UWE’s Steve Wright is a voice of balanced enthusiasm on aerospace innovation

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Steve Wright is a senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft systems at UWE, and he’s often approached by the media to provide an informed and balanced perspective on the plethora of flight innovation reports.

We’ve previously featured stories from Steve offering his expertise on green flight, aerospace Covid recovery and Boeing 737 safety concerns. But he’s been kept particularly busy recently, commenting on sports car drones, electric flight, flying cars and taxis.

Want to get a feel for the future of flight?

Have a scroll down a short selection of Steve’s quotes from media coverage on new breakthroughs.

In WIRED on sports car drones

“We’ve been rolling around in hilarity at how impossible that drone is to make work like they claim,” said Steve. “The wretched thing is, I really, really want it to work. I want a sports car to launch a drone that chases me down the road. I am just frustrated that I can’t have one yet.”

Steve outlined the physical and engineering challenges that Polestar’s concept seems to have missed, read more at WIRED.

On the BBC about flying cars

A flying car was issued a certificate of airworthiness in Slovakia, and Steve told the BBC that this made him “cautiously optimistic that I am going to see a few AirCars one day – but I think there is still a way to go”.

Although he’s unsure about the mass appeal flying cars may have. “Are flying cars the future? Yes… and no,” he said. “The personal-transport revolution is definitely coming but not really looking like this.”

More of this article can be found on the BBC.

In Business Live on the future of air travel

“I have worked in aerospace for 30 years and in that time I have not witnessed anything like the revolution I have seen in the industry in the last five years,” he told BusinessLive . “It’s bonkers.”

He says the sector is driving towards decarbonising aviation and electric planes, but the new technologies being developed will take some time before they are commercialised.

Read the full article on Business Live to hear more of Steve’s take on the realities of sustainable flight.

In other news…

You might also have noticed Steve commenting on electric General Aviation flights starting up in the UK, on Sky News. And he also featured in a Channel 5 documentary – 10 Mistakes: 737 Max.

It’s great to have Steve’s to shed some light on these lofty topics!

DETI Inspire release Engagement Activity Report

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From September 2020 to December 2021, DETI Inspire has delivered an impressive array of outputs and engagement activities. In that time, the team have directly engaged 6832 children and 221 teachers from 73 schools and community groups in the West of England, with an estimated 96,303 children reached altogether through dissemination efforts. Along the way, children have been able to have conversations with real-life engineers through (online) Q&A sessions, card games and skill shares. 441 engineers have so far shared their experiences, as well as at least 17 industry partners and three charities.

42% of total direct engagements (that’s 2,515 children!) came through in-person BoxED sessions, all four developed and launched by DETI Inspire in 2021: The West in Minecraft, We Make Our Future, Engineering Curiosity, and WeCount. 42% of all the schools engaged in these BoxED sessions came from areas within the most deprived 20% of the country, and a further 17% came from the most deprived 30%.

The last 20 months has seen the programme: establish a network of 102 engineers from diverse backgrounds; pair female junior engineers with senior female mentors; distribute 132 Engineering Curiosity card packs to schools and community groups and launch 40 Tik-Tok style videos to accompany them; host a Sustainable Solutions Summit for 16-18-year-olds; champion sustainable engineering at COP26; beam in engineers to 3,500 children during the height of the pandemic; and reach over 250,000 people through social media.

Despite another year of uncertainty, with rules around in-person events frequently changing, the DETI Inspire programme has excelled under the circumstances. Adapting to the changing rules and guidance, the team managed to engage in-person when they could – enriching children and young people’s cultural experiences, limited by the pandemic – and offer well attended online events when they could not. For instance, from two online events alone, DETI Inspire reached 9,000 children and young people.

DETI Inspire will continue to deliver BoxED activities to schools across the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), with a full calendar of bookings right up until June. The programme will also support this year’s Leaders Award, Great Science Share, and take part in the long-awaited return of Bristol’s Storytale Festival, among other activities. DETI Inspire is excelling in promoting engineering for sustainability among children, young people and adults from diverse backgrounds, not only in the West of England, but also nationally and across Europe.

