STEM through storytelling

Posted on

Sign up to help show children that STEM is for everyone!

This year, the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol, in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador hub, are launching a scientist storytelling programme in schools.


We want every child in the West of England to see themselves as scientists, and what better way than through immersing them in stories featuring women, people from BAME backgrounds and people with neurodiversity having science-y fun. All delivered by you, a real-life scientist, with your own unique story and passions to tell.

And it works – we’ve previously deployed the “Curious Stories for Curious Children” template, but in locations all over the city, from the Suspension Bridge to local Libraries – and it was a great success!

STEM Ambassadors attended an inspiring training session and then spread out to cover 11 events over October half-term 2019, where they engaged nearly 300 children and adults both during the story and in the following Q&A sessions. My colleagues and I were extremely impressed with all the STEM Ambassadors involved and the responses they invoked.

Now we’re going into schools where we hope to engage with more children, and make it possible for them to envision themselves as scientists.

Get involved

But we need ambassadors to get involved- if you’re an approved STEM Ambassadors you can view the offer and sign up here:

And if all this tickles your fancy, then why not register as a STEM Ambassador to get involved. Plus you’ll get to see what other school outreach the STEM Ambassador Hub can connect you to.

Short training is provided!

As before, we’ll provide the storytelling training – scheduled for 3rd Feb, 4pm on UWE’s Frenchay campus. It’ll be led by UWE Bristol’s Associate Professor Jane Carter, who specialises in promoting reading with young children. (This training session isn’t mandatory, but I attended it last time – it really was brilliant and so worth trying to get along to)

What books?

We have a library of books, specially selected to change perceptions of what science is and who scientists are. Once you’re signed up, we’ll match you with a great stereotype-challenging (and super fun) science-y book and fix a date for you to go into school. (And if you want to go into your local school – please do let us know)

You can check out the book list here and I hope to meet many of you on Feb 3rd!

A STEM Ambassador storytelling at We the Curious in October 2019

Elm Park Primary think up solutions to climate change

Posted on

UWE Bristol’s DETI Inspire team have taken their solutions focused climate change activity into schools for the first time last week (11th Jan 2022).

Year 5 and 6 classes at Elm Park Primary, took part in the curriculum-linked activities, which support children to learn about the grand challenges’ cities face in relation to urban travel, air pollution and the steps they can take collectively to make their school streets, and cities, safer, healthier and happier.

The interactive activities included a traffic survey, mapping of routes to school, graph making and solutions. Children were also shown how the Telraam traffic counting sensors can be used with a Raspberry Pi to assess urban travel.

Some of the children’s ideas can be seen below:

The workshop was based on the WeCount Schools resources, created as part of the EU citizen science project WeCount, and we’ve got more schools booked in for session delivery.

Schools in the West of England can book a FREE WeCount Schools workshop, delivered by trained outreach coordinators from UWE Bristol by completing this online booking form.

And if you’re keen for your school to have their own traffic counting sensors, WeCount still have 5 sensors left to give away to schools across the West of England. Contact to apply.

Two members of team DETI arrived at Elm Park bright and early to deliver the outreach sessions!

DETI Innovate delivers on Big Data CPD course

Posted on

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.

Big Data

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
  • Data Quality
  • Knowledge Retrieval

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

UWE works alongside children in Easton to monitor local air quality

Posted on
Photographer Anya Agulova 

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:

University Scrapheap Challenge – Lego-style

Posted on

Last week, many of our student engineers here at UWE Bristol, got involved in fun, team-working challenges. And foundation students weren’t going to be left out – they took on their own Lego-based scrapheap challenge on Friday 26th November.

Programme leader for the Foundation Year, James Whiting, masterminded the challenge. Borrowing an assortment of Lego from the Engineering outreach team to form the scrapheap from which the students selected components to build a balloon-powered Lego car.

See photos below of the foundation students engaging with the team building activity, but also, having lots of fun.

Let the races begin!

Driving/Flying simulations

As part of the catch up and engagement week, Automotive Engineering With Foundation Year students, took part in simulation games in the Digital Engineering Lab. See photos below.

Official opening for School of Engineering building

Posted on

UWE Bristol’s state-of-the-art School of Engineering building was officially opened at an event on Thursday 18 November.

Completed in 2020, the striking multi-million pound facility on Frenchay campus has transformed engineering teaching and learning at UWE Bristol and has already been named Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards where judges praised its intelligent and sustainable design.

