Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

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

Posts By: Beth Jones

Building networks at the Engineering Placement Fair

  

📥  Engineering & Design staff event, Engineering & Design staff insight

Alison Ukleja, Placements Manager, writes about our recent Engineering Placement Fair:


In November we welcomed over 70 companies to campus for our Placement Fair. Our industrial partners got the opportunity to promote their businesses and talk with our students about placements, summer jobs and graduate roles. We aimed to promote engineering businesses on campus that may not be household names and introduce students to companies they may not have heard of.

Although our focus is on 12 month placements, we wanted to expand the scope and appeal of the Fair to STEM undergraduates, finalists and postgraduates as well. With over 1200 students through the door (mostly engineers, but also some Maths and Physics students) we felt we achieved what we hoped to do.

Showcasing a variety of technology

Martin Baker Aircraft Company brought a jet pilot ejector seat, Saietta an electric motorcycle, Honeywell Aerospace a cooling system, while Anthony Best Dynamics demonstrated their steering robot for driverless cars. Bryden Wood drew the crowds giving a virtual reality demonstration where students toured construction projects in a virtual world. Most companies were able to show a range of technology and products to engage students’ interest including Herman Miller from Bath displaying a range of their innovative ergonomic chairs. Two popular stands were Mondelez with a supply of chocolate that lasted all day and Heineken handed out beer and cider prizes in their quiz.

Alex Powell, IMEE finalist in a pilot ejector seat at the Martin Baker stand

Alex Powell, IMEE finalist in a pilot ejector seat at the Martin Baker stand

The Fair was also a great opportunity for employers to discover the impressive achievements of our student projects. Team Bath Racing, Team Bath Racing Electiric, Bath Zero Emissions Motorcycles, Team Bath Drones and Bath Underwater Racing Submarine Team all exhibited their work enabling the teams to make new contacts for technical support or sponsorship. Our Drone team attracted attention from defence company Harris Corporation, with their expertise in release mechanisms, opening up new possibilities to drop things!

A great day

The whole event demonstrated real energy and enthusiasm for engineering, making for a successful day of recruitment, networking and collaboration. Our industrial partners fedback how brilliant it was to talk with such motivated future engineers. I'd like to thank my team for their hard work in organising the event and look forward to doing it all again in two years' time.

 

Transportation in the low carbon age

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📥  Engineering & Design staff event, Engineering & Design staff research

Professor Jamie Turner summarises his recent inaugural lecture on Transportation in the low carbon age:


My inaugural lecture looked at the challenge of how society can offer freedom of transport while facing up to climate change.

The stark facts

In the UK, road and air transport (both overwhelmingly fossil-fuel based) use energy at a rate twice that of the average power transmission of the national grid. In 2015, road transport alone used energy at an average rate slightly more than the peak electricity demand in that year. In simple terms, if we electrify the road transport fleet we are going to need a grid – and electricity generation system – at least twice the capacity we have now. To generate this from nuclear power we would need 16.5 more Hinckley Point C power stations at a total cost of £404 billion.

The success of the IC engine and the failure of alternatives

Personal transportation using the internal combustion (IC) engine has brought great economic development because of its affordability. The IC engine is made from cheap and abundant materials using cost-effective processes while using a cheap energy storage system. Liquid fuels are energy dense, easy to transport and also provide low energy losses both in the vehicle and the energy distribution system. Moving away from this is a significant danger to our economic model that makes transport affordable for all (including manufacturers, fuel companies, governments and consumers). This financial system relies on the consumer being able to afford what is offered and will collapse if this is not the case.

The government provides some stimulus for low-carbon vehicles in the form of rebates for electric vehicle purchases; however, EV sales rarely exceed 1% as a monthly maximum and since the rebate reduction this year they have dropped. I think it unlikely that this will break out into the mainstream any time soon. Unfortunately one can largely discount hydrogen as a solution as well. In addition to the power requirement, we have no hydrogen distribution infrastructure at all and the energetic losses in such a system would be considerable, to say the least.

But we absolutely do need to change from a fossil-fuel based transport economy.

Ensuring the polluter pays

The problem of fossil CO2 emissions from cars (and by extension vehicles in general) is not actually the fault of the manufacturers – the fossil carbon that is emitted comes from the fuel, the sale of which the fuel suppliers alone profit from. Yet, car manufacturers have more significant legislation raised on them to reduce CO2 emissions than the fuel suppliers have to take the fossil carbon out of the fuel. Fuel suppliers have a vast revenue stream which dwarfs that of the car makers, and which could and should pay to develop the means of fully decarbonising their product. They are not made to meaningfully do this, which is not aligned with the maxim ‘the polluter should pay’.

