Metro Mayor meets the people behind the West of England’s green tech

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Metro Mayor Dan Norris met the bright young minds behind some of the West of England’s leading green tech initiatives, during a visit to UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering on Frenchay campus last week.

Mr Norris met some of the skilled young engineers and entrepreneurs behind some of the region’s leading green initiatives as part of the Metro Mayor’s second Jobs and Skills Summit, as well as being given an insight into projects to inspire the region’s future innovators.

The innovative tech on display included drones that measure microplastics in the air, built by award-winning student engineers at UWE Bristol, digitally engineered leak-proof hydrogen storage containers and machines that optimise the growth of the crops people eat.

Some of the programmes are funded through the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation programme, a £5 million initiative from the West of England Combined Authority.

Green Skills

Mr Norris met learners from the Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship (Green Skills) project, a programme designed to upskill learners from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to help the region achieve its net zero target. 

Green Skills is led by UWE Bristol and delivered in partnership with the Black South West Network and NatWest. It has received £760,000 of funding from the UK’s Government’s Community Renewal Fund and is overseen by the West of England Combined Authority within the region. 

Mr Norris said the demonstration showed the abundance of talent across the West of England and applauded the talented youngsters supporting the region to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and commented:

“I’m so pleased to meet the teams of enthusiastic young people who are pioneering environmentally-friendly technology, boosting the West of England economy and supporting our efforts to reach our net-zero ambitions. It just goes to show how much talent there is in the region, as well as the good, high-quality jobs there are for local people in future-proof sectors such as the green economy, helping us to tackle the climate emergency alongside the jobs crisis.”

Inspiring a Green Future

Special thanks go to Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers who arranged the summit at UWE’s new Engineering building. She also arranged for the mayor to get a preview of the DETI funded We Make our Future planetarium show.

The team from Explorer dome persuaded the Mayor and summit guests to take of their shoes and crawl into the inflatable planetarium for a taster of the engineering sustainability themed show designed to inspire the next generation of engineers. Read more about the show and it’s new funding to go into more schools in the West of England.

Altered from the original post on https://intranet.uwe.ac.uk/whats-happening/news/Article/Metro-Mayor-meets-young-minds-behind-best-of-West-of-England-clean-tech by Anthony Poploski.

Family Fun day at UWE’s Engineering!

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Tickets are going fast for UWE’s family fun day – taking place on Saturday 25th June in the brand new Engineering building on UWE’s Frenchay campus.

Get your free tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leaders-award-family-fun-day-tickets-344241203707

Running: 10am – 4:30pm

We’ll have lots of exciting activities for the whole family – all the best local science-y activities in one place – robots, Minecraft & an amazing FREE planetarium show!

UWE is bringing all this together to celebrate the amazing inventions children in the South-West designed for the Leaders Award competition – with shortlisted entries on display alongside the robots, music technology, crafty activities, eco-house activity and did I mention a FREE planetarium show?!

Book tickets to the Engineering Professors Council congress this June at UWE

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The Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) is the voice of engineering academics, and are holding their face-to-face annual congress at UWE Bristol on 7 -9th June.

A Better World is the theme for the event, with a focus on ethics, sustainability and recovery. The congress features Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety (following Grenfell); Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO of UKRI; Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Exec of the Royal Academy of Engineering; and Prof Steve West, President of Universities UK. Plus a host of expert speakers, dinner on the SS Great Britain and a UWE welcome to the cutting-edge Bristol Robotics Lab and brand new curriculum-led UWE Engineering building.

The full line up is below, and more details can be found on the EPC Annual Congress 2022: A Better World website.

The EPC represents engineering academics (at all levels) in higher education, and all academics at EPC member institutions are welcome to attend the meeting.

Bookings are open now via the UWE store. Paying via the online store is the easiest and quickest way to register for the event.

Tuesday 7th June

  • 14:00-15:00: Registration: Engineering building
  • 15:00-17:00: Tour: Engineering building and Bristol Robotics Laboratory
  • 18:30-19:30: Public Lecture:Dame Judith Hackitt 
  • 19:30-20:15: Drinks reception: Students’ Union
  • 20:15-onwards: BBQ and Morris Dancing: Students’ Union

Wednesday 8th June

  • 09:00: Registration: Engineering Building
  • 09:45: Welcome
  • 09:55: Guest speaker: The Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP
  • 10:15: Panel: Sustainability
  • 11:15: Panel: A new kind of student
  • 12:15: Panel: Designing a curriculum for sustainability
  • 13:15: Lunch
  • 14:15 Panel: Engineering Ethics: a toolkit
  • 15:30 Panel: Emerging greener
  • 16:15EPC online launch
  • 19:00: Congress Dinner, SS Great Britain.
  • 19:15: EPC President Prize: Hayaatun Sillem CBE
  • 21:00: After dinner speaker: Simon Fanshawe
  • 22:00: Hammermen Award

