Find out more about the importance of diversity in engineering

Posted on

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

Posted on

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.

The successes of Women Like Me 2018-2019

Posted on

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.

UWE BEng graduate Gemma Christian featured by Institute of Mechanical Engineers

Posted on

From leaving school with no GCSEs to becoming a chartered engineer

UWE Bristol BEng (Hons) in Aerospace Systems Engineering graduate Gemma Christian has been featured by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, describing her non-traditional route into engineering and reminding us that it’s never too late to pursue a career in the industry.

After leaving school with no GCSEs and later reaching UWE through a BTEC in engineering, since graduating Gemma has gone on to complete a Masters, work for Airbus, GE Aviation and Avant, and become chartered. Read her inspiring story on the IMechE website.

UWE Formula SAE success

Posted on

Formula SAE is Europe’s most established educational engineering competition. The competition aims to develop enterprising and innovative young engineers and encourage more young people to take up a career in engineering. The format of the event is such that it provides an ideal opportunity for the students to test, demonstrate and improve their capabilities to deliver a complex and integrated product in the demanding environment of a motorsport competition.

UWE is in its sixth year of entering the competition, and for 2019 took on the dual challenge of the home competition at Silverstone as well as Formula student Netherland at the TT track in Assen.

Through four days of inclement weather, the team produced a strong display in Assen. Completing all seven elements of the competition for the first time. Resulting in a sixth place overall finish out of 28 combustion teams on the Thursday.

The main event for the team is always the home event at Silverstone, where they entered with confidence their engineering was good and well tested in the Netherlands. The team surpassed their previous efforts achieving their best ever statics and dynamics points haul. The final outcome, an overall seventh place out of 81 teams and fourth best of the UK teams.

Winning Leaders Award prototype unveiled at exhibition at UWE Bristol

Posted on

Last year, Hugh Sexy CE Middle School student Philippa Griffiths designed the Red Line Braking System for the Leaders Award competition, in response to the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

The Leaders Award sets this challenge to encourage children to identify a problem that engineering could solve, and devise a solution. Philippa’s invention was picked as a winning design for the South West, and then selected to be turned into a working prototype by a team of UWE Bristol engineers. Philippa’s design 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.

Our team of female student engineers from the university’s Women in Science and Engineering Society, including some taking part in our Royal Academy of Engineering funded project Women Like Me, turned Philippa’s idea into reality, visiting her school during the process and providing updates as they went.

Our team are:

The prototype was unveiled at the South West Leaders Award exhibition at UWE Bristol on Friday 14th June 2019 by Philippa, Katy and Miriam. The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, was also 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.

Congratulations to Philippa and the team for designing and creating a fantastic new engineering solution!

UWE Bristol Engineering student featured in The Guardian

Posted on

The UWE Bristol MEng Aerospace Engineering course, and student Prisilla Johnson who has also gained a private licence with a UWE Bristol partner flying school in the US, have been featured in The Guardian.

“Prisilla Johnson always dreamed of becoming a pilot. Now, studying MEng aerospace engineering at UWE Bristol, she’s not only making her dream come true, but also playing her part in boosting gender equality in engineering

It’s great to see in the article that Prisilla feels that she has been able to grow at UWE Bristol through the opportunities that have been offered to her. The full feature can be read here.

Header image: Jonathan Cherry/Guardian

BAME Girls in Engineering great success at Bristol Brunel Academy

Posted on

Dr Udonna Okeke tells us about a hugely successfull visit of his project,  BAME girls in engineering, to Bristol Brunel Academy in this guest post.

BAME Girls in engineering in partnership with UWE BoxED, had an outreach event at the Bristol Brunel Academy on Thursday 9th May and I am extremely excited to say that the feedback from the school has been very positive.

The school is happy with our outreach project and are very keen for more outreach and other engagements with the project. Based on the feedback, the students are very happy with the outreach activities that took place and would like us to make a return visit.

Below is some of the feedback from the students:

“Excellent: it was fun, exiting and very interesting. The robotics coding was very fun, especially when we were controlling the robots”

“I thought it was very good and inspiring and I liked making the turbines and playing with the robots. I want the outreach to happen again on a Thursday”

“It was nice and fun when we listened to the talk and was given the opportunity to code and control the robots”.

This feedback means a lot to me and I am looking forward to the next phase of this project.

Celebrating Da Vinci and his pioneering inventions

Posted on

Dr Appolinaire Etoundi, Senior Lecturer in Mechatronics from Bristol Robotics Laboratory, will be exhibiting bioinspired devices from Chisel Works Robotics and Rose Industries at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on 4th May, 10am—4pm. This forms part of the exhibition celebrating Leonardo Da Vinci and his pioneering inventions.

Two of Appolinaire’s students, who are CEOs of the registered companies, are also attending, to promote the research they are undertaking at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

Sara Parker, award-winning Radio producer and reporter came to UWE on Thursday 21st March to interview Appolinaire for a BBC Radio 4 series about the remarkable multi-disciplinary vision of Leonardo with each episode focusing on different disciplines through interviews with contemporary experts in fields such as flight, engineering, anatomy – and of course robotics.

The programme will be aired at 1:45 pm on 2nd May.