Formula Student – Our Best Year Yet!

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Formula student is the world’s largest Engineering design competition, organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, with the challenge of designing, manufacturing and racing a single seat race car.

Through multiple events, cars are judged on their acceleration, handling and efficiency, while engineers are assessed for their design, costing and business presentation skills.

Current UWE student engineers and alumni from 2020 took part in the UK event which was held at the Silverstone race circuit in Northampton between the 21st and 25th of July.

Although hampered by a few technical issues, a successful event was had by the team. Including a 1st place in skid pad, runner-up in both the 1km sprint, and cost & manufacture events, and 5th in the business plan presentation. Resulting in a final placing of 6th overall and a fantastic time being had by all.

Congratulations #teamUWE we’re extremely proud of your achievements this year!

IET Prize awarded to UWE student engineer!

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UWE student engineer Oliver Németh has been recognised for his hard work by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). 

The IET Prize is awarded annually to outstanding students who are completing a course of study which has been accredited by the IET. Prize winners are nominated by their university based on having shown distinction in their course leading to the award of a first degree. 

As part of his win Oliver will receive a certificate and two years free student membership of the IET. 

I am honoured to receive the IET Prize from the University of the West of England for my outstanding performance during my MEng degree. I am extremely grateful for the recognition I have received for my work. I would like to thank my lecturers, project supervisor, and the laboratory technicians at the university who have provided me with the necessary support, knowledge, and guidance throughout my degree.

Oliver Németh, Electronic Engineering Graduate, UWE Bristol

Our IET Prizes are a fantastic way for talented engineering students to be recognised for their outstanding ability in the early stages of their engineering journey. IET Membership provides early career professionals with the opportunity to connect with a global community, grow their networks and develop their technical knowledge.

The IET is passionate about promoting engineering excellence and our awards and prizes showcase some of the very best engineering talent. All of the winners should be incredibly proud of their achievements. I wish them all the best for a very fulfilling and successful career – they are all difference makers of the future.

Professor Danielle George MBE, President of the IET

To find out more information about the range of prizes and awards available to young and aspiring engineers through the IET, please visit: www.theiet.org/awards

Success at The Engineers for People Design Competition Grand Final!

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Our Product Design and Development Engineering Degree Apprentices from Renishaw Engineering, representing Gloucestershire College and UWE Bristol, made it through to the top six teams before being named Runners Up in this year’s competition.

Run in partnership with Engineers Without Borders, the Engineering for People Design Challenge encourages university students to broaden their awareness of the social, environmental and economic implications of their engineering solutions, through a project-based learning pedagogy. This challenge also forms part of UWE Bristol’s Engineering Practise module Project Week.

This year 1339 teams (around 8000 students) from UK and Ireland universities participated in the competition with 102 teams submitting their designs to be judged by 234 professional reviewers from 32 countries. The top 35 teams were invited to a finals event on July 1st, where they pitched their idea to a panel of 22 expert judges. Our brilliant team of apprentices then made it through to the Grand Finals along with five other teams before being awarded the Runners Up Prize.

A huge congratulations to Marcus, Charlie, Eleanor, Oliver and Ezra! We’re all immensely proud of your fantastic achievement.

The team’s design, an Implementation of Biodigesters and Oxidation Ponds, provides a cost-effective and low maintenance solution which seeks to improve the sanitary conditions and economic prospects of Lobitos and Piedritias, in Peru. This new system would remove and treat wastewater, whilst also providing clean drinking water, solid and liquid fertiliser, and building materials. You can learn more about their design idea here.

The Product Design and Development team presenting their Biodigester project

For more information about The Engineers for People Design Competition or UWE’s Project Week, please contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk

EDM becomes a WISE Ten Steps Signatory

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The Department of Engineering Design & Mathematics (EDM) at UWE Bristol have signed up to the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Ten Steps.

As only 24% of the core-STEM workforce in the UK, women are the largest pool of under-represented talent in the country’s STEM-based industries. To tackle this, WISE developed the Ten Steps framework to help businesses achieve greater balance in their workforces.

As an action-driven, evidence-based approach, which was developed in consultation with industry partners, the Ten Steps supports organisations to improve recruitment, retention and progression of women; something that is also at the core of UWE’s Women Like Me tiered mentoring and outreach programme for women in engineering. Women Like Me launches for 2020-2021 with an online event on 12th November, including an introduction to the Ten Steps, women’s mentoring and outreach for under-represented groups.

What are the Ten Steps?

Signatories to the Ten Steps first complete a diagnostic tool, which highlights current strengths and areas that can be used to further improve workforce balance. This links to core principles, the ‘Ten Steps’:

  • Understand the starting point
  • Educate leaders
  • Change mindsets
  • Creative job design
  • Flexible working
  • Transparent progression opportunities
  • Equitable sponsorship of female talent
  • Promote retention and development of women
  • Treat this a business improvement
  • Share learning and good practice

EDM is already doing great work in all these areas, including achieving an Athena Swan Bronze Award. This success will be built on further as the department becomes one of the latest WISE Ten Steps signatories, and will particularly focus on making even more improvements in areas such as flexible working and changing mindsets.

