Official opening for School of Engineering building

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UWE Bristol’s state-of-the-art School of Engineering building was officially opened at an event on Thursday 18 November.

Completed in 2020, the striking multi-million pound facility on Frenchay campus has transformed engineering teaching and learning at UWE Bristol and has already been named Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards where judges praised its intelligent and sustainable design.

To formally declare the landmark building open, a special event was attended by students, staff, alumni and industry partners, along with guest speaker Dawn Bonfield MBE, former president of the Women’s Engineering Society, and celebrated sculptor Alice Channer who was commissioned to create an engineering-inspired public artwork in the atrium.

Staff, students and guests at the opening event

Designed with diverse student engineers in mind

Planning and design work on the new building was carried out in tandem with a renewal of the university’s engineering curriculum, drawn up in collaboration with industry to ensure engineering graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Moving to our wonderful new building with its complementary practise-based curriculum has signalled a real cultural shift. Our students are now known as professional student engineers, rather than engineering students. They are studying during traditional working hours, learning in spaces that closely resemble actual engineering workplaces, and use the same specialist equipment as professional engineers. We are placing an enhanced focus on problem solving, trialling and testing, because it is beneficial for students to try and fail as it builds resilience, creativity and innovation.

Professor Lisa Brodie, Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol

In addition to a new building and curriculum, UWE Bristol is redoubling efforts to increase diversity within its engineering intake. This includes enrolling more students with neurodiversity, and providing them with enhanced levels of personal mentoring and support from enrolment to employment, and doubling the number of female engineering students.

If we want to solve the challenges we face as a society, we need to attract different types of people into the engineering discipline. We need to embrace different ways of thinking and doing, and celebrate differences. Our mission is to change the perception of the roles that engineers fulfil and raise aspirations in underrepresented groups. 

If we carry on seeing the same intake entering the profession, we will continue to come up with the same old solutions. Engineers will need to think differently and be far more creative and innovative over the next decade, particularly with some of the challenges we face in areas such as the climate crisis. We aim to be the difference.

Professor Lisa Brodie, Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol

Professor Lisa Brodie was recently interviewed by BBC Points West and ITV West Country News, sharing her thoughts about the need for a more inclusive and diverse engineering workforce. You can read more in this BBC article or catch up with these short clips:

BBC Points West: https://youtu.be/pZNAwXSveIE

ITV West Country News: https://youtu.be/IF3gQ_LnKYQ

Graduate Laura Dixon, Professor Lisa Brodie and Student Engineer Thomas Dixon with BBC film crew

Inspiring the next generation

The university also aims to help attract a broader range of engineers by sparking interest among younger age groups, with school children as young as five invited to visit the building’s Prototype and Play Lab to participate in inspiring engineering outreach activities.

The school of engineering outreach team have developed a series of free engineering workshops for West of England schools and community groups, all designed to engage young people with engineering careers and solutions for sustainability.

Workshops are available to book now, details can be found in the brochure available for download below.

Local primary school students exploring engineering marvel SS Great Britain during The West in Minecraft engineering workshop

UWE Bristol awarded prestigious British Construction Industry Award for School of Engineering building

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UWE Bristol has won Social Infrastructure Project of the Year at the 2021 British Construction Industry Awards.

The well-deserving winners of the 2021 British Construction Industry Awards were crowned in front of the industry on Wednesday 13 October at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London.

Celebrating its 34th year, the British Construction Industry Awards brought together more than 600 of the most influential clients and peers in the built environment sector for a glittering evening of celebration, recognition and networking.

Following a rigorous judging process with a prestigious and independent panel of judges, UWE Bristol won in recognition of it’s innovative new School of Engineering building, which earlier this year achieved an “Excellent” rating for its green credentials from the international scheme BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).

After receiving the Social Infrastructure of the year award, #TeamUWE then went on to win the Project of the Year Award, making our new engineering building a multi-award winning space! Huge congratulations to the entire project team:

  • Tod Burton – Deputy Dean, FET
  • Lisa Brodie – Head of Department: Engineering Design & Mathematics
  • Marianne Reed – Senior Programme Manager
  • Chris English – Head of Technical Services, FET
  • Elena Marco – Head of Department: Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Stephen Denning – Estates Project Manager, Estates and Facilities
  • Doug MacLeod – ITS Strategic Business Partner
  • Richard Dewey and Paul McCluskey – BAM Contractors
  • Andrew Lintern and Darren Edson – Capita
  • Jim Crouch – MACE
  • Adam Spall and Hira Teirney  – AHR Architects
  • Stuart Hitchcock, Eunan Scanlon & Simon Nation – Hydrock Consultants

What did the judges say?