Thursday 9th June

  • 09:15: AGM
  • 10:00: Keynote: Working with industry for a better world: Ottoline Leyser
  • 10:40: Panel: Working with industry for a better world
  • 11:40: Panel: Accreditation for a better world
  • 12:30: Keynote: looking to the future: Prof Steve West 
  • 13:00: Close
  • 13:15: Lunch

UWE staff & students win prizes at ethnic minority engineering conference

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The Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers – AFBE live – held their first annual conference in April, sending happy UWE staff and students home with some sparkling trophies.

Halimah’s trophy

The conference was held at IET savoy place, London, and UWE Research Fellow, Halimah Abdullahi, was runner up in the Next Big Idea Competition – Covid and Diversity & Inclusion category – for her presentation on UWE investigations on how to make engineering inclusive for everyone. This work was part of the Digital Engineering Technology Innovation (DETI) Skills project.

Halimah described the conference as “mind blowing” and “the best event I have attended”. 

There was also success for UWE students Namlan Oulai Siaba and Moataz Hassan, who came 3rd and 4th place respectively in the Tech Innovation category.

The conference was also attended by UWE’s Associate Professor in Assistive Robotics, Virginia Ruiz Garate, who represented UWE at the speed networking event. And Lecturer in Systems Engineering, Amina Hamoud sat on the judging panel for the Next Big Idea Competition.

More about the conference

The conference theme was “The Future of Engineering: Sustainability, Innovation and Diversity”, and 537 people turned up to listen from a host of great speakers, and participate in the many networking opportunities and competitions.

The keynote speakers were Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO of UK Research, and Innovation (UKRI) and Chris Knibb, Head of Corporate Communications, IET. With Chi Onwurah urging everyone to consider getting involved with policy as a way of using engineering expertise and thinking to benefit the society.

Co-founders of AFBE-UK, Dr Nike Folayan and Dr Ollie Folayan, delivered speeches on the background and growth of AFBE. Other speakers included Mark Martin MBE, co-founder of UK BlackTech; Janice Mair, director of people, culture and diversity at EnQuest; Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, public speaker and political commentator; former NBA star John Amaechi OBE, CEO of APS Intelligence and best-selling New York Times author; Shereen Daniels, managing director of anti-racism and racial equity advisory firm, HR rewired; and Ortis Deley, host of Channel 5’s The Gadget Show.

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Engineering trail featured at Bristol’s annual walking festival

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Bristol’s hugely popular, annual walking festival – Bristol Walk Fest is back! The month-long celebration of all things walking throughout our beautiful city will take place from 1st to 31st May 2022, with a wealth of in-person walking related events and activities, self-guided walking routes and challenges, and much more for you to enjoy throughout the national walking month of May.

This year you can experience an engineering themed walk around Bristol’s harbourside thanks to the Digital Trailblazers app created by the DETI Inspire team from UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering.

The mobile app features several self-guided trails found across the city, highlighting iconic engineering landmarks, organisations and businesses, allowing the user to explore the rich engineering heritage of our city, whilst also signposting some of our local Digital Trailblazers – organisations and businesses who are pioneering the latest in digital technologies.

The app is free to use and easily downloaded from the App Store or Google Play, so residents can enjoy the different trails at their own pace throughout the entire month of May as part of the city’s walking festival.

Events for May half-term

And for an extra special experience for the whole family to enjoy, this May half-term there will also be an opportunity to meet some real-life engineers at locations along the Harbourside Trail, on Saturday 28th May and Monday 30th May.

Beginning at the site of Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the Harbourside Trail loops around the floating harbour for an enjoyable 5km walk. Come and meet some of UWE’s student engineers at the start of the trail, who will have plenty of exciting tech for you to try, including the chance to explore and engineer our city digitally, using the game Minecraft!

You do not need to register for the events, just turn up at the starting point (by the SS Great Britain) at 11am or 2pm on either the 28th or 30th May. More information about the walks can be found on the Bristol Walk Fest website.

