Over 1200 students discuss solutions and skills to reach net-zero in School Eco-Week events

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Three secondary schools in the West have recently held Inspire Sustainability Eco-Weeks, with their students learning about the challenges that we face in order to reach net-zero by 2030, and the green skills and solutions needed in order to overcome them.

Bristol Brunel Academy, Digitech Studio School and Hans Price Academy have held events including career stands with prospective employers from the area, where students challenged them on their green credentials; sessions from the DETI Inspire team debating sustainable solutions from real engineers in the area; and interactive hook-a-duck stands encouraging students to identify their own green skills and apply them to the net-zero challenge.

The Eco Weeks form part of the Inspire Sustainability project, funded as part of the Green Futures project from the West of England Combined Authority. Through meeting all our real life role models working on sustainability solutions, it’s hoped young people will gain a greater awareness of the diverse green jobs available in the West.

In the DETI Inspire sessions, students debated targets for net-zero, including lowering waste by 65%, and Bristol City Council’s promise to reduce traffic by 40%, all by the year 2030. Then the students of various age groups, discussed the different solutions to the challenges faced when reaching for those targets. Such as insulating new homes and retrofitting older ones, city planning focussing on low-carbon transport, ways to hold their schools to account for their eco-choices, and the many green skills and careers that would come from the push for net-zero.

Across the week, the DETI Inspire team delivered a whole-school assembly, multiple live school online broadcasts tuned into by whole year groups, 15 fully facilitated sessions, and hosted an employer careers fair.

In total the team directly delivered to over 1200 young people, with future events and engagements also being planned. Many of the students reached have formed school eco-clubs, where they work together with the school to become more sustainable. Many of the students have taken inspiration from the sessions, and brought real solutions for sustainability to the school’s leadership. It’s really great to see that the students are turning to climate action and developing their green skills, and actively making a difference in their school.

To learn more about the sessions, the plans for future Eco-weeks, and to book the DETI Inspire team for future STEM and sustainability outreach, please contact the team at the engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk inbox. You can also download the lesson plans and materials from the sessions at the link below: https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources

Students throng to Engineering Careers Fair – today!

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It’s Project Week for Student Engineers at UWE Bristol, with a busy schedule of events and talks planned each day.

And the big event for today was the Careers Fair, organised by the brilliant Engineering Director of Professional and Workforce Development, Wendy Fowles-Sweet.

10 of the biggest Engineering companies in the South West set up stalls in the School of Engineering’s atrium and have been visited by hundreds of students between 12 and 2:30pm.

They’ll be much more about Project Week coming up soon!

Students – for anything career related please do check out the Engineering Fair Live Wall of Work.

Bristol Engineering advocate, Jared Newnham named IET’s Engineering and Technology Apprentice winner

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UWE student Jared Newnham has been named the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Apprentice winner 2022.

Jared is a third year Aerospace Engineering Degree Apprentice, undertaking a placement as an Airworthiness Certification Manager at DE&S Air Domain, Ministry of Defence. He was nominated for demonstrating outstanding initiative by developing a new regulatory-compliant procedure that has been used for multiple complex technical queries. His work has been such a success it is being rolled out to all projects within the Delivery Team.

Well done Jared!

On receiving the award, Jared said: “I can’t believe that I’ve been chosen as the IET’s Apprentice winner for 2022. There are so many apprentices doing great things across engineering so to be given this award makes me really proud.

“For anyone thinking about taking up a career in STEM, I would definitely recommend looking into apprenticeships. My placement with the Ministry of Defence has led to so many incredible opportunities which I will look back on fondly and which will hopefully lead to a long and enjoyable career.”

Jared and the awards

As Airworthiness Certification Manager, Jared is responsible for increasing air system operational capabilities through risk reduction and type design change embodiment. But in addition to his main duties, Jared is a keen advocate for engineering within the local community, coordinating an outreach event to promote careers to sixth form students and also mentoring struggling classmates.

The IET Achievement Awards celebrate excellence and research across the sector and encourage the next generation of engineers and technician.

IET President Professor Bob Cryan said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Jared who has been making great waves in the world of engineering despite being so early on in his career. It is inspiring to see that Jared is using his passion for STEM to help teach others about the opportunities available to them, increasing awareness amongst members of his local community.