To formally declare the landmark building open, a special event was attended by students, staff, alumni and industry partners, along with guest speaker Dawn Bonfield MBE, former president of the Women’s Engineering Society, and celebrated sculptor Alice Channer who was commissioned to create an engineering-inspired public artwork in the atrium.

Staff, students and guests at the opening event

Designed with diverse student engineers in mind

Planning and design work on the new building was carried out in tandem with a renewal of the university’s engineering curriculum, drawn up in collaboration with industry to ensure engineering graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Moving to our wonderful new building with its complementary practise-based curriculum has signalled a real cultural shift. Our students are now known as professional student engineers, rather than engineering students. They are studying during traditional working hours, learning in spaces that closely resemble actual engineering workplaces, and use the same specialist equipment as professional engineers. We are placing an enhanced focus on problem solving, trialling and testing, because it is beneficial for students to try and fail as it builds resilience, creativity and innovation.

Professor Lisa Brodie, Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol

In addition to a new building and curriculum, UWE Bristol is redoubling efforts to increase diversity within its engineering intake. This includes enrolling more students with neurodiversity, and providing them with enhanced levels of personal mentoring and support from enrolment to employment, and doubling the number of female engineering students.

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.

Professor Lisa Brodie, Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol

Professor Lisa Brodie was recently interviewed by BBC Points West and ITV West Country News, sharing her thoughts about the need for a more inclusive and diverse engineering workforce. You can read more in this BBC article or catch up with these short clips:

BBC Points West:

ITV West Country News:

Graduate Laura Dixon, Professor Lisa Brodie and Student Engineer Thomas Dixon with BBC film crew

Inspiring the next generation

The university also aims to help attract a broader range of engineers by sparking interest among younger age groups, with school children as young as five invited to visit the building’s Prototype and Play Lab to participate in inspiring engineering outreach activities.

The school of engineering outreach team have developed a series of free engineering workshops for West of England schools and community groups, all designed to engage young people with engineering careers and solutions for sustainability.

Workshops are available to book now, details can be found in the brochure available for download below.

Local primary school students exploring engineering marvel SS Great Britain during The West in Minecraft engineering workshop

Youth discuss waste reduction for Net Zero 2030

Posted on

During the three day Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit (YEESS), 11-13 October 2021, young people across the West of England discussed carbon-emission cutting solutions with experts, before quizzing local politicians on their Climate Action strategies.

There was lots of great discussion worth noting, so we’re reporting each day’s targets, questions and potential solutions in a three-part series.

Day 3: How might we reduce our waste by 65% by 2030?

Waste reduction is a core target mapped into the Bristol and West of England Climate Action Plans, and was a popular talking point amongst the KS4 and KS5 YEESS delegates at the summit on Wednesday 13th October. And Orchard School pupils had lots of great questions for West of England Mayor, Dan Norris, at the livestreamed Q&A session held in person at We The Curious.

What does rubbish have to do with the climate?

Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, who works at the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, University of Bath, introduced the topic to YEESS delegates.

“Not only are mountains of waste bad for the environment and wildlife, but they’re also linked to increased carbon emissions. How? Well the more stuff we make, transport, and then throw away, the more emissions are wasted in the process. In fact, two thirds of the UK’s emissions come from the physical stuff we buy. We need to fundamentally rethink our throwaway culture.”

How to reduce waste by 65%?

YEESS delegates watched video postcards from engineers leading the way in waste reduction, and then discussed the various ideas presented, including:

Young people filled the online chat with questions on single use products, refill shops, landfill, recycling and retraining workers.

YEESS delegate Fking asked, “Do you think the economy might reach a stop when or if a ban on extracting new raw materials happens and many people lose their jobs due to the ban?”

James Osborne, manager of sustainable aviation projects at CFMS took on this tricky topic – “That’s an interesting point. The same was said about coal mines, and oil workers. But the government can help them to retrain to work in new, greener jobs.”

Another question from Hetty C was – “Do you think recycling and the effect waste can have on climate change is something that should be taught more in schools?

Fidel Olaye, Electronic Engineer at Babcock said, “Definitely! Awareness is really important right from a young age.”

Meanwhile at We The Curious, Year 10 students from Orchard School, Bristol, chatted face to face with inspirational UWE engineer, Dr Deborah Adkins, and came up with ideas like a tax on plastic and incentives to recycle and buy used items.