The judges were impressed at how well this project delivered against a range of challenges, firstly the intelligent design impressed – where every space within is a potential learning space, and design choices are made to not only encourage collaboration, but also to ready students for their future careers in engineering by replicating the types of environments they will go on to work in. 

Secondly the judges were impressed with how the project was delivered – strong use of digital tools and a real focus on driving down carbon use in construction and driving up the long term sustainability of the structure. The judging panel also noted how the scheme was used to engage and inspire young people into a future in engineering, through engagement with schools, apprenticeships, work experience and long term roles created. 

The standard of entry this year was very high indeed, but the judges awarded the prize to this scheme for all-round excellent performance.  Congratulations, UWE!

Claire Smith, editor of New Civil Engineer said:

Everyone on the shortlist should be immensely proud of their achievements – the judges had a really challenging time deciding on the winners.

The last year has been extremely challenging but despite the difficulties, this year’s entries show that the industry has responded and taken delivery of value, carbon reduction and improved societal outcomes to a new standard. This year’s winners have taken that standard to the highest level and we have some exemplary projects and initiatives that really shine a light on the brilliance of the British construction industry.

The full list of winners can be found at: bcia.newcivilengineer.com/2021-winners

School of Engineering building awarded “Excellent” BREEAM rating for sustainability

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This news piece was written by Pilar Garcia from the UWE Bristol Estates and Facilities team.

UWE Bristol’s new School of Engineering building on Frenchay campus has achieved an “Excellent” rating for its green credentials from the international scheme BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).

BREEAM is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings in the UK. Our rating demonstrates that the building is in the top 10% of UK new non-domestic buildings for sustainability best practice.

Our assessor Hydrock Consultants Ltd carried out a comprehensive assessment of:

  • Management
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Waste
  • Land Use and Ecology
  • Pollution
  • Innovation

Examples of the sustainability best practice employed in the building include having lots of natural ventilation, installing PV (solar) panels, connection to UWE Bristol’s district heating network, use of underfloor heating and use of materials with high thermal mass (the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy).

Tod Burton, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Environment and Technology, said: “Engineering is about problem-solving and the climate emergency is arguably our greatest challenge of all.  It is important that the building used by our student engineers as they develop their problem-solving skills has now been recognised by BREEAM as “Excellent” for its sustainability performance – a great achievement and credit to everyone associated with the project”.

The project was also rated 100% for “Management”. This is a real testament to what can be achieved by #TeamUWE and the Engineering Building Project Team should be particularly proud.

The Project Team:

  • Tod Burton – Deputy Dean, FET
  • Lisa Brodie – Head of Department: Engineering Design & Mathematics
  • Marianne Reed – Senior Programme Manager
  • Chris English – Head of Technical Services, FET
  • Elena Marco – Head of Department: Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Stephen Denning – Estates Project Manager, Estates and Facilities
  • Doug MacLeod – ITS Strategic Business Partner
  • Richard Dewey and Paul McCluskey – BAM Contractors
  • Andrew Lintern and Darren Edson – Capita
  • Jim Crouch – MACE
  • Adam Spall and Hira Teirney  – AHR Architects
  • Stuart Hitchcock, Eunan Scanlon & Simon Nation – Hydrock Consultants

Alistair Brooke, Assistant Director of Estates said: “A fantastic achievement for UWE Bristol and the Project Team. Strong collaboration enabled sustainability to be embedded from the early stages of the project and ultimately led to the success of the scheme. The project is a further endorsement of UWE Bristol’s commitment to sustainability and innovation across its estate.”

Find out more and view more images of the building on the UWE Bristol website.

Lottie tours new state-of-the-art Engineering Building

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As we approach the end of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, Lottie shares her tour of the new UWE Bristol School of Engineering Building.

