UWE introduce teenagers to robots and programming

Posted on

Senior Research fellow from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Severin Lemaignan, took a team of students and plenty of robots to Bristol’s Teen Tech Fair earlier this month.

Teen Tech Festivals pop up across the UK to inspire the innovators of tomorrow -teenagers! On Thursday 10th October, local businesses turned up to Bristol’s Pavilion to help young people understand the opportunities in the science, technology and engineering industries.

Lemaignan was enthusiastic about how his robotic programming activity was received. “About 60 children came and visited us. They all went through a bit of robot exploration with the Thymios, trying to guess their different behaviours, and relate them to the sensors and actuators that the robots have; followed by a short introduction to programming with the Vectors: 
how can we get the robot to avoid a wall?”

Students, Ranvir Bhogal, Bethany Mackey and Jiangyin Sun, helped facilitate the short 15 minute activities.

“All of the instructors, activity leaders and ambassadors were tirelessly energetic with infectious enthusiasm. They used language to explain concepts to the pupils in an accessible way. Not all of mine are regular users of technical vocabulary but I felt that they understood all that they needed to and learnt loads! They have come away inspired and really excited about entering the TeenTech Awards. I also had a lovely day!”

Comment from a Teacher who attended.

You can find out more about Teen Tech below and read the report from the day here.

Cosy Compost

Posted on

Students taking the Engineering Competence Postgraduate Diploma have the option to take the community challenge module – Engineering in the Community. Five groups undertook varied projects, and this is the 4th in our blog series showcasing the results.

For this community challenge, William Holmes, Paul Trimble and Elisabeth Woeldgen, partnered with Incredible Edible Bristol, Airbus and the Science & Technology Facilities council, to create an insulated compost bin. The team delivered the prototype compost bin made of reusable materials to Speedwell Allotment, along with accompanying instructional material for Incredible Edible to use on their education sites. Read more about the project below:

Identifying Healthier Workshop Heating Solutions

Posted on

In this blog series, we’re showcasing the Engineering Competence Postgraduate Diploma students’ community challenges, completed as part of the Engineering in the Community module.

For this project, Airbus‘ Ross Gardner & Ed Wheatcroft partnered with Residents Against Dirty Energy (RADE) to try and find ways to keep open workshop and garage spaces warm without producing pollutants that are detrimental to health. A number of potential solutions have been outlined in their poster below.

Clean Van Heating Solutions

Posted on

Read about the findings from student community projects

Students from our Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering competence have presented results from real-world community challenges set in the Engineering in the Community module. These group projects will be showcased in the next few blog posts, so stay tuned….

First up, are Airbus employees S. Cole,  D. Guerrero and  A. Hayes, who worked with Residents Against Dirty Energy (RADE) – a community group who aim to reduce emissions from static burning. The student project focussed on wood burning as a heat source for those who live in vans and found that improving efficiency was key for reducing emissions.

Read their poster to find out more about the project.

Wheels up the Ben

Posted on

Last year, Sam ‘Wheels’ Harper-Miller, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, was carried up Snowdon by his friends. Now, the UWE Bristol Engineering Technical team have redesigned a wheelchair to allow him to conquer Ben Nevis.

Special mention to Doug Nash, our composites technician (seen here testing the chair), for the redesign of the base.

Sam and his friends made the trek up Snowdon, which he would not have been able to undertake without help, to raise money towards a new wheelchair. During the climb, Sam’s friends carried him for six hours on a stretcher, which they made themselves and integrated the top of a wheelchair.

The chair was uncomfortable and unstable, so the UWE Engineering Technical team have redesigned a new one with a bespoke composite frame and new seat – a special thank you to Cobra Seats Limited for helping with the seat and harness.

The next challenge the team plan to undertake is to reach the summit of Ben Nevis. For Sam, the mountain ascents are about far more than raising money, and with his new chair the next one should be much more comfortable.

UPDATE: We were very pleased to hear on 24/06/19 that Sam’s team successfully carried him up and down Ben Nevis the previous weekend. Videos and photos can be seen on the Wheels Up The Ben Facebook page. Congratulations to Sam and everyone involved!

Hinkley C new drilling kit is named after SARAH GUPPY!

Posted on

Along with three tunnel boring machines named after inspirational women, new drilling kit which will be used at the new Hinkley C power station is to be named after Sarah Guppy – engineer, pioneer and subject of Show of Strength‘s recent stage show. Producer Sheila Hannon tells us more in this guest post:

‘Sarah Guppy’ will be used to dig sections of the water outlet structure for three 1,200 tonne boring machines that will construct the new power station’s 3.3 kilometers of tunnels to be built underneath the sea bed.

