Shining a light on green job pathways for the next generation

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Today marks the launch of a new year-long programme that aims to inspire and motivate young people in the West of England to pursue green career pathways. Known as Inspire Sustainability, it is one of three West of England Combined Authority (WECA)-funded initiatives as part of the Green Futures Fund, that, if successful, could be replicated and scaled to meet the region’s Climate Emergency Plan and Net Zero ambition.

This announcement builds on recent WECA support of other green skills initiatives in local schools, with West of England Mayor Dan Norris awarding the first green jobs grant for three schools to develop a special environmental careers programme -read more here.

Inspire Sustainability: in a nutshell

Developed in collaboration with UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit, Cabot Learning Federation, Avon Schools Eco Network and STEM Ambassadors West of England, the programme was developed as part of the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire programme. Inspire Sustainability will expand the region’s existing hub of sustainability skills education and training to highlight the region’s leading green skills and expertise in the labour market. Working in partnership, the consortium will deliver three areas of work to three pilot schools; Hans Price Academy in North Somerset, Bristol Brunel Academy in Bristol, and Digitech in South Gloucestershire.  The project includes:

  1. All-school engagement: tailored lessons, talks and careers events with diverse role models, culminating in a whole-school Sustainability Summit.
  2. Eco Council engagement: Eco Action Plan co-development to support the schools achieve Eco School status
  3. Teacher engagement: training so that teachers have the confidence to engage young people on these topics and support them to imagine a future where they can see themselves playing an active role in shaping development.

Once piloted, the outcomes will be shared widely to primary and secondary schools as well as to educational professionals and academics through the consortium’s networks.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris with Year 10 pupils from Orchard School at the Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit in October 2021

Building on what works

The Inspire Sustainability approach builds on tried and tested methods explored in DETI Inspire, which has engaged over 7,000 children and young people in the West of England on engineering for sustainability.

Consortium member UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit has a track record of working with and training diverse stakeholders to reach sustainability goals. In 2021, the Unit launched its Climate Action Hub to highlight the existing work of students and academics in this space, as well as to offer support and training to further amplify climate action. Currently it is delivering climate communications training to young people and supporting them to act on things that matter to them. The Youth Climate Communications toolkit will be used to develop the teacher engagement portion of Inspire Sustainability.

Meanwhile, the STEM Ambassador programme will be key to recruiting diverse green role models while Avon Schools Eco Network will use their expertise to support the schools to develop their action plans.

If you are interested to know more about any of this work, please contact project manager Sophie Laggan.


Project Week Success with Newicon Innovation Toolkit

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348 of our first year student engineers have completed Project Week with great success!

Project Week plays a central role in UWE Bristol’s Engineering Practise module, part of our Integrated Learning Framework, which nurtures creativity, innovation and collaboration through training on ‘live’ projects and problems.

Motivated by UWE’s 2020 strategy to educate for sustainable development, for the past three years the Engineering, Design and Mathematics Department has partnered with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to deliver project based learning activities that develop a sense of global responsibility in students. This year the week-long challenge was to find engineering solutions to issues identified by the local people of Lobitos and Piedritas, Peru.

To help guide our students through the challenges of Project Week, staff and students utilised the new Innovation and Design Thinking Toolkit designed by Bristol-based software company Newicon. The kit features a set of engaging workshops, exercises and tools designed to help our students explore and define real human-centred problems and move through the design cycle at pace.

I am delighted to hear that the UWE’s revolutionary redesigned curriculum that nurtures creativity, innovation and collaboration has successfully utilised Newicon’s Innovation Toolkit to promote and practise Design Thinking.

When we created the Kit it was aimed at tech startups and organisations creating innovative new digital products and services, so it is testament to the versatility of the methodologies that the kit has now been successfully adapted for the Engineering without Borders project.

To see some 348 students benefiting from our approach is fantastic and we look forward to working with UWE, as a partner, to further develop the innovation kit so more students can benefit over the coming years.

Mark Probert, Digital Strategy Director, Newicon

And here is what our student engineers had to say about using the Kit:

This was fantastic! well laid out and presented and easy to work through!

Useful, it gave us some good guidelines to follow

Had useful tips, especially for creating a design criteria

…the UWE design innovation kit was really easy to understand and work through

UWE 1st Year Student Engineers

The Innovation and Design Thinking Toolkit has been a huge success here at UWE, and we look forward to using it for future projects. We were also thrilled to hear that the team at Newicon were recently shortlisted for a community SPARKies Award for their work on the Kit!

For more information on the Newicon and the Kit visit https://newicon.net/

Access for everyone

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Here lies the results of the final student challenge set in the Engineering in the Community module.

Robert Fleming, Joseph Ford and Claudia Paduano on the Engineering Competence Postgraduate Diploma, sought to improve shop accessibility and therefore footfall in high streets. They partnered with Airbus, Babcock and Bedminster Business Improvement District, to provide a portable solution to the accessibility issues facing the Bubble Play Café in Bedminster. You can read more about how the team met this community need below:

Cosy Compost

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Students taking the Engineering Competence Postgraduate Diploma have the option to take the community challenge module – Engineering in the Community. Five groups undertook varied projects, and this is the 4th in our blog series showcasing the results.

