The Inspire Sustainability team at UWE Engineering have organised several Green Skills Fayres to take place at three schools in the South West on the 24th and 30th of November, and 2nd of December. We are looking for people working in green jobs to join us in inspiring secondary school-aged students (11-16) at Hans Price Academy in Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol Brunel Academy in Speedwell, and Digitech Studio School in Warmley. We want to inspire young people to develop green skills that they can take with them into their future careers.
What are the Green Skills Fayres?
Anyone in a green job will have the opportunity to discuss how your work contributes to sustainability, the green skills that you’ve developed, and how you apply these to your job. You will be provided with a table to display items relevant to your job to engage young people and spark conversations. STEM ambassadors are also encouraged to bring along any promotional material and invite students to visit your place of work in future if possible. Afterwards, groups of students will have the opportunity to share the green skills and careers that most interest them and how they could develop these.
We are particularly interested in hearing from people who either work in the fields of or have green skills related to climate science, decarbonisation, and climate adaptation. Green skills are skills that are needed to support a sustainable society and are, therefore, broad. These could include skills relating to research, technical aspects, operational management, and monitoring, as well as soft skills, such as creativity and resilience.
If you would like to get involved in the Green Skills Fayre, then please click the button below and fill in the form to register your interest!
How can we support young people to develop green skills?
Prior to the fayres, we will be leading assemblies for young people to get them to consider what green skills they could develop from the subjects they are studying at school, and how they might apply them in different jobs to help the West of England reach its goal of net zero carbon emissions.
We will also be providing workshops that tie-in to the Green Skills Fayres and allow young people to have a go at digital engineering, scientific research, undertaking a green audit of their school, establishing an eco committee, debating sustainability topics, and developing creative communication campaigns.
On Tuesday 13th September, Engineers across the West of England gathered at UWE Bristol to glean insights into how to ‘Inspire young people in Engineering’.
The 20 diverse engineers were led through the “how to” of engaging & inspiring children by the science communication experts from local Bristol planetarium company, Explorer Dome.
Explorer Dome have been travelling throughout the country for over 20 years, providing children with a science experience inside their awe-inspiring inflatable planetariums. They drew on this wealth of experience at the training session, to guide the engineers through the basics, with plenty of examples and opportunities for the engineers to ‘have a go’.
Attendees reported an overall increase in confidence in delivering engineering outreach to children and said the following:
“Great top tips! [I have a] better idea of how to interact and communicate science with children.”
“Presenters know what they’re doing! Inspiring and I hope I can be a good communicator like them someday.”
“Really helpful content and activities.”
With more diverse representation recognised as an important factor to increase the numbers and diversity of engineers joining the workforce, it was great to have so many female engineers present (13 out of 20 attendees), as well as engineers from range of ethnic backgrounds. Thanks to everyone who joined us and we wish you the best with your school outreach!
What’s next to inspire the next generation of engineers?
The show was was originally developed in 2021 as a collaboration between Explorer Dome and UWE Engineering’s outreach team, with initial funding from the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) initiative. Now Ingenious funds are enabling the team to take ‘We Make our Future’ into schools in areas of socioeconomic deprivation in the West of England.
The team is also extending some of the content of the show – adding in videos from local engineers, to showcase the breadth of people in engineering and inspire the diverse and socially conscious engineers of tomorrow.
Some of the engineers seen at training this month, may well become those inspirational role models showcased inside the planetarium in the coming months!
Explorer Dome is an internationally known, vibrant, popular science outreach organisation. They travel across the UK presenting live science shows for schools, festivals and special events. Hands-on demonstrations and stunning visuals combined with knowledgeable, enthusiastic and professional presenters: Explorer Dome is presenter-led, lively, interactive and fun!
Royal Academy of Engineering – Ingenious: public engagement awards
Ingenious is an awards scheme for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering while providing engineers with skills and opportunities in public engagement.
They prioritise projects that reach diverse and underrepresented audiences including communities in the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and that engage with engineers and people of different genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds.
