Winning Leaders Award prototype unveiled at exhibition at UWE Bristol

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Last year, Hugh Sexy CE Middle School student Philippa Griffiths designed the Red Line Braking System for the Leaders Award competition, in response to the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

The Leaders Award sets this challenge to encourage children to identify a problem that engineering could solve, and devise a solution. Philippa’s invention was picked as a winning design for the South West, and then selected to be turned into a working prototype by a team of UWE Bristol engineers. Philippa’s design 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.

Our team of female student engineers from the university’s Women in Science and Engineering Society, including some taking part in our Royal Academy of Engineering funded project Women Like Me, turned Philippa’s idea into reality, visiting her school during the process and providing updates as they went.

Our team are:

The prototype was unveiled at the South West Leaders Award exhibition at UWE Bristol on Friday 14th June 2019 by Philippa, Katy and Miriam. The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, was also 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.

Congratulations to Philippa and the team for designing and creating a fantastic new engineering solution!

Sarah Guppy show and women in STEM panel discussion recorded for schools

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Back in November, Show of Strength‘s production about Sarah Guppy – engineer, inventor, campaigner, designer, reformer, writer, environmentalist and business woman – opened to great reviews.

These included comments such as:

“You won’t look at Isambard Kingdom Brunel or the Clifton Suspension Bridge in quite the same way ever again after seeing this piece.”

and:

“An inspiring and witty homage to someone who deserves a far more central place in Bristol’s – and Britain’s – commercial and industrial history.”

and crucially:

“Please find a way of getting this into every school in Bristol.”

Which is what Show of Strength, in collaboration with UWE Bristol, Future Quest, Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain, did yesterday.

Girls from Bristol Brunel Academy and Bristol Metropolitan Academy, coordinated by Future Quest’s Gemma Adams, attended an exclusive showing of Sarah Guppy: The Bridge, The Bed, The Truth in UWE’s filming studio at the university’s Bower Ashton campus. The performance was filmed, thanks to UWE’s Abigail Davies, and followed by a panel discussion on women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) which was also recorded so that both elements of yesterday’s production can be shown in schools.

The panel discussion was chaired by UWE’s Dr Madge Dresser, an expert in social and cultural British history, who recently put Sarah Guppy forward for inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. On the panel were civil engineeer Trish Johnson (the first female Bridgemaster of Clifton Suspension Bridge), mechanical engineer Nicola Grahamslaw (Conservation Engineer for the SS Great Britain), mechanical engineer Rachel Gollin (who has extensive experience of engineering various sectors across the world), Dr Laura Fogg Rogers (Senior Research Fellow at UWE; Women Like Me), Dr Laura Hobbs (Research Fellow at UWE; Women Like Me) and Miriam Cristofoletti (Robotics student at UWE’s Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

“It’s still not great for women in STEM but at least we’re allowed to be engineers and scientists now!”

Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, UWE Bristol

Discussion ranged from why girls don’t choose STEM subjects to the best thing about an engineer and back again, via conversation about what engineers can expect to earn, how to get into engineering and more.

Feedback was positive – Future Quest described hearing from a panel of women in STEM and their thoughts and advice about their careers as

“both inspiring and thought provoking”

And it is hoped that the film will inspire many more school students in future.

Header image shows left to right: Trish Johnson (Clifton Suspension Bridge), Nicola Grahamslaw (SS Great Britain), Rachel Gollin, Kim Hicks as Sarah Guppy, Dr Laura Fogg Rogers (UWE Bristol), Dr Laura Hobbs (UWE Bristol), Miriam Cristofoletti (UWE Bristol), Sheila Hannon (Producer, Show of Strength), Dr Madge Dresser (UWE Bristol) and Gemma Adams (UWE Bristol/Future Quest).

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. 

UWE student engineers promote Leaders Award at Curiosity Connections 2019

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Our Curiosity Connections Conference, bringing together teachers and science communicators to discuss and progress the future of primary STEM, took place today and the packed expo featured two of the student engineers building a prototype of one of the winning designs from last year’s Leaders Award competition.

