Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

Sharing experience and best practice across the Faculty of Engineering & Design

Getting your message on our foyer TV screens


📥  Staff insight, Top tips

The University's internal digital signage system is a great way to raise awareness of events, opportunities, PGR projects, and student activities - plus is saves printing costs and the environment too!

How the system works in our Faculty

Our TV screens in the foyers of 6 East, 4 East, 2 East, 9 West and on each floor in 4 East South all run on the OneLan content management system. This means each screen plays various folders containing departmental, faculty and university-wide content.

The Department Offices all have access to a departmental folder that only plays in their respective foyers and a shared faculty folder that shows across all our screens. The Faculty Marketing & Web Team has more extensive access and extra folders so that we can play around a bit more with what's displayed and when. There's also a university-wide folder that displays across campus managed by the Internal Communications Team. AV provide technical support to all of us.

Getting your content on the big screen

  1. Download a Faculty PowerPoint template from the Marketing & Web Team wiki page or follow these instructions from the Internal Communications Team to open a University PowerPoint template. Alternatively you can design your own slide from scratch.
  2. Edit the template and then export this as a JPEG (if your content is time specific, save the date the slide can be removed within the file name).
  3. Email the slide to your Department Office (you can also email comms@bath.ac.uk if you think your content is of interest to the whole of campus).

You can then use your side on Facebook and Twitter to further promote your message.

Some Faculty template examples

Designing your own slide

If you don't want to use the templates then you can create a slide from scratch, but it must be 1518 x 853 (16:9 ratio). Definitely no portrait A4 PDFs!  Slides show for 7 seconds at a time so don't overload yours with too much information. Keep it simple: one image, a headline, a strapline and 1-2 sentences of further details.

There's no need for a logo, but you might want to check the university's brand colours and use Arial font (stay above 24pt). If you want to include a hyperlink try shortening the URL by using an online tool like Bitly (this will also track the number of hits you get).

More than just static content

Our screens are also a great place to show short films (under 45 seconds or the file size will be too large) and animations that don't require sound. With AV support we could also look into live streaming high profile events.

The system has been set up at a central level to be the easiest to use for the most amount of people, so this limits us to a certain extent on what we can do with our screens (especially when it comes to scheduling content), but things are always evolving...and suggestions are always welcome.


Assessment and Feedback - Case Studies


📥  Technology Enhanced Learning

assignment_imgFollowing on from the workshop on using the Moodle assignment tool, Yvonne Moore and Rachel Applegate (Faculty Learning Technologists) have been working with staff in the Faculty on producing a series of case studies.

Coming soon! The Learning and Teaching Hub, an online space where you can access all the relevant resources to support developments in learning and teaching. These case studies along with others (from LITEbox, Exchange and other sources) will be made available in a single, searchable space.

In the meantime, we are sharing the first two case studies here. The first case studies are based around the theme of assessment and feedback, which were identified as a high priority themes in our Faculty TEL Staff Survey.

Assessment - using the Moodle assignment

Dr Elise Pegg and Dr James Scobie (Mechanical Engineering) share their experiences of using the Moodle assignment tool to provide timely feedback to large cohorts of students. Select the image below to access the case study.



Assessment - audio feedback

Dr Ricardo Codinhoto (Architecture & Civil Engineering) shares his experience of using his smartphone to provide audio feedback to his MSc students. Select the image below to access the case study.



Watch out for more case studies coming soon. If you would like to share your experiences of using Learning Technologies, or you would like more advice about implementing solutions in your own teaching context, contact Yvonne Moore and Rachel Applegate (Faculty Learning Technologists): fed-tel@bath.ac.uk



My Experience of the Mental Health First Aid Training

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📥  Staff experiences

Mental Health Awareness Week

A couple of weeks ago it was Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental health is finally being considered as something we should all take notice of in ourselves, those we care about and work with.

Not so long ago, mental health was not a 'thing'. If someone was struggling, there wasn't any help or support for them. People were shunned from society if they weren't 'normal'. We are lucky to now have the support we need and the knowledge we have about mental health.