It is also somewhat ironic that, after 130 years, most people assume that the IC engine has to use fossil fuel, whereas it was originally fuelled using biofuels and we later made it operate on fossil fuels for cost reasons. In this regard, clearly we are in a circle of hell of our own making.

The pragmatic solution

To this pragmatist at least, the solution appears to be to keep affordable IC engines, but to find a solution in the form of decarbonising the liquid energy carriers. This would keep travel affordable. We could use their high energy density to facilitate access to the huge amounts of renewable and clean energy that falls on the earth (the power of wind energy at turbine heights alone amounts to about 78 TW while the total transportation draw is about 3 TW).

Technologies exist to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere; this can be combined with hydrogen from water electrolysis to produce methanol at about 50% process efficiency, and this in turn can be onward synthesized to ‘drop-in’ fuels for existing vehicles with about an 8% point penalty. If all of the energy used is renewable, we have a fully-decarbonised energy vector. We would need 6-7 TW of renewable energy to decarbonise transport – or less than 10% of global wind energy (and this is without accessing solar energy in deserts, for which I estimated that an area half the size of Somerset could gather the same energy as Europe currently uses in its transport fleet).

Transitioning to a decarbonised transport system

With a taxation system based on taxing energy purchased (and not the liquid volume), in combination with a factor penalising any fossil carbon associated with providing that energy, governments could facilitate migration to a decarbonised energy stream while keeping their tax take at a constant level. This is not something provided by the current inducements for EVs. Supply of such fuels – which is being researched by forward-thinking companies and research institutions, including Audi – enables all vehicles to start to be decarbonised immediately. Contrast this with a gradual movement to an electricity or hydrogen-based transport system, where the small number of such vehicles cannot provide an immediate large revenue stream to pay for the change.

If fuel companies do not embrace the requirement to decarbonise their product, but continue to lobby against any change they could find their businesses severely impacted by a move to another energy economy that their resistance has brought about. They have the revenue stream to do the research and to facilitate decarbonisation via industrialisation, as well as the infrastructure to distribute the product – and they also have the ultimate and moral responsibility for CO2 emissions from the fossil fuels they currently supply.

 

Faculty teams are on the move

  

📥  Engineering & Design staff new initiative

Iain Forster-Smith, Director of Administration, explains the upcoming administrative office moves:


Changes are afoot for parts of the Faculty support teams – so brace yourself for multiple moves and two new centres.

During December 2016 and January 2017 we will be relocating support services into more suitable environments to support our activity for the academic and student community.

New Faculty Student Centre

Our first major change will be the creation of a new Faculty Student Centre, which will be located in 2 East 2.4.  This centre will become a one stop shop for all students (UG/PGT & PGR), incorporating the Undergraduate Office and Graduate School.

This will provide huge benefits to our students and the key aspects are:

  • One stop shop
  • Consistent advice
  • Clear signposting
  • Enhanced student experience

For the academic community we hope this office becomes your one office for everything, we will be:

  • Assisting and enabling effective interactions between university and academic community
  • Working in tandem with the efforts of our academics
  • Improving the quality and resilience of our service
  • Providing support for academic goals and growth

The new team have already taken part in an away day to prepare themselves for the future, please read their blog post capturing the highlights of their day.

There are also benefits for this new team:

  • Improved line management and career development
  • Increase opportunities for cross fertilisation of ideas
  • Maximise on efficiency and utilisation of resources
  • Manage effectively the absorption of new systems and ways of working

We have made some changes to staff line management also, the organogram below will provide the further details:

Taught Programmes support structure chart

Taught Programmes support structure chart

Doctoral and Admissions support structure chart

Doctoral and Admissions support structure chart

A new Faculty Placement Centre

Our placement activity has grown over the years and is a vital part of our offering to our students.  The team has been squished into their current location for long enough, it is time for them to break free.  The new Placement Centre will be located in 4 East 2.2, providing drop in space for students and additional one-to-one space for staff and students to meet.

Other relocations

Our Technology and Learning Advising team will be relocated in 4 East 2.8, so please pop in to take advantage of this service – we are especially fortunate to have this support in the Faculty.

Student Experience is a vital function for the Faculty, so Louise Lynes (Postgraduate Student Experience Officer) and Sarah Stead (Student Experience Officer) will have a brand new easy to access location, 2 East 2.7.

To enable these moves to happen the Faculty Finance Office will be relocated to 2 East 3.10, with Jane Phippen and Ruth Burdett relocated 4 East 3.4.

