Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

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

Handing over admissions

  ,

📥  Staff experiences, Staff insight

During his time as Admissions Tutor, Dr John Chew has seen applications for Chemical Engineering increase by 50%. As he hands over the role, John shares his experiences with us:

I was the undergraduate Admissions Tutor (AT) for the Department of Chemical Engineering for three years from August 2013 to July 2016. When I applied to the position back in 2013, I knew the significance of this role to the Department and had some ideas of the implications and major challenges ahead. The level of excitement certainly outweighed my nervousness.

Sharing my subject

During my role as AT, I organised and ran Departmental Open Days and Headstart Courses. I always found running the Open Days a very interesting part of the job. I have a real passion for chemical engineering and get to share the subject and my personal experience with lots of bright, interested and engaged young people, helping them to make well-informed career decisions. In my subject talks, I discussed the range of courses we offer in the Department, how we run them differently compared to other Universities, and the excellent student support that the University has in place for undergraduates. It is not difficult to sell our courses, as Bath is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the UK.

Sorting through applications

Fortunately, I do not see every UCAS application. We receive more than a thousand applications and it would be impossible to deal with every one personally, especially as the 2015/16 recruitment cycle saw applications to Chemical Engineering at Bath increase by 50%. Applications are initially dealt with centrally by the Undergraduate Admissions Office. However, I sometimes see applications that are unusual, where non-standard qualifications have been taken or where special circumstances have affected an individual’s education. Not all undergraduate applicants are 18 year olds with A-levels and so I needed to be aware of the range of qualifications people take and how this affects their performance and standards.

Best bit:

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as AT and I have learnt a tremendous amount. It was also great to feel so involved in the life of the Department.

The best (and most nerve-wracking) bit is speaking to hundreds of enthusiastic and intelligent young people and managing to convince them to come to Bath to study Chemical Engineering.

Worst bit:

I am not sure there is a worst bit, but certainly the most difficult situation is when I need to make final decisions about offers. There are always more excellent candidates than we have spaces for.

Advice for future Admissions Tutors:

Learn about the range of qualifications young people are taking and how this affects their performance and standards.

Enjoy and have fun!

 

Staff share experiences from the AUA annual conference 2016

  

📥  Staff experiences

Those who attended the annual Association of University Administrators conference shared their experiences with other University of Bath staff members recently. Rosie Hart, Programmes officer, reports on the session:

We invited Association of University Administrators (AUA) members to a feedback celebration to hear from staff who attended the AUA Annual Conference 2016 in Leeds. More University of Bath staff attended this year's conference than ever before so AUA advocate, Iain Forster-Smith invited attendees to present on their experiences.

Iain Forster-Smith started the session by talking about a working group he attended by Edinburgh Napier University staff. The group had got him thinking about our processes at the University of Bath. They had brought in a business intelligence software that made it easier to analyse information they collect to plan for the future, based on evidence. He found their honesty refreshing as they shared their experiences about the stages of the process. They openly admitted that the period at the start had been 'chaotic' and only now were they at a 'stable' stage.

leeds

Angela Pater talked about her rewarding experience of presenting at the conference and encouraged others to consider it in the future.  Angela traveled to Poland on an AUA Study Tour in 2015, visiting universities across the country to find out about differences and similarities in their university systems.  Her session at the AUA conference showcased her group’s findings and experiences.  Interestingly, some Polish born Brits had attended and were able to provide more information and insight during discussions.

Rachel Acres had a very unique story of her time in Leeds.   Rather than seeing the trip as a break or an excuse to take it a little bit easier than usual, she went for an early morning run on the second day.  In a dramatic turn of events, Rachel fell and injured her ankle and ended up on crutches with not one, but two fractures!  Still, she soldiered on and was back at the conference the same day and attending working groups, presentations and social events.

Tom Bond opened up discussion on the Higher Education Landscape following the CMA’s published recommendations to the HE sector, which led to lots of lively discussion in the room.  Tom also spoke about being an AUA newbie and how he had enjoyed attending his first conference. He is already thinking about next year and how he will select his working groups differently without feeling the pressure to attend only sessions directly related to his current role.

