Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

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

Surviving a BBC interview


📥  Staff experiences, 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


📥  Celebrating success, 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


📥  Staff experiences

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.