UWE Bristol student engineers Miriam Cristofoletti (Bristol Robotics Laboratory) and Georgina Packham (Mechanical Engineering) attended the conference to report on the work they are doing for the Leaders Award, and raise awareness of the competition with more than 50 conference attendees.

Along with Olesya Klyuchenkova and our Women Like Me engineer
Katy O’Hara Nash, Miriam and Georgina are building a prototype of a graded braking light designed by Philippa Griffiths, a Year 7 student at Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset. Philippa designed the RLBS (Red Line Braking System) to display 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 will be visiting Philippa’s school later this month.

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.

UWE engineering students visit Hannah More Primary School

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Yesterday, our team of student engineers who are turning one of the winning 2018 Leaders Award designs into reality, Miriam Cristofoletti, Katy O’Hara Nash, Olesya Klyuchenkova and Georgina Packham, visited Hannah More Primary School in Bristol to introduce Year 1 pupils to engineering. Find out how they got on in this guest post by the team.

Yesterday we went to Hannah More Primary School to deliver our Engineering activity and we had so much fun with the children! 

They were Year 1 pupils (age 5 and 6), and we were really happy to see their interest and passion in getting involved in all the activities. We had a slideshow with many pictures, videos about Engineering and questions to make the session more interactive and entertaining.

“I want that robot at home!”

Most of the children said things like “I want that robot at home!” “I want to fly that plane!”. We got them thinking about what they want to do when they grow up, guess what course we study, draw what an engineer would look like and what they do in their job.

We introduced them to the Leaders Award competition and they were so impressed by the fact that we are actually building one of last year’s winners, designed by a pupil like them!

Then, we gave the children two problems to choose from (pollution and unhealthy eating) and in groups they had to find a solution. It was great to see the amazing ideas they came up with, such as robots that only buy/serve healthy food and devices to clean the “dirty gases” coming out of the cars.

Credit: Hannah More Primary School on Twitter.

At the end they proudly presented their work in front of the rest of the class and all said they now want to become engineers! Such a successful day! 

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.

UWE Robotics student Miriam Cristofoletti presents for Leaders Award for second time

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Miriam Cristofoletti made such an impression when she inspired 1600 children in her Leaders Award presentation in December that she was invited back, delivering another presentation on 22nd January.

Miriam, a student at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, presented to 1021 pupils from 12 primary schools across the country. She’s also made a video for the Leaders Award Meet an Engineer series on the Primary Engineer YouTube channel as is part of a team of UWE Bristol engineers turning one of last year’s Leaders Award winning designs into reality.

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.

Engineers from UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering Society excited to be building Leaders Award winning design

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A team of UWE Bristol engineering students:

have now picked one of the winning designs from this year’s Leaders Award to turn into reality. The team are part of UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering student society and Katy is also a participant in our Women Like Me mentoring and outreach project supporting women and girls in engineering.

The team picked the design of Philippa Griffiths, a Year 7 student at Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset. Philippa designed the RLBS (Red Line Braking System) to display 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 will be visiting Philippa’s school in February to discuss the design with her and deliver engineering outreach for her class.
Georgina and Olesya made this video to tell us how they’re looking forward to getting started:

Miriam Cristofoletti reaches 1600 pupils in Leaders Award presentation

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Miriam Cristofoletti from the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol took up the challenge of presenting to over 1000 school pupils for the Leaders Award this week.

“It’s OK not to have things working right the first time”

Miriam, a student engineer in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, took part “mainly to inspire them, tell them never give up and that it’s OK not to have things working right the first time”.

 

 

“It was inspiring and thought-provoking”

Feedback from schools was outstanding, with schools reporting that Miriam’s presentation had particularly positive impacts for students from minority ethnic backgrounds, girls who struggle to engage with stereotypically ‘masculine’ topics and low attaining pupils now expressing that they would like be robotics engineers in the future.

Professor Paul Olomolaiye, Pro Vice Chancellor & Executive Dean of the Faculty of Environment and Technology, was delighted to celebrate Miriam’s achievement, saying that “she has made us all so proud”.

Miriam is also part of a team of UWE Bristol students who are building a prototype of one of last year’s winning designs.

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.