Emotional intelligence and collaborative teamsCaroline Dangerfield talked about the value of attending AUA conferences, with 2016 being her third time.  She gained from the time away from the office to think creatively, discuss some big issues, and work on her own self development.  Her experience of networking and making contacts from other universities gave her a sense of pride in her profession and a reassuring feeling that we’re all in it together.  Her favourite working group was on Emotional Intelligence and Collaborative Teams. It focused on a greater understanding of the benefits of developing emotional intelligence in HE.

Rosie Hart spoke of her enjoyment of Ben Goldacre’s talk (creator of www.badscience.net).  The humorous and highly entertaining nature of his talk provided some light relief.  He talked about the various inanimate objects the Daily Mail claimed contributed to cancer. He highlighted discrepancies with some in the list also being cited as preventing cancer, such as coffee.  His mission is to move focus from sensationalist headlines to truth, evidence and real results.  Rosie recommended his Ted talk to all.

Last up was Rebekah Hole, who shared Caroline’s enjoyment of the Emotional Intelligence and Collaborative Teams working group.   Most of the attendees from Bath went to this session and there was unanimous agreement that this was a successful and useful session that could and should be explored further.  Rebekah found their breaking down of the categories of emotional intelligence (EI) interesting.  As a line manager, she found it a really valuable process to think about these different aspects, how they can help us consider the way we interact with others in the workplace and the importance of EI in making a team work well together.

Presentations were followed by a buffet, which gave members an opportunity to ask each other more in-depth questions and make plans for next year’s conference.

Iain Forster-Smith
Bath AUA Advocate
Engineering & Design
Angela Pater
Regional AUA Advocate
Office of University Secretary
Rachel Acres Humanities & Social Sciences
Tom Bond Engineering & Design
Caroline Dangerfield Vice-Chancellor’s Office
Rosie Hart Engineering & Design
Rebekah Hole Humanities & Social Sciences

If you would like to know more about the AUA and becoming a member, email aua@bath.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter @AUA_Bath.

 

Effective staff induction

  

📥  New initiative, Staff insight, 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

  , , , ,

📥  Celebrating success, New initiative, Staff experiences

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.

 

Top 5 worries for new MSc students

  ,

📥  Staff insight, Top tips

I surveyed our current and recently graduated MSc students to find out what their worries were about starting an MSc.

1.    Getting back into the momentum of studying as quickly as others on your course

You may have had an absence from academic studies for a number of years or simply be worrying about missing your working life and becoming bored as a student.

Advice:

Set a timetable and stick to it. Beat the nasty habit of procrastination. Enjoying student life is possible but you have to have good time management skills to make the difference between a good grade and an excellent one.

2.    Flying to a foreign country and not knowing anyone

This is a big fear for most people and totally normal! It’s a big thing arriving in a country where you don’t know anyone. There’s also the fear of not knowing if you will meet anyone on your course that you will work well together with.

Advice:

You won’t be the only foreign student who is struggling to re-adjust or to grasp the language. Be wise and get to know as many people as possible in your first few weeks. If you are lucky, you will meet great study partners who you will stick with until the end.

Another tip is to get used to studying alone. Learning to rely on yourself for assignments and revision can be beneficial as you may not work at the same pace as others. It’s about finding balance and being wise about who you choose to work with. Working alone can give you time to reflect on your achievements and help you to realise you have done so much and come so far on your own.

If you’re worried about the language barrier, students should get prepared before arriving at the University. The University provides many sessions to help international students to improve their English. We advise you to take part in these learning sessions.

3.    Anxiety about finding the right accommodation

Advice:

Overseas students

Please visit our student accommodation web pages for advice on how to find the right accommodation for you. The accommodation office are happy to help you with any questions you have.

Home students

It's a good idea to sort out your accommodation early on. If you can, we advise travelling to Bath during the summer months to arrange your living plans. This way, you only have to return to Bath again in September when it's time to move in! Two weeks is not enough time to sort out everything before your course starts! Start looking for accommodation early and you'll avoid last-minute panic. And don't forget about bank accounts, phone numbers, transportation, and academic applications and registration.