With a new academic year underway, we’re all very excited about the opening of the new engineering building on Frenchay campus! The first group of staff from the Faculty of Environment and Technology were welcomed into the new building on Monday 12th October. Everyone was very excited to unpack their crates and set up their new workstations – and Lottie certainly proved very helpful with all the heavy lifting!

Lottie was very helpful with all the heavy lifting required on move day!

The new building houses specialist laboratories, workshops and digital engineering facilities, able to support 1700 students and 100 academic and technical staff, many of whom have been enjoying the new facilities over the past couple of weeks during the start of teaching block 1. The building contributes to the University’s vision of promoting multi-disciplinary, collaborative learning and has been designed hand-in-hand with the vibrant new practice-based curriculum, bringing engineering to life through real world problems and live industrial briefs, and building on entrepreneurial skills to ensure all graduates are business-aware as well as technically qualified.  

Lottie admires the big open spaces, excited for the return of staff and students!

Lottie was particularly keen to visit the new Prototype and Play centre, a dedicated area for delivering engineering outreach activities and public engagement events. Staff from the DETI Inspire team have been busy filling the room with lots of exciting gadgets and gizmos, and are really looking forward to welcoming school and community groups into the space, once lockdown measures are eased.

Preparing for take-off! Lottie makes sure the drones are all in tip top shape.

This new public engagement centre is key to the work being carried out by the EDM department as lead for Skills and Workforce Development for the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) initiative. It will allow the DETI Inspire team to develop and deliver curriculum linked engagement activities, host public open events for families and schools, run teacher CPD events to support and upskill, and provide engagement training for their Diversity Demonstrator network.

Lottie can’t wait to share the new space with local schools and families!

The team have big plans for the year ahead so watch this space for news of local celebration events and regional competitions from The Primary Engineer Leaders Awards, First Lego League, Great Science Share for Schools and many more!

That’s all from Lottie for now, but she’ll be back with more stories as her engineering tour continues throughout the year. Next stop, the National Composites Centre.

WES Lottie Tour is an annual campaign that takes ‘Lottie’ to many different locations accompanying lots of different engineering friends who show Lottie the work they do in engineering and related careers. Lottie’s experiences are shared across social media using #WESLottieTour and aims to inspire and encourage more young girls to consider a career in engineering and STEM subjects. 

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.

EDM set to lead skills development in new £10 million digital engineering centre

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UWE Bristol will play a central role in a new £10 million digital engineering centre for the region.

The Centre for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (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.

A collaboration of industry and academic partners, DETI is led by the National Composites Centre (NCC) and supported by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). WECA awarded £5m to the centre – match £5m investment from West of England businesses who are at the forefront of industry.

EDM’s role

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.”

EDM will create an integrated education and workforce development capability programme, and talent pipeline, all to inspire, introduce, convert and specialise. And it will promote an inclusive diverse workforce, crucial for creativity and innovation.

Training courses related to advanced digital engineering will be developed to increase skills and retrain those in the current workforce.

Schools will also be engaged with, particularly in less affluent parts of the West of England, with the aim to reach 1,000 children and inspire them to pursue a career in digital engineering.

DETI is not a new building but will use existing facilities and assets at various partners facilities, including UWE Bristol’s new engineering building.

Links to the local industrial strategy

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “DETI will be a nationally important centre, based in the West of England. It will help secure the future of the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries and is a key part of our Local Industrial Strategy ambition to strengthen cross-sectoral innovation and support our region’s ambition for clean and inclusive growth.”

The centre will work with leading companies and support industry to reduce carbon emissions by producing better products – products that are lighter, more fuel efficient and have less waste – through undertaking research and innovation in the virtual world.

Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Toby The Tobester Savage said: “Over the past decade or so the Filton Enterprise Area, UWE Bristol, MoD and the Bristol and Bath Science Park have formed a powerful network of world-leading innovation in aerospace, engineering and defence. We are therefore delighted to see South Gloucestershire hosting the DETI project which we believe will be of national and international significance to the future of clean energy and low carbon transport.

“This geography is increasingly recognised as the South Gloucestershire ‘TEC ARC’ and we look forward to working closely with multiple stakeholders to ensure that the project grows this critical sector of our economy, but also engages widely across the region through schools and colleges to give new experiences and opportunities in the development of STEM skills.”