“Each of the award finalists demonstrated an exceptional level of skill and knowledge, spanning beyond their roles which made judging extremely difficult. All have taken on challenging projects and thanks to their creativity and resolve, have had a positive impact in their companies. I wish all of them the best of luck for a rewarding engineering career ahead.”

Join Us at our Green Skills Fayres in the South West!

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What are Green Skills Fayres?

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.

Read more here: Inspire young people at a Green Skills Fayre – Graphic Science

Woman writing the word career on a wall while standing on a step containing educational graphics.

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.

Our Green Skills Meet-up

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Last week DETI Inspire attended an Our Green Skills meet-up at the SS Great Britain. The event allowed us to interact with educators in the South-West and provide them with educational resources related to sustainable engineering.

Our Green Skills aims to promote the teaching and raising awareness of green skills in schools. These skills include those that’ll help kids thrive in a future workforce that is more focused on sustainability, such as those needed to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency, and prevent further biodiversity loss.

As well as the exchange of ideas and opportunities to promote green skills to schoolkids, we successfully recruited STEM ambassadors, who were aiming to get more involved in outreach. STEM ambassadors are crucial for engaging children with STEM topics, as they represent the diverse types of people found in their field and demonstrate the wide variety of roles that kids can picture themselves in.

We also promoted a Youth Climate Communications Toolkit: a short booklet that schoolkids can work through to help them develop a plan to communicate about climate change and how we can work together to prevent further harm to the environment in a format that interests them. This could be through social media, filmmaking, letter writing, and many other ways.

We hope to attend more similar events in future to connect with other educators who want to equip children with the tools they need to create a more sustainable future for themselves.

Engineers meet to inspire the next generation

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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?

This training was funded as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s public engagement grant scheme – Ingenious – secured by UWE. This Ingenious funding will also be used to extend the impact of Explorer Dome’s ‘We Make Our Future’ show – a show all about engineering a sustainable future.

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!

Additional Information

UWE Engineering

You can find out more about UWE Engineering and the activities of the Outreach team on the UWE Engineering our Future website.

Explorer Dome

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

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.

DETI Inspire Share Outreach Methods at the Interact Conference

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DETI Inspire team members Josh and Stephanie headed to Cardiff last week to share their methods of outreach to schools with other science communicators in a variety of different STEM fields.

Interact, held annually, is an engagement symposium for the physical sciences organised by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). With the stunning backdrop of Cardiff City Hall, this year’s event allowed the exchange of ideas and learning from a variety of organisations, such as Science Made Simple, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Astronomical Society.

DETI Inspire ran two workshops throughout the day showcasing ‘The West in Minecraft’, an engineering outreach session typically provided for school groups. The session allows children to access a digital landmark from Bristol or Bath and make changes and improvements to it via the tools provided in the popular game Minecraft to solve a problem, with a focus on sustainability.

Stephanie is stood in front of a table covered with kids engineering and science books, small robots, and leaflets. She is raising her fist, copying the statue behind her which is doing the same.
Stephanie at the DETI Inspire market stall

Participants in the workshops at Interact were encouraged to imagine they were their 10-year-old selves to create an immersive experience that allowed them to understand exactly how the kids benefit from these sessions. Both sessions were well-attended, and conversations with staff and students from different organisations and universities suggested a current interest surrounding the incorporation of computer games into science outreach for schools.

Outreach discussions weren’t limited to just Minecraft though, as Stephanie and Josh arrived at the conference equipped with other engineering games, tools, and books that DETI Inspire use for outreach. Setting up robot battles was quickly found to be the most effective way of getting attendees to stop at their market stall, to then participate in conversations surrounding science communication methods and, in particular, advertise the work that DETI Inspire do.

Our amazing interns

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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!

Introductions

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.

Superstars!

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.

Natalie and Luca explaining their activity to 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.

Spot Luca and Natalie heading up the robot zone

Highlights

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.

Final Goodbyes

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!

Good luck both of you!

Team Inspire 2022 at the Leaders Award Celebration Event 24th June 2022 (left to right – Louisa Cockbill, Natalie, Luca, Georgina Hayes & Josh Warren)

Lego Robots deployed in the community

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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!

UWE’s Engineering Family Fun Day a Great Success!

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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!

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