Kids with special needs visit the BRL

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Katie Sparkes from the Lightyear Foundation thanks Severin Lemaignan and his team for enabling the special educational need (SEN) trip to the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in January.

The Lightyear Foundation works hard to break down barriers to getting more disabled people into Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, & Medicine. One of the ways they inspire children with SEN is through work inspiration trips.

This is what New Fosseway School had to say about the trip:

“What a unique experience for our students and interesting place to visit! It was a real delight watching them so interested in all the different robots from the very tiny to the huge car simulators.

They were especially interested in the social robots designed to help disabled people. Being able to have a go and manipulate some of the robots was really exciting and they also enjoyed the coding session where they got to programme some of the robots.

The trip most definitely inspired curiosity!”

Jo Payne, Transitions Lead, New Fosseway School.

Thanks to Severin, this trip has opened up the possibility of more SEN schools visiting the BRL….hopefully schools will be back in the summer term and these visits can go ahead!

Alumni listed on 2020 Future List by Northern Power Women

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Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee graduated in 2010 from the MEng Aerospace Engineering programme and now works as a Flight Systems Engineer at BAE Systems. She’s worked hard to change perceptions of STEM careers, and has been officially recognised on the 2020 Future List by Northern Power Women.

Northern Power Women have added 52 amazing individuals to the Future List, all who have contributed to making a difference in their communities and organisations, as well as raising awareness of gender equality across the North of England. 
 
The Future List recognises the leaders and change makers of the future who are already making a difference in their environments and communities. 

“I feel very passionate about inspiring more young girls to consider STEM careers, especially after my own experiences of studying and working in an environment in which the majority of people are male.
Volunteering to talk to young people has taken me out of my comfort zone but seeing the excitement and wonder on their faces when I talk about my career gives me personal fulfilment. I aspire to help change perceptions of what an Engineer looks like and to be the role model I wish I’d had when I was growing up.”

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee

The winners of the Northern Power Women Awards will be announced on 16 March at a gala awards night and dinner at the Manchester Central Convention Complex. The winners will continue to be showcased throughout the year, to ensure ongoing visibility for the role models and to use their presence to inspire.

Read the full announcement.

Eco-Bricks in City Hall and Whitehall School

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Back in October, Sara Williams was awarded FET Public Engagement and Outreach funding for her Eco-Brick outreach project – since then she’s been busy driving the project forward!

(Eco-bricks are made by filling plastic bottles with waste plastic and can be used to build almost anything, including simple furniture and art projects. Weighing an eco-brick ensures its’ quality for building and quantifies the plastic saved)

Children Debate in City Chambers

Children, 6 – 11 years of age, from nine Bristol primary schools, became eco-councillors at City Hall on January 8th – the first Eco-school council.

In the chambers, children debated the climate emergency and thought about how they can make changes in their schools.

Everyone was then pleased to hear from Mayor Marvin Rees, who was amazed and encouraged by the children’s views.

In workshops, the children discussed the issues of single use plastic and plastic waste, learned how to make Eco-bricks and brainstormed what could be built using Eco-bricks in their schools.

Bristol City Council, Children’s scrapstore the Global foals centre and Bricking it Bristol, helped Sara organise the event.

Bricking it in Whitehall School

Following on from the Eco-school council success, Sara went with Bricking it Bristol into Whitehall School, for the first of three Eco-brick projects. You can see the products of the workshop in the above photograph!

In the next phase of the project Sara is running two parent workshops at Whitehall – good luck Sarah, we look forward to hearing how the project progresses.

Sign up to be amazed by kid’s inventions

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Thousands of children across the South West are busy thinking up inventions to answer the question posed by the Leaders Awards free competition:

“If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

The Leaders Award arranges live Q&A sessions with lots of different types of engineers, all to inspire children aged 3 – 19. Then the children decide what problem they want to address, design a solution and enter the competition with a drawing and description.

Thousands of children in the South West will enter the Leaders Award this year, and we need practising engineers to grade the myriad of inventive entries.

