UWE leads on inspiring future digital engineers

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The West of England is a hub for innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries, but as with the rest of the UK, there is a huge skills and employment gap for future engineers. That’s why the new Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative – launched on 15th July – is investing in the future of digital engineering for our region.

UWE Bristol is partnering with DETI to develop regional skills and inspire the region’s next generation of engineers. DETI Inspire will champion science for children in the West of England with a particular focus on breaking stereotypes and challenging perceptions about STEM careers in order to appeal to under-represented groups in engineering.

The skills challenge

Lack of exposure Many children, and particularly those from low socio-economic backgrounds, will have very little exposure to science and may not know adults who work or have worked in STEM careers. This lack of so called “science capital” can have a significant impact on children’s aspirations regarding STEM careers. This is particularly important for young girls, as attitudes towards STEM are largely formed before age 11.

Lack of diversity Another major concern for the engineering workforce is the lack of diversity – with only 12% of women engineers and 7% from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.

Changing perceptions Research indicates that presenting engineering as a creative, collaborative profession, working towards socially conscious communal goals will have wider-spread appeal. Therefore DETI is particularly keen to contribute to the West of England’s sustainability and net zero goals.

DETI Inspire

UWE Bristol is establishing an Engineering Engagement Hub to coordinate engineering engagement for schools and families in the West of England, and will work together with DETI industry partners and school engagement providers to:

  • map past engagement activities in the region in order to build a network amongst partners and stakeholders and strategically plan future engagement to multiply/expand impact
  • develop curriculum linked engagement activities to tour schools and run out of the Prototype and Play centre for public engagement at UWE Bristol’s Engineering Building. These engagement activities will include:
    • a touring activity kit that challenges children to use digital engineering tools to tackle sustainability challenges
    • public open events for families and schools
    • 6-week STEM club challenges
    • run teacher CPD events to support and upskill
  • shape a “Diversity Demonstrator” – a network of diverse engineering role models to champion engineering public engagement. Including development of engagement training for this group of student and industry engineers

Building on UWE’s wealth of experience in public engagement

As a core provider of public engagement in the region and champion of equality, diversity and inclusion, UWE Bristol’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics (EDM) department is perfectly positioned to lead DETI Inspire.

EDM engages in local public facing technology fairs and national engineering competitions as well as spearheading various public engagement opportunities initiatives. For instance, members of the Bristol Bioenergy centre developed a microbial fuel cell activity that they use to teach children about electricity.

In addition to this EDM supports primary (Curiosity Connections) and secondary (Future Quest) engagement providers, as well as mentoring programmes such as, Women Like Me and BAME Girls into Engineering, to increase diversity in engineering

DETI Inspire will build and expand from all these existing UWE Bristol programmes. To find out more about DETI go to the official website – deti.uk

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 & SimulationDigital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

Launch of West of England Digital Engineering Technology initiative

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UWE Bristol is proud to announce the official launch of the region’s new Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative!

DETI is a research, innovation and skills initiative created to develop and accelerate digital engineering across multiple industry sectors, to ultimately benefit future generations of engineers and engineering products, and to help tackle global challenges.

UWE’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics department will play a central role in DETI, leading the Skills development branch of the centre. EDM will work with other DETI partners to:

  • Inspire the next generation of diverse engineers
  • Transform the further and higher education landscape
  • Innovate lifelong learning of specialised digital engineering skills

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of UWE Bristol’s Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics (EDM), who led UWE’s bid, said: “This is a vitally important investment for our region and we are pleased to be leading on the skills and workforce development element of the centre’s work. It comes at a perfect time as we prepare to open our new engineering building where we will have state-of-the-art digital engineering facilities and an increased focus on digital engineering to train our graduates for emerging roles in the sector.”

For more details about this exciting new venture, please read the official press release launch of DETI and visit the new DETI website.

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 & SimulationDigital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

DETI – Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation

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Transforming engineering for the future

The global engineering landscape is shifting. Shorter product development times, faster routes to market and the need for through-life product sustainability for some of the most complex products the world has ever seen provides us with an exciting opportunity. To maintain engineering leadership, UK businesses need to develop new ways of working that enable agility, flexibility and competitive advantage, that will support future generations socially, economically and sustainably.