The West of England’s Climate Action Strategy

At the end of the day Orchard School students were joined by West of England Mayor Dan Norris, who, after being interviewed by various local radio and tv stations, answered pupils questions about the West of England’s Climate Action strategy.

Dan Norris was quizzed by Orchard School pupils at We The Curious

Dan kicked the livestream off by addressing one of the major concerns expressed by YEESS delegates throughout the summit, “One of the things that has been really important for me is that we really recognise that there is a climate emergency and we’ve got to do something about it.”

Savita Willmott, Chief Executive of the Natural History Consortium, chaired the Q&A session with lots of questions surrounding how to educate the public and get everyone onboard with climate action.

The mayor acknowledged that reducing carbon emissions by the 10% required each year to meet Net Zero 2030, was going to be tough. But he was encouraged by the positivity towards climate action he could see in the West of England and told students that their voices were needed to continue to push politicians to make the policy decisions necessary to achieve Net Zero.

Listen to Dan Norris’ Q&A session below:

For YEESS resources, check out Digital Trailblazers site, and to view more of the discussion on the day, take a look at the YEESS website.

Big Data CPD Course

Posted on

In line with fulfilling the needs of the Digital Skills requirement in the Engineering sector, UWE Bristol’s DETI Skills programme with its partner companies are delivering a free skills and training CPD course on Big Data.   

The course is free for all to attend but is specifically targeted to Technicians, Engineers, Operators, and anyone interested in upskilling or reskilling their knowledge in the subject area.  

Mode of Delivery: Online 

Date:    24th November 2021  

Time:    10.00  am – 16.00 pm

Cost:     Free to attend

Activity: Explore analytics models 

Review: Online assessment to test the understanding of participants

Strategic Alignment

This course supports the learning and the development of skills to breach the huge skills and employment gap in the UK for current and future engineers of the workforce through DETI delivery programmes.

Course Objective: The Big Data course will introduce Big data concepts and its’ applications. 

What is Big Data? 

Big Data refers to the analysis of large datasets to discover trends, correlations, or other insights not easily visible with smaller datasets or the conventional processing methods. With the high rate of adoption of sensors and connected devices with the internet of things, there has been a huge increase in the data points created in the manufacturing industry with the rise in data availability.  

Big data in manufacturing can discover new information and identify patterns that enable them to improve processes, increase supply chain efficiency and identify variables that affect production 

CPD Course in Big Data

Learn the fundamentals of big data with this CPD course which is designed to introduce you to this in-demand field, and will teach you how to design and implement big data analytics solutions. Delegates will also learn key tools and systems for working with big data such as Hadoop and Spark, and learn how to implement NoSQL data storage and processing solutions.

Course Delivery: 

Introduction to Big Data

  • Defining Big Data and sources of Big Data
  • The four dimensions of Big Data: Volume, velocity, variety, veracity
  • Big Data applications/examples in business
  • Delivering business benefit from Big Data
  • Establishing the business importance of Big Data

SQL Databases vs. NoSQL Databases 

  • Understand the growing amounts of data
  • RDBMSs ACID, and Introduction to NoSQL databases
  • Understanding the difference between a relational DBMS and a NoSQL database
  • Identifying the need to employ a NoSQL DB
  • Overview of Hadoop and Related Technologies 

Data Quality

  • Metrics and Measures: Why are the metrics and measures important for data quality estimation and how to select appropriate and relevant metrics for a project?
  • Tools and Techniques: How to estimate data quality using some of the current tools and technologies? How to use the tools and advantages/disadvantages of various tools.

Knowledge Retrieval

  • Knowledge Extraction: Types of knowledge
  • The lifecycle of knowledge extraction from big data
  • An overview of core principles and techniques used to extract knowledge, for example, classification, clustering and regression analysis.


There will be a Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) via mentimeter both mid way and at the end of the course to gauge the understating of participants.

Attending the Course

To register your place on the course contact Dr. Ramin Amali  –  or Dr. Halimah Abdullahi –

Youth discuss reducing the carbon cost of heating for Net Zero 2030

Posted on

During the three day Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit (YEESS), 11-13 October 2021, young people across the West of England discussed carbon-emission cutting solutions with experts, before quizzing local politicians on their Climate Action strategies.

There was lots of great discussion worth noting, so we’re going to report each day’s targets, questions and potential solutions in a three-part series.

Day 2: How might we heat our homes without fossil fuels by 2030?

