Over 1200 students discuss solutions and skills to reach net-zero in School Eco-Week events

Posted on

Three secondary schools in the West have recently held Inspire Sustainability Eco-Weeks, with their students learning about the challenges that we face in order to reach net-zero by 2030, and the green skills and solutions needed in order to overcome them.

Bristol Brunel Academy, Digitech Studio School and Hans Price Academy have held events including career stands with prospective employers from the area, where students challenged them on their green credentials; sessions from the DETI Inspire team debating sustainable solutions from real engineers in the area; and interactive hook-a-duck stands encouraging students to identify their own green skills and apply them to the net-zero challenge.

The Eco Weeks form part of the Inspire Sustainability project, funded as part of the Green Futures project from the West of England Combined Authority. Through meeting all our real life role models working on sustainability solutions, it’s hoped young people will gain a greater awareness of the diverse green jobs available in the West.

In the DETI Inspire sessions, students debated targets for net-zero, including lowering waste by 65%, and Bristol City Council’s promise to reduce traffic by 40%, all by the year 2030. Then the students of various age groups, discussed the different solutions to the challenges faced when reaching for those targets. Such as insulating new homes and retrofitting older ones, city planning focussing on low-carbon transport, ways to hold their schools to account for their eco-choices, and the many green skills and careers that would come from the push for net-zero.

Across the week, the DETI Inspire team delivered a whole-school assembly, multiple live school online broadcasts tuned into by whole year groups, 15 fully facilitated sessions, and hosted an employer careers fair.

In total the team directly delivered to over 1200 young people, with future events and engagements also being planned. Many of the students reached have formed school eco-clubs, where they work together with the school to become more sustainable. Many of the students have taken inspiration from the sessions, and brought real solutions for sustainability to the school’s leadership. It’s really great to see that the students are turning to climate action and developing their green skills, and actively making a difference in their school.

To learn more about the sessions, the plans for future Eco-weeks, and to book the DETI Inspire team for future STEM and sustainability outreach, please contact the team at the engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk inbox. You can also download the lesson plans and materials from the sessions at the link below: https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources

Students throng to Engineering Careers Fair – today!

Posted on

It’s Project Week for Student Engineers at UWE Bristol, with a busy schedule of events and talks planned each day.

And the big event for today was the Careers Fair, organised by the brilliant Engineering Director of Professional and Workforce Development, Wendy Fowles-Sweet.

10 of the biggest Engineering companies in the South West set up stalls in the School of Engineering’s atrium and have been visited by hundreds of students between 12 and 2:30pm.

They’ll be much more about Project Week coming up soon!

Students – for anything career related please do check out the Engineering Fair Live Wall of Work.

UWE and Aerospace Bristol host local schools for a free STEM day trip!

Posted on

The DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol are collaborating with Air League, the UK’s leading aviation and aerospace charity, who are generously supporting the free delivery of Aerospace Engineering days out for 16 classes from schools in the South West. So far, 243 kids have experienced Bristol’s excellent aviation history at Aerospace Bristol, before streaming into UWE’s new School of Engineering building to explore the future of sustainable flight using a virtual gaming platform.

This new scheme is part of Air League’s continuing mission to inspire young people to pursue a career in aviation. They’ve been able to offer this amazing opportunity for local schools by partnering up with Aston Martin Bristol, who are funding the delivery of Air League’s Inspired Engineering initiative for 2022. This funding has enabled Air League to offer the free day out, as they are paying for transportation costs, entry into Aerospace Bristol and a bespoke workshop at UWE Bristol, all at no cost to the schools.

Throughout the day, different careers relating to the aerospace industry are discussed to give students a flavour of what a future career could look like. The goal is to inspire children from all different backgrounds to start thinking about careers in STEM, particularly engineering, and give them an idea of the future roles they can hold. The initiative also aims to emphasise the green skills that they will need in the sustainable workforce of the future.

Josh Warren from the DETI Inspire running an AirLeague funded Minecraft session on the future of flight in UWE Engineering’s dedicated outreach classroom

The DETI Inspire team used their regional links to recruit  primary schools to the programme, with Air League organising all transportation for classes, including the transfer between Aerospace Bristol and UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus halfway through the day. Coach costs often prohibit schools from arranging trips out for their pupils, even to relatively local educational destinations, so this funding has been really appreciated by schools, particularly those from areas of socio-economic deprivation who have been a priority to secure sessions for.

