Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

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

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.

 

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

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

  

📥  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.

 

Macro of the Month: Roadmap Planner

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📥  Tracey's macro of the month

Introduction

Roadmap Planner is a simple macro within Confluence that creates a map for projects. As well as displaying basic information about a project timeline, it can also be linked to more in-depth information on individual work packages. Roadmap Planner allows you to communicate how a project is progressing and also give viewers the level of detail they require.

Application(s)

Roadmap Planner has the following function:

  • allows you to present details on the progress of a project in the form of a simple Gantt Chart

How to add Roadmap Planner

  • Place you cursor where you want the Roadmap Planner 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 roadmap planner into the search box
  • Set the variables up as you wish (you may wish to experiment with the settings)
  • Click Save
  • Type the details of your particular project onto the new chart that appears

How to use Roadmap Planner

Having details of your project can help people who are involved see the progress that is being made and share information with other parties. It can also be use by individuals to enable them to track their own progress and report to managers.

Example

FED Staff wiki

image2016-11-29-14-0-34

 

 

TEL Event #3 - Web conferencing

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📥  Engineering & Design staff event, Technology Enhanced Learning

Our third event saw Dr John Orr describe how he and his colleague, Dr Saverio Spadea, used a web conferencing tool called Adobe Connect to deliver a successful, blended workshop – with 20 participants on campus and another 50 online.

Their workshop included:

  • 4 presentations, 2 presenters on campus, 1 in the USA and 1 in Canada
  • A lab demonstration via webcam in 6E lab
  • Online Q&A using the web chat tool
  • Face-to-face Q&A using a mic

A number of tips were identified for anyone delivering this kind of online event:

  1. Time your event to take account of different time zones where possible
  2. Set defaults to mute/no video for participants
  3. Use a USB web cam which can be moved around easily
  4. Keep to strict timescales for remote presenters – avoids having to interrupt them to get them to stop
  5. Use a sign-up form to judge how many people may watch online – you may need to  ask for extra seats for your virtual room
  6. Have a contingency in place in case one of the remote presenters hits a technical snag
Image: web conference icon.

Adobe Connect is software which allows groups of people to meet virtually using video, text chat or audio.  It lets people collaborate through the use of shared presentations, shared files or shared desktops.

It also provides opportunities for interaction via a series of simple tools, such as hands-up and polling.  It gets used for a variety of purposes when the participants can’t all meet in person.

Example uses are:

  • Online events such as workshops, conferences or meetings
  • Broadcasting presentations or lectures to students
  • Online tutorials with students
  • Group work – online collaboration between students
  • Revision or exam preparation sessions for students
  • Student presentations for formative or summative assessment
  • Guest speaker presentations
  • Online demonstrations via desktop or video

Thanks to Marie Salter from the e-learning team who presented an overview of Adobe Connect and the process for setting up and accessing a ‘virtual room’.  If you’re interesting in finding out more you can contact e-learning@bath.ac.uk for details on getting set up.

Want to know more?

Link Details
Image Designed by Freepik For tips on setting up this kind of event watch the video recording of John describing how they did it. (You'll need to log in to Panopto).
Image Designed by Freepik For more context about this blended workshop.
Image Designed by Freepik For the Adobe Connect recording of the workshop, where you can see the interaction between the different parties. (It can take a few minutes to connect and play).

If you'd like to talk to us about this or other Technology Enhanced Learning events please contact Rachel and Yvonne on fed-tel@bath.ac.uk

 

Using Wiki to improve processes

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📥  Engineering & Design staff insight

I first used Wiki when I started in my current role to share papers for a group meeting. I only used very basic features to start with, such as uploading papers and using permissions to give new members access, but I was curious to learn more.

Learning about Wiki

I was initially a bit nervous about creating my own Wiki pages, but support from Tracey Madden, Learning Enhancement Adviser, gave me an overview of Wiki and also introduced me to macros. Macros allow extra functionality to be added to a page and range from including an attachment to inserting content from an Excel spreadsheet, or embedding a twitter feed or video. Every month, Tracey publishes a macro of the month blog post, which is great for finding out about different macros.

Improving processes

In discovering more about Wiki, I began to see potential for using Wiki to improve the efficiently of a number of processes. I have now created Wiki pages to enhance information sharing and to contain extensive resources for staff to access (for example, the documents for the Faculty’s REF paper grading workshops). I also use Wiki to manage informal meetings, contribute to project work and find information on the Faculty’s Staff Wiki space.

Advantages of Wiki

There are many advantages of using Wiki. You can set up and manage permissions to allow individuals or groups access to all, or some, of your pages. Wiki provides a permanent hub of resources that are available at any time. It is also useful for project work, particularly when working with staff throughout the Faculty or University, as pages can be easily accessed and updated by various staff.

Your turn!

If you haven’t already, now is the time to engage with Wiki, especially since the Faculty’s internal staff webpages have now moved to the Staff Wiki space. For Wiki guidance, have a look at the Faculty’s help with Wikis page. If you want a few tips on using macros, watch out for Tracey’s macro of the month blog posts.

Staff Wiki space

The Faculty’s staff Wiki space

 

FED Learning Technologies survey prize winner

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📥  Technology Enhanced Learning

Firstly, a big thank you to staff who completed the Faculty of Engineering and Design Technology Enhanced Learning survey.

There were 50 respondents. The results give us some useful insights in key areas including

  • which learning technologies are a high priority for staff?
  • what are the most helpful types of support and guidance?
  • which learning technologies do staff want to know more about?

We've been busy analysing the results and collating the key findings.

We will be working with Marianne Ellis (Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching) to develop an action plan. We'll also be coordinating with the eLearning team and colleagues in Learning Technologist roles across the University to work on the outcomes. Watch out for more news coming soon!

In the meantime, we're pleased to announce the winner of the survey prize - Michael Carley was randomly chosen to receive a Flip video camera. This is a very simple device, handy for capturing video footage when out and about. Michael's first thought was that it would be great for capturing student projects such as the human powered aircraft.

Picture of Michael Carley receiving the prize

Yvonne Moore (Learning Technologist) presents Michael Carley (Senior Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering) with the survey prize

 

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.