DETI is funded by the West of England Combined Authority; it is transforming engineering for the digital era and inspiring the next generation of engineers. It is helping identify the technologies that will drive innovation in developing sustainable products, systems, businesses, infrastructure and transport that underpin a net zero environment. It is creating a new, diverse engineering community and systems to investigate, develop & demonstrate the advanced digital technologies and skills needed for the sustainable products of the future.
Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre (NCC) in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England (UWE), the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. WECA funding of £5m is match funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.
UWE students impressed with teamwork and communication during their internship.
We had two UWE student engineers join the Inspire team as interns for eight weeks this June/July. And from independently designing a new school workshop, to running around science festivals entertaining children, they’ve helped us enormously during our busy period. So this is my chance to rave about how amazing it has been to have these two gems in our team!
My student interns were: Wing Leung (Natalie), a 1st year Robotics student engineer, and Luca Caruso, a 2nd year Aerospace student.
They both hit the ground running on their first day, which coincided with the first time we’d ever held a large school event in the new Engineering building. The event and then crazy schedule of school Minecraft workshops went really well, but it wasn’t until later that week that I realised what superstar students we had landed.
What a team
I spent about half an hour introducing the scope and concepts of a workshop I wanted them to design during the following weeks, then sat back (furiously emailing) and watched them began a pattern of steady and committed teamwork that continued throughout the internship. In Luca’s words, the two had “good synergy”.
I was continually impressed by their incredible independence and ability to drive the project forward using self-imposed deadlines, to finally deliver the workshop as a two part STEM Club to enthusiastic reception at the Old Library.
Great Ambassadors for UWE
Over the weeks at the: Cheltenham Science Festival, Great Science Share, Leaders Award Celebration and UWE family fun day, Luca and Natalie spoke to and inspired hundreds, possibly even thousands of local children in Engineering. They were key members of the team, which has had children looking in wonder around UWE’s Engineering building, asking about becoming students here like Luca and Natalie.
The West of England Mayor, Dan Norris, was keen to see what the robots could do when he visited UWE for an awards ceremony (his dog Angel was more interested in getting a good photo!). Natalie and Luca used their tried and tested engagement skills to woo the Mayor.
We had about 600 people streaming into UWE’s new Engineering Building for the Family Fun day, with Luca and Natalie fielding a constant stream of visitors at their LEGO Mindstorm robot activity. Spot them in the photo below.
Speaking to both interns before they left, it was great to hear their perspectives on the experience.
Luca raved about running the Inspire stall at Cheltenham Science Festival and getting the opportunity to speak to so many different people. After 8 weeks of experience learning how to best explain things to children of different ages, Luca said that at a school visit in his final week, “I finally got asked the question I’d been waiting for the whole internship! A child asked how a plane flies.” I feel certain he did a good job of answering it.
As for Natalie, the experience of designing, developing and then delivering the LEGO Mindstorm workshop with children at a STEM club, was the most satisfying aspect. She also developed great communication skills over the internship and wasn’t afraid to put all of that into practice, impressing the team when she volunteered to step up and fully lead a Minecraft workshop on her last day in school.
What’s left to say, other than – Natalie with your boundless enthusiasm and commitment to a project, and Luca with your natural flair for leadership and super organisational skills – you’re already missed!
Guest blog by Wing (Natalie) Leung, 1st year Robotics student at UWE Bristol. Natalie describes delivering the Lego Mindstorm session that Luca Caruso (another intern) and herself designed and developed during the course of their internship.
This was the first time the Lego Mindstorms session was run – thank you so much to the old library community STEM club for inviting us to deliver these sessions!
Children from different age ranges were fascinated by our cool robots and had the opportunity to get hands on, building their robot from scratch and programming it to complete the task.
In the 1st session, the engineer design process was introduced to the kids through the fun design and building activity. They were challenged to solve the real-life application of buying from a warehouse – their task was to design a warehouse robot that helps the workers deliver the boxes to the right place.