Moving heating reliance away from fossil fuels is a core target mapped into the local Climate Action Plans, and after exploring the hot topic, KS4 and KS5 YEESS delegates quizzed South Gloucestershire Councillor Toby Savage and Bath & North East Somerset Councillor Sarah Warren on their strategies.

Why can’t we keep using gas boilers?

Introducing the issue – Ruzanna Chitchyna, an associate Professor at the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol – “In the UK, most homes are heated via a gas boiler. Gas is a fossil fuel, with home heating accounting for 14% of our carbon emissions. The rules are already changing, with all new homes finding fossil fuel alternatives by 2025. The next step will be retro-fitting – replacing our current home heating with climate friendly alternatives.”

Watch her video intro below:

How to heat our homes without fossil fuels?

YEESS delegates watched video postcards from engineers leading the shift in heating away from fossil fuels, and then discussed the various ideas presented, including:

On the online chat, discussion was dominated by queries about causes of climate change, possibilities with nuclear power, how to personally reduce emissions and jobs of the future.

YEESS delegate Natalie asked, “What do you think is the most influential thing we can do to help solve climate change?”

Dr Deborah Adkins, UWE Bristol’s Fellow in Sustainable Buildings, recommended she – “Read the IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) summary report 2021. Share what you’ve learnt from reading it with three people.”

Another great question came from delegate Issyprime – “What new and exciting jobs are out there for young people?”

James Osborne (who manages projects on sustainable aviation at CFMS) answered – “I think young people are living in a very interesting time – look around you & practically everything you see probably requires some changes to make it compatible with our climate goals.”

Our region’s Climate Action Strategy

Savita Willmott, Chief Executive of the Natural History Consortium, interviewed South Gloucestershire Councillor Toby Savage and Bath & North East Somerset (BANES) Councillor Sarah Warren, on their respective Climate Action Strategies.

Josh Warren (from the DETI Inspire team) works the livestream tech for the interview with South Gloucestershire Councillor Toby Savage (in person) and Bath & North East Somerset Council Councillor Sarah Warren (online)

Both Sarah and Toby gave YEESS delegates an overview on what their councils are doing to address both the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

This included an insight into elements of the local building plans, with Sarah speaking about BANES council demanding more energy efficiency from housing developers, as well as supporting retrofitting projects. And Toby highlighting an interest in South Gloucestershire council acquiring land in order to build more affordable homes.

Find out more in the recording interview below:

Interview with councillors on Tuesday 12th October 2021

For YEESS resources, check out Digital Trailblazers site, and to view more of the discussion on the day, take a look at the YEESS website.

New sustainability solutions show for schools heads to COP26!

Posted on

A new immersive experience developed by Explorer Dome in collaboration with the DETI Inspire team at UWE is being featured at the COP26 Green Zone this week.

We Make Our Future is a new interactive, educational & entertaining science show that celebrates the ingenuity of human engineering, addresses current issues around climate change and introduces digital engineering as a relevant and attainable aspiration for all young people.

The show is one of several educational workshops on offer from the DETI Inspire programme, designed to engage local children with design thinking for sustainability. For a full list of free workshops available for schools please visit or download the brochure below.

The show

We Make Our Future is a presenter-led experience which can be delivered inside Explorer Dome in schools.

When inside, full-dome digital projections allow you to visit engineering marvels from history and explore the pros and cons of modern life. Industry, technology and invention have progressed civilisation, but at what cost? Get to know how the Engineering Design Process and application of digital technology can make the world a better place for us all.

Free shows for West of England Schools

The Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative have provided funding for 10 West of England schools* to experience this new show in the Explorer Dome inflatable planetarium for free! If you would like to bring the show to your school please apply for a free place by contacting

For any schools outside the West of England area, the show will also be available to book as part of Explorer Dome’s current programme of shows.

*Please note that free shows funded by DETI can only be offered to state schools in the West of England area with a high proportion of free school meals.

A pivotal moment in the fight against climate change

This November, the UK are hosting an event many believe to be the world’s best chance to get runaway climate change under control. COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, bringing together almost every country on Earth for a global climate summit, to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change.

World leaders have been arriving in Glasgow this past week, alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks. Throughout the duration of the summit, the Green Zone will be open to the public at the Glasgow Science Centre, where youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, and business from across the UK and all over the world will be hosting events, exhibitions, cultural performances, workshops and talks.

We Make Our Future has been selected to feature in the Green Zone from Nov 8-10. Keep an eye on our Twitter channel for updates from the team in Glasgow. If you are visiting during the summit, you can book your free Green Zone tickets here