Mental Health First Aid training course

I recently went on a two day training course called Mental Health First Aid. Within the first hour I realised something about myself that I hadn't before. I have always automatically assumed that what was meant by 'Mental Health' was illness, a negative association. But mental health can mean good mental health. It can be feeling calm, relaxed or happy. It doesn't have to be a negative thing such as depression or anxiety.

Being a yoga teacher outside of my office job means I know that feeling calm and at peace is essential to living a healthy life. Reducing stress and anxiety is paramount to keeping our body and mind healthy. What I had never taken the time to do was to notice that this is classed as good mental health. It surprised me to realise this. It seemed so obvious but no-one had said that to me before. It's not a separate thing from the phrase 'mental health'. And it's also not the case that we fit directly into the good or bad part. It's a scale. It might be that we are balanced in the middle of the scale and something happens in life that sends us one way or the other. If it's to the good part, we are ecstatic, peaceful, happy. If it's the bad, we might end up with a mental health disorder which sees us asking for help to overcome or manage it. Everyone is as susceptible as anyone else. We shouldn't think that it can never happen to us. I think losing the idea that mental health only means illness opens it up as a topic for people to talk about. It takes away the idea that mental health is something to be scared of.

The two day training took us through many of the mental health disorders; how to spot symptoms, how to offer help yourself and where to refer people to for professional help. We spoke about depression, anxiety, panic attacks, personality disorder, schizophrenia, suicide. And this isn't all of them. It was an intense two days.

I learnt loads of information that I hadn't had the opportunity to before. I found it really useful to learn how mental health disorders can express themselves. What was even more useful was learning about how to deal with colleagues or students who might be suffering. Before this course, it would have been something I shied away from as I wouldn't have known what to do or whether what I was saying was correct. We are quite often caught up in our own head, thinking about our own things. Going on this training opened my eyes, teaching me to look around and notice what's happening to others. Showing compassion to your work colleagues is important. If someone is quiet and subdued one day and this isn't their normal behaviour, be sensitive to this. They might have things going on that you don't know about. It taught me to look out for changes in people's behaviour and gave me resources to turn to if I felt I needed them, for myself or others. I would urge anyone, if presented with the opportunity, to go on this course.

Remember to take a break

Mental Health Awareness Week dedicates an entire week (8th-14th May) to raising awareness of mental health. This week removes the taboo surrounding mental health. The University offers loads of positive workshops to help to counteract any problems people might be having with their own mental health. Rather than focusing on the negative side of mental health (the view that mental health is bad or scary and where people might disassociate from sufferers), this week promotes the idea that we should all take better care of ourselves. We should all make an effort to reduce our stress levels, breathe more deeply, take regular breaks away from our desk. Although we can't control everything that happens to us, we can control how we react to it. Taking the time to make sure your stress levels are low by doing the things you love like walking your dog, swimming, seeing friends all help to make sure we keep ourselves mentally fit. We will then react better to those moments in life that might send us off balance. Just as we would go running if we'd put on a few pounds, we also have to exercise the mind and keep it fit. If we forget about it, it is more susceptible to illness - exactly the same as our physical body.

Although there is a week dedicated to raising awareness, it's important to remember that our own mental health is something we should bear in mind all the time. Whenever you can feel that you are off balance, that you might be sliding down the scale, try and catch yourself. Life produces many traumatic events for us to get through. Without scaring you, it's these types of events that affect our mental health and can leave us with depression, anxiety, panic attacks etc. The more you can do to make your mind fit now, the less these events may affect you if they happen.


Seven questions with Sue Fairhurst


📥  Celebrating success, Staff experiences, Staff insight, Top tips

I recently chatted to Sue Fairhurst prior to her retirement from the University, where she has enjoyed a successful career providing an in-house graphic design service for "anything and everything that needs to be designed or printed".  I asked Sue seven questions relating (mostly) to her experience of working here at the University.

