Shining a light on green job pathways for the next generation

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Today marks the launch of a new year-long programme that aims to inspire and motivate young people in the West of England to pursue green career pathways. Known as Inspire Sustainability, it is one of three West of England Combined Authority (WECA)-funded initiatives as part of the Green Futures Fund, that, if successful, could be replicated and scaled to meet the region’s Climate Emergency Plan and Net Zero ambition.

This announcement builds on recent WECA support of other green skills initiatives in local schools, with West of England Mayor Dan Norris awarding the first green jobs grant for three schools to develop a special environmental careers programme -read more here.

Inspire Sustainability: in a nutshell

Developed in collaboration with UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit, Cabot Learning Federation, Avon Schools Eco Network and STEM Ambassadors West of England, the programme was developed as part of the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire programme. Inspire Sustainability will expand the region’s existing hub of sustainability skills education and training to highlight the region’s leading green skills and expertise in the labour market. Working in partnership, the consortium will deliver three areas of work to three pilot schools; Hans Price Academy in North Somerset, Bristol Brunel Academy in Bristol, and Digitech in South Gloucestershire.  The project includes:

  1. All-school engagement: tailored lessons, talks and careers events with diverse role models, culminating in a whole-school Sustainability Summit.
  2. Eco Council engagement: Eco Action Plan co-development to support the schools achieve Eco School status
  3. Teacher engagement: training so that teachers have the confidence to engage young people on these topics and support them to imagine a future where they can see themselves playing an active role in shaping development.

Once piloted, the outcomes will be shared widely to primary and secondary schools as well as to educational professionals and academics through the consortium’s networks.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris with Year 10 pupils from Orchard School at the Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit in October 2021

Building on what works

The Inspire Sustainability approach builds on tried and tested methods explored in DETI Inspire, which has engaged over 7,000 children and young people in the West of England on engineering for sustainability.

Consortium member UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit has a track record of working with and training diverse stakeholders to reach sustainability goals. In 2021, the Unit launched its Climate Action Hub to highlight the existing work of students and academics in this space, as well as to offer support and training to further amplify climate action. Currently it is delivering climate communications training to young people and supporting them to act on things that matter to them. The Youth Climate Communications toolkit will be used to develop the teacher engagement portion of Inspire Sustainability.

Meanwhile, the STEM Ambassador programme will be key to recruiting diverse green role models while Avon Schools Eco Network will use their expertise to support the schools to develop their action plans.

If you are interested to know more about any of this work, please contact project manager Sophie Laggan.


A toolkit and training for youth climate social action

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A toolkit and training for effective youth climate comms and social action

UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit (SCU) is launching a new Youth Climate Action Toolkit to empower young people to act on things that matter to them. The toolkit is suitable for 16-24-year-olds, and we encourage you to please download and share the kit with any (young) person you think may benefit from these tools!

The newly developed toolkit has been produced in partnership with young people from the Avon Schools Eco Network, following pilot training held with the DETI Inspire team in the School of Engineering.

The pilot involved 12 young climate activists who learnt how to be more effective with their own campaigning, whilst forming the foundations of this new toolkit to support other young people. As well as empowering young people to act, the toolkit aims to speak with and engage diverse audiences that may not otherwise take part (e.g., through filmmaking, persuasive writing and interactive stalls, etc).

What is inside the toolkit?

To allow any young person to use the materials independently of the training, the toolkit has been designed to stand-alone or complement the training. It consists of four sections:

  • Section one: lays the foundations for effective team working, with a skills audit for young people to assess their baseline entrepreneurial skills for sustainability, and time set aside to define their action project based on need
  • Section two: encourages readers to understand different worldviews – including those from different sides of the political spectrum, and people in positions of power and influence
  • Section three: drills down into the communication methods, allowing readers to select the right method for their audience and to prototype and test their communications
  • Section four: encourages readers to reflect on their learnings, re-assess their skills and evaluate the impact of their communications

Training in the community

The SCU team have also been delivering the Youth Climate Communications to local colleges and youth groups. The training is modular, which allows it to be adapted to suit the needs and interests of the organisations involved.

The training is already being modified to suit the needs of one college, where they have aims to support a more sustainable educational environment by delivering to their students over a two-week period at the end of term. Students will vote on a priority for action within their college and then work in teams, with the support of a coach, developing a communications and behaviour change campaign which could then be delivered in the following term.