For this community challenge, William Holmes, Paul Trimble and Elisabeth Woeldgen, partnered with Incredible Edible Bristol, Airbus and the Science & Technology Facilities council, to create an insulated compost bin. The team delivered the prototype compost bin made of reusable materials to Speedwell Allotment, along with accompanying instructional material for Incredible Edible to use on their education sites. Read more about the project below:

Sustainable Outdoor Space

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Another chapter in our series, highlighting the real-world community challenges undertaken by students on the Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering Competence.

Jack Lewis, Samuel Whatling and Keshav Ooriah collaborated with North Bristol Community Project (NBCP) as part of the Engineering in Community module. NBCP is a charity that promotes well-being by running a variety of workshops for different people groups. They wanted to redevelop their outdoor space to further benefit the community and the students helped to structurally design and model various aspects of the new space.

Find out more below:

Identifying Healthier Workshop Heating Solutions

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In this blog series, we’re showcasing the Engineering Competence Postgraduate Diploma students’ community challenges, completed as part of the Engineering in the Community module.

For this project, Airbus‘ Ross Gardner & Ed Wheatcroft partnered with Residents Against Dirty Energy (RADE) to try and find ways to keep open workshop and garage spaces warm without producing pollutants that are detrimental to health. A number of potential solutions have been outlined in their poster below.

Clean Van Heating Solutions

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Read about the findings from student community projects

Students from our Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering competence have presented results from real-world community challenges set in the Engineering in the Community module. These group projects will be showcased in the next few blog posts, so stay tuned….

First up, are Airbus employees S. Cole,  D. Guerrero and  A. Hayes, who worked with Residents Against Dirty Energy (RADE) – a community group who aim to reduce emissions from static burning. The student project focussed on wood burning as a heat source for those who live in vans and found that improving efficiency was key for reducing emissions.

Read their poster to find out more about the project.

Free engineering consultancy for local community organisations

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The Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE, Bristol are seeking to partner with local community organisations with project ideas relevant to engineering Postgraduate Diploma students. We welcome project proposals from community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors, and small businesses.

The project is an opportunity for organisations to receive free engineering consultancy from a small team of students (3-6 people), who will be learning skills in team-working, client liaison and applications of engineering as part of the Engineering in the Community module. The scheme is open for applications until December 2019 with projects completed from February to August 2020.

Projects could be researching and scoping opportunities or issues on behalf of your organisation, planning or providing designs and proposals, or in some cases students may be able to produce an item or intervention for the organisation. Examples of projects might include: auditing and developing concepts for a new engineering project in your area, such as sustainable outdoor space and clean heating solutions; researching community problems and engineering solutions; or adapted infrastructure to meet the needs of a community garden. You can find examples of completed projects from 2019 on the blog.

For further information and to apply, please download the Organisation Brief below and return the form within to engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk.

Engineering in the Community poster event 19th September 2-4 pm

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UWE Bristol staff and students are warmly invited to the final poster celebration of our Engineering in the Community event. This module brings together our Degree Apprentice Postgraduates from industry (Airbus, Babcock, and STFC) with members of the community. Our student engineers have been working with local projects to find engineering solutions to community problems.

This poster celebration is a chance to view the results, ask questions about the project designs and process, and solidify our community connections for future development.

Thursday 19th September, UWE Frenchay Campus

14:00 Arrival and poster viewing

14:30 Groups answer questions about their projects

15:30 Community connections and further developments

16:00 Close

For more information about the module or event, please contact the module lead Laura Fogg-Rogers.

UWE Bristol student engineers improving compost heap thermal insulation

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As part of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol’s new module, Engineering in the Community, students on one project are working to design new thermal insulation materials to help compost heaps work better.

This Group Project Challenge aims to set some real-world challenges for the engineering students on our Postgraduate Diploma course. The students are now working in groups to come up with design solutions to a community problem to make a difference in the local area. The improvements to composts bins are being carried out for Incredible Edible at Speedwell allotments.

The module provides a broad comprehension of the competencies and social responsibilities required for ‘engineering citizenship’ in order to be a professional engineer. It introduces the wider social considerations needed to enact Corporate Social Responsibility in the modern engineering industry.

Each group has been given an engineering challenge for which they have to develop a socially acceptable solution for their assigned community group. They are learning about a variety of engagement strategies utilised by professional organisations and Chartered Engineers, as well as the variety of audiences with which these skills can be practised and explored.

Engineers also need to recognise and value the need for them to work effectively with both modern technologies and people in their social or organisational contexts – a hybrid challenge employing engineering ideas in practice.

We have 15 engineers out in the community (12 engineers from Airbus, two from Babcock and one from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)). They are working with four community groups across five projects; as well this project improving composting for Incredible Edible community gardens there are also teams working on:

  • Improving access to Bedminster shops (as presented by Olivia from the Bubble Play Café, and Alice from Trylla in the photos above)
  • Improving community space for the North Bristol Community Project
  • Improving heating options for van dwellers – in association with Residents Against Dirty Energy, presented by Stuart Phelps
  • Improving air quality in mechanical garages  – in association with Residents Against Dirty Energy

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