Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

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

Introduction to wiki (again)

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📥  Staff insight



Wiki, wiki, wiki...

We've all heard about it. Our Faculty's internal web pages. But why should we use it?

Basically it has all the information you need... About everything else.

Imagine this. You need to know what the new email address is for the Faculty Student Centre. Immediately. But oh no, everything has changed and moved around. Oh, if only there was a space where this useful information is held… (hint, hint).

A quick overview

Using wiki allows you to:

  • Create, share and collaborate on information quickly.
  • Easily publish, organise, and access information in one central location.
  • Capture, store, and grow your team's knowledge so you can stay up to date and on the same page - quite literally.

Sure, it’s another system to learn. But if I can use it so can you. I mean, just look at this amazing page on E-Communications I made… *whispers* all by myself!


E-Communications Design Best Practice wiki page

I’ve used loads of different ‘macros’ which have helped me make the page more, what I like to say, aesthetically pleasing. Tracey Madden writes monthly posts called (funnily enough) ‘Tracey’s macro of the month’. Check them out to find out more useful information.

My saved pages:

If you’ve made it this far into my blog, I applaud you. By the way, here are some of the pages which I find useful:

  • New staff. I’ve had to look back on this plenty of times when I’ve needed to check out information on person profiles.
  • Faculty Structure Charts. Also incredibly useful.
  • Help with wikis. Because even I have to look back on further support.

And that’s just the beginning!

But hey, don’t ask me… find out for yourself: go.bath.ac.uk/fedstaffwiki


Celebration day - 15th December 2016

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📥  Celebrating success

The Faculty Professional Services team held a Celebrating Excellence event in December which aimed to reward and recognise everyone’s amazing achievements over the past year.

As part of this, the team were given opportunity to nominate and vote for colleagues who they thought were particularly deserving of extra recognition. What better way is there to tell someone that you think they’re awesome?

Awards were made across three categories:

Working well with people
Innovative solutions
Random Acts of kindness

The team was asked to complete a short form, telling us why they thought a particular individual had gone above and beyond what was expected of them in their day to day work being sure the actions related specifically to the category criteria to ensure parity among all nominees.

Nominations were then anonymised and voting commenced, three very worthy winners were identified, who will remain anonymous to keep the spirit of this special type of celebration going.

The event also focussed on outcomes from the Staff survey. We welcomed Sally Palethorpe (Inspired Partners) and Sue Johnson (HR Business Partner) to help us begin a new path in working with and enabling ourselves through ‘change’. An end focus looked at positive outcomes from change and improvement for future change challenges.

Steve Egan popped along just before lunch, and found out a few interesting things he didn’t know about our local successes in Engineering & Design. I think Steve will agree he found out a great deal about the team’s fantastic work and understood fully why we were celebrating.

Our final activity focussed on collaboration and what that meant for the team. We generated a lot of food for thought and looking forward we will be focussing more on communication, working closely together, understanding all our roles and greater engagement.

Everyone left the event with a full belly from the amazing food catered for by The Edge and a Golden Duck – keeping our 50th anniversary celebrations alive.

Remember to focus on your weekly team positives – for the future is going to be great. I will be popping round to check on your notice boards, three positives a week is the aim.




An Apple a Day...

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📥  Staff experiences

I recently took part in an experiment here at Bath University for the BBC Two show, Trust Me I’m a Doctor, presented by Michael Mosley, Chris van Tulleken, Saleyha Ahsan and surgeon Gabriel Weston.

Taking part in a television show was a complete first for me, so I had really no idea what to expect.

As it was part of an experiment here at the university, that took some of the pressure off being filmed, as I had a very clear idea of what I (and the group) was supposed to be doing, and when.

The experiment itself was a study of dieting vs. exercise, and which activity can help you lose weight quicker. It was conducted for the Department of Health and lead by the university’s own Dr Javier Gonzalez. It took place over two days, and involved a series of blood tests, fasting periods, and some track running for the group that I was part of!

Day 1 saw the entire group consume a breakfast of around 750 calories (muesli), a blood test before and after, and a simple period of rest afterwards, followed by a further blood test.

