Wednesday, 18 December 2019

On a Mission to Inspire Learning

Dr Gary Wood is Head of Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA), and has recently been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by Advance HE. Exclusively for the SELA blog, we met up with Gary so he could tell us more.

Hi Gary, lovely to see you! We hear you’ve had some good news recently, do tell!


It’s been quite an exciting time as I was announced as one of this year’s National Teaching Fellows by Advance HE. It is a really prestigious award that only 55 people are recognised with each year, so I am really humbled to have been selected alongside two other colleagues at the University of Sheffield.

Monday, 16 December 2019

How six different leadership styles helped me deliver a successful Pop Up University

Armand Keyworth, Cohort 2018

From 20-22 September 2019, Cohort 2018 delivered an outreach programme at the Pop-Up University event in Sheffield, with the aim of inspiring young children and students to realise their potential through engineering. The event was a big success, with over 2,000 people attending and interacting with our exhibit. However, the Pop-Up University for me started back in June. Having put myself forward for project leader, the main objective was to produce a successful project, despite members of the Cohort being away on summer placements in industry.

Having recently attended a SELA workshop on leadership styles, I realised that I had used different styles at different points throughout the Pop-Up University project. In this blog I want to show what these six types are, when best to use them, and how I utilised each one so to deliver a successful outreach event.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Factories of the Future: Our visit to the Smart Factory Expo

Sam Maxwell & Rob Bowland, Cohort 2018

On Wednesday, 13 November we had the chance to visit the Smart Factory Expo at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre alongw with Mo-anna Tucker from our SELA Cohort. Our aim was to understand the current innovations in industry surrounding data and the Internet of Things, to build context for our second year SELA project. This year our project is based on data-driven manufacturing. We are looking to show how data can accelerate improvement in manufacturing processes; for example, performing quality control on the machining of very high tolerance jet engine blades.

Smart Factory Expo brings together companies from across Europe to showcase the latest developments in technology: from Cybersecurity to Additive Manufacturing, all the technologies involved in Industry 4.0 can be found here. As well as finding the giants of the industry – Siemens, PTC and Autodesk, to name a few – start up businesses developing very innovative and targeted technologies can also be found at the Expo (along “Innovation Alley”). Ultimately, this was a fantastic event to get some fresh ideas on how data can drive continuous improvement in a business, and to build contacts to help with our project.

My aim with this blog post is to share some of the great ideas and technologies we found at the event. So, here are our highlights of Smart Factory Expo 2019.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Ten things I learnt from SELA Bootcamp

Sadan Al Shweikini, Cohort 2019

I am a member of the newest SELA Cohort, having joined the programme in September. I am delighted to be part of this community, that provides the perfect environment to grow and become the excellent leaders we want to be.

I am currently a second-year Structural Engineering and Architecture student. I joined SELA not just to become a future leader, but to also improve my personality by becoming more confident, better at public speaking, and improve my self-awareness and negotiations skills.

We went for two days on a residential weekend to attend the annual SELA Bootcamp, where the Head of SELA, Dr Gary Wood, welcomed us and we took part in a series of workshops, supported by mentors from industry, to explore and build our skills. These two days were very beneficial in terms of learning new skills, gaining knowledge and getting to know each other in the new cohort.

Here are ten lessons I learnt from SELA bootcamp, I would like to share with you…

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Pop-Up University Engineers Tackle Climate Change

Bertie Knight, Cohort 2019

From September 20-22, SELA Cohort 2018 ran the first-ever undergraduate-led installation in the Pop Up University – the University of Sheffield’s city-wide engagement event. Throughout the weekend, the Cohort showcased engineering, in all its disciplines, helping visitors of all ages to see how engineers create and shape the world around us. The event utilised many of the stands that our cohort used for the ‘Get Up To Speed With STEM’ event at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham, back in late March. The exhibition included a pinball machine, a marble run activity, a cog puzzle and an electrical engineering-related joystick game – all built by students from the cohort – as well as robots and lab demonstrations.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Insight into Defence Technology: My Placement in Colombia with Tecnolgías Marte

Bertie Knight, Cohort 2018

Right now, I’m halfway through working for the defence technology company Tecnologías Marte in Medellín, Colombia for my first summer placement as part of the SELA programme. From when I started writing my application till now, I’ve received a tonne of support from plenty of people associated with the academy, so I deemed it only fair to write a blog or two about what I’ve been up to. I want this blog to provide some details about the project I’m working on out here. I’m also writing a separate blog to give some insight on what my first experience has been like in the developing world, and how it all ties into a wider and global engineering context - look out for it here soon!