You can access the full report here https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/9031804


DETI Inspire is managed by UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering in partnership with the Science Communication Unit, with funding from the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI). The project is run in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador Hub, operated by Graphic Science.

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. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry. 

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)

Science through stories

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Last week, UWE’s storytelling extraordinaire -Jane Carter – trained up 31 local scientists to make their selected STEM stereotype-busting books come alive for children.

This training is the first step in a new scientist storytelling programme in schools – launched by the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol, in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador hub.

The Inspire team want every child in the West of England to see themselves as scientists, and are using books to immerse children in stories featuring women, people from black, Asian and minority ethnicity backgrounds and people with neurodiversity having science-y fun. All delivered by wonderfully inspiring STEM Ambassadors with their own unique story and passions to tell.

The “Curious Stories for Curious Children” model has previously been deployed in science-related locations across the city – but now we want to reach an even wider spread of children in Bristol’s schools.

The outreach classroom in UWE’s new Engineering Building was opened up for the training – which wasn’t for the faint hearted, whether online or in-person. The participants dived into the book “Tadpole’s promise” which led them along a tale of two star-crossed lovers (a tadpole & a caterpillar) as they explored ideas about how to introduce a book and build intrigue. All before the rather brutal ending!

It was a hands-on workshop, with every STEM Ambassador leaving with a book from our library tucked under their arm and some sparkling ideas on how best to engage children with the content.

We can’t wait to hear how the kids find the storytelling sessions!

Head of Engineering shortlisted for diversity award

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As Head of Engineering, Lisa Brodie has spent the last few years redesigning the curriculum and imagining a space (realised in the new Engineering building) where engineering is accessible for everyone. So it should come as no surprise that she has been shortlisted for the Enginuity Diversity in Engineering Award.

Congratulations Lisa!

The award recognises organisations, individuals or a team that has delivered a specific scheme, project, or initiative, that significantly contributes to shifting the dial of equality, diversity, and inclusion within our sector.

This nomination isn’t the first time Lisa’s tireless efforts for diversity in engineering have been recognised. Watch the BBC Points West Video below to find out more about how the building is designed with neurodiverse students in mind, and read what Lisa has to say about the impact a more diverse workforce can have on engineering –

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

Inspiring the next generation of diverse engineers 

But it’s not just about empowering current UWE student engineers, Lisa is also looking to the future of engineering. In late 2019, Lisa fought for, and now leads, the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Skills programme, which aims to to improve diversity in recruitment into STEM industries (particularly engineering) whilst also enhancing retention of skilled engineers in the industry. The Skills programme has a three pronged approach:

  • Inspiring children into STEM
  • Transforming courses and work experience to upskill apprentices
  • Innovating new short courses to reskill the workforce in digital technologies

The Inspire programme has had particular success, reaching over 7000 children in the South West so far, with 42% of all schools engaged with face-to-face, coming from from areas within the most deprived 20% of the country. Those children have been exposed to innovative engineering workshops that connect them with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for STEM careers.

And lots of those workshops have taken place in the purpose-built classroom at UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering. All made possible by Lisa’s trailblazing ideas.

Engineering for Everyone!

Want to hear more about how Lisa has ensured the new building is designed with diversity in mind? Read on!

The brand-new purpose built engineering facility has been co-designed in conjunction with Lisa’s new engineering curriculum, to create a supportive environment for students from under-represented backgrounds. Keeping this focus in mind throughout both the curriculum and the design of the building’s physical structure make it a truly unique space.

As part of Lisa’s drive to embrace and celebrate neuro-diversity, the building is equipped with individual study spaces designed to support students with sensory issues, such as people with autism who can benefit from features including white noise bubble tubes and adjustable, muted lighting. The building is designed to teach in a very different way. 

Lisa has worked with colleagues to embed professional skills, and the professional engineer, at the heart of the curriculum.  The very first things taught to student engineers are creativity, innovation, empathy and design, with a focus on the role of the engineer in society. 

We are on a mission to change the demographic in engineering!

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


Volunteers wanted for a careers panel discussion with a twist!

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The STEM Ambassador hub for the West of England have partnered with the Institution of Engineering and Technology to host a series of online events in March 2022, and are looking for volunteer guests to take part.

