I think my favourite part is seeing their personal stories come through – the real world problems they face and seeing them apply engineering to fix those problems.”
He gave an example that had particularly struck him. “One child explained how their Gran was in hospital and it broke their heart to see the problems she was facing. They explained in the letter that they hadn’t known what to do, but after hearing about this competition, realised that engineering could help.”
The kids taking part in this competition have got it – Engineering solves problems and can help make the world a better place!
And on that uplifting note, we look forward to find out the winners at the celebration day in June – thanks everyone for volunteering their time to make this competition great.
Alongside other DETI partner companies, UWE Bristol have organised a free virtual skills and training CPD course focused on upskilling local engineers in all things Big Data.
Upskilling and onboarding digital technologies is a core aim of the DETI Innovate program, and Big Data is one such tool that has been identified as critical for the Engineering sector. As such, this introductory course is designed to help industries and workers visualize the possibilities of a future with Big Data by introducing core concepts and applications.
The skills and training course is open to all applicants seeking pathways to a digital career. And to enable as many people to take part as possible, the course is being made available online, allowing participants to study materials at their own pace.
The induction session is 10 – 11am on 25th April 2022 – so sign up soon! Following work can be undertaken at the learners own pace.
What is Big Data?
Big Data refers to the analysis of large datasets to discover trends, correlations, or other insights not easily visible with smaller datasets or conventional processing methods. With the high rate of adoption of sensors and connected devices with the internet of things, there has been a huge increase in the data points created in the manufacturing industry.
In manufacturing, Big Data can discover new information and identify patterns that enable businesses to improve processes, increase supply chain efficiency and identify variables that affect production.
Who’s the course for?
This course is designed for learners with a technology, computer science or engineering background, who are in their early career looking to specialise into digital engineering. Or those currently working in these sectors and looking to develop their existing skills.
That includes, students, graduates, apprentices, technicians, engineers, operators, and anyone interested in upskilling or reskilling their knowledge in the subject area.
We’d particularly like to encourage those who are recently unemployed, self-employed, looking to move into a new job role, or coming out of furlough – to sign up.
Participants will be required to:
have a good knowledge of basic computer literacy skills
be committed to completing the modules and assessment and be able to take part in the course delivery format and subject matter
be aged from 19 years of age and above.
agree to provide mandatory personal data and supplementary information on their jobs, education and give feedback on the course delivery
Introduction to Big Data
Defining Big Data and sources of Big Data
The four dimensions of Big Data: Volume, velocity, variety, veracity
Big Data applications/examples in business
Delivering business benefit from Big Data
Establishing the business importance of Big Data
SQL Databases vs. NoSQL Databases
Understand the growing amounts of data
RDBMSs ACID, and Introduction to NoSQL databases
Understanding the difference between a relational DBMS and a NoSQL database
Identifying the need to employ a NoSQL DB
Overview of Hadoop and Related Technologies
Metrics and Measures: Why are the metrics and measures important for data quality estimation and how to select appropriate and relevant metrics for a project?
Tools and Techniques: How to estimate data quality using some of the current tools and technologies? How to use the tools and advantages/disadvantages of various tools.
Knowledge Extraction: Types of knowledge
The lifecycle of knowledge extraction from big data
An overview of core principles and techniques used to extract knowledge, for example, classification, clustering, and regression analysis.
Please could you briefly introduce yourself and where your research is based?
I am an Associate Professor in Assistive Robotics at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, where I develop my research within the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL). Within UWE I am also the Co-leader of the Robotics Engineering And Computing for Healthcare (REACH) research group.
As far as I remember, I have always been fascinated by robotics. Although I started with a strong interest in Space robotics, during my Master’s degree, I discovered the field of biomechanics and the potential of robots to improve the quality of life of people in need of assistance.
Since then, I have been working towards developing assistive robots able to adapt to the individual characteristics of each user and make them natural and intuitive to use.
What is your favorite thing about conducting research at BRL, and what made you choose to be based there?
Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) is the most comprehensive academic center for multidisciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol. The available assets emerging from this collaboration are formidable in terms of robots and available space, as well as the vibrant community of reputed researchers within the facilities.
My favorite thing about working in BRL is that it is a huge open space encouraging collaboration. Just by coming to the lab, I have the opportunity to witness and be part of the latest developments in robotics and to have very stimulating discussions or even casual chats over a coffee with extraordinary researchers and leaders in their fields.
