Empowering Our Students, Empowering Society

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One of the great opportunities that comes with being a Multi-Academy Trust is our sponsorship. London South Bank University, our primary sponsors, have developed a team from their academics and professionals that engages with our schools. They are summed up in two areas of focus: academic and skills enrichment.

We, at the Trust, believe that the only way to produce passionate and equipped young engineers, scientists, programmers and mathematicians, who will make a positive impact in our society, is to show them how these disciplines are applied in real life. Only through making them realise that they can make a difference here and now through what they learn will we cultivate motivation that propels them to succeed.

An example of the kind of enrichment that LSBU brings to our schools is our social inclusion app challenge.

The Inventeurs have been busy this term. During Refugee week, Safia and Imran’s team from London South Bank University worked with the Year 10s from South Bank Engineering UTC to develop an app. The brief was to create an app that could help refugees easily integrate into society here in the UK. It needed to be original, implementable and innovative.

The team kicked it off with a welcome from South Bank Academies Trust CEO, Nicole Louis, a recap over their previous work on the project, and a Q&A time with LSBU Student Ambassadors: Natasha, Ateed, Kishan, Brahim, George and Marisa.

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Safia, Imran and the Student Ambassador team presenting the challenge to the Y10s at the UTC

The Y10 teams learnt about the ‘Double Diamond Process’, a visual model to help the teams structure their projects. The model shows how to scope ideas, refine, scope refined ideas, further refine and then develop. The teams began by drafting their initial thoughts: the issues that refugees face.

Walking through the computer rooms, there were quite a few animated debates about what refugees need when they arrive in the UK. They needed a bit of help to get started. Our ambassadors helped them to focus and understand the task. As the teams started to grasp the implications of the challenge, and the way the programs worked, they became enthusiastic. They were happy to explain their ideas and progress to whoever asked.

They had a number of tasks to complete: Plans/ideas on paper, the app visualisation on Balsamiq, a presentation of their app on Powerpoint and using Skratch Animation, and to write a creative description of what they did on KidBlog. This tested their collaboration and teamwork skills.

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Team designing their app on Balsamiq

The LSBU team and the students learnt from each other. It was inspiring to see the Y10’s grow in innovation and the creativity. One of the teams came up with the idea of creating avatars based on user data. They thought that the best way to help refugees is to tailor the service based on their age, gender, and any specific requirements. Some teams had a location feature that integrated with Google Maps, so that you could find pharmacies in your area, or find where the nearest supermarket is.

While some were working on their app design on Balsamiq, others were working on their presentations. These presentations were opportunities for students to communicate the issues that faced refugees, and the solutions that they have worked on to address this. Martin, a hardworking year 10 student, shared some of the struggles he had with the project. Using Skratch Animation and integrating this into Powerpoint was a hurdle. ‘Skratch is a challenge; you have to make sure the code makes sense.’ He demonstrated on the computer how a slight miscalculation on the code adversely affected the animation.

The following week, our UTC Y10 students visited LSBU where they pitched their app solutions to a panel of judges. This was a challenging experience for the students, but they worked together and presented their apps with excitement and nerves. Our student ambassadors were proud of how far the students had come and how much they had achieved.

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The team that won the challenge, presenting their app for social inclusion for refugees

A huge well done goes to Jackson, Fabz, La-Sharnti, Nathaniel, Leon and Dienifer, our winning team. Their app, Salvage, was the winning design. They collaborated well, had a great vision for the end product, and they impressed the judges with their innovation and creativity.

These projects that LSBU’s engagement team run in our schools are more than just for fun; they make an important impression on our school kids. They help kids think about the world they live in, and the opportunity to make something great of their lives. It is the combination of awareness and skills development that enables our students to achieve more than they thought, and develop key skills that they will need for study and/or working life. They know that the coding, the group delegation, the public speaking is all for a real problem and a real solution. So, well done to all the Year 10s who worked on this project, keep working hard and keep learning how you can make a difference.

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What is Engineering?

Engineering is a word that most of us know. When I first heard someone say, ‘I’m studying engineering,’ I thought of technical drawings and engines. However it is much more than that; ‘engineering is a foundation for the development of society’[1]. It is everywhere we look; we sit on it, travel in it, eat it and live in it. ‘Engineering is everywhere, but most people never see it or recognise it’[2]. This is why I want to look at what it really involves, and why we at South Bank Academy Trust are so passionate about raising up young engineers.

Problem Solving

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Engineering is about seeing needs and problems in society and offering solutions. An example of this is the invention of the ear trumpet in the 18th Century. This was designed to help patients with hearing loss. It would amplify sound thus improving the patient’s hearing.[3] You would not see one of these being used today, but it was a key leap in biomedical engineering that led to the hearing aid that we use in the 21st Century. Engineering takes a look at the problem and designs ‘next generation technologies and solutions’ (Rao Bhamidimarri, 2016). It is important to be able to think clearly and strategically as an engineer to reach the most practical and beneficial solution.