Children built their cars using the instructions and then got creative in designing a carrying mechanism to transport an item safely from a designated start point to the endpoint – the challenge. They needed to think like an engineer. And carefully consider the number of pieces they used as sustainability and cost are also important.
In the 2nd session, children got to learn some simple programming. A program was provided, but they needed to figure out how to make it quicker to win the little competition. We introduced them to simple coding blocks like movements and if-statement, then they were able to understand the code and change some parameters to increase the speed without crashing.
These sessions were a perfect introduction to robotics and taster of engineering. The kids learnt simple robotic concepts like path planning and sensors, all whilst having fun playing with the robots.
Parent’s feedback was that they had never seen their kids being that focused on something.
The DETI Inspire team hopes to deploy more Lego Mindstorm sessions in the next academic year….watch this space to find out more!
Families from around Bristol recently came to UWE’s brand new School of Engineering building to enjoy a range of free science and engineering-based activities.
The families that came to the event explored different aspects of engineering such as coding and robotics through LEGO Mindstorm and Pepper (our humanoid robot), digitally engineering solutions to citywide problems through Minecraft, designing the best wind turbine blade in our craft activity, and other stations featuring, eco-houses, crafting and a free planetarium show from Explorer Dome.
The visitors to UWE’s new Engineering building were wowed by the space available to student engineers and also by an exhibition of children’s inventions. The inventions were submitted to the Leaders Award competition – a nationwide scheme that encourages children to solve problems using engineering thinking.
The event was a perfect opportunity to inspire younger children to think like engineers whilst having fun along the way, as well as introducing them to technology that they may not have been able to interact with otherwise. One 13 year old visitor exclaimed how much she loved the fun day saying one day she “would like to come here herself (UWE) and learn more” whilst another couldn’t wait to get home and try to make their own robots.
We would like to thank all the staff of UWE, helpers, and students that made this event happen for making it an amazing day!
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.
All-school engagement: tailored lessons, talks and careers events with diverse role models, culminating in a whole-school Sustainability Summit.
Eco Council engagement: Eco Action Plan co-development to support the schools achieve Eco School status
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.
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.
Some of the West’s talented young engineers who are part of the Future Brunels programme, were able to redesign the SS Great Britain last week.
‘The West in Minecraft’ is a session from the DETI Inspire team that allows the students to use the hugely popular game Minecraft to re-engineer and re-design the West’s engineering landmarks. Including of course, Brunel’s famous ship.
The young engineers spent the day at the ship with the DETI Inspire team, experiencing Brunel’s design first-hand. Before using the Minecraft programme to prototype and test their creative ideas and modifications. Among the ideas, were adding wings to the ship, a nuclear reactor as a power source, and a device to harness lightning strikes to charge an electric engine.
The aim of The West in Minecraft session is to engage children in digital engineering by using Minecraft and the unique Bristol and Bath worlds as an engaging and accessible hook. It allows space for creativity and problem-solving within the digital space, with the session framed with the Engineering Design Process to harbour an engineering mindset in the students. All whilst being fun and familiar, with most students having lots of prior knowledge of the Minecraft game.
In addition to the Minecraft activity, the DETI Inspire team engaged other Future Brunels with an engineering challenge to design and build modifications to drones, and then pilot their creations to rescue a box of cute kittens from rising lava – aided by a hint of imagination, of course!
To read more about The West in Minecraft session, please head to the DETI Inspire resources site here. Where you can also watch the promotional video, showing the SS Great Britain and some other engineering designs from students across the West.
There, you can also book future free sessions for schools and community groups of the West; to bring the West in Minecraft to more young audiences.
As Head of Engineering, Lisa Brodie has spent the last few years redesigning the curriculum and imagining a space (realised in the new Engineering building) where engineering is accessible for everyone. So it should come as no surprise that she has been shortlisted for the Enginuity Diversity in Engineering Award.
The award recognises organisations, individuals or a team that has delivered a specific scheme, project, or initiative, that significantly contributes to shifting the dial of equality, diversity, and inclusion within our sector.
