Children inspired engineers at the South West Leaders Award exhibition held at UWE Bristol

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The winners of the 2019 Leaders Award gathered at UWE Bristol for the South West awards ceremony on Friday 14th June.

The competition challenged children to answer the question: ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ by identifying a problem that engineering could solve, and devising a solution.

From magnet wielding helicopters that tow broken down cars skyward, to surveillance parrots that alert wildlife trusts to hunters – the children’s designs tackled a great diversity of problems in modern society.

Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore joined UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West and MOD DE&S Air Marshall Julian Young to congratulate those who entered the competition. While the competition launches by using online interviews with real-life engineers to inspire the children, they all agreed that in the end it’s the children’s designs that inspire engineers!

Throughout this year, engineers in EDM have been supporting the competition, by grading 4385 entries, and taking part in the final judging panel. UWE Bristol is the South West regional supporter alongside Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) – the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation.

The ceremony finished with a flourish, with student engineers Katy O’Hara Nash and Miriam Cristofoletti from the EDM WISE society, presenting the prototype they have made based on the winning design from last year’s competition. The system, designed by Year 8 pupil Philippa Griffiths, displays variable red lights on the back of a vehicle to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed.

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of Department for Engineering Design and Mathematics said:

“We are always inspired by the children’s designs for the Leaders Awards. This year our female engineering students have gone one step further by actually taking a design, and building a prototype. It shows the passion and ingenuity in our region, both from local children, but also our own students. Through these public events we want to demonstrate our commitment to developing STEM technologies and a highly-skilled workforce which can enhance our future together.”  

The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, were on display on Saturday 15th June at the University’s Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC). Hundreds of visitors of all ages were able to try it out, as well as taking part in exciting STEM activities provided by the MOD, Aerospace Bristol, and UWE. The displays included having a go with drones, Lego Mindstorm, and a virtual reality tour of the new Engineering Building.

Post by Laura Fogg-Rogers.

Leaders Award judging takes place at UWE Bristol

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Engineers from UWE Bristol took part in grading entries to the Leaders Award competition, which challenges children with the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

UWE Bristol hosted the regional grading days on 1st and 2nd May with engineers judging the entries.

You can sign up to go the Leaders Award – Awards Day and private exhibition of competition designs hosted at UWE Bristol’s ECC on Friday 14th June (2-5pm). Or bring the family to check out the public open day on Saturday June 15th (10am – 3pm).

Thousands of children from across the South West take part in Leaders Award

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Thousands of children from across the South West have taken part in the Leaders Award competition, answering the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. This free competition asks students to find a problem, invent a solution, draw it, explain and send it in.

Our engineers from UWE Bristol and the MOD Defence Equipment and Support have been swamped with entries this year, with 4385 children entering in 2019 compared to 2712 in 2018. All the children’s designs are graded by practising engineers and given feedback for the future. The final Awards Ceremony will take place in June, with a public open day being held on Saturday June 15th at UWE Bristol (10am – 3pm).

To find out more about the event, you can register your interest here. The free event will take place in the Exhibition and Conference Centre on the Frenchay Campus, and will feature exciting science and engineering activities.

Post by Laura Fogg-Rogers.

Leaders Award grading days to take place at UWE

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UWE Bristol is pleased to be supporting the Leaders Award, a competition which asks children the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” for another year.

This year, the grading days (in which entries that have come in for the competition are graded) will be held at UWE Bristol on 1st and 2nd May.

The Leaders Award team would like to invite engineers to grade the entries. Engineers can come for as long or as little as they like, and enjoy grading the entries that have come in from pupils aged between 3 – 19. Once registered, at https://2019southwestgrading.eventbrite.co.uk, further details about the day will be sent nearer the time.