By the end of this decade, to deliver a low carbon global economy, everything we make will need to be completely re-imagined and re-engineered. Digital technologies will transform the way engineers operate to meet new product demands.  Industry requires new skills and digital test beds, from exploring the best tools to use, the technologies to invest in, to exploiting value from vast quantities of data generated through the product lifecycle. There are few test-grounds to explore and test technologies and processes without disrupting current production line pressure. This is where Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI)  comes in.

Accelerating digital engineering capabilities and skills

DETI  is starting as a two-year, research and development (R&D) initiative in the West of England. It will bring together advanced engineering companies, digital technology pioneers and universities to push the boundaries of digital engineering for the future, to help UK businesses maintain engineering leadership. DETI will help companies identify and develop the tools, technologies and processes they need to rapidly accelerate digital engineering capabilities and identify the skills needed to embed digital.

Running in parallel is the 5G-Encode Project, led by Zeetta Networks, which will see the NCC host the UK’s strategic 5G test bed and demonstration facility for industrial technologies which underpins DETI and the digitalisation of design and manufacturing.

DETI Partnership

The West of England is home to the UK’s largest advanced engineering and aerospace cluster and a vibrant digital community. As such, the region delivers the expertise, living labs and a technology test bed that companies need to progress.

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.

Industry Challenges, Enabling Capabilities and Skills

The DETI Programme will coordinate and deliver on key ‘Industry Challenges’, enabling companies of all sizes to collaborate on ‘proof of concept’ projects that address the barriers to digital transformation. It will deliver ‘Enabling Capabilities’ that establish digital domain expertise and core reusable technology (processes, models, tools and infrastructure).

Encouraging diversity and inclusivity, DETI will initiate a comprehensive ‘Skills’ and workforce development programme to ensure the current and future workforce is digital-ready, inspiring future generations.

To express your interest in joining the DETI programme, visit www.deti.uk or contact the team at deti@nccuk.com

Engineers hit local schools during British Science Week

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It seems a long time since schools were last open, but at the start of March British Science week went ahead, and UWE staff and students were called up to inspire the next generation of engineers! Read on to find out more.

Chatting about engineering at Hambrook Primary

On Wednesday 11th March, three UWE engineering students were invited into Hambrook Primary to be interviewed by the kids about engineering, what future roles they hoped to have and how all of this linked to their STEM subjects at school.

“They did a great job of talking things through with the children.”

a Hambrook School teacher reported

Getting hands on at the Manor C of E Primary in Coalpit Heath

For the second time that week, students got to be role models in a school, this time bringing a hands on activity for the children to have a go at.

The ‘super sucker’ activity got the kids making vacuum cleaners. This was one of the activities developed for the Engineering in Society module, which engineering and education students took into schools in November.

Teachers report that the children loved the activity and the students were equally enthusiastic about the visit.

“They had different perspectives about engineering field and it’s pathways. It was such a good experience!”

said engineering student Harshi Asurappulige

Aspiration day at Filton Avenue Primary School

Venkat Bakthavatchaalam, lecturer in mechanical engineering, (who only recently joined UWE in January!) attended the career’s fair portion of the day on Friday 13th March. He went armed with thymio robots to grab the attention of the Year 5s tasked with finding out what their Super North Star is, aka – what they want to be when they are older.

“The children were very surprised with the Thymio robots and were curious about sensors and how they worked. Personally, it was a good experience for me to see the children interacting with the robots. Awe was all over their expressions.”

said Venkat

If anyone academics or students are keen on getting involved in school outreach, please get in contact – louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk

Sign up to be amazed by kid’s inventions

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Thousands of children across the South West are busy thinking up inventions to answer the question posed by the Leaders Awards free competition:

“If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

The Leaders Award arranges live Q&A sessions with lots of different types of engineers, all to inspire children aged 3 – 19. Then the children decide what problem they want to address, design a solution and enter the competition with a drawing and description.

Thousands of children in the South West will enter the Leaders Award this year, and we need practising engineers to grade the myriad of inventive entries.

South West grading days are being held at UWE Frenchay Campus, in the Business School (3X109) on 5th and 6th of May. They are fun, inspiring days so please sign up to pop along for as little or as long as you like.

Once registered, further details about the day will be sent nearer the time.

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.

Inspire future scientists and engineers at the Great Science Share

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The Great Science Share is a national event nurturing children’s natural curiosity by encouraging them to share their original science investigations with scientists, with the regional Bristol and Bath event taking place at UWE Bristol in June:

Tuesday 18th June 2019

10 am – 2 pm

Exhibition and Conference Centre

North Entrance, Filton Road, UWE Bristol

Scientists and engineers are invited to attend, to find out what local children aged 8 – 13 have come up with, and to inspire participants with their research, demos and cutting-edge technology.