This nomination isn’t the first time Lisa’s tireless efforts for diversity in engineering have been recognised. Watch the BBC Points West Video below to find out more about how the building is designed with neurodiverse students in mind, and read what Lisa has to say about the impact a more diverse workforce can have on engineering –
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.
Inspiring the next generation of diverse engineers
But it’s not just about empowering current UWE student engineers, Lisa is also looking to the future of engineering. In late 2019, Lisa fought for, and now leads, the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Skills programme, which aims to to improve diversity in recruitment into STEM industries (particularly engineering) whilst also enhancing retention of skilled engineers in the industry. The Skills programme has a three pronged approach:
Inspiring children into STEM
Transforming courses and work experience to upskill apprentices
Innovating new short courses to reskill the workforce in digital technologies
The Inspire programme has had particular success, reaching over 7000 children in the South West so far, with 42% of all schools engaged with face-to-face, coming from from areas within the most deprived 20% of the country. Those children have been exposed to innovative engineering workshops that connect them with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for STEM careers.
And lots of those workshops have taken place in the purpose-built classroom at UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering. All made possible by Lisa’s trailblazing ideas.
Engineering for Everyone!
Want to hear more about how Lisa has ensured the new building is designed with diversity in mind? Read on!
The brand-new purpose built engineering facility has been co-designed in conjunction with Lisa’s new engineering curriculum, to create a supportive environment for students from under-represented backgrounds. Keeping this focus in mind throughout both the curriculum and the design of the building’s physical structure make it a truly unique space.
As part of Lisa’s drive to embrace and celebrate neuro-diversity, the building is equipped with individual study spaces designed to support students with sensory issues, such as people with autism who can benefit from features including white noise bubble tubes and adjustable, muted lighting. The building is designed to teach in a very different way.
Lisa has worked with colleagues to embed professional skills, and the professional engineer, at the heart of the curriculum. The very first things taught to student engineers are creativity, innovation, empathy and design, with a focus on the role of the engineer in society.
We are on a mission to change the demographic in engineering!
There’s a huge digital engineering skills shortfall and employment gap in the UK’s engineering workforce. To help address that shortfall, UWE Bristol launched the new Big Data course in November 2021.
UWE Bristol runs the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Innovate programme in the West of England – identifying what skills need boosting and then designing appropriate training courses – all to enable the digital transition of local industry supported by DETI’s main programme.
With the high adoption rate of sensors and connected devices in manufacturing industries, there has been a huge increase in data points available. If analysed, this Big Data has potential to reveal new information and patterns that can enable the improvement of process efficiency.
Technicians identified Big data analysis as a core emerging area they lacked knowledge and analytic skills in, so UWE Bristol designed a course to upskill DETI partners employees.
The Big Data CPD course covered the fundamentals of Big Data concepts and the key tools and systems for practically applying the analytics. Topics covered included:
Introduction to Big Data
SQL vs NoSQL databases
On 24th November 2021, Professor Kamran Munir & Dr Ahsan Ikram from UWE Bristol’s Department of Computer Science, delivered the course online to 15 participants from UWE, the University of Bath, the National Composites Centre and other local industries.
Growing the CPD offer
DETI Innovate recognises the need for continuing to offer this course to reach more of the Engineering workforce, therefore UWE Bristol are working to develop the content into a virtual pre-recorded offering. This will enable flexible self-study and the opportunity to revisit material. We’ll keep our readers informed of when this becomes available.
In addition to Big Data upskilling, UWE Bristol is assisting the NCC to deliver another DETI Innovate course on 5G Encode (AI and VR) – expected to be delivered in February.
If you have any questions about the Big Data or 5G Encode courses, our DETI Innovate colleague Dr. Halimah Abdullahi can be contacted on email@example.com.
Academics and students from a number of UWE Bristol departments are collaborating with the local community in Easton to investigate, on a granular real-time level, air quality and traffic’s impact on the local high-street.