Image of Sue Fairhurst

Sue Fairhurst (right)

1. How did you choose your career?
"I feel blessed because I didn’t chose my career; my career chose me!  Art was something that was innate within me; something that I didn’t just want to do – I had to do it.  As a child I drew all the time and my favourite subjects were horses and Botticelli maidens.  I wasn’t interested in going to University, but my school strongly encouraged me to follow a higher education pathway.  As a concession I agreed to apply for a teacher training post.  However, on a visit to Bristol I discovered Bristol Art College at Bower Ashton, which is now the University of the West of England.  I applied and never looked back."

2. What is the best thing about your job?
"The best thing about my job is the variety of challenges that tend to occur every day.  I really enjoy thinking of different ways of tackling new challenges."

3. What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a new member of staff?
"I think good communication is key.  Find out how the University works and get involved.  Be confident and stay true to yourself."

4. What has been your greatest success/achievement at work?
"While I’ve enjoyed many projects here, I think being involved with the implementation of the new University branding in 2010 was a particular high point.  The entire marketing process was an exciting journey, and seeing the results of our work made us all feel proud.  Open days in particular suddenly became really exciting events."

5. What is your favourite book/album?
"I love reading, and although I’ve read a lot of books, I think I would choose Dickens’ ‘Our mutual friend’ as a particular favourite.  The album is a bit more difficult because I listen to so much music.  My first album was ‘Sweet Baby James’ by James Taylor, so that’s a special one for me.  However, I also love Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ and I’ll listen to anything and everything by Ry Cooder."

6. Who or what inspires you and why?
"I love trees!  Nature is inspiring because it never lets you down.  I’ve always enjoyed my drive to work, taking what I think of as the back way from Bristol to Bath through Bitton and Kelston where the views are so beautiful.  I’m also aware of how much the University grounds have developed since I’ve worked here, and I’m really grateful to have worked in such lovely surroundings.  My dad was also an inspiration.  He valued happiness and encouraged me to do exactly what I wanted to do - as long as I was happy."

7. If you could choose one luxury item on a desert island what would it be?
"Communication is so important to me.  I love listening to music and I also like listening to serious documentaries and chat shows, so I think I would have to choose a radio as my luxury item."



A new online Faculty induction


📥  New initiative

A long while ago now, our Director of Administration tasked a group of us to create an interactive staff induction module for everyone in the Faculty:



We interviewed members of staff to hear about their induction experiences. This helped us to come up with specific aims for the project.

We interviewed members of staff to hear about their induction experiences. This helped us to come up with specific aims for the project.


We also learned from our research that people’s experiences varied depending on their line manager and the time of year they started. We decided we needed to develop a module for managers to help them prepare for their new member of staff and consider which point of the annual cycle they would be starting in.

We also learned from our research that people’s experiences varied depending on their line manager and the time of year they started. We decided we needed to develop a module for managers to help them prepare for their new member of staff and consider which point of the annual cycle they would be starting in.


The project has had many stages with different members of the project team taking on more active roles depending on the stage.

The project has had many stages with different members of the project team taking on more active roles depending on the stage.


We all come from different job functions which meant we could specialise or learn new skills.

We all come from different job functions which meant we could specialise or learn new skills.


The team met regularly to share ideas and kept in touch through Trello between meetings.

We all come from different job functions which meant we could specialise or learn new skills.


We mainly learnt the importance of investing in technology and sharing our knowledge with each other.

We mainly learnt the importance of investing in technology and sharing our knowledge with each other.


Try out the new staff induction module using the self-enrolment key available on the wiki.

Managers' training module coming soon...


Telling student stories


📥  Staff insight

There's a new online prospectus (named course search) on its way and we've been picking what to feature in the student testimonial sections. The bad news is that we don't have enough content, but the good news is that we do have more platforms to tell student stories and we've been approaching these stories in different ways.

Web case studies

In the past, getting student testimonials was prompted by the need to update a brochure. We then added this collection of soundbites to the web as an afterthought, usually in a thumbnail list.