Women Like Me engineer Rachel Kirkwood engages another 1161 pupils for Leaders Award

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Following a very successful online presentation for the Leaders Award in January by Rachel Kirkwood, graduate engineer at Peter Brett Associates and participant in our Women Like Me programme, she was invited back to deliver another! Rachel’s second presentation took place on Thursday 28th February 2019, reaching 1161 pupils in 10 schools across the UK.

Before the presentation, Rachel gave a taster of what she’d be talking about, and it sounds like she made a great impression on the students in her talk:

“We just wanted to say thank you very much for organising this event. Our pupils found Rachel’s talk very interesting and they were inspired by her passion for her job and for her enthusiastic responses to all of the questions. Thank you from all of us at Craigrothie Primary School.”

The Leaders Award is supported by UWE Bristol and asks children “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. This free competition asks students to find a problem, invent a solution, draw it, explain and send it in. Pupils are encouraged to both interview engineers and watch the online interviews. If you’d like to take part in the Leaders Award as an engineer or school, please get in touch with the team.

Women Like Me engineer Rachel Kirkwood to return to Leaders Award

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Back in January, Rachel Kirkwood, graduate engineer at Peter Brett Associates and participant in our Women Like Me programme, delivered a very successful online presentation for the Leaders Award.

So much so, that she’s been asked to return and will give another presentation tomorrow, on Thursday 28th February 2019.

In the video below, Rachel gives a taster of what she’ll be discussing, by explaining what she does in her role in transport planning.

Engineers who would like to support Primary Engineer / The Leaders Award can find out more here. Schools which would like to participate in Meet an Engineer interviews can find more information here.

Final Call to Enter Free Engineering Competition

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The Leaders Award is a free competition for children in which you can challenge your pupils to come up with engineering solutions to everyday problems. But the deadline (27th March) is fast approaching…

Kids taking part in the Leaders Award are encouraged to talk to local engineers, but also have the opportunity to tune into live interviews with scientists and pose their questions to these experts.

Get your school registered to take part in the Leaders Award.

If your school wants to be involved in any of the interviews please register your interest via email to info@leadersaward.com and they will  keep you posted on their schedule. And you can read more about it here: leadersaward 2019 flyer.

The awards are supported by the University of the West of England, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S).

Originally posted by Louisa Cockbill on the Curiosity Connections blog, 24th February 2019.

UWE student engineers visit Leaders Award winner’s school

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A team of engineers from UWE Bristol is bringing to life one of the winning designs from last year’s Leaders Awards. Designed by Philippa Griffiths of Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset, the Red Line Braking System (RLBS) displays red lights to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed, with the aim of reducing fatalities on our roads. Miriam Cristofoletti tells us more about their visit to the school of designer Phillipa Griffiths in this blog post.

Earlier this month we had the incredible opportunity to go and visit Philippa in her school, run a series of STEM activities with her classmates and to discuss her idea about the RLBS project! We were so excited! 

After about an hour of traveling, we reached Hugh Sexey CE Middle School, in the quiet Somerset countryside, and we met Ms Latti (Philippa’s teacher), who took us to the DT classroom and introduced us to the pupils. It was a great surprise to see the majority of them to be girls! 

We started with a brief introduction about who we are, what we do at UWE and we had a chat with them about their career plans after school. The students were very interested and it was nice to see them interacting with us and sharing their opinions, without feeling shy. We then had a couple of quizzes. First, we wanted the children to explore the different areas of Engineering, so we gave them a few job descriptions and they had to guess the job title. We picked the latest job adverts from real websites, in the Engineering sections, like Drone Pilot, App Developer, Machine Learning Engineer, Virtual Reality Designer,… to show them that all these jobs weren’t there a few years ago, but they are now possible because of the new technological advancement. When we said: “Think about the fact that you all will have jobs that are not there yet, because you haven’t invented them yet!”, a girl from the back went like “Oh my God, THAT-IS-SO-COOL!” 

And it’s for real, “SO COOL”! 

