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.”

Making children’s inventions a reality

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UWE Bristol partners with the Leaders Award, an annual children’s engineering competition, to help run the competitions’ masterclass, grading days and celebration events in the South West. Last year Engineering students made a prototype of one of the winning inventions – a car braking systems where the red braking lights vary in intensity according to the pressure applied to the brake. This year, a new team of engineers are making children’s ideas into reality…

Second year mechanical engineering student – Georgina Packham – is heading up the ‘EWB UWE’ team to try and make a ‘Rain Catcher’.

The Rain Catcher was designed by Year 1 student from Headley Park Primary School, Tristan Sta Ines – pictured here.

The design’s purpose is to catch the rain which then turns into clean water. This benefits those who are thirsty helping to keep them healthy.

“We chose the Rain Catcher as we are not aware of any existing products that function in all the same ways that this design does, and we were also instantly drawn to the bright colours of the design. Tristan’s design will not only have little to no negative impact on the environment, but could also benefit those who don’t have easy access to clean water.”

Georgina explained why EWB UWE chose Tristan’s design.

The rest of the team is comprised of first year Engineering, Design and Mathematics students, Chase McLaughlin, Simbarashe Sibanda and Sonny Ngo.

Good luck team EWB UWE!

UWE students challenge kids with engineering activities

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Last week engineering and teaching students teamed up to bring engineering challenges to children across schools in Bristol.

The 35 engineering students and 22 education students currently taking the Engineering in Society module, used their different skill bases to peer mentor one another, and then deliver engaging activities to ~720 pupils at six Bristol schools on Wednesday 27th November.

Children aged 8 – 11 years old at Bannerman Road, Hambrook, Illminster Avenue, May Park, Shield Road and Victoria Park Primary Schools took part in one or more of the activities:

  • Gliders (High Flyers)
  • Floating Platform (High and Dry)
  • Vacuum Cleaner (Super Sucker)

Senior Lecturer from UWE Bristol and module lead, Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers was enthusiastic about the engineering day. “Visiting our engineers as they undertake their education outreach is always an exciting experience. Not only do we see our students flourishing, but I can see the impact they are having on the children as well. There is always so much fun and excitement in the classrooms as the children come up with their own designs!”

“Engineering can change the world, basically”

“This is the best day of my life!”

“Engineering can make life better for us all”

Quotes from participating children

UWE Taster Day for Year 12s

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33 local Year 12 students spent a day in the Engineering Design and Mathematics (EDM) Department, getting a taste for engineering and mathematics.

Rachel Szadziewska, EDM Associate Head of Department (Student Experience), introduced the day with a jigsaw ice breaker and then the students were broken into groups to take part in a range of problem based learning activities.

“From jigsaws that weren’t quite what they seemed through to learning the fundamentals of engineering stress and strain, density and material identification. The students seemed to have a good time and have hopefully been inspired to pursue a career in engineering.”

Rachel Szadziewska
An example of one of the maths based problem solving activities the students worked through.

Students aim to house the homeless

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UWE’s department of Engineering, Design and Maths (EDM) ran a project week for students, with a focus on finding novel solutions to homelessness.

Homelessness in the UK is a growing social issue and matter of concern for local councils and residents – and so a highly relevant regional challenge for the students to address.

Approximately 400 Project Management Level 2 students piled into the ECC on 28th Oct – 1st Nov, to take part in the project led by Poonam Kashyap and supported by the Aero cluster and module team.

Talks set the context-highlighting the issues and challenges faced by the target population, as well as the communities they live in. Speakers included, Jim Longhurst, Professor of Environmental Science and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability at UWE, Bristol, alongside various EDM alumni. And Stuart Phelps from Residents Against Dirty Energy, gave insights into van dwellers and residential areas.

Your task is to create novel engineering solution required to tackle the current homelessness issues faced by the local councils in the UK.

The students were given a brief instructing them to incorporate the following in their novel engineering solutions:

  • Sustainable homes/solutions
  • Affordable homes/solutions
  • Smart technology with accessibility to all (e.g. child and disable friendly).
  • Security and safety, healthy environment and care.
  • This may further include use of disused buildings, reuse of materials, innovative ideas around spaces and open areas and active areas.

