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

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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

Women in Engineering Mentoring & Outreach Programme – get involved now!

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‘Women Like Me’ is a peer mentoring and outreach project in the Bristol and Bath area aimed at boosting female representation at all levels in engineering. Senior women engineers are paired with junior women engineers and their mentoring journeys supported through various events. At the same time training and opportunities are provided for junior engineers to undertake engineering education outreach in local schools. 

The programme has run with great success since 2018, and for 2023 we’re excited to be adding a new element to our mentoring support package! 

In addition to our face-to-face networking and training events, this year we will be providing online mentoring support. Alexandra Knight, an award-winning engineer and presenter, who empowers women in STEM to be confident visible role models through her company STEMazing, will be heading up these online sessions, with particular emphasis on developing our Senior Engineers’ mentoring skills. 

Who can take part?

If you have 5 years (or more) experience working in engineering – you’re a Senior Woman Engineer! – please sign up to be a Mentor here.

Junior women engineers are those with less experience than this, and can include apprentices, trainees, undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers – with less than 5 years experience in engineering. Please sign up to be a Mentee here.

Date for the diary!

Please sign up in January, as we’ll collect all enrolments and pair you up mentor-to-mentee in early February before our kick off event on 23rd Feb…

Women Like Me – 23rd February, 4 – 6pm at UWE Bristol (Frenchay campus in Filton).

This event will introduce you to the Women Like Me programme, with some top tips and discussion about mentoring and outreach. And hopefully include getting to meet your new mentee/mentor for the first time (!) as well as the rest of this years cohort. 

Those are the core details, but if you’d like to find out more about the programme – including why we think women mentoring is important, more detailed plans for this year, expectations from mentor/mentees, past successes etc – please read below.

Why is this important?

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. In order to support female engineers, more girls need to connect with engineering as a career, with positive female role models, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace.

Women Like Me is addressing this by pairing together women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Participating engineers deliver engineering engagement activities in local schools and at local public events, providing positive role models for young girls. Through this approach, the project impacts the workplace today and the future of the engineering profession.

What will it involve?

Introductions – We offer various networking and training opportunities to all participants, this year the first session will be held face-to-face on 23rd Feb.

Goal setting – On 9th March, there’ll be an online goal setting session for mentors and mentees. Alexandra Knight (from STEMazing) will lead mentoring pairs through focused discussions to get their mentoring relationships off to a great start.

Mentor only coaching – This year will be a great opportunity for mentors to develop themselves as well as their mentees, with Alex leading four subsequent online ‘mentoring circle’ meetings for mentoring coaching and peer support. These sessions will be spread throughout the year and will be private sessions for mentors-only.

Mentoring meet-ups – We expect mentors and mentees to meet at least twice during the year – although we’d encourage more, if that’s possible for both parties. These meetings or conversations can take whatever form best suits each pair – something to discuss in your initial meetings in Feb/March.

Mentees public engagement – Junior engineers will receive training in public engagement (Senior Engineers can also take part!) and we ask them to then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities with local schools and public events. Coordination of activity is provided and supported by UWE – we’ll send you opportunities over email and support you in these sessions.

Log your activities – we then ask mentors to log their mentoring meet-ups, and the mentees to log their public engagement – this helps us to track how the programme is going.

More Women Like Me Info

This project was first launched in 2018 and is based in the Science Communication Unit and School of Engineering at UWE Bristol. The project is organised by Dr Louisa Cockbill and Ana Bristow, and was initiated by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs. It is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

You can read about the successes of the project in previous years and access the 2018-2019 project report. A paper in the Journal of Science Communication, Fogg-Rogers and Hobbs (2019) places Women Like Me in the context of recruitment and retention of women in engineering.

For any further information please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter for updates.

How do I sign up?

If you’ve not already done this on the links above, here they are again! To take part in the project this year, interested participants should complete the appropriate online survey:

Senior Engineers (over 5 years experience) please complete this survey

Junior Engineers (less than 5 years experience) please complete this survey

The project coordinators will then be in touch in February to introduce you to your mentor/mentee.

DETI Inspire Engages Kids with Engineering at South Gloucestershire Libraries

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This November, DETI Inspire have been heading out to different libraries in South Gloucestershire to deliver sessions to school groups that teach them about the different engineering careers open to them.

The team have been joined by STEM Ambassadors as well as Student Ambassadors from the UWE School of Engineering, who have discussed their engineering work and favourite projects, what inspired them to get into engineering, and their career paths. The kids then have the opportunity to flood the engineers with questions and discover that engineering really could be something for them.

The sessions also aim to break down commonly-held misconceptions of engineering amongst young people, by introducing them to a whole host of different engineering careers, and engineers from diverse backgrounds. Using the DETI Inspire team’s ‘Engineering Curiosity’ cards, which feature 52 real West of England-based engineers that also sent in TikTok style engaging videos about the ups and downs of their job to help inspire the young people. Where young people may believe that engineering isn’t for them, thinking that engineers need expert maths and science skills or are always covered in oil underneath cars; the session seeks to instead highlight skills such as creativity, communication and problem-solving.