To bring an outreach activity, please email louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk. Further information about what schools will be bringing can be found on the Curiosity Connections website.

UWE Bristol is hosting the Bristol and Bath Great Science Share in association with Curiosity Connections Bristol, Bath Spa University, and the Association for Science Education West.

Please contact Louisa Cockbill for more information and feel free to pass on to anyone you think would be interested.

Don’t forget: UWE women in STEM events tomorrow

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There’s still time to sign up for two FREE events, hosted by UWE at the Bristol and Bath Science Park tomorrow (please note the change of venue; these events were originally scheduled to be held at UWE):

Women Like Me – Boosting mentoring for women in STEM in the West of England

Wednesday 3rd April, 12:00-14:00

This event brings together our leading players in women’s mentoring across the West of England, to explore how we can support each other and learn from best practice. Organised by UWE Bristol’s Women Like Me project for engineering mentoring, the network also connects with Women in Science and Engineering Bristol, the Women’s Engineering Society centenary and Curiosity Connections Bristol.

Extraordinary Women in Engineering: A WES Wikithon – UWE Bristol

Wednesday 3rd April: Training 09:30-10:00 | Wikithon drop in 10:00-14:00

Come and join us to develop your digital skills and learn more about editing Wikipedia. Help to celebrate brilliant women engineers by creating and improving their pages on the world’s favourite online historical record.

Complete beginners and experienced editors, all are welcome to attend – we’ll provide training for anyone new to editing. If you already have some wiki editing experience, we can help you improve your skills and learn a few new tricks. If you’ve spotted an article that needs improving, bring along your queries and we’ll see what we can do to help. Suggestions for articles to improve and create will also be provided, along with research resources.

FREE event: Women Like Me – Boosting mentoring for women in STEM in the West of England

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As our Royal Academy of Engineering funded project, Women Like Me, draws to a close for this year, we are hosting a celebration event at UWE Bristol:

Wednesday 3rd April 2019

12-2 pm

Bristol and Bath Science Park, main cafe entrance (NB this is a change of venue from the original listing)

FREE

Sign up on Eventbrite

Women Like Me – Boosting mentoring for women in STEM in the West of England

The West of England is home to an impressive list of STEM industries, and all are working to improve participation for women in STEM. As well as recruiting more women into STEM, we also need to think about retaining our talented workforce. Mentoring Schemes can help to do just that, with research showing that mentoring from other experienced women is a key factor in creating a welcoming workplace culture.

This event brings together our leading players in women’s mentoring across the West of England, to explore how we can support each other and learn from best practice. Organised by UWE Bristol’s Women Like Me project for engineering mentoring, the network also connects with Women in Science and Engineering Bristol, the Women’s Engineering Society centenary and Curiosity Connections Bristol.

The event includes lunch and a keynote talk on women’s mentoring, followed by a workshop to develop further connections between mentoring schemes.

Please sign up to come and join us!

Sign your Pupils up to the Great Science Share

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Children from Years 4 to 8 from across the region are invited to share their own science investigations at the Great Science Share for Schools.

Image result for great science share

The aim of the Great Science Share is to nurture kids’ natural curiosity by providing an opportunity for them to pose a scientific question, plan a way to investigate their question, and then share their investigation with new audiences.  This promotes child-centred learning as well as giving children a chance to communicate their projects in a non-competitive, inclusive environment.

You can read more about the Great Science Share, access the inspiration wall and find out how you can support your class’ project on the annual campaign website. So have a read and sign up your class to take part in the Bristol and Bath event on Tuesday 18th June 10-2 pm, hosted by UWE Bristol (Frenchay Campus, BS34 8QZ).

Scientists and engineers from STEM research and industry will also be attending the free event – there to be inspired by your children’s fantastic questions and ideas, as well as to display cutting-edge technology from their industries.

Entry: Each ticket admits up to eight children with two adults. Each class can apply for a ticket, so schools can bring different groups from multiple classes. Home educators are also welcome with group displays.

UWE Bristol is hosting the Bristol and Bath Great Science Share in association with Curiosity Connections Bristol, Bath Spa University, and the Association for Science Education West.

Originally posted by Louisa Cockbill on the Curiosity Connections blog, 22nd February 2019.