Kids with special needs visit the BRL

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Katie Sparkes from the Lightyear Foundation thanks Severin Lemaignan and his team for enabling the special educational need (SEN) trip to the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in January.

The Lightyear Foundation works hard to break down barriers to getting more disabled people into Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, & Medicine. One of the ways they inspire children with SEN is through work inspiration trips.

This is what New Fosseway School had to say about the trip:

“What a unique experience for our students and interesting place to visit! It was a real delight watching them so interested in all the different robots from the very tiny to the huge car simulators.

They were especially interested in the social robots designed to help disabled people. Being able to have a go and manipulate some of the robots was really exciting and they also enjoyed the coding session where they got to programme some of the robots.

The trip most definitely inspired curiosity!”

Jo Payne, Transitions Lead, New Fosseway School.

Thanks to Severin, this trip has opened up the possibility of more SEN schools visiting the BRL….hopefully schools will be back in the summer term and these visits can go ahead!

Alumni listed on 2020 Future List by Northern Power Women

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Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee graduated in 2010 from the MEng Aerospace Engineering programme and now works as a Flight Systems Engineer at BAE Systems. She’s worked hard to change perceptions of STEM careers, and has been officially recognised on the 2020 Future List by Northern Power Women.

Northern Power Women have added 52 amazing individuals to the Future List, all who have contributed to making a difference in their communities and organisations, as well as raising awareness of gender equality across the North of England. 
 
The Future List recognises the leaders and change makers of the future who are already making a difference in their environments and communities. 

“I feel very passionate about inspiring more young girls to consider STEM careers, especially after my own experiences of studying and working in an environment in which the majority of people are male.
Volunteering to talk to young people has taken me out of my comfort zone but seeing the excitement and wonder on their faces when I talk about my career gives me personal fulfilment. I aspire to help change perceptions of what an Engineer looks like and to be the role model I wish I’d had when I was growing up.”

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee

The winners of the Northern Power Women Awards will be announced on 16 March at a gala awards night and dinner at the Manchester Central Convention Complex. The winners will continue to be showcased throughout the year, to ensure ongoing visibility for the role models and to use their presence to inspire.

Read the full announcement.

EDM’s Lisa Brodie inspires at Women in Engineering Conference

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Head of EDM, Lisa Brodie was guest of honour at the 2020 South West’s Women in Engineering  conference. held at the beginning of February.

Lisa delivered a keynote speech to an audience of female engineering professionals wishing to develop their skills and roles within the industry.
Delegates were inspired as Lisa spoke of her journey from graduating with a manufacturing system engineering degree, to becoming a chartered engineer and to her current role leading over 100 academics. Lisa also spoke of her passion for truly inclusive and diverse STEM education and how UWE Bristol’s multi-million pound new school of engineering will drive this forward when it opens later this year.

Lots of delegates listed Lisa’s talk as the highlight of the day!

“What a lady. Very inspiring to hear such an honest account and experiences. Normalising challenges is hugely comforting :)”

“Really good and made me realise I’m not a failure for coming up against obstacles. I just need to persevere and challenge myself.”

“Amazing. One of the most inspirational talks I have ever listened to. Made me excited for the career journey.”

“So relatable in so many ways! Engaging and supportive and something we all need to hear :)”

Organiser’s of the conference, Business4Life, express their thanks to Lisa and other speakers on the day for making the event a success and for helping them to raise £3,862 for WaterAid to install 8 bio-digesting toilets in Monrovia, Liberia – where 8/10 people do not currently have access to a decent toilet.

All photos courtesy of B4L’s photographer – Dominick Mortier.

“Being different is a strength in engineering”

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Maryam Lamere

In recognition of the department’s equity, diversity and inclusion, Engineering, Design and Mathematics (EDM) was recently re-awarded the Athena Swan Bronze Award. Graduate tutor and member of EDM’s Athena Swan committee, Maryam Lamere explains how the department supports diversity and caters for families.

In her own words, as a black, Muslim, woman, Maryam is “a minority, within the minorities”. However, she doesn’t view the multi-faceted aspects of her identity as a barrier in EDM.

“I don’t allow my identity to become a barrier to reaching my goals. EDM’s friendly and supportive environment makes me feel confident to fully own my identity. Here, my differences are my strength.