The Ten Steps framework operates through the lens of a cultural backdrop driving the low representation of women in STEM industries in the UK, particularly in comparison to equivalent sectors in other parts of the world. Again, in close alignment with the principles of Women Like Me, the approach aims to increase the number of visible female role models in senior STEM positions, in turn making STEM-based career choices more appealing to girls, as they can see people ‘like them’ working and succeeding in these fields. WISE works with signatories to share practice and experiences, and enable them to learn from each other to improve balance and support for women across the sector. These insights will also be useful in improving representation for other groups, ultimately driving the workforce to become more diverse and accessible to all.

Celebrate a PhD – control of vortices on delta wing aircraft

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With all the fantastically fascinating research going on in Engineering, Design and Mathematics, PhD student successes are a regular occurrence. We want to celebrate with our students as they pass their vivas, so please get in contact with engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk to celebrate the PhDs in your group.

And here’s one from the Aerospace cluster – congratulations Doctor Jana-Sabrina Stucke!

Jana passed her PhD viva in July. Her doctoral research was focused on understanding the behaviour and control of vortices on a delta wing aircraft as a function of shape. She describes her project:

“For my PhD I investigated the effect of thickness and maximum thickness location on the vortex development of a 65° swept back delta wing configuration with sharp leading-edges. Here, I focused on the stability and performance at low speeds, encountered during take-off, landing and loitering, as they are most critical for future military Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles.

“I could show numerically and experimentally that upper surface shape of a wing with sharp leading-edges has a significant impact on the recovered leading-edge suction and thus performance and stability, a feature normally associated with round leading edged delta wings.”

Jana-Sabrina Stucke

The work will help aircraft and drone designers to produce more efficient vehicles with higher aerodynamic performance.

But it wasn’t easy – Jana explains that there were countless tough stages during the PhD where she wanted give up!

And now she’s looking to the future…

“Ideally, I would like to return to mainland Europe and work in robotics and AI as this is where my real passion lies. For now, I will stay in the UK though and maybe if the stars align you will see me on campus again as MSc student in Data Science.”

Jana-Sabrina Stucke

Best wishes with whatever the future holds Jana!

Making mud-powered robots for schools

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In October, FET awarded the team at the Bioenergy Centre a public engagement and outreach award. The Centre are using this fund to support the production of an interactive workshop for schools – Mud powered robots!

Research Associate Pavlina Theodosiou, who led the project until her move to Newcastle University in January, provides an update here on this exciting workshop.

Before Christmas, Pavlina worked hard alongside electronics engineer technician, Ugnius Barajunas, to obtain quotes from various companies for the prototype motors – the most expensive part of the robot.

At the same time, the two assembled different electronic boards with the 3D printed parts and borrowed motors, to create three robots. The robots were tested with live Microbial FuelCells in the lab and ran well on urine (but don’t worry, they won’t be run on urine in school!)

They presented their results at the a best-in-class overview of robotics and automation, which BotTalks hosted at the watershed in November. The team are now excited about trialling the robots on mud for the first time!

“Overall the project received a lot of interest from public and investors at BotTalks.”

Pavlina
Pavlina and Ugnius speak about the importance of bringing these scientific discoveries to schools to help children get interested in STEM

Later in the year, the workshop will be taken into Sea Mills Primary School for the Year 6s to get stuck into.

Student wins STEM innovation award

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UWE’s very own fourth year Mechanical Engineering student, Henry James, won this year’s Telegraph STEM Awards.

The Telegraph STEM Awards offer undergraduates the chance to prove their talent to some of the biggest names in industry. Now in its seventh year, the students were asked to tackle problems from the personal to the global.

Henry’s innovation – “Grid Grow” – developed a way to make modular homes sustainable using renewable technologies.

“My concept, GridGrow, looks to improve modular housing developments by aligning them with the need to reduce our carbon footprint,” he explains. “This is done by using renewable technologies that can be integrated into a modular development with ease.

“Integrating energy production with modular housing hasn’t been done before, but looking at modular housing in this way makes it more attractive to developers, while also addressing global warming and the UK’s housing needs.”

Henry was quoted in the Telegraph’s official announcement on 24th April.

COVID-19 forced judging online, and from being announced as one of four category winners in the semi-final, Henry was then announced the winner in the final round.

Find out more about Henry’s idea and the other finalists here.

Co-producing an arboretum-meadow with local eco-warriors

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Helen Hoyle, senior lecturer in Healthy Built Environments, was awarded FET public engagement funds, for her project to “Future-proof Luton” – co-producing an air-quality arboretum meadow on a former mini-golf site. Helen, along with MSc Urban Planning student, William Cotrill, have been working hard to move the project forward – getting trees planted and local school children involved.