Another activity was to see whether they knew some of the most important past and present figures in the Engineering industry and research environment, like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, but also Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson, telling them that they all started from nothing, from a garage or from a little desk, and they all built their way up with determination and strength, never giving up. 

We showed them some of our work and projects at university, and we also brought a Mekamon (the spider-like robot produced by Reach Robotics). They were all so excited to see a real robot in front of them, but also interested by the fact that Silas Adekunle, was just an undergraduate student when he came up with the idea of building it and set up his own company. 

Then, it was time to discuss the Leaders Award competition and Philippa’s design. We presented her our work from the very first tests and the current progress. She shared with us the reasons behind her idea and she told us her thoughts about what we’ve done so far. It was a great experience for both sides – she managed to see her drawing slowly coming true and give her input about the next steps, and we got the opportunity to have our customer review, avoiding future errors and/or disappointment! 

The last hour was spent with our final activity, a practical one! We split the class in 4 groups and each group was further divided in 2 teams: a Hardware team and a Software team. We brought laptops, microcontroller boards, wires, sensors and LEDs, to allow the pupils to build their own circuit and program their own code, and make an easier version of Philippa’s RLBS: an LED would lit up based on how much a sensor was pressed. 

To create a more real life scenario, we supplied the 4 groups with slightly different materials and they had to share some components, because that’s what an Engineer project sometimes looks like, especially when you start with the first tests. You don’t always have everything as expected, you need to adapt and improvise with what you have or what you’re given, sometimes you have constraints in terms of money, resources, time… but you keep on trying, persistent and confident that eventually you can make it! 

The children worked hard and followed our instruction perfectly! They soon found out that nothing works fine on the first attempt, it’s not like in movies, when you just type on a keyboard and magically you get all the results you want! It takes time and team work. It was amazing seeing the members of the HW team agreeing with the ones in the SW team for the number of pins, and cooperating to get the whole system working! This is exactly what we do in our projects at university – no Engineer works alone! 

At the end, some children managed to lit up an LED, and the sense of achievement in their eyes was priceless! 

With the bell’s ring, we packed our things, and came back to UWE, happy to have lit up the first sparkle of inspiration for our future Engineers! 

Leaders Award prototype team ready to visit designer’s school

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Our team of engineers, including our Women Like Me engineer Katy, are busy building one of the winning designs from last year’s Leaders Award. Designed by Philippa Griffiths of Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset, the Red Line Braking System (RLBS) displays red lights to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed, with the aim of reducing fatalities on our roads. The team are due to visit Philippa’s school tomorrow, as Miriam Cristofoletti of the build team tells us here.

Today we had a very productive meeting, preparing our 2-hour session to Philippa’s school. We’ll have about 20-25 KS3 pupils and we will run a series of very interactive activities. We want to inspire them, and show them what the Engineering World looks like, through quizzes, games and a final practical session, building circuits and writing code! 

Philippa’s design is an incredible idea, and the Engineering principle behind it is actually quite straightforward: a pressure sensor and many LED strips lit up depending on the intensity of the force applied on it. We want her to fully experience her own design and with our practical session next Wednesday, she’ll be able to do so. We’ll also have a chat with her, and see whether we’re all on the same page for the project and what are her suggestions. It’s gonna be fun!

First prototype complete in Leaders Award design build

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A team of engineers from UWE Bristol is bringing to life one of the winning designs from last year’s Leaders Awards. Designed by Philippa Griffiths of Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset, the Red Line Braking System (RLBS) displays red lights to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed, with the aim of reducing fatalities on our roads. Here Miriam Cristofoletti of the build team shares their latest prototype progress.

In this first prototype, we installed a pressure sensor inside what looks like a break pedal of a car (but instead is an old sewing machine’s pedal!), and we build and programmed a circuit to control a strip of LEDs. This is the basic principle behind the final design. We will then make it bigger and we’ll attach it to a frame to fit around the car’s back windshield. We’d also like to add a Bluetooth system in order not to have wires running from one side of the car to another.