Each trip begins with a visit to Aerospace Bristol to explore the history of air travel and aerospace design. The children get to explore the amazing exhibits, with a frequently reported favourite being a tour inside a Concorde aircraft!

This is then followed by a visit to UWE’s School of Engineering, where students explore the future of flight on the popular game, Minecraft. The kids enter the virtual Filton runway, built by DETI Inspire collaborator Atkins, where they are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild to think up ways in which air travel can become more sustainable.

The young people have used Minecraft to digitally engineer biofuel stations for planes, where the crops used are grown on site; as well as prototypes for solar powered planes and flying electric cars!

The programme has been extremely popular, with every session booked out by mid-October. While the children’s enthusiasm speaks for itself throughout the day, there’s also been fantastic feedback from teachers:

“We would like to say a huge thank you for this opportunity. It was a fantastic day and the children were really excited by all that they got to do!”


“Overall, a fantastic opportunity for the children and one they would not get often.”

We have received a lot of enquiries from schools who would love to participate in our aerospace days out, so we are hoping to continue this initiative into 2023 to reach more students in the South West and inspire them into careers in STEM.

DETI Inspire use the West in Minecraft and subsequent worlds 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)

Join Us at our Green Skills Fayres in the South West!

Posted on

What are Green Skills Fayres?

The Inspire Sustainability team at UWE Engineering have organised several Green Skills Fayres to take place at three schools in the South West on the 24th and 30th of November, and 2nd of December. We are looking for people working in green jobs to join us in inspiring secondary school-aged students (11-16) at Hans Price Academy in Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol Brunel Academy in Speedwell, and Digitech Studio School in Warmley. We want to inspire young people to develop green skills that they can take with them into their future careers.

What are the Green Skills Fayres?

Anyone in a green job will have the opportunity to discuss how your work contributes to sustainability, the green skills that you’ve developed, and how you apply these to your job. You will be provided with a table to display items relevant to your job to engage young people and spark conversations. STEM ambassadors are also encouraged to bring along any promotional material and invite students to visit your place of work in future if possible. Afterwards, groups of students will have the opportunity to share the green skills and careers that most interest them and how they could develop these.

Read more here: Inspire young people at a Green Skills Fayre – Graphic Science

Woman writing the word career on a wall while standing on a step containing educational graphics.

We are particularly interested in hearing from people who either work in the fields of or have green skills related to climate science, decarbonisation, and climate adaptation. Green skills are skills that are needed to support a sustainable society and are, therefore, broad. These could include skills relating to research, technical aspects, operational management, and monitoring, as well as soft skills, such as creativity and resilience.

If you would like to get involved in the Green Skills Fayre, then please click the button below and fill in the form to register your interest!

How can we support young people to develop green skills?

Prior to the fayres, we will be leading assemblies for young people to get them to consider what green skills they could develop from the subjects they are studying at school, and how they might apply them in different jobs to help the West of England reach its goal of net zero carbon emissions.

We will also be providing workshops that tie-in to the Green Skills Fayres and allow young people to have a go at digital engineering, scientific research, undertaking a green audit of their school, establishing an eco committee, debating sustainability topics, and developing creative communication campaigns.

Our Green Skills Meet-up

Posted on

Last week DETI Inspire attended an Our Green Skills meet-up at the SS Great Britain. The event allowed us to interact with educators in the South-West and provide them with educational resources related to sustainable engineering.

Our Green Skills aims to promote the teaching and raising awareness of green skills in schools. These skills include those that’ll help kids thrive in a future workforce that is more focused on sustainability, such as those needed to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency, and prevent further biodiversity loss.

As well as the exchange of ideas and opportunities to promote green skills to schoolkids, we successfully recruited STEM ambassadors, who were aiming to get more involved in outreach. STEM ambassadors are crucial for engaging children with STEM topics, as they represent the diverse types of people found in their field and demonstrate the wide variety of roles that kids can picture themselves in.

We also promoted a Youth Climate Communications Toolkit: a short booklet that schoolkids can work through to help them develop a plan to communicate about climate change and how we can work together to prevent further harm to the environment in a format that interests them. This could be through social media, filmmaking, letter writing, and many other ways.

We hope to attend more similar events in future to connect with other educators who want to equip children with the tools they need to create a more sustainable future for themselves.