Organisations investing in DETI alongside WECA and the NCC include UWE Bristol, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GKN, Baker Hughes and CFMS. DETI will also receive contributions in kind from Siemens and Toshiba. The project has already engaged with over 100 companies across the region, including disrupters TechSPARK and Smartia, and companies covering sectors such as renewable energy, marine, aerospace and electronics.

See the full press release posted on the UWE News pages.

Milestone reached in construction of UWE Bristol’s multi-million pound engineering building

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UWE Bristol’s new multi-million pound engineering building has moved a step closer to completion – construction has reached the top floor!

A topping out ceremony was held on Tuesday 17th September to mark the occasion, with staff and students joining partners from contractors BAM and architects AHR to sign their names on a timber beam at the very top of the building. Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics Dr Lisa Brodie can be seen adding her signature above.

From left to right: Catherine Hobbs (Associate Dean Research and Enterprise), Matt Smith (BAM Construction), Richard Dewey (BAM), Steve West (Vice-Chancellor), Paul Olomolaiye (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean), Lisa Brodie (Head of Engineering Design and Mathematics), Tod Burton (Deputy Dean) and Graham Kingdon (BAM)

Due for completion in summer 2020, the facility will contribute to the University’s vision of being one of the top engineering schools in the country through promoting multi-disciplinary, collaborative learning and supports the predicted increase in demand for skilled engineering graduates across the region.

UWE Bristol staff can read more on the staff intranet.

See the new Engineering building construction from the air

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Steve Brown, of UWE Bristol’s Learning and Innovation Unit in the Faculty of Environment and Technology, has produced a short video using drone footage of the site of the university’s new Engineering building (Z Block). The video, filmed on 12th July 2019, shows the progress that has been made on the building since construction began back in November.

Work is due to be completed in summer 2020, with the facility contributing 
to the University’s vision of being one of the top engineering schools in the country through promoting multi-disciplinary, collaborative learning and supports the predicted increase in demand for skilled engineering graduates across the region. Find out more here.

Children inspired engineers at the South West Leaders Award exhibition held at UWE Bristol

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The winners of the 2019 Leaders Award gathered at UWE Bristol for the South West awards ceremony on Friday 14th June.

The competition challenged children to answer the question: ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ by identifying a problem that engineering could solve, and devising a solution.

From magnet wielding helicopters that tow broken down cars skyward, to surveillance parrots that alert wildlife trusts to hunters – the children’s designs tackled a great diversity of problems in modern society.

Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore joined UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West and MOD DE&S Air Marshall Julian Young to congratulate those who entered the competition. While the competition launches by using online interviews with real-life engineers to inspire the children, they all agreed that in the end it’s the children’s designs that inspire engineers!

Throughout this year, engineers in EDM have been supporting the competition, by grading 4385 entries, and taking part in the final judging panel. UWE Bristol is the South West regional supporter alongside Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) – the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation.

The ceremony finished with a flourish, with student engineers Katy O’Hara Nash and Miriam Cristofoletti from the EDM WISE society, presenting the prototype they have made based on the winning design from last year’s competition. The system, designed by Year 8 pupil Philippa Griffiths, displays variable red lights on the back of a vehicle to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed.

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of Department for Engineering Design and Mathematics said:

“We are always inspired by the children’s designs for the Leaders Awards. This year our female engineering students have gone one step further by actually taking a design, and building a prototype. It shows the passion and ingenuity in our region, both from local children, but also our own students. Through these public events we want to demonstrate our commitment to developing STEM technologies and a highly-skilled workforce which can enhance our future together.”  

The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, were on display on Saturday 15th June at the University’s Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC). Hundreds of visitors of all ages were able to try it out, as well as taking part in exciting STEM activities provided by the MOD, Aerospace Bristol, and UWE. The displays included having a go with drones, Lego Mindstorm, and a virtual reality tour of the new Engineering Building.

Crane arriving on site of new Engineering building

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A crane will be arriving at the site of the new UWE Bristol Engineering building construction on Wednesday 11th March. The crane is being brought in to start steel frame erection and will remain on site until this is complete.

Up to five trailers per day will be delivered to feed materials to the crane, and there may be elevated noise levels due to the steel frame installation.

Staff can find out more about building activities on the site over the next two weeks on the UWE intranet.