EDM celebrates diversity and believes that engineering as a profession benefits when people bring in various perspectives and are able to tackle problems from different angles. Gender, cultural and neuro-diversity can all be useful in the workplace.”

Maryam Lamere

Maryam teaches undergraduate students, while also working to transfer UWE technology (pee powered electronics) to communities in Africa for her PhD. Since starting the role, Maryam’s family has grown, and she was able to fluctuate her hours to balance childcare needs.

“EDM is really good at making things manageable for people who have families. I have a young family, with three little boys now aged three, five and seven, and if this role hadn’t have been so flexible it would have been pretty challenging to pull it all together.”

Maryam Lamere
Maryam speaking to students during project week Nov 2019

Changing the image of engineering

There’s no denying that engineering needs a change of image to encourage young people to fill the engineering skills and diversity shortfall in the UK. In a bid to overturn the narrow stereotype of engineering, the Royal Academy of Engineering launched their image library in November 2019, to demonstrate the diversity of the profession – see if you can spot Maryam and other engineers in the department!

UWE has also signed the pledge below, promising to make representative images of engineers and engineering more visible to the public.

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.”

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

There’s not just one way to succeed in engineering

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Lisa Brodie is head of the Engineering, Design and Mathematics (EDM)department at UWE Bristol, and so is responsible for all of the flourishing student programs and research centres. In honour of Tomorrow Engineer’s week – a week dedicated to inspire more young people to consider careers in engineering, Lisa tells Engineering our Future why she likes working in EDM and how she is developing the engineering curriculum to make it more inclusive.

Why would you recommend engineering to young people?

There is this perception that you have to have a certain kind of skill and be a certain type of person to be an engineer, but I don’t believe that’s the case. So don’t be put off, just have a go at it, because it’s such a rewarding profession to be in. For me engineering is about being able to make a difference in the world through solving problems, both local and global.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

In the role I’m in, I get the chance to really make a difference. We are changing the way we teach engineering, and because I’m the head of department I have the unique opportunity to drive these changes.

What changes are you making?

We are developing our curriculum so that it’s more inclusive, ensuring that anybody, from any background, can find a way into this career.

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.

EDM has recently been re-awarded the Athena Swan Bronze Medal for gender equality. This recognises the diversity of the department, as well as the efforts ensuring gender inclusivity and enabling female progression.

It’s our mission as a department to really make a difference getting women into engineering

Given her success as a female engineer, we asked Lisa how EDM practices have helped her balance work with caring for her three children and elderly mother?

I first came to UWE as a research associate on a fractional contract, and I’ve only been able to work my way through the different roles because of the supportive, flexible culture that exists here for family life and people who have caring responsibilities.

The working practice within the university and EDM is very flexible

There’s no denying that engineering needs a change of image that is vital to encourage young people to fill the engineering skills and diversity shortfall in the UK. In a bid to overcome the overturn the narrow stereotype of engineering, the Royal Academy of Engineering have today launched their image library demonstrating the diversity of the profession – see if you can spot Lisa and other engineers in the department!

UWE has also signed the below pledge to make representative images of engineers and engineering more visible to the public.

UWE Engineering awarded Athena Swan Bronze

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UWE Bristol’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics (EDM) department has recently been awarded Athena SWAN Bronze for gender equality.

The Athena SWAN bronze award, handed out by Advance Higher Education, acknowledges organisations commitment and efforts to remove barriers for female progression and creating a gender inclusive environment. 
By awarding EDM the Athena Swan Bronze award, the assessors recognised the efforts of the department to bring equity, diversity and inclusion aims to the forefront of our engineering and mathematics teams.

Compared to the sector, EDM already has a diverse staff and student make-up, and is determined to put inclusion at the heart of our new state-of-the-art engineering building due to open in summer 2020, along with the newly refurbished Mathematics learning spaces.

“Supporting students from diverse backgrounds is critical to our teaching teams. We are very proud of our exciting engagement efforts, such as the Leaders Award for schools, BAME Girls into Engineering inspiring people from ethnic minorities, Women Like Me for industry mentoring support, and our amazing student teams such as the Women in Science and Engineering Society.”

“Achieving Bronze Athena SWAN status is hugely important to us as recognition for all these efforts as we work towards the future of engineering and mathematics.”

Senior Research Fellow Laura Fogg-Rogers


The award is valid until April 2023.