Sign up to mentor girls into STEM – online!

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Cajigo is a mobile learning platform that empowers girls and women to reach their full potential through focused mentoring and support. And they’re on the lookout for new mentors!

Read on to find out more about the platform and how you could get involved…

Addressing the Gender Imbalance

In STEM industries female representation remains under 20% worldwide, and with many schools lacking girls taking STEM subjects at A level, this gender imbalance shows no sign of changing soon. With predictions that the next decade will see 80% of jobs requiring STEM skills, new solutions are badly needed to encourage women into STEM.

Cajigo School’s Programme works with education and businesses to signpost STEM industry careers to girls early on. This can have a huge positive effect on girls – inspiring, motivating and empowering them with the belief that they can reach their highest potential in these fields.

Cajigo aims to demystify STEM and digital careers to capture young minds, connecting careers to passions to get young girls excited about working within STEM and digital fields.

“Cajigo is a practical way, not only to increase diversity but also to make it a strategic imperative within the business”

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President techUK, Chair of Digital Leaders

Online Mentoring

During the current lockdown, many girls would benefit from developing STEM skills whilst at home. And with evidence suggesting those from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups are likely to be left behind during this time, Cajigo is running as an online solution to keep these populations engaged and motivated in STEM.

The Cajigo Schools programme mentors and supports girls (aged 13 years and upwards) on option choices and their career development using a blended learning approach. This involves a 3-hour workshop, in addition to online learning through Cajigo (an App), and guidance and support from role models and industry mentors.

And that’s where you could come in!

Mentoring gives students access to visible and relatable female role models who help to inspire, motivate and signpost careers.

Cajigo also offers support to women in the workplace, career changers, returners and University students.

If you are keen to offer support in mentoring the next generation of female engineers and digital technologists, please contact Rav Bumbra, who’ll talk you through the process – team@cajigo.com

Cajigo is the social learning and development arm of Structur3dpeople, a company that helps organisations attract and retain diverse talent and focuses on supporting more women into STEM, digital and leadership careers.

Making mud-powered robots for schools

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In October, FET awarded the team at the Bioenergy Centre a public engagement and outreach award. The Centre are using this fund to support the production of an interactive workshop for schools – Mud powered robots!

Research Associate Pavlina Theodosiou, who led the project until her move to Newcastle University in January, provides an update here on this exciting workshop.

Before Christmas, Pavlina worked hard alongside electronics engineer technician, Ugnius Barajunas, to obtain quotes from various companies for the prototype motors – the most expensive part of the robot.

At the same time, the two assembled different electronic boards with the 3D printed parts and borrowed motors, to create three robots. The robots were tested with live Microbial FuelCells in the lab and ran well on urine (but don’t worry, they won’t be run on urine in school!)

They presented their results at the a best-in-class overview of robotics and automation, which BotTalks hosted at the watershed in November. The team are now excited about trialling the robots on mud for the first time!

“Overall the project received a lot of interest from public and investors at BotTalks.”

Pavlina
Pavlina and Ugnius speak about the importance of bringing these scientific discoveries to schools to help children get interested in STEM

Later in the year, the workshop will be taken into Sea Mills Primary School for the Year 6s to get stuck into.

Help children grasp what engineering is all about

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With schools closed, scientists have moved online to engage with children on all the wonderfully intricate and mind-boggling secrets of our universe.

Luckily a great locally run platform for sharing science with kids already exists – I’m a Scientist.

And you can join other UWE engineers in the I’m an Engineer zone!

I’m a Scientist organises set weeks of interactions throughout the year, each on specific themes of inquiry. Schools sign up and students ask a whole myriad of questions, which the recruited scientists try and answer.

Usually there’s a competitive element, with students judging scientist’s answers in I’m a Scientist Get me out of Here. But in the current climate the team based in Bath have launched I’m a Scientist Stay at Home to run more question-asking sessions for students.

Teachers sign up for 40 minute sessions, and I’m a Scientist are on the lookout to expand session capacity, so need more scientists of all disciplines to sign up.

You can sign up for only a few hours, or much more – whatever time you volunteer will be appreciated by teachers, parents and students.

Read more and sign up here – being sure to join the I’m an Engineer zone!

A number of UWE staff are already taking part, including Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics. He’s re-joined after doing a stint on I’m a Scientist nine years ago, so if you’d like to know more, read about Alan’s past experience on his blog.

“Brilliant – it was a kind of science soap box! I got to pontificate on life on Mars, the end of the world and human extinction, global warming, nuclear power, dreams, light years, my favourite animal, my favourite car, string theory, the Higgs Boson and dark matter.

“By far the biggest category of questions was about doing science: why and how you do science, what’s the best thing about being a scientist, what you think you have achieved, or will achieve and so on (and quite a few on what you will do with the prize money if you win). These are great questions because they allow you to explode some myths about science: for instance that you have to be super smart to do science, or that one scientist can change the world on their own.”

Alan Winfield

Engineers hit local schools during British Science Week

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It seems a long time since schools were last open, but at the start of March British Science week went ahead, and UWE staff and students were called up to inspire the next generation of engineers! Read on to find out more.

Chatting about engineering at Hambrook Primary

On Wednesday 11th March, three UWE engineering students were invited into Hambrook Primary to be interviewed by the kids about engineering, what future roles they hoped to have and how all of this linked to their STEM subjects at school.

“They did a great job of talking things through with the children.”

a Hambrook School teacher reported

Getting hands on at the Manor C of E Primary in Coalpit Heath

For the second time that week, students got to be role models in a school, this time bringing a hands on activity for the children to have a go at.

The ‘super sucker’ activity got the kids making vacuum cleaners. This was one of the activities developed for the Engineering in Society module, which engineering and education students took into schools in November.

Teachers report that the children loved the activity and the students were equally enthusiastic about the visit.

“They had different perspectives about engineering field and it’s pathways. It was such a good experience!”

said engineering student Harshi Asurappulige

Aspiration day at Filton Avenue Primary School

Venkat Bakthavatchaalam, lecturer in mechanical engineering, (who only recently joined UWE in January!) attended the career’s fair portion of the day on Friday 13th March. He went armed with thymio robots to grab the attention of the Year 5s tasked with finding out what their Super North Star is, aka – what they want to be when they are older.

“The children were very surprised with the Thymio robots and were curious about sensors and how they worked. Personally, it was a good experience for me to see the children interacting with the robots. Awe was all over their expressions.”

said Venkat

If anyone academics or students are keen on getting involved in school outreach, please get in contact – louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk

UWE grad publishes inspiring engineering book for kids

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Katherine Terris graduated in Mechanical Engineering from UWE in 2017 and joined the graduate scheme at Babcock. To encourage children into STEM, she wrote a short book called “Porty’s Whizzing Recovery”. The story focuses on marine themed characters, and earlier this year Babcock International officially launched the book!

“It’s good to spark interests at a young age! I think my problem was that I never knew what engineers did, and I hope this book will spark some interest.”

Katherine Terris, UWE Bristol graduate and Warships Senior Support Engineer at Babcock

Babcock launched the book to coincide with National Storytelling Week in February, and employees went into schools and libraries near the Devonport Royal Dockyard site to share the story with children. The company have also given free copies of the book, aimed at children aged between 5 and 10, to local libraries in the area.

The book was illustrated by local art student April Howard, and aims to take young readers on a journey of discovery about some of the work that takes place at the Devonport site.

Well done Katherine and thanks for the copies you’ve sent to the department!

Kids with specific learning difficulties visit the BRL

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Katie Sparkes from the Lightyear Foundation thanks Severin Lemaignan and his team for enabling the special educational needs (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!

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!