To confirm all other Faculty level support will remain in their current locations:

Graduate Admissions – 2 East 3.11

Marketing & Communications – 2 East 3.13

Faculty Office 2 East 3.8

Please be patient with us during this time, we hope you will not notice any disruption in service and we look forward to working with you all in our new locations.

 

Faculty Student Centre team building

  

📥  Engineering & Design staff experiences

Faculty Programme Administrator, Kat Balyly, tells us about the outcomes of the undergraduate and postgraduate offices' team building day:


Last week, the Undergraduate Team and Graduate School took part in a team building day where we spoke about the new structure the teams will be moving in to.

As you may or may not know, the Undergraduate Team and Graduate School will be merging into one office which will be known as the Faculty Student Centre. The move will be taking place before the New Year.

Artist's impression of the 2 East Faculty Student Centre

Artist's impression of the 2 East Faculty Student Centre

So, preparing for this change in environment and responsibilities, we took the time out of our day to get to know each other a bit better.

Using a range of exercises, the facilitator allowed us to grow stronger as a team and we were all very pleased (and relieved!) to find out we’re all on the same page.

We were asked to explain what the aim of the new office was. We came up with the following statement:

“We support the academic process of the student journey from induction to graduation for the Faculty of Engineering & Design departments; Architecture & Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electronic & Electrical Engineering and Chemical Engineering.”

In order to achieve this, we thought it was a good idea to list what we can help students and staff with.

The Faculty Student Centre will be able to help you with and will be responsible for:

  • Overseeing assessment set-up and creation
  • Contributing to user groups throughout the University
  • Information and support for students and staff
  • Overseeing the student life cycle
  • Data processing
  • Coursework hand-ins
  • Student progression
  • Committees and meetings
  • Timetabling
  • Raising casual worker contracts
  • Knowing and advising on NFAAR regulations
  • Transcript requests
  • Signposting to other services offered by the University

We can offer lots of support so the best thing to do is to come in and visit us to find out more.

The main message of the day was that we all want to work with trust and respect for each other. We want to do a good job to get students through the whole of their programme of study smoothly. And we also want to do this in a safe and diverse environment.

 

The Life of a Business Apprentice

  

📥  Engineering & Design staff experiences

Hajraah Qureshi, Modern Apprentice (Administration), writes about her experiences this year and her plans for 2017:

Apprenticeships are government funded training programmes that combine job training with nationally recognised qualifications. It is an incredible opportunity to gain and develop skills, have a wide range of opportunities and you get paid whilst you learn!

I started my apprenticeship in Business Administration at an intermediate level in December 2015, after briefly starting my A levels. I have now been working at the University for just over ten months and it is safe to say that I have really enjoyed it. I have had the opportunity to move around different offices within the Faculty such as: finance, departmental offices, placements and marketing. By moving around, I have gained an understanding to how the Faculty links together and which offices integrate well with each other.

I have been able to increase and develop skills in daily administrative tasks such as recording customer information in Access for placement students and SAMIS for potential applicants, taking calls from students and academics, and providing accurate advice to problems that may occur in the workplace to my colleagues. I have been able to collate documents for reports, organise data and provide customer service to students.

My two greatest achievements, of which I am most proud of, is creating a social media training module and helping organise the Vice-Chancellor's visit to the Faculty. I made this learning tool for members of administrative staff who were uncomfortable or not confident with posting on social media. I planned and mind mapped what I wanted to include in the module on areas such as how to post on Facebook, how to effectively use Twitter, and tips on social media in general. I used software called Xerte and created different activities such as an annotated diagram, an interactive list and model answers with feedback.

For the Vice-Chancellor's visit I ordered the catering, sorted out the layout of the venue and informed colleagues of the plan of the day. I also had the chance to show the Vice-Chancellor my social media training module and she indicated that this was a good achievement.

I have been very fortunate as I have been offered to continue working at the University, doing an advanced apprenticeship, which means I will be able to study for an additional eighteen months. I hope to be able to continue providing support to my colleagues and gain more valuable experience.

 

MSc student induction: improving the experience

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📥  Engineering & Design staff new initiative, Engineering & Design staff top tips

Emma Greeley, Programmes Officer (Postgraduate Taught) writes about this year's induction for MSc students and how the team improved the experience:

Our previous induction events had taken the form of a one morning introduction to the Faculty with lunch, followed by a team building exercise during the afternoon. This year we decided to increase the number of presentations and include a social event to enhance the student experience. As a result our timetable expanded to accommodate three mornings, two afternoons and one evening.