Moreover, BRL offers the perfect framework to establish contact and invite end-users to participate in developing technologies from their early stage, which is extremely important and useful to create meaningful robotics technology.
Multidisciplinary research is more than just working with researchers in different fields but taking a global approach to collaboration. What more could be done to improve connections between international communities?
Collaboration between people of different fields is key for advancing robotics, especially Assistive Robotics. This subfield combines diverse technical aspects, which themselves are multidisciplinary, and human factors (end-users), which are a key component to a successful implementation and uptake of the technology.
After all, these robots are meant to be used by people regularly and interact with them, often even physically. This human-side of robotics makes inclusivity and diversity critical factors to be considered.
First, assistive robots are not meant to be used by the average population with who robots are usually tested, but by people in need of assistance, a group usually under-represented in research.
Second, it is important to bear in mind that we live in a world that is more open and global every day, and to maximize the impact of the developed robots, we need to be able to reach as much population as possible.
Therefore, national and international connections between researchers, developers, and end-users are needed to ensure that the technologies consider characteristics from all ethnicities, age, genders, and cultural backgrounds. Without this, advancements in research will have a very limited and local impact.
What could be done for those between women in STEM?
Women represent 49.6% of the population. However, they are under-represented as end-users of the technology and as designers and researchers.
By not including them in the development process, we miss their vision, needs and requirements, ending up with robots that are not appealing or even usable for them.
Initiatives such as the Women in Robotics group, Women in Engineering Society, or even at a smaller scale, the Women Researchers’ Mentoring Scheme in UWE, are beneficial to build connections between women in the field by creating a sense of community for women in STEM.
These communities not only serve as networking tools to establish possible collaborations, but they also provide a feeling of “belonging” in a field in which women are still underrepresented.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, focusing on forging an inclusive, diverse, and equal future between genders. What would you say is the most important action that needs to be taken to achieve this?
It is difficult to pick just one action, as so much can be done. Focusing on STEM, I would highlight having reference figures to look upon and feel represented. For example, having women in the higher layers of STEM research and technical jobs can help to break the bias. Women in senior positions can give extra encouragement and confidence to not feel “out of place”, and create that feeling of “belonging”.
During my early career, I have been fortunate to work with two magnificent women and two men as mentors, which gave me a good balance. However, I have often been approached by female students who said it was the first time they could have a female mentor and how they were looking forward to it.
We must start opening our eyes; numerous extraordinary robotic researchers are women, but we rarely hear about them. We must encourage diversity at conferences and symposiums, which often have an established repetitive structure. Only with efforts like these can we build a future where technology is for everyone.
About Dr. Virginia Ruiz Garate
Dr. Virginia Ruiz Garate is an Associate Professor at UWE
She researches adaptive controllers and leading the Assistive Robotics group at BRL. Previously, she was a PostDoc at the Italian Institute of Technology, where she worked under the EU projects SOMA and SOPHIA investigating new bio-inspired grasping stiffness controls for robotic hands and multi-robot collaborations.
She obtained her Ph.D. from the Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Belgium where she developed bio-inspired controls for lower limb exoskeletons under the EU project CYBERLEGs.
Virginia has been serving as a reviewer for IEEE journals and conferences and co-organized the ICRA 2021 and RSS 2019 workshop on “Emerging Paradigms for Robotic Manipulation: from the Lab to the Productive World”, and the workshop “Human factors in the design and control of robots: what are we missing?” in the 2020 I-RIM 3D conference. Her current research interests include bio-inspired control, assistive robotics, grasping and manipulation, and human-robot collaboration.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.
On 24th February, 12 young people, aged 15-24, headed to UWE’s Prototype and Play Lab, in the School of Engineering, for a training day in Climate Communications. Passionate about addressing the climate and ecological emergency, and eager to learn and connect with likeminded people, the delegates came from across the Bristol area, with representation from five different schools/colleges and from the University.
With over half of young people reported to experience some form of climate-related anxiety (Hickman et al. 2021) – this training emerged out of the collective interest of researchers at UWE (from the Science Communication Unit, FET, ABE and DGEM) keen to share their knowledge with, and empower, the younger generation.
How to address climate anxiety
To steer young people away from overwhelm, timely action, forethought and trust in science are needed (Manzanedo & Manning, 2020). And according to a research project by Climate Outreach, to resonate with young people we, as adults, need to validate their negative thoughts while avoiding overly optimistic communications, and provide resources that can alleviate their anxiety.
Drawing on this research, and the interests of young people, the Science Communication Unit shaped the programme of activities for a pilot session with young people.