If a student story came up in the meantime, we had to publish a news article that usually consisted of:

  • introduction
  • student quote
  • academic quote
  • definition of a term from the intro
  • and then an unsubstantiated "that's why we are the best" sentence

We've found these news articles quickly go out of date and are mainly read internally rather than by prospective students. This situation was partly due to OpenCMS's hierarchical structure and outdated templates. But now we have a brand new CMS and a host of new content types to use. We are big fans of the case study content type; it focuses content through its structure, and optimises it with a feature image and quote (all mobile responsive of course).

Partly, though, we were also approaching content wrongly. There was something about relying on news articles or asking the same old "why Bath?" questions that didn't feel massively satisfying. I couldn’t articulate why this wasn't working until I read this blog post by Hanna in the digital team about their approach to writing research stories. Becky began using this approach and the new case study content type when profiling PhD researchers Bruno and Olivia as part of the worldwide collection. Once our Faculty pages shipped to the new CMS in January, we could roll this out to profiling our taught students as well.

So, we have been moving towards more specific case studies centred on a student's experiences of a project or a placement, where we actually profile what the student is working on. This approach produces content with longevity, it creates a more coherent story and it's more interesting. For example, by reading about the experiences of Hemant from Team Bath Drones or Stefano from Team Bath Racing Electric you get a real sense of the skills students develop through project work.

Getting an insight on our student blog

Our student blog provides more of a behind-the-scenes view than the more formal web case studies. It's a snapshot of student life as it's happening, while our case studies are more about giving the completed story: beginning, middle and end. I love that we have this platform to hand over to the student voice. It's less polished, but there can be a real power in its authenticity. You can get updates from our students as they go out on placement, travel abroad on the ERASMUS scheme or develop their projects.

The website and the blog really came together for a profile on this year's Basil Spence winning project. The web case study gives an overview of the group project and then links through to a blog post from each team member for a more extensive personal insight into the students' experiences.

Video shorts

We've also begun using video more this year (we are still quite limited on this due to resource) to give prospective students a taste of studying in the Faculty. These range from short project videos to the My Day in 60 Seconds collection.

Keep the content coming

It's tough producing this content with such limited resources; the one university photographer or the one AV specialist are usually booked up well in advance. It leaves little time for idea generation, concept development or retakes. We also rely on collaboration from staff who work directly with students, even if it's just a suggestion or passing on a piece of student-generated content, we can usually tailor it to one of our platforms.

What is usually pretty easy though is getting great content from our student volunteers. They know how to present themselves, they know how to communicate their work and they know why they should communicate it. It's so reassuring reading our students' experiences on the web, on our blog or social media. The Faculty of Engineering & Design is producing not only technically astute but articulate architects and engineers who will make a positive impact on the world...and best of all, they'll share with you how they are doing it and why.


Seven questions with Andy Matthews


📥  Celebrating success, Staff experiences, Staff insight, Top tips

Last month I chatted to Andy Matthews who is a Senior Technician in the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. Andy is responsible for the Undergraduate teaching labs, managing the risk assessment and practical needs of students undertaking project work. He’s also responsible for access and security in 2 East. I asked Andy seven questions relating (mostly) to his work here at Bath. Here they are, together with his response:

1. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

"I really enjoy working with young people who are at such an optimistic stage of their lives and who don’t see any limits to their horizons.  It’s great being in that environment every day". 

Andy Matthews in the Electrical Engineering lab

Andy Matthews in the Electrical Engineering lab

2. How do you prepare for a typical working week?

"I make a list and try to prioritise the items. I can’t plan too far in advance because issues can arise at the last minute, and I may need to adapt my list according to demand.

I always have a big breakfast!"

3. What are your tips for effective leadership?

"I try to understand the different strengths of each team member. I work with this and organise tasks in accordance with their strengths and comfort zones."