We took our new students on a guided walk into and around Bath followed by a buffet supper. We wanted the students to have an opportunity to visit the City, ask questions from members of staff and get to know each other, in a relaxed and informal setting. We devised a treasure hunt around campus covering key areas of the University and got our students to post photos of themselves on our Facebook group.

Looking forward to next year

We plan to hold focus groups as an opportunity to reflect on the student experience. In the meantime, initial feedback both verbal and in the form of a survey indicated a very positive student experience.

3 key bits of advice for others planning induction activities

  1. Advanced planning and communication. We booked the venue for the three morning sessions when prompted by Timetabling. This was six months in advance of the event. Key speakers were invited at the same time and we kept them informed (reminded them of their commitment…) during the run up to the event.
  2. Steal ideas from colleagues and ask for their help. People are surprisingly generous with ideas and time.
  3. Never underestimate the lure of free food. We booked a restaurant for 120 people and every seat was taken.

 

Apprentice Technician: Everyday something new

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📥  Engineering & Design staff celebrating success, Engineering & Design staff experiences

Emma Walker, former Apprentice Mechanical Engineering Technician, has been nominated to receive the Building Services Construction & Engineering Work Place Learner of the Year Award. This award recognises the hard work, application and excellence in both her academic studies and technical ability throughout the final year of her apprenticeship. Emma writes about how she came to the University and what she has achieved here:

I spent 18 months doing work experience at Designability, where they introduced me to the engineering industry and encouraged me to pursue my career as an engineer by applying for an apprenticeship at the University of Bath.

Being an apprentice here at Bath has been an amazing learning experience for me because you never do the same job twice; everyday you’re doing something new. I loved getting involved in the teaching labs, where I would help and guide the first-year students through their time in our workshop. This greatly improved my skills in speaking to a large group of people, and pushed me to grow my social skills.

I’ve learned how to use machinery such as mills and lathes, laser cutters, and 3D printers. I also passed my forklift licence. I finished my apprenticeship six months earlier than planned, and from here I was given the opportunity to cover another unit in composites, where I was able to learn about carbon fibre and other materials, and working with the autoclave. Since finishing my apprenticeship I have gone down the composites route, so being able to cover the extra unit has benefitted me greatly.

I have been very lucky to have such a great support system here in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where everyone is happy to answer any questions I have and offer advice. My colleague Clare Ball gave me support to help me through my maths module and my Assessor, Rob Aldous, visited me at the University once a month. Rob always made sure I was being treated fairly and that I was getting the best experience out of my apprenticeship.

What I plan to do next is to broaden my knowledge within the work that takes place in the composites department. I want to learn more about the materials I will be working with and also learn about the maintenance work for the autoclave. In the future I want to look into doing a supervisory and management course, this will allow me to climb further up the career ladder and be able to offer more to this company.

An apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity to start  your career, to learn new things every day and to get paid for it! However, an apprenticeship is not easy and is not something to take lightly, you have to work hard for the rewards an apprenticeship has to offer.

 

New woodworking and timber engineering workshop in 4ES

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📥  Refurbishment update from Julian

Julian Sulley, Director of Technical Services, updates us on 4 East South developments:

After months of planning, the ACE woodwork and timber engineering workshop moved into its new facility back in June. We now have a much larger workshop capacity than the old 6 East workshop and an adjoining dedicated laser cutting / rapid prototyping laboratory. The project has been an unmitigated success and is a reflection of the close co-operation and teamwork between the 4ES project management team, the contractors and our technicians throughout the planning process and move itself. We can be rightly proud of a spacious, light, energy efficient, state-of-the-art facility, ready to welcome its first students in the coming academic year.

Improved use of floor space and a radical rethink of dust extraction and energy conservation

As the project developed we implemented a number of new initiatives to better use floor space and rethink dust extraction and energy conservation. We originally intended to have a central dust extraction unit to service the four heavy application machines and this was to be housed in an internal bunker adjoining the workshop. However, following further evaluation, we decided to install individual extraction units to each machine, replicating the dust extraction provision to the other smaller demand units throughout the rest of the workshop. Not only did this represent a significant saving in capital outlay, it allowed dust extraction units to be controlled as needed (as opposed to a common system running irrespective whether the machines were being used or not).

A further benefit was that the surplus room previously designated to locate the cyclone could now be used for much needed material storage. The workshop incorporates a new technician’s office affording unrestricted viewing of the entire workshop, a key safety factor given the nature of the activity. A roller shutter door allows for material deliveries to be offloaded directly into the workshops material storage racks.