UWE student engineers delivering activities at Aerospace Bristol during April half-term

Digital Trailblazers has been developed by the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol’s Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics (EDM) with funding from the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation initiative (DETI). For more information about the project visit https://digitaltrailblazers.net/about

Local Engineers wowed by children’s inventions

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Yesterday, a range of Engineers from across the South West scurried out of the rain and into UWE’s outreach classroom to find out what local children had invented in this round of – “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

A nationwide competition, the engineers soon got dug into the entries (and the biscuits!) sharing the most inventive, interesting, and down-right crazy ones with the group.

“It’s fun!” said Paul Powell of Babcock International

Gill Richardson who works on rail projects at Porterbrook said, “There are some fascinating ideas…really inventive.”

For Darren Kewley, from the MOD, he returns year after year to these grading days to hear the stories.”I think my favourite part is seeing their personal stories come through – the real world problems they face and seeing them apply engineering to fix those problems.”

He gave an example that had particularly struck him. “One child explained how their Gran was in hospital and it broke their heart to see the problems she was facing. They explained in the letter that they hadn’t known what to do, but after hearing about this competition, realised that engineering could help.”

The kids taking part in this competition have got it – Engineering solves problems and can help make the world a better place!

And on that uplifting note, we look forward to find out the winners at the celebration day in June – thanks everyone for volunteering their time to make this competition great.

Free Big Data course

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Alongside other DETI partner companies, UWE Bristol have organised a free virtual skills and training CPD course focused on upskilling local engineers in all things Big Data.

Upskilling and onboarding digital technologies is a core aim of the DETI Innovate program, and Big Data is one such tool that has been identified as critical for the Engineering sector. As such, this introductory course is designed to help industries and workers visualize the possibilities of a future with Big Data by introducing core concepts and applications.

The skills and training course is open to all applicants seeking pathways to a digital career. And to enable as many people to take part as possible, the course is being made available online, allowing participants to study materials at their own pace.

Register for the Big Data course here

The induction session is 10 – 11am on 25th April 2022 – so sign up soon! Following work can be undertaken at the learners own pace.

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 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.  

In manufacturing, Big Data can discover new information and identify patterns that enable businesses to improve processes, increase supply chain efficiency and identify variables that affect production.

Who’s the course for?

This course is designed for learners with a technology, computer science or engineering background, who are in their early career looking to specialise into digital engineering. Or those currently working in these sectors and looking to develop their existing skills.

That includes, students, graduates, apprentices, technicians, engineers, operators, and anyone interested in upskilling or reskilling their knowledge in the subject area.

We’d particularly like to encourage those who are recently unemployed, self-employed, looking to move into a new job role, or coming out of furlough – to sign up.

Entry requirements

Participants will be required to:

  • have a good knowledge of basic computer literacy skills
  • be committed to completing the modules and assessment and be able to take part in the course delivery format and subject matter
  • be aged from 19 years of age and above.
  • agree to provide mandatory personal data and supplementary information on their jobs, education and give feedback on the course delivery

Course details

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.

Register for the Big Data course here

Youth Climate Communications: a pilot

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Author Sophie Laggan.

On 24th February, 12 young people, aged 15-24, headed to UWE’s Prototype and Play Lab, in the School of Engineering, for a training day in Climate Communications. Passionate about addressing the climate and ecological emergency, and eager to learn and connect with likeminded people, the delegates came from across the Bristol area, with representation from five different schools/colleges and from the University.

With over half of young people reported to experience some form of climate-related anxiety (Hickman et al. 2021) – this training emerged out of the collective interest of researchers at UWE (from the Science Communication Unit, FET, ABE and DGEM) keen to share their knowledge with, and empower, the younger generation.

How to address climate anxiety

To steer young people away from overwhelm, timely action, forethought and trust in science are needed (Manzanedo & Manning, 2020). And according to a research project by Climate Outreach, to resonate with young people we, as adults, need to validate their negative thoughts while avoiding overly optimistic communications, and provide resources that can alleviate their anxiety.

Drawing on this research, and the interests of young people, the Science Communication Unit shaped the programme of activities for a pilot session with young people.

On the day

Start with the why”

Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers and Research Fellow Sophie Laggan started the training by explaining that different ways of viewing the world shape how we make decisions and the only way to forge meaningful dialogue and promote pro-environmental change is through meeting people where they’re at. They used the example of solar panels – where one household might buy solar panels for environmental reasons, others do so out of economic/energy security, and others simply because they follow the ‘norm’ – their neighbours did it.

The participants ran with this idea in a role-playing exercise where they tried to convince someone ‘not like them’ – and in a position of power and influence – to install solar panels on the roof of their school. With a bit of context about what makes their partner tick, the participants were able to tap into the other person’s values and use it to their advantage.