On day 2, we were split into two groups: Diet and Exercise. The diet group’s day was exactly the same as day one, only this time their breakfast had 500 calories worth of muesli removed. My group, the exercise group, were instructed to run enough laps of the running track to burn 500 calories (that was the tough part!), followed by eating the same 750 kcal breakfast.

I won’t spoil the results, so you’ll have to tune in to see – Wednesday 1st February, BBC 2 at 8pm.

At first I thought it would be quite nerve-wracking to be on film, knowing that it’s going to be viewed by potentially thousands of people, but actually that aspect of it feels so far removed at the time that I didn’t even think about it! Being filmed as part of a group also helped, not to mention the fact that the film crew was made up of only two people for the majority of the time.

It gave me a new perspective on TV shows in general and has really lead me to question the way some of my other favourite shows are filmed.

Overall, being part of BBC Trust Me I’m A Doctor was a fantastic experience that I would do again in an instant (depending on how tough the experiment is!). I was quite interested in health and well-being before taking part, but it has given me a renewed outlook on exercise and food in relation to living a healthy lifestyle.

And of course, I couldn't resist getting a shot with the man himself:



Macro of the Month: Task Report

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📥  Tracey's macro of the month, Uncategorised


The Task List function in Confluence is useful in its basic form (as a 'tick box') but if it is used to its full extent (i.e. including a name and a deadline with each task) it can be used to help keep track of tasks and produce personalised reports.

Task Report is a macro that produces an up to date list of tasks (i.e. what is written after a Task List 'tick box') which can be filtered on a range of attributes, enabling you to quickly survey progress on single or multiple projects.


Task Report has the following function:

  • allows you to create a dynamic list of tasks from the spaces/pages of your choice, filtered by whether they are complete or incomplete, who they are assigned to, who created them, etc.

How to add Task Report

Firstly, make sure you have tasks recorded on Confluence, beginning with the Task List 'tick box' followed by the Confluence username of the person assigned the task, a brief description of the task and the deadline for the task, e.g. taskThen...

  • Place you cursor where you want the Task Report macro to appear
  • Click on Insert (in the tool bar above) then Other Macros from the drop-down menu
  • In the pop-up window, type task report into the search box
  • Set the variables up as you wish (say, whether you want to list tasks that are complete or incomplete)
  • Click Save

How to use Task Report

Task Report can help users monitor their own tasks across multiple spaces; allow project managers to survey progress across all aspects of a project; support managers monitoring the workload of individuals etc.

Additionally, recording tasks in this way (with the username and deadline) means that an email will go to the user mentioned to inform them that this task has been assigned to them and when it is due.


Happy New Year - Event Reminder

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📥  Technology Enhanced Learning

Happy New Year! This is just a brief reminder of an event coming up that could be of interest but I thought I would add a couple of useful tips to get you reading!

The Assessment and Feedback Day is part of the Inspiring Innovation series. It will take place on 02 February 2017 and the details for content and registration are on the CLT website.

Image: LITEbox logo.

You can also find details of other events coming soon through LITEbox.

Now for your tips - some simple options you may have seen before but just in case, here goes …

tip1Presenting content from a web browser to an audience in a large room can sometimes be tricky for the people at the back who may, like me, have difficulty reading the default text. Two simple options you can use to improve this.

  1. Press F11 on your keyboard – this will remove (temporarily) the toolbars and just display the content in full screen mode. This reduces clutter but may not improve matters a great deal so you can also try #2. (To get the toolbars back just press F11 again).
  2. Press CTRL and + (plus) together on your keyboard (Win) – this will start to zoom in (i.e. increase the font/image size). You can continue to increase the size until those at the back can read the text. To return to the default use CTRL and – (minus) together (Win). This is also handy when working from the browser for a long time to avoid eye-strain. I zoom in when working in Moodle to make it as readable as possible.

You can also access the zoom function from your browser menu.

tip2We’re all reading more and more online. As well as increasing text size there are other ways to make the task more effective. Read the guidance for Reading On Screen which includes advice for PCs, Macs and mobile devices. For those of you annotating documents online there’s a section on that too.