Sarah Guppy says, ‘I’m absolutely delighted and how very appropriate. The world’s first underwater tunnel was the Thames Tunnel, designed and built by my friends and fellow engineers Marc and Isambard Brunel. Their innovative ‘tunneling shield’ principle has been used for nearly 200 years. It’s taken rather longer for my contribution to engineering to be recognised, but I’m thrilled to be associated with a project that both connects the past to the future and acknowledges my family’s strong Somerset links.

My award-winning show SARAH GUPPY: THE BRIDGE, THE BED, THE TRUTH is available if you’d like to know more about my remarkable life and work.

Performer: Kim Hicks, photo Zuleika Henry.

UWE Bristol joins MoD and Leaders Award to inspire future engineers

Posted on

On 18th January, UWE Bristol and the Leaders Awards joined Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S – Ministry of Defence) in organising an event to inspire the next generation of engineers.

School children from across Bristol, who are taking part in the Primary Engineer Leaders Award competition, visited the MoD at Abbey Wood, seeing state-of-the-art body armour, surveillance helicopters and robots up close.

The Leaders Awards ask the question: “If you were an engineer, what would you do?® with children submitting designs for inventions to solve an engineering problem. Entries will be shortlisted, with one of the winning designs being turned into reality by UWE Bristol engineers.

UWE Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, Professor Martin Boddy, said:

“We are proud to be part of this excellent initiative, which is opening the eyes of school pupils to the numerous ways in which engineering makes a real difference to society and inspiring them to get creative and come up with the engineering designs of the future.
Our UWE engineering students will actually be constructing designs put together by the school pupils, helping them to see their ideas in practical terms. This gives the pupils a real insight into the process behind designing and manufacturing a product.”

Read more about the event on the Leaders Award site.

Cover image credit: Leaders Award

UWE Bristol’s Speak Up campaign hosts successful panel event for International Day to end violence against women

Posted on

On 26th November 2018, a panel discussion was held as part of UWE Bristol’s SpeakUp campaign, which aims to create an inclusive campus where diversity is celebrated, antisocial attitudes and behaviours are challenged and any type of harassment, assault and discrimination aren’t acceptable. In this guest post, Student Inclusivity Project Coordinator Sarah Dickinson tells us more about it.

The Speak Up campaign

There has been a rise in awareness about issues regarding sexual violence and harassment in newspapers, within politics and the film industry. For example the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and the Everyday sexism Project.

Universities UK, which oversees procedures in universities in the United Kingdom, produced a report called ‘Changing the Culture’ in 2016 with a call for universities in the HE sector to put in place policies and practices that will ensure safety of all students and address sexual misconduct, hate crime and harassment affecting UK university students. HEFCE (now Office for Students) offered £2.45 million funding for 64 institutions for Safe Guarding Students and £1.8 million to tackle hate crime and online harassment. UWE won both funding bids.

UWE Bristol worked in focus groups with students who described the social norms that most affected their day to day life:

  1. Unwanted sexual touching and groping
  2. Sexual consent
  3. Inappropriate use of social media
  4. Domestic abuse
  5. Initiation and humiliation ceremonies

Video animations were created around these topics and a Bystander Programme was developed as part of the Speak Up campaign. The Bystander programme was developed as a 2 hour session adapted from the Intervention Initiative, originally 8 hours, created at UWE.

The SpeakUp campaign was introduced in September 2018 to help UWE Bristol students speak up and report unacceptable behaviour such as harassment, discrimination and violence. We want to create an inclusive campus where diversity is celebrated, antisocial attitudes and behaviours are challenged and any type of harassment, assault and discrimination aren’t acceptable. We want students to SpeakUp if they see or hear something that’s not right, and be an active bystander. The campaign has been created collaboratively between students, staff at the University, the Students’ Union at UWE and our partners: SARI (Stand Against Racism & Inequality), Bristol Zero Tolerance, and SARSAS (Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support).

Panel discussion: SpeakUp against violence and abuse

We ran the event to launch the Speak Up campaign and to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November) by having conversations around violence with students and staff.

Key objectives were to:

  • To increase the awareness of sexual violence and violence against women
  • To launch the Speak Up campaign and commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • To have conversations with students and staff around sexual violence and harassment and to collect feedback on the video animations.

The event was chaired by Professor Jane Harrington, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at UWE Bristol. Jane co-chairs the Joint Forum Against Sexual Violence and Harassment with Professor Judith Squires, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol. The forum share resources and best practice in addressing and tackling sexual violence and harassment within student populations and higher education institutions.

Panel members

Augusta Chidinma Nnajiofor, VP Community and Welfare and third-year student in Business Management with Economics. Augusta represents the student voice on welfare and community related issues and is working towards a truly inclusive and engaging community for all.

Dr Helen Bovill, Associate Head of Department Research, Department of Education and Childhood and Principal Academic Investigator for the HEFCE Catalyst Fund: Inclusive Campus. Social Norms marketing campaign, resulting in SpeakUp at UWE. Her principal research and teaching interests lie in the field of gendered spaces within university and particularly in understanding gender based violence and university initiatives and practices aimed at countering this culture.