On the day
“Start with the why”
Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers and Research Fellow Sophie Laggan started the training by explaining that different ways of viewing the world shape how we make decisions and the only way to forge meaningful dialogue and promote pro-environmental change is through meeting people where they’re at. They used the example of solar panels – where one household might buy solar panels for environmental reasons, others do so out of economic/energy security, and others simply because they follow the ‘norm’ – their neighbours did it.
The participants ran with this idea in a role-playing exercise where they tried to convince someone ‘not like them’ – and in a position of power and influence – to install solar panels on the roof of their school. With a bit of context about what makes their partner tick, the participants were able to tap into the other person’s values and use it to their advantage.
Sustainable Housing activity
Following lunch and a tour of the Campus’s community garden, the group returned for an engagement activity on passive houses with Dr Deborah Adkins. Each table were given a wooden replica of a typical UK house and asked to stick post-its on the areas they thought could be improved for sustainability, everything from solar panels to insulation and green roofs. The task was accompanied by a short presentation, allowing the participants to learn more about sustainable housing.
Designing their own engagement activity
Deborah’s session was followed by an in-depth explanation of the value of physical engagement activities, by Sophie, with the chance for each participant to prototype their design for an engagement activity based on the issue that mattered to them, be that local food or slow fashion. Their issues of concern were formulated in the opening session of the day – “Start with the why”.
The day was concluded with top tips by Josh Warren on filmmaking on a budget, before the young people were set to task on recording their own short film on a sustainability topic. The group enjoyed watching each other’s films and spent the last few minutes of the day reflecting on how valuable the day was for their activism and general understanding of people ‘not like them’.
Climate Anxiety post-training?
Before and after surveys, showed that the young people’s negative thoughts (scared, angry, concerned, powerless, guilty, confused) all reduced following the training (except for mournful) and positive thoughts increased (empowered, hopeful, optimistic and determined).
Confidence in communication skills also increased. For instance, 100% felt confident/very confident in engaging their audience after the training, compared to just 11% (N=1) before.
Participants suggested that training on social media, graphics and poster design would be useful, and so the team will shortly launch a social media campaign training event for the cohort.
Shortly after the training day the team found out they were successful in their bid to the HEIF FET-FBL Award! This means the training can be replicated for different youth groups, with a focus on those from more diverse backgrounds. And enables them to create e-learnings and printable toolkits.
This work on climate anxiety in young people sits under the umbrella of the Climate Action Hub at UWE, which acts as a space for researchers to connect with communities interested in tackling the climate and ecological emergency. To facilitate this exchange, the Hub is looking at setting up a Staff Network to allow staff the time to build these connections. If you are interested in connecting to the Hub in any way, or have ideas on how it should operate, then please contact Sophie.email@example.com.
Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R.E., Mayall, E.E., Wray, B., Mellor, C. and van Susteren, L., 2021. Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health, 5(12), pp.e863-e873.
Manzanedo, R.D. and Manning, P., 2020. COVID-19: Lessons for the climate change emergency. Science of the Total Environment, 742, p.140563.
Taylor, S., 2020. Anxiety disorders, climate change, and the challenges ahead: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 76, p.102313.
Steve Wright is a senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft systems at UWE, and he’s often approached by the media to provide an informed and balanced perspective on the plethora of flight innovation reports.
We’ve previously featured stories from Steve offering his expertise on green flight, aerospace Covid recovery and Boeing 737 safety concerns. But he’s been kept particularly busy recently, commenting on sports car drones, electric flight, flying cars and taxis.
Want to get a feel for the future of flight?
Have a scroll down a short selection of Steve’s quotes from media coverage on new breakthroughs.
In WIRED on sports car drones
“We’ve been rolling around in hilarity at how impossible that drone is to make work like they claim,” said Steve. “The wretched thing is, I really, really want it to work. I want a sports car to launch a drone that chases me down the road. I am just frustrated that I can’t have one yet.”
Steve outlined the physical and engineering challenges that Polestar’s concept seems to have missed, read more at WIRED.
On the BBC about flying cars
A flying car was issued a certificate of airworthiness in Slovakia, and Steve told the BBC that this made him “cautiously optimistic that I am going to see a few AirCars one day – but I think there is still a way to go”.
Although he’s unsure about the mass appeal flying cars may have. “Are flying cars the future? Yes… and no,” he said. “The personal-transport revolution is definitely coming but not really looking like this.”