In total, the sessions reached 325 Year 6 students from 11 different local schools.

Feedback from the school teachers involved included:
“I think the workshop had great energy and will definitely get the children thinking about engineering, which in turn will get them reading and researching in books and online.”

“An engaging event. Fun, clear presenters. Good use of resources which encouraged the children to read more about different types of engineering jobs. Lots of good knowledge to draw on and changed many perceptions of an engineer’s job/profile.”       

“Very engaging and kept the children focussed. Learning about new engineers work and what they learn about – education, apprenticeships and universities. The event may help children learn more about other engineers and what their work involves.”

To learn more about the work of the DETI Inspire team, and book similar STEM engagement outreach for your school or organisation, please contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or visit https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources to read about the workshops available.

Students throng to Engineering Careers Fair – today!

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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!

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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)

Free training to inspire children into engineering

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Ever wish you could kick out an intriguing kick-ass answer to your nephews questions about your work? Not quite sure where to start when explaining something so complex for an 8 year old? Or do you get really into it, but maybe too much so, it’s been 20mins and they’ve switched off?

We’ve got just the right workshop for you!

Book onto the 2.5 hour workshop at UWE Bristol Frenchay campus, on Tuesday 13th September, 4 – 6:30pm.

It’s free, fun and will make you fit to fly into the face of those tricky questions kids have the knack of coming up with.

Workshop aims

The expert science communicators from Explorer Dome – an inflatable planetarium company who have been going throughout the UK for over 20 years to wow children with their science shows – will be running the training session.

They’ll provide some top tips and guidance to get attendees thinking, with lots of time dedicated to working together to find some top ideas and cool stories to spark a children’s interest in each engineer’s area of expertise.

It’s set to be a very practical workshop, and you’ll takeaway a specially prepped mini-spiel ready for those questions you might encounter at home, OR, if you fancy volunteering, to inspire kids in the classroom.

Again that’s Tuesday 13th Sept, 4-6:30pm for “Inspiring Children into Engineering” at UWE Bristol.

Sign up here: https://uwe.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6PxrLH0aLZ0FSyW

You just need to bring along the experiences of engineering individual to you, and this session will grow your confidence in speaking about that journey and your passions to the next generation.

Our amazing interns

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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!


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.


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


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)

Year 10s get an Engineering experience

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Three local Year 10 pupils visited UWE Engineering in July, for a week of Engineering experiences.

Starting off with a tour of campus and of the different labs in Engineering, the three keen young engineers then spent preceding days working with various technicians, getting hands on to:

  • learn the basics of electronic and mechatronic engineering
  • designing and making a keyring using UWE machinery
  • think about redesigning their city in a digital world (Minecraft)
  • test out a new Lidar scanner for Architecture and the Built Environment
  • getting their first experiences in coding programming the humanoid robot ‘Pepper’
  • code music on ‘Manhattan’ – the crowd-based composing software

Thank you for putting together such an amazing week; I had a fantastic time and learnt so much about the different aspects of Engineering. I  hope this Work Experience runs next year as I am certain many students in the year below me would absolutely love it as well. 

Brooke, Year 10 student

See photos from their week below.

Thanks to all the UWE Engineering technicians who made the week such a great and varied experience for all the Year 10s!

Pepper hopes to welcome those Year 10 pupils back as UWE students in the future!

Local pupils share their science and LEGO creations at UWE

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Teams of pupils from across the West were invited to be LEGO engineers and STEM investigators at UWE Bristol recently, and share their projects at a celebration event in the new School of Engineering building.

The pupils brought together so many great ideas and presented them to the other teams, before engaging with several STEM workshops and outreach sessions.
Amongst the team’s wonderful projects and designs, were a LEGO sorting machine, a powerful trebuchet, and an automatically operated LEGO bridge-lift.

In addition to the chance to share their projects with the other teams, the pupils were able to experience various STEM workshops.

The workshop activities included:

  • programming a robot to draw patterns, with the University of Bristol Digimakers team
  • learning about sustainable housing to limit energy-loss in their houses, with UWE’s Dr Deborah Adkins
  • ‘The West In Minecraft’ digital engineering workshop from UWE’s DETI Inspire team – the talented young engineers created solutions to real-world problems in the popular Bristol digital worlds

Andy McGovern, teacher at Stanbridge Primary, said: “The children had a brilliant day overall, and being able to showcase the LEGO project was great.”. 

The event was hosted by the DETI Inspire team, in partnership with the FIRST® LEGO® League, and the Great Science Share

To learn more about the DETI Inspire workshops including other available activities and sessions, or to book a session for your school, visit https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources; or contact the team at engineeringourfuture

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).

UWE’s Engineering Family Fun Day a Great Success!

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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!

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