Poonam reports that the project week was a huge success, with high levels of student and staff engagement.

UWE draw a crowd at Bristol Tech Fest

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Bristol’s Tech Fair was held on Saturday 9th November, to celebrate local tech, engineering and science. UWE joined in with the carnival of family fun activities, with stands immersing approx. 200 attendees in a Virtual Reality experience and Robotic programming.

Simon Scarle, Program Leader for MSc Commercial Games Development, ran a VR activity and two student ambassadors ran the robotic activities.

“It went brilliantly. We had loads of visitors come to the stand. The kids loved the vector robots and we had families working with the thymio robots on the floor. UWE almost took up the entire second floor!” reported student ambassador Daniel Buckley, who alongside fellow student Magnus Sligo-Young, was in charge of explaining how the thymio robot and vector robots worked.

When using the thymio robots, children and parents alike were given worksheets on which they had to link modes to the response displayed by the robots. For example, in red mode the robots avoided objects, responding in a fearful manner – moving away whilst beeping.

The students were surprised by how well children did compared to the accompanying parents!

The vector robots were also popular. Magnus said: “Kids loved the emotions displayed from the eyes on the vector robots and enjoyed seeing how they reacted to different situations…. the issue was that kids didn’t want to leave the stand!”

Bristol Technology Showcase this Friday!

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The one day conference and expo coming to Aerospace Bristol this Friday (8th November), focuses on how new and emerging technologies will affect businesses and wider society.

Industry leading experts will be taking part in panel discussions and leading talks about the future of various technologies and industries. While local Bristol Tech will be showcasing in the expo.

Find out more on the Bristol Technology Showcase website.

Find discounted tickets on Eventbrite here.

And here’s a video from one of the speakers who is leading a session on the Future of vertical farming.

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.

Bristol’s very own Tech Fair

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Bristol’s Tech Fair, celebrating local tech, engineering and science, is coming to Colston Hall on Saturday 9th November, 10am – 4pm.

It’s a lively carnival of family fun activities, careers advice and diversity inspiration – get free tickets for you and you family on Eventbrite.

There’s a Family and Kids Zone full day of Virtual Reality, Programming and Robotics with loads of local exhibitors, including UWE!

And for those of you involved in outreach and inclusion, the fair is also hosting the WISE conference. WISE is all about enabling and energising women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and they have an inspiring line up planned for the conference……Including, the UWE’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics’ departments very own – Laura Fogg-Rogers.

Fogg-Rogers will be speaking about UWE’s Women Like Me mentoring project, which connects women engineers with more experienced women in the field.

Finally, there’s a tech careers fair, for anyone who wants a sneak peak into what’s out there in the South West.

The tech fair is part of the Bristol Technology Festival, which is running from Monday 4th to Sunday 10th of November.

UWE introduce teenagers to robots and programming

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Senior Research fellow from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Severin Lemaignan, took a team of students and plenty of robots to Bristol’s Teen Tech Fair earlier this month.

Teen Tech Festivals pop up across the UK to inspire the innovators of tomorrow -teenagers! On Thursday 10th October, local businesses turned up to Bristol’s Pavilion to help young people understand the opportunities in the science, technology and engineering industries.

Lemaignan was enthusiastic about how his robotic programming activity was received. “About 60 children came and visited us. They all went through a bit of robot exploration with the Thymios, trying to guess their different behaviours, and relate them to the sensors and actuators that the robots have; followed by a short introduction to programming with the Vectors: 
how can we get the robot to avoid a wall?”

Students, Ranvir Bhogal, Bethany Mackey and Jiangyin Sun, helped facilitate the short 15 minute activities.

“All of the instructors, activity leaders and ambassadors were tirelessly energetic with infectious enthusiasm. They used language to explain concepts to the pupils in an accessible way. Not all of mine are regular users of technical vocabulary but I felt that they understood all that they needed to and learnt loads! They have come away inspired and really excited about entering the TeenTech Awards. I also had a lovely day!”

Comment from a Teacher who attended.

You can find out more about Teen Tech below and read the report from the day here.