Use the printable guide to stick on the wall in your office if you need a handy reminder.

If you've found this useful or have any other tips of your own to share please get in touch at fed-tel@bath.ac.uk. We look forward to seeing you at the Assessment and Feedback Day.


Macro of the Month: Attachments

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📥  Tracey's macro of the month


It is a straightforward matter to attach documents to a page on Confluence and then link them individually to items of text. However, in the case of a large number of attachments, many lists of attachments within a space, and/or where attachments are updated on a regular basis, dynamic list of attachments that respond to changes could be of more use and save time in amending text and links.

Attachments is a simple macro that produces an up to date list of the current attachments on a selected page, which can be filtered by file type or attachment label, making it ideal to manage attachments across a space.


Attachments has the following function:

  • allows you to present, on a page of your choice, a dynamic list of attachments to a page of your choice, with files type/labels of your choice

How to add Attachments

  • Place you cursor where you want the Attachments macro to appear
  • Click on Insert (in the tool bar above) then Other Macros from the drop-down menu
  • In the pop-up window, type attachments into the search box
  • Set the variables up as you wish (say, the order in which the list appears or the file type of attachment that is included)
  • Click Save

How to use Attachments

Attachments can help users locate the groups of documents they require quickly and easily. It can also help those editing the space ensure version control is maintained.


Building networks at the Engineering Placement Fair


📥  Staff event, 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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📥  Research, Staff event

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.


Questions, questions, questions!

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📥  Technology Enhanced Learning

It’s the second week of semester. There are frequent knocks at the door, and emails pinging in to the inbox on a constant basis. First year students have so many questions to ask, and need reassurance that they are on the right track. The same topics crop up again and again…

A few months later, and it’s revision week. Exams are coming up, and questions from students are flooding in again…

Over the past year, staff have shared solutions for dealing with their students' most frequent questions. Here is a quick recap of a range of helpful tools in use here at University of Bath.

image of a question mark

ed_needs_a_bicycle https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Multi-media messaging walls

Like a virtual notice board, students can add ‘post-it’ notes with questions or comments. They are visually appealing, and students can post anonymously. It can take some effort to gather related questions into themes and keep them organised.

Want to know more? There’s a great write-up of the LITEbox event where Dr Jessica Francombe Webb shared her insights. This includes

  • a comparison of two different tools (Lino-it and Padlet)
  • a guide to embedding the multi-media wall in your Moodle course

Another example comes from Mirella Di Lorenzo, Chemical Engineering. She shared her experiences at the first Faculty of Engineering and Design TEL Event. Mirella used multi-media messaging walls to manage questions from first year students, and to help students with revision.

Giorgio Montersino https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Giorgio Montersino

Online discussion forums

It’s very easy to set up a discussion forum in Moodle. In a forum, discussion topics are sorted in ‘threads’. Working within Moodle means the forum is only available for your students on your unit. You can use Moodle Groups to set up discussion forums for group work. For the time being, students can’t post anonymously to a forum in Moodle (this requires a plugin).

Staff often comment that it can be tricky to get students to engage in online discussion in a Moodle forum. Here are some useful tips for setting up a successful forum. The video guide to effective online discussions from COFA Online is another a good starting point.

Study Space App

Here at the University, Keith Brown has developed the Study Space App. It provides a space where students on a unit or programme can easily collaborate, and ask questions to teaching staff. It has the advantage of being mobile-based, it's presented in a familiar 'social media' style format and allows anonymous questions. Further small scale trials are ongoing across the University. Development of the app continues in response to student feedback, including a new version designed for SSLCs, to be co-created by students. When choosing your tool, it’s important to consider privacy settings, as discussed in Keith’s blog.

Comparing tools

Geraldine Jones (e-Learning development officer, HSS) provides a handy at-a-glance comparison matrix. It shows the pros and cons and features of these and many other tools.

We hope you’ve found this summary useful. Do you have questions about getting started with online solutions for managing students’ questions? Or ideas and experiences to share? Please do get in touch: fed-tel@bath.ac.uk


Faculty teams are on the move


📥  New initiative

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.