St. Mark’s Road in Easton is a high-street bucking the trend, with new shops popping up in an amazing and unusual Covid recovery. The local community’s clear commitment to investing in their high-street isn’t limited to popping into local shops – residents are beginning to be interested in how traffic affects the street they’re proud of.
In the last few years air quality sensors that measure pollutants as small as 2.5 microns have begun to pop up all over the world, and St. Mark’s Road has been part of this. Although you wouldn’t notice on walking down the street.
“The sensors need to be waterproofed, so we put them into the drainpipes – nice and easy and out of the way,” said Stuart Phelps from Baggator (a community organisation offering a range of innovative programmes for young people in the local area) who has been the driver behind much of the project.
Easton Data Garden is growing
It’s not very glamorous, but these hidden sensors are providing real-world information that are inspiring local residents. Particularly the weekly children’s science and technology club – the ‘Easton Data Garden’ – which UWE Bristol have been heavily involved in.
“The data gathered from the sensors on St. Mark’s Road gets the kids thinking about what that means in the real world,” explained Stuart. “Seeing this information in real-time is changing their view of science.”
And the children are about to take part in workshops, alongside academics from UWE Bristol and the University of Bath, to build new sensors for installation in more pieces of drainpipe on St Mark’s Road.
New sensors from the University of Bath and the European Space Agency, will give a detailed real-time readout of nitrogen dioxide (a significant greenhouse gas), carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and ozone. These will be installed alongside traffic monitors – supplied by UWE Bristol’s Digital Engineering Technology Innovation (DETI) Inspire project, which links to the EU citizen science project WeCount.
“Working with Baggator and the Easton Data Garden is a fantastic example of local residents leading on citizen science in their own area,” said DETI Inspire lead, Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers.
“The young people and their mentors came up with this exciting idea to use digital engineering to link local air quality monitors with traffic counting sensors, providing a real-time picture of how traffic impacts air quality on a granular scale.
“We are really excited to see how this develops and are looking forward to supporting their science learning and community development!”
That’s a lot of great data to look at and residents, and particularly the children in Easton Data Garden, want to see the results and identify any problems on their high-street. Again, UWE is stepping up to the ‘mark’, with several teams of students working on projects to help highlight St. Mark’s unique data set.
UWE students get visuals on the data
This includes a UWE Computer Science and Creative Technology student team undertaking the creation of a bespoke St. Mark’s Road website – where local news sits alongside local air quality data.
But Stuart’s not stopping there. He has a vision for this website to be viewed from a St. Mark’s shop window, with real-time data coming in from sensors mounted directly above the shop. And again, a student digital design team under UWE Bristol’s Dr Mic Palmer’s direction, are developing a bespoke display screen for residents.
Future of St. Mark’s Road
In the next few weeks, children from the Easton Data Garden club will bring their families along to workshops to build the sensors. Installation will happen soon after, all ready to start feeding delicious data into the website UWE students will deliver at the end of January. And viewed at the local corner shop!
All the while, local Easton children will be working alongside academics, asking questions about the effectiveness of real-world interventions, like, how do rumble strips impact on traffic speed and then air pollution? This will be the first time citizens have combined these technologies to directly test the impact of interventions on their streets – a necessary step to improve high streets.
For Stuart, almost the most important impact of this project, is the interactions made possible between the academics and children in Easton.
“The kids here wouldn’t normally have exposure to University and the people who work there, this project means they are getting to have those interactions” explained Stuart. “And the children are interested because it’s relevant to them, and because the academics are genuinely listening to what they have to say.”
Work alongside UWE academics is also a key part of another strand of Stuart’s work – supporting the local Muslim community to celebrate the end of Eid with a huge light display (called the Grand Iftar). Children in Easton Data Garden are again collaborating with UWE Bristol academics to design light patterns to be displayed on/in the Jamia Masjid Mosque dome.
We’ll be updating on the results coming out of Easton Data Garden in the next few months and later on in 2022 you can expect to see some amazing images from the Grand Iftar celebration.
See more about Easton Data Garden (& UWE Bristol’s involvement!) in the video below: