Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

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

Reflections on the Managers’ Workshop: where do we go from here?


📥  Engineering & Design staff experiences

A few weeks ago, I took part in a workshop arranged by Iain Forster-Smith. Amanda Wylie from Staff Development facilitated the day with support from Sue Johnson in HR.

This was the first event bringing us together, and the first question of the day was ‘why are we here as a group?’ Iain explained that within the staff group reporting to him, the ‘faculty management team’ are staff who manage a team of people, or who are responsible for a function. For our first workshop together, Amanda asked us to shape the agenda for the day as we progressed. The first part of the day was about getting to know each other better. We took part in an activity thinking about team working and different communication styles. We spent time sharing ideas about what is working well, and areas for improvement. We reflected that there is excellent practice within many of the teams and functions. But we also think we can improve by working in a more ‘joined up’ way across the faculty.

Some key themes and common issues came out as the day went on. Foremost is the need for a clearly defined faculty strategy to inform planning and to help us set objectives, measure and celebrate success in our work. The faculty strategy is due to be defined (linking to the University Strategy). It will be communicated during the next six months and staff will be able to engage in helping to develop the strategy.

During our workshop we brainstormed ideas about how to support strategy, in six key areas:

  • standards for excellence
  • clarity of functions
  • roles and responsibilities
  • building relationships
  • communication, cross-faculty collaboration
  • ways of working.

Working in groups, the exercise asked us to describe ‘the ideal’ situation (we highlighted these notes in one colour). Then we had to describe ‘what have you done to reach the ideal’ (highlighted in another colour). This was a useful way of thinking about where you are aiming, and how you might get there. We photographed a record of the activity. It was surprising how many themes kept recurring throughout the exercise.

At the end of the day we drew together a list of requests and requirements for moving forward. These included

  • input into developing the faculty strategy and objectives
  • further work to define roles and responsibilities
  • improved information sharing about new starters, leavers and change of roles
  • developing staff induction
  • the creation of a monthly staff newsletter
  • how to improve office and shared space in the Faculty (functionally and visually)
  • further work on communication styles with Staff Development
  • some ‘tool box talks’ on common management queries with HR.

Personally I found the day rewarding because it was the first time we came together as a group to think about how to improve ways of working in the faculty. I found that the activities throughout the day were varied and the facilitation by Amanda was engaging and helpful. As with many workshops of this type, it felt like a day of ‘opening boxes’. There was lots of brainstorming but not enough time to work in detail on specific problems. There is a lot of work ahead to progress actions from the day, but it was positive to be starting discussions and sharing ideas.


Promoting your campus event checklist


📥  Engineering & Design staff top tips

There are a few key questions to ask yourself when promoting your event to ensure you use the appropriate channels:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • Is University branding appropriate?
  • What’s my budget?
  • How much time do I have?
  • Are my attendees internal or external?

1. Talk to your Department Office
First and foremost talk to your Department Office who will be able to advise you on promoting your event. Please note inaugural lectures must be organised by your Department Coordinator as there is a set protocol for who is to be invited.

2. Use Eventbrite
Eventbrite is the University-advised method for organising your event and has more functionality than you’d think, including a reminder facility and ticketing options. Having an Eventbrite link will make it easier for others to promote and link to your event.

3. Invite your attendees
Add the date of your event and why they should attend to your key guests’ Outlook diaries.

4. Add your event to the What’s On calendar
If you add your event to the What’s On calendar (and it’s approved by the central communications team), it will be displayed on the internal staff homepage. If your event is for Faculty staff then add it to our Faculty Staff Wiki space.

5. Create a slide for our digital signage
Creating a slide for your Department’s digital signage (TV screens in 2, 4, and 6 East foyers) will help raise the profile of your event. You can create a slide in Powerpoint and then save it as an image to ensure it’s the correct specifications for the screen. For further details read the University's guidance on producing this. You can download a Faculty event template from our Marketing & Web team Wiki page.

6. Get active on social media
Use your own channels or ask your Department to promote the event on theirs (all four Departments have Twitter and Facebook profiles). Use twitter handles to get your post noticed and an event hashtag so others can link in to your event. Think about a timeline leading up to your event, when might be good to post and then repost your messages?

7. Produce promotional materials
If you have budget to produce promotional materials such as posters, banners and so on, then our Design, Print & Photography service can help you to do this.

If you don’t have any budget then you may be able to use our Faculty templates available for download from the Faculty Marketing & Web Team’s Wiki page. Consider whether University branding is appropriate for your event before doing this.