4 East South woodwork and timber engineering workshop

4 East South woodwork and timber engineering workshop

Cost saving and additional space

The move of all our tools, equipment and machinery was undertaken by our departmental technicians in May. Once again, this represented a significant cost saving to the project. Technicians relocated the machines to a signed off layout leaving connection of electrical supplies to the contractor. The additional space has also allowed us to purchase a vertical sheet panel saw, a valuable addition to our existing comprehensive range of machinery. Three new laser cutting machines have been ordered to supplement our existing three, giving a substantial increase in capacity of these heavily used machines.

A team effort

Members of the ACE technician team have been heavily involved in planning the new workshop layout, primarily fronted by the woodworking and timber engineering senior technician, Walter Guy. Thank you for all your hard work.

 

Effective staff induction

  

📥  Engineering & Design staff insight, Engineering & Design staff new initiative, Engineering & Design staff top tips

We are working on a new Faculty staff induction to complement the activities that happen at a departmental and University level. As part of this project we interviewed new staff about their experiences joining the University. We also asked some teams what they did to prepare for new arrivals. We discovered a lot of good practice happening within our Faculty. From our findings here are some staff induction best practice tips:

Put in preliminary work before new members start

Nearly all our new members of staff expressed frustration at not being able to access University systems immediately. Although there are many processes that can only be started once a new member of staff is on campus, there are still some aspects that can be prepared in advance such as folder access, informing and setting up meetings with relevant people (including those who can provide card access).

Develop your own materials

We discovered some teams have developed their own induction materials specific to their job function. These even included tasks and treasure hunts so that new members of staff could get to know folder structures and try out the University's systems.

Get the whole team involved

Creating a schedule of training where each team member takes on responsibility for a certain aspect helps share the workload and means each member gets to know the new recruit.

Start small

Some of the staff we interviewed talked about being overwhelmed by "meeting too many people in a short amount of time". One team within the Faculty draws up a plan where the inductee is introduced to their immediate surroundings and then shown other areas as the weeks progress, ensuring their network increases at a manageable rate.

Put the role into context

Understanding where your role fits within the wider university is an important part of working effectively. One of our job families produced a special induction document introducing the University's strategy and how their job function fits into this.

Get them connected

Our interviewees mentioned how useful it was to meet others outside their immediate surroundings who performed a similar job function. Many people aren't aware of the mentoring or buddy opportunities available at the University, so this might be a good thing to highlight to inductees early on and at the mid-probation point.

The little things

In our interviews small gestures like buying an inductee a coffee on their first day really made a difference.

Our staff induction module will be available on the Faculty of Engineering & Design's staff wiki space's New Staff page in the Autumn.

 

New Head of Department for ACE

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📥  Engineering & Design staff celebrating success, Engineering & Design staff experiences, Engineering & Design staff new initiative

Professor Pete Walker, outgoing Head of Department, looks back at his time in the role:

The past three years have literally flown by. When I joined the University of Bath in 1998 I did not anticipate that one day I would be Head of Department. A little daunted at first by expectations and the track record of previous Heads, it has been a tremendous privilege to be Head of the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering.

In particular I have enjoyed working with a broader range of colleagues across the University, and getting to know our Department much better. Recruiting new staff and supporting colleagues through promotion and probation, and seeing them receive the rewards their hard work, talent and dedication deserve has been particularly satisfying.

Other highlights over the past three years have included our REF 2014 success (we were joint first in the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning unit of assessment), receiving our Athena SWAN bronze award, and seeing 4 East South open in readiness for the 2016-17 academic year.

Moving ahead I look forward to having fewer meetings in my Outlook Calendar, refocusing on taking forward the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, and more teaching.

 

Professor Stephen Emmitt, incoming Head of Department, looks forward to the next three years:

Taking on the role of Head of Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering in its 50th anniversary year is a great honour. The Department is the only joint Department in the UK, founded on the philosophy of integrated working. We have a fantastic research record (joint first in REF 2014) and perform wonderfully well in our taught architecture and civil engineering courses, consistently at the top of the league tables.

This has been achieved by a highly dedicated staff and clear direction from management over a long timeframe – excellence is deeply embedded within our Department’s collective DNA. I am keen to build on this expertise to further enhance the quality of everything we do, while also extending our international profile.

The mantra that ‘there is no room for complacency’ is ever present and taking on the leadership of such a high-performing Department is not without its challenges. We have major events on the horizon; the next REF, the new pressures to be imposed by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the ever-rising tide of metrics. These are challenges to be embraced while also contributing to the 50th anniversary celebrations. I relish the opportunity to be a part of our continuing success.