South West grading days are being held at UWE Frenchay Campus, in the Business School (3X109) on 5th and 6th of May. They are fun, inspiring days so please sign up to pop along for as little or as long as you like.

Once registered, further details about the day will be sent nearer the time.

EDM set to lead skills development in new £10 million digital engineering centre

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UWE Bristol will play a central role in a new £10 million digital engineering centre for the region.

The Centre for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) is a research, innovation and skills initiative created to develop and accelerate digital engineering across multiple industry sectors, to ultimately benefit future generations of engineers and engineering products, and to help tackle global challenges.

A collaboration of industry and academic partners, DETI is led by the National Composites Centre (NCC) and supported by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). WECA awarded £5m to the centre – match £5m investment from West of England businesses who are at the forefront of industry.

EDM’s role

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of UWE Bristol’s Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics (EDM), who led UWE’s bid, said: “This is a vitally important investment for our region and we are pleased to be leading on the skills and workforce development element of the centre’s work. It comes at a perfect time as we prepare to open our new engineering building where we will have state-of-the-art digital engineering facilities and an increased focus on digital engineering to train our graduates for emerging roles in the sector.”

EDM will create an integrated education and workforce development capability programme, and talent pipeline, all to inspire, introduce, convert and specialise. And it will promote an inclusive diverse workforce, crucial for creativity and innovation.

Training courses related to advanced digital engineering will be developed to increase skills and retrain those in the current workforce.

Schools will also be engaged with, particularly in less affluent parts of the West of England, with the aim to reach 1,000 children and inspire them to pursue a career in digital engineering.

DETI is not a new building but will use existing facilities and assets at various partners facilities, including UWE Bristol’s new engineering building.

Links to the local industrial strategy

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “DETI will be a nationally important centre, based in the West of England. It will help secure the future of the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries and is a key part of our Local Industrial Strategy ambition to strengthen cross-sectoral innovation and support our region’s ambition for clean and inclusive growth.”

The centre will work with leading companies and support industry to reduce carbon emissions by producing better products – products that are lighter, more fuel efficient and have less waste – through undertaking research and innovation in the virtual world.

Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Toby The Tobester Savage said: “Over the past decade or so the Filton Enterprise Area, UWE Bristol, MoD and the Bristol and Bath Science Park have formed a powerful network of world-leading innovation in aerospace, engineering and defence. We are therefore delighted to see South Gloucestershire hosting the DETI project which we believe will be of national and international significance to the future of clean energy and low carbon transport.

“This geography is increasingly recognised as the South Gloucestershire ‘TEC ARC’ and we look forward to working closely with multiple stakeholders to ensure that the project grows this critical sector of our economy, but also engages widely across the region through schools and colleges to give new experiences and opportunities in the development of STEM skills.”

Organisations investing in DETI alongside WECA and the NCC include UWE Bristol, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GKN, Baker Hughes and CFMS. DETI will also receive contributions in kind from Siemens and Toshiba. The project has already engaged with over 100 companies across the region, including disrupters TechSPARK and Smartia, and companies covering sectors such as renewable energy, marine, aerospace and electronics.

See the full press release posted on the UWE News pages.

Casting a new light on maths – UWE attends a careers fair

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The Boxed team alongside student ambassadors took their new “Maths in the Real World” box into Hardenhuish School, Chippenham, for a careers fair on 26th November 2019.

Although there was limited space to operate it, the team reported that the 400 students from years 7-13 seemed to really enjoy the new activity.

The new Maths box puts the traditionally dry subject into a new light. ‘Mini’ problems are used to highlight how Maths can be applied to different careers in unexpected industries. Utilising higher-level techniques, students worked their way through each activity in pairs to gain a better understanding of the different ways maths is utilised and used across different career paths; A- Archeologist, B, Bioaccoustician, C – Cartographer etc.

And an added bonus – in and around these activities, the student ambassadors were able to big up studying at UWE Bristol.

Thanks for having us Hardenhuish!

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!”