8. Submit your event to the Faculty Staff e-bulletin
Email your event title, date, time, location and a short description to fed-internal@bath.ac.uk for inclusion in the quarterly (September, December, March and June) Faculty Staff e-bulletin.

High profile events/launches
If your event is high profile (for example the launch of a new facility with notable external attendees) then you may get support from our central Press Office and Events Team to drum up added publicity on external channels.

Watch this space…
There are currently working groups meeting at the University to discuss how events are managed and the new CMS will provide changes to how events are utilised on the website in future.


Better print with the Aurasma App

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📥  Engineering & Design staff new initiative

The Aurasma App (available on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store) allows us to add online content to our print materials. It does this by scanning trigger images, which then load videos, images and webpages, augmenting our publications in an imaginative and engaging way. It has already been pioneered by a number of Departments around the University and we have recently introduced it to some new Faculty of Engineering & Design print items.

The app is free to download and once following the University of Bath channel anyone can enjoy content across campus (including the Images of Research and the Bath Leap List). It's a great way to integrate our online and offline assets, to promote study at Bath in a more interactive format and to add content without compromising design. As with anything that's free it has its drawbacks, but the app offers considerable potential for Open Days, as well as showcasing student project work and communicating our research impact.

Download the app to try out the images below.

Instructions on downloading the app to your phone:

  1. Download the Aurasma App.
  2. Search uniofbath within the Aurasma App and select 'follow' or alternatively open your web browser and enter the following URL: bit.ly/uniofbath
  3. Select the camera view within the app and hold your phone over the image.

Scan the following image from page 6 of our new Mechanical Engineering brochure:

Mechanical Engineering brochure - Team Bath Racing aura

Mechanical Engineering brochure - Team Bath Racing aura

Scan the following image from the back of our Civil Engineering brochure:

Civil Engineering brochure placement testimonial aura

Civil Engineering brochure placement testimonial aura

Scan the following image from our new postgraduate funding postcard:

Postgraduate research funding postcard aura

Postgraduate research funding postcard aura

Scan the following image to see how we can showcase student projects and make our foyers more interactive:

Drawing of a Basil Spence project

6 East foyer Basil Spence exhibit aura


Exploring further

The app also has 3D capabilities and large photos can have multiple trigger points. Scan the image below to see where we could take our augmented content in future - to do this please follow the University of Bath test channel by typing in http://auras.ma/s/era3w

3D animated gif example aura

3D animated gif example aura

Many thanks to Hugh Tonking and Marie Salter for helping to introduce the app to the Faculty of Engineering & Design.


Surviving a BBC interview


📥  Engineering & Design staff experiences, Engineering & Design staff top tips

Last month PhD student Heather Wyman-Pain from the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering gave an interview to the BBC about the nuclear power station at Hinkley. Below she discusses her experience of dealing with the media and how she would prepare in future:

I have never had any experience of talking with reporters and felt a bit out of my depth at the idea of an interview, but decided to take a step into the unknown and agreed to do it.

Professor Furong and I were sent a few questions on Friday and our interview was scheduled for the following Monday afternoon, giving us the weekend to prepare, which neither of us used to our advantage. Our key message to anyone considering being interviewed by a reporter is:

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Monday morning arrived and we sat together in my supervisor’s office discussing the sample questions, separating them between us to prepare answers, and agreeing we would meet again for lunch. I am very happy to say we did identify the key points we wanted to make for each answer, but we didn’t leave ourselves any time to find information to back up our arguments. If we have this opportunity again we know we need to spend far longer learning the background information. We walked into this interview with that morning’s attempt at scripted replies and no idea of what to expect. Our future preparation list is:

  • What are the key points and the evidence to back them up?
  • Who is going to see this?
  • Who is the interviewer?
  • Ask for more time to prepare – If they don’t let you, you can say no
  • Practice – preferably with someone who has plenty of experience with reporters

As we saw the camera by the lake the panic set in and both of us reacted in different ways. The automatic response to run away clearly showed for my supervisor and she was unhappy with every take. The reporter was very patient with this, obviously practised with interviewing people with no TV experience, and we are very thankful to him. My reaction to the cameras was the complete opposite and I have never been more grateful for the speech training my parents put me through when I was a child. I went into autopilot and have no memory of the interview, except for being told ‘We need your answer to the first question again, a duck interrupted you’.

I am happy to report that overall it went well, even with the ducks wanting to take part, and is a brilliant experience for any researcher.

Read the BBC article about Hinkley Point featuring Heather's comments.

Professor Furong Li being interviewed by the BBC on campus.