The young people’s experience of the programme is being evaluated to better understand whether their attitudes, skills and behaviours relating to sustainability, change as a result of the training. Findings will be shared on this blog later this year.

For empowerment programmes

Meanwhile, aspects of the training are also being delivered to participants of more established empowerment programmes, such as this year’s Catalyse Change programme, Bristol Education Partnership’s Climate Challenge and The Global Goals Centre’s Groundbreakers awards, with the toolkit also featuring in the Groundbreakers’ action pack.

A future aim of the project is to deliver the training online to youth groups and educational establishments across the country, and beyond, with training provided to educators to deliver the programme themselves. For a taster of what this training could look like, head to our YouTube where you can access the social media component of the training.

Where it all began

The training emerged from conversations among the SCU and colleagues about the desire to share our knowledge on climate communications and active citizenship more broadly, so when a funding opportunity arose the Unit was quick to pull together a team to make their dream a reality. The all-female team consists of academics and researchers in disciplines ranging from human geography, engineering, and environmental anthropology – to building physics and entrepreneurship. What unites them is a common interest in supporting young people to develop the skills and confidence they need to take action about things that matter to them.

This training is the first offering from UWE’s Climate Action Hub, also established by the SCU. The Hub is a place for researchers and students to connect with communities for climate action. There is already some work on campus doing just this, such as the children’s workshops delivered by DETI Inspire and Inspire Sustainability, but this is the first time training has been put in place to support the University and communities to do more.

To find out more about the in-person and online toolkit or to connect to the Climate Action Hub, email project manager Sophie Laggan.

To download the toolkit click here.

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

University Scrapheap Challenge – Lego-style

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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.

Young people discuss how to reduce carbon emissions with West of England policymakers

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How can we take 40% of traffic off our roads, heat our homes without fossil fuels and reduce our waste by 2030?  These are some of the questions young people will be tackling at the Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit (YEESS), 11 – 13 October 2021. 

Designed by the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire educational team at UWE Bristol (supported by the West of England Combined Authority) in collaboration with the “I’m an Engineer” outreach team, YEESS gives young people a voice to mitigate the impact climate change has on their futures.

Sixth form students across the West of England will be challenged to critically evaluate the feasibility of carbon emission reduction strategies to achieve Net Zero 2030. Each day of the summit, the students will address a different aspect of sustainability and engage with local engineers and politicians through live online discussions.

The online discussions will include Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees on 11 October, and Councillor Toby Savage from South Gloucestershire Council and Councillor Sarah Warren from Bath & North East Somerset Council on 12 October.

On 13 October, West of England Mayor Dan Norris, will join in activities with schools in person at We The Curious and will be answering questions in a live online event.

Young people will directly ask the politicians questions, and the resulting discussions will be communicated to policymakers in the West of England, and showcased to international audiences at COP26.

Programme

YEESS delegates will be assessing three core targets (and the suggested solutions) mapped into the Bristol and West of England action plans:

  • How might we take 40% of traffic off our roads by 2030?
  • How might we heat our homes without fossil fuels by 2030?
  • How might we reduce our waste by 65% by 2030?

For each target, students will investigate the issue, imagine solutions framed by experts and then refine those ideas through online discussions before the daily Q&As with politicians.

The full programme of events can be found at https://yeess.imanengineer.org.uk/.

Legacy Materials from YEESS will also be available on the DETI Inspire resource hub for KS3, 4 and 5.

About DETI Inspire

DETI Inspire champions science for children in the West of England with a particular focus on breaking stereotypes and challenging perceptions about STEM careers in order to appeal to under-represented groups in engineering. Our vision is for every young person in the West of England to have access to inclusive, engaging and inspiring engineering experiences with real-life relatable role models. We make it our mission to support and inspire the next generation of digital engineers.

For more information, please visit https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/about or contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk

About I’m an Engineer

I’m an Engineer is a student-led, online STEM engagement and enrichment project. Since 2012 it has connected 25,000 students with 370 engineers. Evaluation shows the online format is highly effective at reaching and engaging young people, especially those under-served by other STEM interventions.

Local Action Plans

This summit is based on Bristol City Council’s Climate Action plan. West of England Combined Authority’s Climate Action plan is currently being reviewed.

About COP26

The COP26 event is a global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and will be attended by countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty agreed in 1994.