Sustainable Housing activity

Following lunch and a tour of the Campus’s community garden, the group returned for an engagement activity on passive houses with Dr Deborah Adkins. Each table were given a wooden replica of a typical UK house and asked to stick post-its on the areas they thought could be improved for sustainability, everything from solar panels to insulation and green roofs. The task was accompanied by a short presentation, allowing the participants to learn more about sustainable housing.

Deborah Adkins - greener homes | Administration and support services |  Imperial College London

Designing their own engagement activity

Deborah’s session was followed by an in-depth explanation of the value of physical engagement activities, by Sophie, with the chance for each participant to prototype their design for an engagement activity based on the issue that mattered to them, be that local food or slow fashion. Their issues of concern were formulated in the opening session of the day – “Start with the why”.

Filming sustainability

The day was concluded with top tips by Josh Warren on filmmaking on a budget, before the young people were set to task on recording their own short film on a sustainability topic. The group enjoyed watching each other’s films and spent the last few minutes of the day reflecting on how valuable the day was for their activism and general understanding of people ‘not like them’.


Climate Anxiety post-training?

Before and after surveys, showed that the young people’s negative thoughts (scared, angry, concerned, powerless, guilty, confused) all reduced following the training (except for mournful) and positive thoughts increased (empowered, hopeful, optimistic and determined).

Confidence in communication skills also increased. For instance, 100% felt confident/very confident in engaging their audience after the training, compared to just 11% (N=1) before.

Next steps

Participants suggested that training on social media, graphics and poster design would be useful, and so the team will shortly launch a social media campaign training event for the cohort.

Shortly after the training day the team found out they were successful in their bid to the HEIF FET-FBL Award! This means the training can be replicated for different youth groups, with a focus on those from more diverse backgrounds. And enables them to create e-learnings and printable toolkits.

This work on climate anxiety in young people sits under the umbrella of the Climate Action Hub at UWE, which acts as a space for researchers to connect with communities interested in tackling the climate and ecological emergency. To facilitate this exchange, the Hub is looking at setting up a Staff Network to allow staff the time to build these connections. If you are interested in connecting to the Hub in any way, or have ideas on how it should operate, then please contact Sophie.laggan@uwe.ac.uk.

This training was led by Research Fellow Sophie Laggan, Associate Professor Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, Senior Lecturer Dr Deborah Adkins and Josh Warren.

References:

Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R.E., Mayall, E.E., Wray, B., Mellor, C. and van Susteren, L., 2021. Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health5(12), pp.e863-e873.

Manzanedo, R.D. and Manning, P., 2020. COVID-19: Lessons for the climate change emergency. Science of the Total Environment742, p.140563.

Taylor, S., 2020. Anxiety disorders, climate change, and the challenges ahead: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Anxiety Disorders76, p.102313.

Climate Outreach, 2020, Britain Talks Climate, 18th November 2020. URL: https://climateoutreach.org/reports/britain-talks-climate/

Upcoming Event: Empowering Women in Engineering

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This event forms part of our celebrations for Women’s History Month, and will explore the historical and future role of women in shaping our cities.


This March 24th, the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering will be hosting a live event to celebrate Women’s History Month – Empowering Women in Engineering.

Joining us for the event as keynote speaker is Chartered Civil Engineer and Bridgemaster at Clifton Suspension Bridge, Trish Johnson.

During her talk, Trish will be sharing experiences of her career journey, including her current role supporting the conservation of Clifton Suspension Bridge – an engineering marvel, and iconic historical landmark in our city of Bristol.

There will be a Q&A plus Networking and Nibbles – an opportunity to meet and chat to other local women engineers and STEM professionals from the West of England.

Trish featured in our Engineering Curiosity card set, an educational resource for schools, which explores the diversity of engineering careers and people in the West of England

Time and Location

Thursday 24th March, 5pm-6.30pm at UWE Bristol School of Engineering, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY

Event Timetable

5pm-5.30pm Networking and Nibbles

5.30pm-6.30pm Keynote from Trish Johnson, followed by Q&A

How to book

To register for this event, please complete the following online form: Empowering Women in Engineering Event Registration


This event will be preceded by a training day for participants in the Women Like Me mentoring and outreach project. If you have any questions about the event or Women Like Me, please get in touch with the team at engineeringourfuture@UWE.ac.uk

Future Brunels re-design the SS Great Britain in DETI Inspire’s ‘The West in Minecraft’

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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.

The West in Minecraft and subsequent worlds are developed with the support of Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, and Science Hunters through Building to Break Barriers (funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant)

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