Professor Furong Li being interviewed by the BBC on campus.


Building Services, Construction & Engineering Employer of the Year Award


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

Julian Sulley, Director of Technical Services, shares his experience of training apprentices and attending the Bath College Celebrating Success Awards:


Julian Sulley receiving the Building Services, Construction & Engineering Employer of the Year Award at the Guildhall in Bath

I was privileged to represent the Faculty of Engineering & Design at the Bath College Celebrating Success Awards 2015 at the Guildhall on 5 November 2015. The award was in recognition of our close relationship and ongoing work with the College regarding our three apprentices, Emma Walker (Year 3 Mechanical), Bethany Tavener (Year 2 Electronics & Instrumentation) and Benjamin Hampton (Year 2 Mechanical).

Back in the summer of 2013, we decided to change our apprentice training provider and following a number of consultations, selected the Bath College, under the direction of Mr Rob Aldous, Engineering Project Manager & Assessor. Emma was our first apprentice to undertake her studies with the College and we were all quite anxious to see how this new arrangement would work. Her first year proved to be an unmitigated success and acted as a catalyst to submit the case to recruit a further two apprentices. We undertook a joint recruitment exercise with the College, which included psychometric tests and interviews. The process was extremely rigorous, but proved to be very successful and culminated in the appointment of both Bethany and Benjamin.

Bath College Awards ceremony group photo.

Bath College Awards ceremony group photo.

Emma has now completed her college studies, six months ahead of schedule, having gained a double distinction in her final college report. Bethany and Ben have also excelled, both gaining distinctions and credits across all subjects. This success is down to the hard work, application and commitment, not only of the apprentices themselves, but to Rob and his team at the College, and to all the technicians in the Department of Mechanical Engineering under the supervision of Vijay Rajput and Andy Church. They all devote so much of their time to pass on the skills and experience required for our apprentices to achieve their skilled technician status. It was on their behalf that I was delighted to receive the award from the College, since it is down to the combined effort of all involved that we received this accolade.

It was also particularly pleasing to witness the presentation of the College Award for Outstanding Achievement in the form of The Rotary Young Person’s Community Service Award to Bethany for all the voluntary work that she undertakes within the community of Bath. Last year she devoted 245 hours of her own time consisting of two evenings a week plus weekends working with young people, a truly outstanding commitment. Not only did she receive a certificate of commendation from the College, but also a special award from the Rotary Club of Bath in recognition of her charitable work.

Bethany Tavener receiving the Rotary Young Person’s Community Service Award.

Bethany Tavener receiving the Rotary Young Person’s Community Service Award.


Association of University Administrators Annual Conference 2015


📥  Engineering & Design staff experiences

Rosie Hart, Programmes Officer (Postgraduate Taught), shares her experience of attending the Association of University Administrators Annual Conference:

I became aware of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) through attending a presentation at the University of Bath about their study tours.  I thought that it seemed like such a positive opportunity to share information and expertise, and to get a feel of how other cultures’ educational systems work.

I assumed that I wasn’t really important enough/ not on a high enough grade to be sent to the AUA Annual Conference, but I was encouraged by my manager to register.  At first I wondered what I could possibly contribute, but having seen that they offered working sessions and being quite opinionated, I thought this would certainly be something I could participate in! I did feel a little apprehensive when I arrived at the conference centre as I was out of my comfort zone – I must say that this was also part of my motivation for going, I feel it’s important to keep challenging yourself.

The Conference contained a mixture of large talks to all delegates, some smaller presentations and a series of working groups.  Most of the sessions were held in Nottingham Conference Centre, but the largest talks were held a short distance away at the Albert Hall. It was great to meet my fellow delegates from other universities, who all had a wide range of roles.  Some had been working for their institution for a long time, whereas others had only recently began their employment, ensuring there was a whole range of backgrounds and experiences to build our discussions on.  I was also quite surprised to see representatives from overseas institutions and upon speaking with some of them, realised just how different comparative roles could be.

Although I gained something from each session, there was one talk I attended that was by far the most enjoyable: The future of data and information in HE by Andy Youell, Director of HEDIIP.  Andy was very engaging and amusing on a subject which could have come across as very dry.

In the evening I attended the gala dinner.  It was good to have the opportunity to meet a few more people, but I did feel that those who didn’t drink were perhaps not enjoying the event very much!  I dined with a smaller group and got to know other University of Bath attendees who I hadn’t met previously, which was a valuable experience.

It was great to have the opportunity to meet and share experiences with colleagues from other universities and to share ideas and good practice.  I think there should be far more of this.