Thursday, 5 September 2019

SELA's industry-linked integrative projects shortlisted for National Enterprise Educator Award

SELA is delighted to have been shortlisted in this year’s prestigious National Enterprise Educator Awards in the Higher Education Team Category.

SELA has been shortlisted for its integrative projects, which use enterprise and entrepreneurship to connect students’ learning to real issues in our city, with national relevance. The year-long projects have stimulus briefs that provide wide scope for students to create, communicate and realise their own vision, whilst delivering real value to our University, businesses and wider stakeholders.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

88 Pianists, 1 Piano, and a new World Record!

Jack Trethewey, Cohort 2018

If I was to get you to write a list of what you would expect to see at a major conference, you would probably write down things like, smartly-dressed executives, immaculate business cards flying all over the room and leather-bound briefcases and handbags. You may even note down a plethora of delicately arranged “nibbles” and drinks, acting as a safety net for any executive keen to break free from conversation. What I wouldn’t expect you to list is a life-sized wooden giraffe, a brightly-coloured rainbow-shooting unicorn, an extendable, enlarged and multicoloured wooden hand, or a giant rabbit on a catapult - all playing the piano. Objects at the mercy of 88 primary-school children arranged in a semi-circle, under the watchful eye of Julian Lloyd Webber. Yet, fantastically, this is exactly what I saw, thanks to the work and commitment of The University of Sheffield’s Dr Candice Majewski, SELA cohort members James Rayson, Robin Watkins-New, James Whitehead and many other fantastic engineers and musicians from universities all over the country.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Energy Insights: My Placement at Professional Energy Purchasing

Mark Harris, Cohort 2018

During summer 2019, I completed a 7-week placement at a company called Professional Energy Purchasing, working as a social media analyst. So first of all, you may be thinking that a social media analyst isn’t exactly something an engineering student might do, but hear me out. This opportunity came about mostly by chance, but that’s not to say it was a complete fluke.

Like the rest of the 2018 SELA cohort I was involved in Get Up To Speed with STEM (a big Science and Engineering event, to inspire 3,000 young people about their potential to succeed through engineering), and during the day we were all given the chance to look around the rest of the exhibits and do some networking.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Conferring Benefits: How integrated learning projects developed my skills

Ben Sharp, Cohort 2017

It was approaching the end of my third year in Sheffield when Gary Wood (Head of SELA) approached Dan Habbershaw (Cohort 2017) and me to co-author a paper for education conference ESLTIS 19 (Enhancing Student Learning through Innovative Scholarship). This meant that both my time with SELA and my Bachelor’s degree were concluding at an alarming rate of deadlines, reports and exams. But I bit Gary’s hand off at the opportunity to co-author a paper on Integrative Learning Projects. Despite my finals, I was coping and managing my workload effectively because of the Projects that I had been involved with in my time in SELA, that were integrated into the series of workshops and guest talks that Gary had organised.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Head of SELA awarded National Teaching Fellowship for outstanding impact in higher education

Head of SELA, Dr Gary Wood, has been honoured with a national award in recognition of his work to transform student and academic learning.

Dr Wood is one of three academics from the University of Sheffield to have been awarded prestigious National Teaching Fellowships by Advance HE, recognising the outstanding impact of their teaching and support for learning in higher education.

From his innovative work around teaching linguistics, to his exceptional contribution in embedding enterprise education into the curriculum and most recently, his success in championing skills and leadership development among engineering students, Dr Wood has consistently had a transformative impact on the students he works with.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

SELA Skills Lead to Sports Success

Zak Nicholls, Cohort 2018

Alongisde SELA, Zak Nicholls this year led the delivery of the Institute of Chemical Engineering's Frank Morton Sports Day in Sheffield, and was delighted that this event was recently recognised as Event of the Year in the Sheffield Students' Union Activities Awards. Here, he reflects on how learning from SELA helped him succeed in planning and hosting the event.