4.    The social side of studying as a Postgraduate student

Advice:

Be confident. It’s easier said than done but people pick up on confidence. If you are an international student, use these social events as a way to practice your English skills. The more you practice, the more confidence you will gain!

Take up the opportunities offered by the SU through a variety of societies and clubs. Join a club or two and meet more people this way.

5.    Delays in procuring a Student Visa

Advice:

Don’t leave this until the last minute! Find out about what Visa you need as early as possible. Speak with the staff in the International Student Advice Team (ISAT) to find out more information about Visas. They are there to help!

 

Don't forget to complete our Faculty Learning Technologies survey

  , ,

📥  New initiative, Staff insight, Technology Enhanced Learning

Hi there,

You may have already heard about our Faculty Learning Technologies survey – many thanks to staff who have already completed it!

In our new roles (Learning Technologists) we’re keen to get a clear picture of how academic staff (or those in teaching-related roles) make use of learning technologies in the Faculty.

We would like to hear from as many staff as possible, no matter what your current level of experience with Learning Technologies.

This will help us to understand your priorities as we plan new development projects and provide support.

Please take 10-15 minutes to complete our survey by 30 September. https://bathreg.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/fed_tel_survey

The responses will inform our planning going forward and we will share the outcomes and plans via this blog (don’t forget you can subscribe to receive email updates).

And don’t forget we have a Flip video camera to give away to a randomly chosen respondent!

Image showing computer interface

Future Interfaces 2014, NYC Media Lab, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Macro of the Month: Column

  , ,

📥  Tracey's macro of the month

Introduction

Column is another basic macro with one specific use. It is useful for breaking up areas of the page to allow you to control the layout.

Application(s)

Column has one function:

  • allows you to subdivide a section of a page

How to add Column

  • Place you cursor where you want the Column macro to appear (must be within a section)
  • Click on Insert (in the tool bar above) then Other Macros from the drop-down menu
  • In the pop-up window, type column into the search box
  • Set the variables up as you wish (you may wish to experiment with the settings)
  • Click Save

How to use Column

Although the Page Layout button allows to you add sections to break up a page, Column allows you much more control over the layout

Example

Faculty of Engineering and Design staff area

Capture(click on image to enlarge)

 

A shared MSA mission

  , , ,

📥  New initiative

The Faculty Professional Services are vital to the academic and student success we achieve. Without the dedicated team, who are enthusiastic, supportive and creative, many successes would not have been achieved.  We are in extremely exciting times with Postgraduate developments and our International agenda, the team are ready and geared up to support and make our new avenues even more successful than our past.

To ensure we all focus on the same goals and objectives I have developed a shared mission statement.

Our shared mission statement for the future is:

Collaboration, communication and planning between teams and the wider community

  • Increased collaboration and service sharing amongst our faculty teams.
  • Stronger and more integrated planning on local approaches to support our academic and student requirements.
  • Reduced duplication through service delivery efficiencies.
  • Improved coordination of decision-making and investment in our infrastructure, facilities, and equipment.
  • Increased accountability, as users and management will be better able to evaluate the performance of each faculty service.
  • Stronger services, benefitting from the collective strength of the faculty to meet common needs, and plan for the future.

Communication achieved by:

  • creating awareness
  • imparting knowledge
  • projecting an image
  • shaping attitudes
  • stimulating a want or desire

Collaboration achieved by:

  • fostering innovation
  • supporting the development of a team
  • creating more appropriate and effective outputs
  • building enhanced legitimacy and creditability

 

Macro of the month: Children display

  , ,

📥  Tracey's macro of the month

Introduction

Children display is another basic macro with one specific use. It is particularly useful for spaces with many nested pages ('child pages') which can be hidden from view; this macro enables you to help visitors to find those pages quickly.