Our amazing interns

Posted on

UWE students impressed with teamwork and communication during their internship.

We had two UWE student engineers join the Inspire team as interns for eight weeks this June/July. And from independently designing a new school workshop, to running around science festivals entertaining children, they’ve helped us enormously during our busy period. So this is my chance to rave about how amazing it has been to have these two gems in our team!

Introductions

My student interns were: Wing Leung (Natalie), a 1st year Robotics student engineer, and Luca Caruso, a 2nd year Aerospace student.

They both hit the ground running on their first day, which coincided with the first time we’d ever held a large school event in the new Engineering building. The event and then crazy schedule of school Minecraft workshops went really well, but it wasn’t until later that week that I realised what superstar students we had landed.

What a team

I spent about half an hour introducing the scope and concepts of a workshop I wanted them to design during the following weeks, then sat back (furiously emailing) and watched them began a pattern of steady and committed teamwork that continued throughout the internship. In Luca’s words, the two had “good synergy”.

I was continually impressed by their incredible independence and ability to drive the project forward using self-imposed deadlines, to finally deliver the workshop as a two part STEM Club to enthusiastic reception at the Old Library.

Superstars!

Great Ambassadors for UWE

Over the weeks at the: Cheltenham Science Festival, Great Science Share, Leaders Award Celebration and UWE family fun day, Luca and Natalie spoke to and inspired hundreds, possibly even thousands of local children in Engineering. They were key members of the team, which has had children looking in wonder around UWE’s Engineering building, asking about becoming students here like Luca and Natalie.

The West of England Mayor, Dan Norris, was keen to see what the robots could do when he visited UWE for an awards ceremony (his dog Angel was more interested in getting a good photo!). Natalie and Luca used their tried and tested engagement skills to woo the Mayor.

Natalie and Luca explaining their activity to the Mayor

We had about 600 people streaming into UWE’s new Engineering Building for the Family Fun day, with Luca and Natalie fielding a constant stream of visitors at their LEGO Mindstorm robot activity. Spot them in the photo below.

Spot Luca and Natalie heading up the robot zone

Highlights

Speaking to both interns before they left, it was great to hear their perspectives on the experience.

Luca raved about running the Inspire stall at Cheltenham Science Festival and getting the opportunity to speak to so many different people. After 8 weeks of experience learning how to best explain things to children of different ages, Luca said that at a school visit in his final week, “I finally got asked the question I’d been waiting for the whole internship! A child asked how a plane flies.” I feel certain he did a good job of answering it.

As for Natalie, the experience of designing, developing and then delivering the LEGO Mindstorm workshop with children at a STEM club, was the most satisfying aspect. She also developed great communication skills over the internship and wasn’t afraid to put all of that into practice, impressing the team when she volunteered to step up and fully lead a Minecraft workshop on her last day in school.

Final Goodbyes

What’s left to say, other than – Natalie with your boundless enthusiasm and commitment to a project, and Luca with your natural flair for leadership and super organisational skills – you’re already missed!

Good luck both of you!

Team Inspire 2022 at the Leaders Award Celebration Event 24th June 2022 (left to right – Louisa Cockbill, Natalie, Luca, Georgina Hayes & Josh Warren)

UWE’s Engineering Family Fun Day a Great Success!

Posted on

Families from around Bristol recently came to UWE’s brand new School of Engineering building to enjoy a range of free science and engineering-based activities.

The families that came to the event explored different aspects of engineering such as coding and robotics through LEGO Mindstorm and Pepper (our humanoid robot), digitally engineering solutions to citywide problems through Minecraft, designing the best wind turbine blade in our craft activity, and other stations featuring, eco-houses, crafting and a free planetarium show from Explorer Dome.

The visitors to UWE’s new Engineering building were wowed by the space available to student engineers and also by an exhibition of children’s inventions. The inventions were submitted to the Leaders Award competition – a nationwide scheme that encourages children to solve problems using engineering thinking.

The event was a perfect opportunity to inspire younger children to think like engineers whilst having fun along the way, as well as introducing them to technology that they may not have been able to interact with otherwise. One 13 year old visitor exclaimed how much she loved the fun day saying one day she “would like to come here herself (UWE) and learn more” whilst another couldn’t wait to get home and try to make their own robots.

We would like to thank all the staff of UWE, helpers, and students that made this event happen for making it an amazing day!

Shining a light on green job pathways for the next generation

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Back to top