 

Communication

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Communication is a skill needed in almost every field of work or study. The reason why communication is vital when we speak about engineering is because of cultural, societal and institutional challenges that the design stage of engineering has to take into consideration before its execution. You can have the most well-thought-through design and implementation structure, but without taking into consideration the structures or lack of structure in the corresponding culture, your innovative solution can fall on deaf ears. Engineers have to know how to communicate across cultures.

Engineering requires the ability to connect and go between different worlds. It even requires world creation. Engineers make decisions on the future will or should look like, technically, socially. (Bhamidimarri, 2016)

So engineering is about communication and translating technical and mathematical strategies into different cultures and societies, to bring solutions in specific contexts. Communication is key in engineering.

Creative Thinking

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Engineering and the arts are not always associated with each other, but they are not as disconnected as you might think. Engineering requires immense creativity. The arts use creative thinking as a means to express thought, emotion and ideas into something tangible. Engineering is much the same process. It also uses creative thinking as a means to reach a goal. But instead of aiming at expression of thought, engineers aim to reach a practical, innovative and culturally appropriate solution to a problem.

Engineers are creators, visualising and testing solutions and responding to ‘new and surprising challenges in creative ways’ (Bhamidimarri, 2016). Engineering tries to change the way things are done, to improve the life we live. To achieve this, the thinking behind each project needs to be push boundaries and travel into the unknown. We see this all the time in the technological world. A great example of creative thinking in engineering is China’s innovation in public transport: the elevated bus.[4] The bus has wheels that go either side of the car lanes and its body stretches above them, like a mobile tunnel. Passengers board the elevated bus and sit above the traffic. The bus is not held up by a busy Monday morning on the road and it carries more passengers than a regular bus. Creativity is all over its design and it offers so many practical solutions to China’s rush-hour commuters. Engineering thrives when it is powered by creative thinkers.

Different Areas of Engineering

There are so many different fields of engineering, and they require engineers of different levels and qualifications. Here are some of the areas that you might come across:

  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Automotive Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Computer Engineer
  • Drafting and Design Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Geological Engineer
  • Marine Engineer[5]

The list could go on for pages. Engineering has so many different applications. This can be daunting for a young person thinking about what area in which to specialise. However this is also the beauty of engineering: You have so much choice. It is a career that does not limit you to buildings and bridges, but it calls you to discover what you are passionate about, and apply yourself to that.

Why Engineering in Education is Important to Us

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It is quite simple; our future depends on engineers. We want to educate and equip the next generation of engineers with good values, skills, and a passion for making things better.

An engineer needs to develop many strengths. I have not covered the full range of skills and qualifications you need to become a professional engineer. However, what we do at school level is to set students up with foundational skills and an enthusiastic approach to learning. We encourage them to think creatively, have some agency in their own education, try things that fail and then learn from those failures. We do this through classroom-based teaching, group tasks, project learning and real-world engineering experience. This is so that when they go on to higher education, apprenticeships or employment, they have already cultivated the best attitude for developing a wider range of skills. We need engineers for the future of our society, and we need them to be competent.

[1] Engineering and Enterprise: Inspiring Innovation; Rao Bhamidimarri and Ailin Liu; Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2016

[2] CCSP Press; Scholarly Research Communication; Volume 5; Issue 1; Article ID 0101136; 4 pages; Journal url: www.src-online.ca; Published 19th December 2013; Article by Dena Wynn McMartin, Professor of Environmental Systems Engineering, University of Regina

[3] This research was sourced from: https://www.livescience.com/48001-biomedical-engineering.html; accessed 8/3/18

[4] This research was sourced from: https://www.popsci.com/11-greatest-engineering-innovations-year#page-9; accessed 8/3/18

[5] This list was sourced from: http://educatingengineers.com/career-specialties; accessed 7/3/18

Welcome to our Blog

Welcome to South Bank Academies’ new blog. Keep updated on the activities, events and projects happening in South Bank University Academy of Engineering (UAE) and South Bank University Technical College (UTC).

We have a newsletter that comes out every term. This can be found on our website: http://southbankat.org.uk/our-trust/trust-newsletter 

This blog is designed to help you understand why we are so passionate about engineering and STEM/STEAM learning. Our approach to education is to provide opportunities for students to have some agency in their development, be involved in real-world projects, and for them to experience engineering for themselves. When they leave us to go on to apprenticeships, further education or employment, they will have a brilliant CV, experience of working with engineering companies, and the confidence to approach tough situations with enthusiasm and resourcefulness. Through our UTC and UAE we want to create intelligent and daring people, who will think creatively and make a positive difference to society.

So sign up to our blog for regular updates, interesting discussion points and information about how you can connect with our academies.

“There’s nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.”

― Bill Nye

 

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