Application(s)

Children display has one function:

  • makes a live, dynamic list of pages that are nested under a chosen page (does not have to be the one where the macro is placed)

How to add Children display

  • Place you cursor where you want the Children display to appear
  • Click on Insert (in the tool bar above) then Other Macros from the drop-down menu
  • In the pop-up window, type children display into the search box
  • Set the variables up as you wish (you can, for instance, choose to limit the level of nested pages that are displayed)
  • Click Save

How to use Children display

Look at how a list of the 'child' pages could be added to a page in your space to enable visitors to find the materials they need quickly. The addition of this macro is useful where:

  • you have a large number of pages, many of them nested (so not easily found)
  • you want a list of child pages (e.g. a contents list) to be dynamic to reflect frequent changes in the space

Example

children display

(click on image to enlarge)

 

 

TEL Event #2 Summary

  

📥  Staff event, Technology Enhanced Learning

Focus on Assessment & Feedback

This event enabled teaching staff to share an example of how they’ve used technology to enhance assessment and feedback activities.  We recorded this to share with everyone and here we offer a brief summary. (The final presentation by Philip wasn’t recorded as the session overran our lecture capture booking slot – there’s a lesson for the future! However, we’ve added a link to Philip’s slides so you can see what was covered.)

noun_10681_cc Tel Event #2 Recording
noun_345939_cc Using Moodle for FYP marking - for distribution (Philip's slides)

Presentation 1

Sabina Gheduzzi (Mechanical Engineering) explained how she came to use rubrics for assignments in Moodle.  The rubric enabled students to see the criteria by which they would be assessed but it also allowed Sabrina to mark work more swiftly.  The rubric also provides students with consistent feedback that can be supplemented by Sabrina’s comments and as a result she has seen fewer issues with students questioning their marks. Student evaluation data has also demonstrated an increase in satisfaction from students when rubrics are used.  The students like it!

Find out more about Moodle rubrics: https://docs.moodle.org/30/en/Rubrics

In discussion, after Sabrina’s presentation, there were questions related to suitability of rubrics when:

  • Assessment is based on creative tasks where the rubric may be interpreted too rigidly by students
  • When there are very large class sizes

Sabrina explained that in the context of this unit, rubrics enabled her to effectively address a specific issue raised by students in their unit feedback.

Presentation 2

Tim Ibell (Architecture & Civil Engineering) explained how he used a Moodle database to provide a peer assessment experience for a large first year Undergraduate co-hort.  The database was set up with help from the Faculty Learning Technologists and used in the classroom by students accessing Moodle from their mobile devices (i.e. through BYOD – bring your own device).  Students were able to see feedback for their group presentations and receive a score – which was moderated by Tim before being displayed to the groups.   This exercise was part of a planned move to a flipped classroom approach with reduced summative assessment and more time spent problem solving with students.

Find out more about Moodle database activity: https://docs.moodle.org/30/en/Using_Database

Questions raised following Tim’s presentation related to the suitability of peer assessment when:

  • Such peer assessment is included in courses which are accredited - would such activities be allowed?
  • Students may turn up without a suitable mobile device (or with insufficient battery power) – was there a contingency plan in place?

Presentation 3

Philip Shields (Electronic & Electrical Engineering) explained how he used the Moodle database to keep track of final year student projects and in particular to provide a double blind marking process which couldn’t be achieved easily in other Moodle tools.  Working with a Faculty Learning Technologist and the eLearning team Systems Developer (for some JavaScript expertise), Philip was able to create a database that allowed people in specific roles (e.g. second or third marker) to only view the information they needed.  This was done by creating tabs in the templates which only displayed if the person logged in matched a specific role.

Find out more about Moodle database templates: https://docs.moodle.org/30/en/Database_templates

In discussion after Philip’s presentation, Sabina pointed out that she was able to take a copy of Philip’s database and adapt it for her own programme.  This is done by sharing the database via a Preset option available in Moodle.

Thank you to our three presenters for sharing their experiences.

We hope those attending found it useful and if you have any feedback please contact us at fed-tel@bath.ac.uk

We would particularly like suggestions for the next TEL event - what should the focus be?