4. How do you resolve difficult moments at work?

"I’m always mindful of University policies, but flexibility is also important. If a student makes a non-standard request relating to project work I always try to adapt our services to meet their requirements - unless there is a health and safety issue. We can never compromise on health and safety."

5. What is the most useful piece of advice you have ever been given?

"Two pieces of advice spring to mind:

  • To value your friendships – which I try to do! 
  • To always have some sort of plan and never simply hope for the best."

6. Who or what inspires you and why?

"Students inspire me. The enthusiasm they have for their project work motivates me to try my best for them, and I never feel I don’t want to come to work. I usually finish each week with a real sense of achievement."

7. If you didn’t do this job, what would prefer to be doing?

"I’ve always been interested in aviation, and a job flying light aircraft for an aid agency or something similar would be a great alternative."

Thanks Andy!



Assessment - using Moodle Assignment


📥  Staff event, Technology Enhanced Learning

assignment_imgOn 31 March Rachel Applegate and I held a presentation and practice workshop on the Moodle Assignment tool. Our presentation looked at the settings and Rachel explained the impact (on staff and students) of choosing particular ones.

The presentation was recorded so you can view at your leisure. (The recording finished before the session did put you can see the remaining slides in the PowerPoint file).

panopt_screenshot, link to video recording


Also, the PPT slides may be a useful reminder and can be downloaded for your own use.

There wasn't much practice in the practice part of our session so we've put some links to resources here.

  1. Screencasts - videos that work through the process
    • Setting up a Moodle assignment
    • Grading and feedback (within the Moodle grading area)
    • Grading and feedback (exporting submission and offline grading)
  2. Handout - overview of marking methods in Moodle Assignment

If you couldn't make this session, we're also going to be on hand for a couple of drop-in sessions on 27 April 2017 - details will follow in a faculty email.

And finally... some answers to a couple of questions we said we would investigate.

Q&A from the workshop

Question: What do allocated markers see when you use marker allocation with marking workflow?

Answer: Teachers will be able to see (and mark) any student regardless of whether they have been allocated to them or not.
When marker allocation is on, Teachers can apply the marker filter to show only those students allocated to a specific individual.
Non-editing Teachers can only see their allocated students however (so they don't have the marker filter).

Question: What happens when you upload a grading worksheet with grades for some students in the cohort, but not others (e.g. if there are multiple markers and you have marked a sub-set of students)?

Answer: When you upload the grading worksheet, the grades and feedback will only apply to the sub-set of students you have marked – the empty records in the grading worksheet for the other students won’t overwrite any grades which are already recorded in Moodle




Forming a cross university networking group to share best practices and experiences


📥  New initiative, Staff event, Staff insight

Jane L Phippen, Taught Programmes Manager at the Faculty of Engineering & Design, reflects on her involvement in forming a cross university networking group and hosting the University’s first Taught Programmes Administration Networking Event.

February 28 may have been the last day of the month, but it saw the first Taught Programmes Administration Networking Event hosted by the University of Bath.

During the summer of 2016 the Undergraduate Managers visited the Universities of Birmingham, Exeter and Oxford-Brookes to ascertain if there was any interest in forming a networking group with the aim to share best practices and experiences, create a forum for discussions, understanding different processes and organisational structures.  We were enthusiastically welcomed and it did not take long to realise that there was indeed huge interest in this initiative.

Over the next few months we established the common areas for discussion and the event was planned.

On the 28 February we welcomed support staff from the three Universities to a networking event in The Edge.  During the course of the day 38 people participated, including our own colleagues from Bath.  The day consisted of group discussions and demonstrations of processes around the Curriculum Management Information System (CMIS), BSS Boards, Student notes on SAMIS, exam preparation on Moodle and we saw the iPhone Student Apps that Exeter have developed.  The conversations were lively and enjoyed by all and my highlight was to witness the open, animated discussions taking place.

So what is the next step?  There is certainly an appetite to continue with this type of engagement, whether it takes place here again at Bath is uncertain; we would like to encourage one of the other Universities to host the event – watch this space!