Getting planting

In November, Helen secured extra funding from the Landscape Institute to kick the project off – planting nine mature trees on the selected site.

Production of the arboretum-meadow is a joint project that includes input from the Luton Parks Service, River Bank Primary School, the Landscape Institute and Pictorial Meadows (a seed supplier and consultancy).

Local eco-warriors

Then on 10th February, Helen and William worked with 10 young eco-warriors at Riverbank Primary School in Luton. They started with workshops exploring the benefits of trees for climate change and air pollution mitigation, then moved outdoors into the new arboretum to get down to tree planting.

Read more about the activities with the local eco-warriors on the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments blog.

The next stage of the project is to sow a flowering meadow in April. School closures will prevent pupils being involved but Helen still hopes to deliver this in partnership with Luton Parks Service.

Celebrate a PhD – fuel blends to reduce emissions

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With all the fantastically fascinating research going on in Engineering, Design and Mathematics, PhD student successes are a regular occurrence. We want to celebrate with the students as they pass their vivas, so may this post be the first of many!

Adriaan Van Niekerk passed his PhD viva in early February – Congratulations Doctor Van Niekerk! He’s kindly answered a few questions about his PhD project…

  • Can you summarize your research project?

I looked at how we can reduce diesel car emissions such as NOx by using fuel blends between diesel, biodiesel and ethanol and also increase the renewable content of the blend as per the government targets. I found that a fuel blend containing 2% biodiesel and 9% ethanol can reduce NOx by 10% and CO by 34%. 

  • What outcomes have there been from your project?

I managed to publish my results in two high impact journals, Applied Energy and Fuel, which is really great!

  • Were there any particularly tough stages during the PhD? How did you get through that?

The engine I used to do all my experimental testing on decided to break. All four of its fuel injectors got blocked up. It took me really long to figure out what was wrong with it, and it set me back approximately 6 months!

This was really tough as I had to change my planning completely. Luckily I could focus on writing up most of my PhD which helped a lot at the end as most of the writing and reviewing was done. 

  • What are your plans now the PhD has finished?

I have accepted a Lecturer position here at UWE with the Mechanical and Automotive cluster. I hope to build on my PhD research by looking at using renewable fuels together with hybrid technologies to speed up the uptake of more sustainable technologies for propulsion in automotive and aerospace applications.

Good luck in the new role Adriaan!

EDM culture supports family life

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Senior lecturer and head of EDM’s Equity Diversity and Inclusivity committee, Laura Fogg-Rogers is passionate about communicating engineering to new audiences.

“Engineering can make a difference to our future, but it’s got an image problem in that people don’t think it’s relevant to society. I’m trying to change representations of engineering and show some of the amazing things that can be done, both through educating our engineers and communicating with schools.”

Communication is key for diversifying engineering, but inclusive support from employers, like UWE, is also essential to enable those who’ve joined the profession, to continue.

Laura’s background is in science communication but working for UWE for the past seven years has given her first-hand experience of how the department supports progression of those with families, and, is continuing that support in the current COVID-19 crisis. 

“When I first arrived at UWE, I only had one young child and when I got pregnant with my second child they were brilliant with maternity leave and also return to work. 

My line managers understand the situation and have been really supportive of me, so I’ve always been able to balance and pursue what I want to do, whilst still being able to be around with my kids as well. As I’ve developed projects of my own choice, I’ve slowly worked up my hours, from 3 to 4, and now 5 days a week. 

The culture as a whole in EDM is quite supportive of family demands, with meetings taking place after 10am and generally finishing by 4pm, to fit around school pick-ups and drop-offs. And when I’ve done teaching, they’ve been really supportive of organising teaching time to fit with the hours that I can do.” 

Laura’s particularly impressed by how UWE is protecting full pay for staff who are now juggling home-schooling responsibilities during the school shutdown in response to COVID-19. 

“I think we are really lucky working at UWE. There is a big understanding that with schools closed, work time is massively cut down and UWE has been really supportive of that. 

Lisa Brodie, head of the department, has been emphasizing a focus on what we can produce rather than the hours worked. It’s been great to have that understanding during all this craziness.” 

Laura’s experience as a working mum, has given her a good understanding of how supporting employees is crucial for a flourishing workforce. She used this experience in leading EDM’s recent bid to achieve renewal of a Bronze Athena SWAN award. Now Laura, along with other members of EDM’s Equity Diversity and Inclusivity committee, is taking further steps to embed inclusivity in the department, and it’s not just for staff… 

“The amazing thing is that we are embedding equity, diversity and inclusion into our student programme from September. Getting students thinking about these sort of practices and ideas whilst at UWE, to then take into their future work-life.”