Professor Kieran McCartan, Professor Sociology & Criminology. Kieran is the leader of the Social Science Research Group (2013 – ongoing) and joint coordinator of the Sexual Violence Research Network (2014 – ongoing) at UWE. Professor McCartan has a track record of public, academic and professional engagement on criminological issues, including the origins and causes of sex offending, and societal responses to sex offenders. He has developed a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary network around sex offender management and reintegration.

Dr Finn Mackay. Her area of research is contemporary British feminism and feminist activism. She is particularly interested in changes in this social movement from the Second Wave of the 1970s and 1980s to the present day, having been involved in feminist activism for twenty years, founding the London Feminist Network and revived London Reclaim the Night in 2004. Prior to returning to academia, her professional background was in education and youth work, where she worked on domestic violence prevention and anti-bullying.

Kate Peters, Deputy Head of Accommodation. Accommodation services provide support services and resources to students experiencing independent living whilst at university and help them settle in. Accommodation work closely with the university to keep the students safe and work with the Student Policy team to help protect victims during the reporting process where appropriate, such as providing temporary accommodation.

Mr Chris Green OBE – Founder & President of White Ribbon UK. Christopher Steven Green OBE is Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign (UK) He was previously full-time lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University In 2007 he was awarded “Ultimate Man of the Year” by Cosmopolitan for his work with White Ribbon Campaign. He has addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Inter Parliamentary Union, the Oxford Union and many conferences on the theme of Engaging Men in Tackling Violence against Women. He is author of the series of 12 leaflets “What the White Ribbon Campaign says”, available for download from the WRC website.

Key themes which arose were:

  • Protecting victims during the reporting process
  • Having safe spaces on and off campus
  • There should be focus on prevention of perpetrators, as well as support for victims

The event was a great success. We engaged staff and students on the Speak Up Campaign. It highlighted all the efforts and initiatives (policies and practice) being put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of UWE students and staff.

There were 54 attendees:  46 staff / 8 students (of those, 13 staff / 7 students had not engaged with Speak Up previously).

Next steps

As part of the Speak Up campaign, the Bystander programme was developed by Helen Bovill as a 2 hour session adapted from the Intervention Initiative, originally 8 hours, created at UWE. It has been piloted this term by Helen Bovill in Education and Finn Mackay and Kieran McCartan in Sociology and Criminology. We are now looking at the next steps for rolling out the Bystander training further to more students and are working closely with academics and the Students Union at UWE on this.

UWE’s day of engineering!

Posted on

This a guest post from Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, who runs UWE Bristol’s Engineering and Society module. 

Nearly 900 primary school children across Bristol took part in our Engineering and Society challenge this week. The children came from 28 classes in eight different schools and ranged in age from 8 to 11 years old.

45 student engineers from the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics partnered with 30 student teachers from the Department of Education and Childhood Studies, seen here in training for the day of activities, in order to share their knowledge. The groups were given the challenge of running a whole day of engineering activities in schools.

Ashton Gate, Bannerman Road, Fonthill, Illminster Avenue, Meadowbrook, Hambrook, Shield Road and Victoria Park primary schools were all partners in the project. The day of activities forms part of the Engineering and Society module on Level 3 of the engineering degrees.

The activities included making a working vacuum cleaner, building a floating platform, and flying a paper glider over 3 m.





The children have now all completed the first stage of the Leaders Award, and have been left with the challenge, ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’. Watch this space to find out!

Sarah Guppy: The Bridge, The Bed, The Truth

Posted on

In the Year of Engineering and Centenary of Women’s Suffrage, Show of Strength are bringing us the opportunity to learn more about Bristol pioneer Sarah Guppy, the first woman to patent a bridge and formally design one.

Sarah Guppy was an engineer, inventor, campaigner, designer, reformer, writer, environmentalist and business woman. Born Sarah Maria Beach in Birmingham in 1770, she moved to Bristol in 1795 when she married merchant Samuel Guppy. She supported Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was the mother of (along with another five children) Thomas Guppy, who worked with Brunel on many projects, including the SS Great Britain.


In 1811, she designed and patented a chain bridge; this design was never built, but she went on to design other inventions such as an early teasmade which cooked eggs in its steam and an exercise bed.

She also mentored Brunel with his winning entry to design a bridge to span the Avon Gorge – the now iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. Could Sarah have been the real engineer behind the design?









Sarah Guppy: The Bridge, The Bed, The Truth is on at the Hen & Chicken in Bedminster on 6th and 7th November at 8.30 pm, at the Create Centre in Hotwells on 8th and 9th November at 4 pm and 6.30 pm and The Savoy Theatre in Monmouth on 10th November at 2 pm. The performance lasts an hour and the first night will be attended by the Lord Mayor. Cllr Cleo Lake.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.showofstrength.org.uk.