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Courses inspire next generation of mechanical, electronics and robotics engineers

“I liked the support from our tutors to build our projects and to work with others.”

“I enjoyed making circuits and the hands-on approach of the course - also solving the questions and visiting automation demonstrations.”

"I really liked this course as it is different form any other I have done before; we liked the way our tutors guided us to program our robot."

A group of teenagers from schools and colleges across Sussex and London have been learning how to build and program a robot during a Widening Participation (WP) programme on the University of Sussex campus.

The 21 young people have been taking part in the annual Sussex Study Experience, which offers year 12 students an experience of university-style teaching and learning.

The programme consists of a welcome day (which includes a motivational and revision-skills workshop, as well as team-building activities), academic days and a celebratory graduation day.

This year there were nine subjects to choose from, including Mechanical Engineering and Electronics & Robotics Engineering.

Professor Maziar Nekovee, Head of the Engineering and Design department, said: “The 2018 Year of Engineering is a government campaign that celebrates the world and wonder of engineering.

“Here at Sussex we would like to support students in making an informed decision to pursue engineering in higher-level education. We are delighted to have two WP courses this year focussed on mechanical, electronics and robotics engineering.”

Students on the Mechanical Engineering strand studied the strength of materials, impingement heat transfer and thermal imaging and numerical simulation, while the other group had the opportunity to learn basic electronics, robotics and mechanical skills, working with embedded systems and sensors to program a robot to perform autonomous tasks.

The academic sessions were led by outreach staff in the School of Engineering and Informatics - Dr Elizabeth Rendon-Morales, Dr Rodrigo Aviles-Espinosa and Mark Puttock-Brown - alongside PhD students Julio Costa, Daniel Payne and Harri Koivisto.

Dr Rendon-Morales said: “Students enjoyed the course; they worked as a team of engineers to solve a challenge. I hope this course helps to communicate what engineering really means; it is about developing technical skills and hands-on projects, aiming to strengthen students’ enthusiasm - specially girls - to choose engineering for their future careers.”

All 21 students – five girls and 16 boys – visited the School’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the ‘drone zone’ and robotics labs as well as facilities for teaching and research in mechatronics and autonomous systems.

During these sessions, the group quizzed Dr Luis Ponce Cuspinera about his research on robotics. They found out about new degrees in mechanical, robotics and electronics engineering, smart technologies and 5G, and visited the £11-million Future Technologies Labs, which were recently opened by former Science Minister Jo Johnson.

The students presented their final projects at the end of March during the last of the academic sessions.

Cerri Hider, Post 16 Project Lead in the Widening Participation team, said: “It’ very rewarding to see the students’ confidence grow during the programme; I’ve been impressed by the extent of their dedication and commitment to attending their academic days.

“I hope the skills and knowledge gained can be applied to the students’ current studies and that the programme inspires them to make an informed choice about their future studies.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming their parents and guardians to campus in June for the graduation ceremony to celebrate their achievements.”

Posted on behalf of: Engineering and Design and Widening Participation
Last updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2018

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