What’s My Line?

The events are designed to enthuse Further Education (FE) tutors with the diversity of STEM activity happening in the region and showcase the career opportunities available for their students in modern STEM workplaces.

Guests will provide clues about their jobs, then answer yes or no questions as participants try to guess what it is they do. Then you can inspire them with the juicy details!

There are 6 events in total with each one linked to an industry of interest to the region. As a Guest you’ll take part in the event most closely aligned to what you do.

Line Up

  • Tuesday 15th March: Advanced Manufacturing
  • Thursday 17th March: Construction
  • Tuesday 22nd March: Life Sciences
  • Thursday 24th March: Healthcare
  • Tuesday 29th March: Computing & Digital
  • Thursday 31st March: Cyber Security

Each event will run on Zoom from 4pm – 5:30pm.

Get Involved!

If you are interested in becoming a Guest then please contact ambassadors@graphicscience.co.uk with a brief description of who you work for and what work you do, and indicate which event(s) you think you would be a good fit for. The organisers will then follow up with you to confirm participation.

More details

Your clues will be provided beforehand to intrigue participants, then on the night you will have some time to go into more details: What is the impact of your work? Who does it help? How cool is it? How important is it? How much satisfaction do you get from it? Why should young people care about it? What’s the future of it?

The STEM Ambassador are also keen to know how your work intersects with sustainability – how your work contributes to reducing carbon emissions and helping societies work towards becoming carbon net zero.

You can just talk, but audio-visual additions are welcome too. And you can take part from wherever you think is most appropriate, as long as you have a reliable connection to the internet.

Be inspired by children’s innovations

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On Wednesday 6th April – pop along to the Prototype and Play lab in UWE’s School of Engineering for an hour (or as long as you want) to take a look at some of the intriguing inventions school children have been coming up with.

Children all over the country are currently furiously scribbling designs – all intended to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. They are entering those ideas into the Leaders Award – and thousands of those entries will turn up at UWE Bristol (the Leaders Awards partner in the South West) for grading by our lovely local engineers.

Grading isn’t an onerous process – quite the opposite – you’ll simply be flicking through some drawings and putting the most interesting/credible ideas through to be shortlisted. Whilst being plied with tea and coffee plus biscuits (and maybe cake?!) of course.

Every year grading participants really enjoy the experience and leave feeling inspired and intrigued by ideas such as, solar powered blankets or a variable light braking system on cars.

When: Wednesday 6th April – drop in sessions – come along whenever suits you

Location: 4Z002 (the Prototype & Play lab) in UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering (Frenchay Campus)

Contact: louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk for more information and sign up here – we like to know how many people to expect (for biscuit buying purposes)

You can see the Leaders Award process below – all starting with the challenge “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” Step 6 – grading is where you would be helping out.

STEM through storytelling

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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.

Why?

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 black, Asian and minority ethnicity 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: https://www.stem.org.uk/platform/activity/6267bfd8-d695-42be-bb04-caa12542e11a

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

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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 engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk to apply.

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

WeCount Schools resources featured in official British Science Week activity pack

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British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths that will take place between 11-20 March 2022

The British Science Week activity packs for 2022 have been launched today, providing over 40 simple, hands-on science activities which teachers, parents and community group leaders can use with students and children during British Science Week this year.

And one of the great resources featured in this year’s activity pack themed on ‘Growth’ is the WeCount for Net Zero Emissions pack, which explores proportion and graphs, as well as data collection, through the concept of climate change.

With packs available for primary, secondary and community groups, everyone can get involved with the WeCount activity this British Science Week.

The WeCount for Net Zero Emissions pack was developed by the DETI Inspire team with funding from the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative based at UWE Bristol. The materials are based on the WeCount Schools resources, created as part of the EU citizen science project WeCount.

WeCount Schools resources cover a wide range of subjects, all curriculum linked, supporting 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.

You can read more about and download the WeCount Schools resource packs here.

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.

Keen to equip local schools with their own traffic counting sensors, WeCount still have 5 sensors left to give away to schools across the West of England. Contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk to apply.

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