The meeting taking place in Glasgow in November 2021 will be the 26th meeting, which is why it’s called COP26. You can read more about the aims of COP26 here: https://eciu.net/analysis/briefings/inter national-perspectives/what-is-cop26-who-will-attend-it-and-why-does-it-matter?s=08

Launch of West of England Digital Engineering Technology initiative

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UWE Bristol is proud to announce the official launch of the region’s new Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative!

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.

UWE’s Engineering, Design and Mathematics department will play a central role in DETI, leading the Skills development branch of the centre. EDM will work with other DETI partners to:

  • Inspire the next generation of diverse engineers
  • Transform the further and higher education landscape
  • Innovate lifelong learning of specialised digital engineering skills

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.”

For more details about this exciting new venture, please read the official press release launch of DETI and visit the new DETI website.

DETI is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre, in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & SimulationDigital Catapult, the University of the West of England, 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.

Student wins STEM innovation award

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UWE’s very own fourth year Mechanical Engineering student, Henry James, won this year’s Telegraph STEM Awards.

The Telegraph STEM Awards offer undergraduates the chance to prove their talent to some of the biggest names in industry. Now in its seventh year, the students were asked to tackle problems from the personal to the global.

Henry’s innovation – “Grid Grow” – developed a way to make modular homes sustainable using renewable technologies.

“My concept, GridGrow, looks to improve modular housing developments by aligning them with the need to reduce our carbon footprint,” he explains. “This is done by using renewable technologies that can be integrated into a modular development with ease.

“Integrating energy production with modular housing hasn’t been done before, but looking at modular housing in this way makes it more attractive to developers, while also addressing global warming and the UK’s housing needs.”

Henry was quoted in the Telegraph’s official announcement on 24th April.

COVID-19 forced judging online, and from being announced as one of four category winners in the semi-final, Henry was then announced the winner in the final round.

Find out more about Henry’s idea and the other finalists here.

UWE partner with Newicon to innovate Engineering teaching

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The news that UWE Engineering are embedding a design-thinking Innovation Kit into their 2020/21 engineering programmes, featured on the cover of Education Technology on Monday 4th May.

The unique training tool was developed by Bristol-based software company Newicon, and uses a more agile, cyclic approach to engineering innovation, in-line with leading industry design thinking.

The Innovation Kit focuses on exploring and defining real human-centred problems, rapidly moving through iterative solutions and visual prototypes to select the best solution, before getting into the details. This approach is thought to better align user needs with business objectives, whilst considering the practical implementation.

The kit will be at the centre of the new engineering module, Engineering Practice as part of an Integrated Learning Framework focussed around project-based learning. Module leaders Laura Fogg-Rogers and David Richardson are working with Newicon to tailor the kit to meet student needs, as well as training staff in how best to deliver the set of engaging workshops, exercises and tools.

“UWE Bristol are investing in a £multimillion purpose-built School of Engineering opening in Autumn 2020. Alongside this we have a revolutionary redesigned curriculum that nurtures creativity, innovation and collaboration through training on ‘live’ projects and problems.

Newicon’s approach to design thinking and innovation is the ideal partner for our new curriculum. They will equip our student engineers with practical tools and knowledge in order to succeed in their chosen engineering career.”

Lisa Brodie, Head of the School of Engineering at UWE Bristol.

There’ll be more exciting news concerning the new engineering curriculum being developed by Lisa and her team in the coming months – so stay tuned!

Aerospace students visit Airbus Factory in Bremen

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Programme leader, Jerzy Bakunowicz, reports on the recent trip to Germany

On January 20th, a group of 29 Aerospace and Aerospace with Pilot Studies students along with five members of staff, visited the Airbus factory in Bremen, Germany.

Bremen is the second-largest Airbus site in Germany and is responsible for the design, manufacture, integration and testing of high-lift systems for the wings of all Airbus programmes. Its origins date back to the famous Focke-Wulf design and manufacturing site.

However, on this trip the focus was on the centre of competence for space transportation, manned space flight and space robotics.

The standard factory guided trip allowed seeing historical and more current projects, such as the Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Ariane 5 space launcher and the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. As well as spending a couple of minutes on-board the International Space Station (ISS) and inside mission room.

It was a rare opportunity for the students to enhance their knowledge in space technology, a core part of the Aerospace course.

And of course, after the fruitful engineering part of the day, one could admire the beauty of the renowned German Hanseatic city.

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.

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