The journey of planning, the IChemE Frank Morton Sports Day, a national event for undergraduate chemical engineers, was a mammoth task, bringing together the two biggest student-led events Sheffield has ever seen. We took on the challenge with support from Sheffield Students Union (SU). As Sports Coordinator, the organisation of the daytime fell to me and my friend Sophia along with guidance from the SU Events Manager. It was a great opportunity to practise and use skills I learnt through SELA.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Top Three Reasons to Attend Research Conferences

Tahira Resalat, Cohort 2018

In April, I had the opportunity to present my Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) research project from last summer at the British Conference for Undergraduate Research (BCUR) held at the University of South Wales. BCUR is an amazing platform for students looking not only to disseminate their undergraduate research but also learn a great deal about research work being done from all over the world.

As engineering leaders, many of us are often faced with the difficult decision of having to pick career paths between research and industry. Last summer, when I decided to do a 10-week SURE research placement, I never thought my work would get me this far. There are many misconceptions about research, and attending the BCUR conference definitely put them to rest for me in my mind once and for all. So, here are the top 3 things I learned about research and the importance of attending events such as conferences which cater to the dissemination of research work.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Taking Climate Change and Internet of Things into the National Curriculum

Members of SELA Cohort 2017 have created and delivered a programme of lessons for school students, exploring the Internet of Things, linked to current affairs in climate change.

The programme of work was designed to be part of a wider scheme of work being taught on the David and Jane Richard’s Family Foundation’s Big Data course. It draws on a project SELA members have been undertaking with Urban Flows Observatory, a research centre at the University of Sheffield.

Monday, 20 May 2019

SELA’s mission took GUTS

Catherine Doarks & Jack Trethewey, Cohort 2018

For a second year running, SELA was invited to Get Up To Speed (GUTS) – an annual event promoting STEM opportunities to young people aged 8 to 25.

Celebrating almost 50 years since the Moon landing on 20 July 1969, Cohort 2018’s project Apollo 50 simulated a lunar base and showcased some of the potential engineering challenges that would be encountered by inhabitants of the Moon.

Monday, 13 May 2019

SELA Board Member shortlisted for Leading the Way in Student Futures

SELA is delighted to announce that Ceri Batchelder, SELA Board Member and Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at the University, has been shortlisted for the Student Futures Award, in the Sheffield Academic Awards 2019.

The Student Futures Award recognises an individual who has gone beyond their role to create opportunities for students to develop their skills and consider the next steps in their lives.

Through Ceri’s role as Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, she is working cloely with SELA, to help us develop future leaders. This year, Ceri has used her extensive network of business contacts to facilitate learning for our members, establishing and facilitating projects for our second year students that have seen them genuinely taking a lead.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Manufacturing success in Sheffield Digital Awards

SELA is delighted to have been shortlisted in the Sheffield Digital Awards 2019, in the Best Use of Tech in Industry category.

Over the last nine months, a team of SELA’s undergraduate engineering leaders has been developing and promoting approaches to using Internet of Things technologies to increase efficiency in manufacturing businesses across the Sheffield City Region, in a bid to boost productivity. The team has also responded to the fears of companies about capital expenditure, recognising this as a barrier to adoption.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Seeing the Future of Manufacturing at AMRC

Rob Bowland, Cohort 2018

Recently SELA members had the opportunity to visit the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a centre for world leading research into methods and technologies practical for industry. Due to the size and scope of the AMRC (and the time limitations) we were not able to see all there was to offer and were instead taken on a whirlwind tour of some of the facilities and ongoing research.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

How SELA is doing more to tackle climate change

Megan Naylor, Cohort 2017

In 2019, we have grown accustomed to seeing activists and passionate campaigners on local, national and even international news. Just a few weeks ago, the streets of Sheffield were filled with students and school children, holding banners adorned in anti-climate change slogans. These students were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student who protests outside Sweden’s parliament buildings every Friday, and recognition of her in the media sparked people all over the world to call on governments to increase their actions to tackle climate change.

Today, the streets of Sheffield are filled once again, as it is the turn of Extinction Rebellion. Members of Extinction Rebellion Sheffield are obstructing traffic on Sheaf Street, in protests against Sheffield Council. As covered in an article in The Star, the motivation of the group is to encourage the Council to ‘do more to tackle climate change’, and through targeting one of the most polluted parts of Sheffield, they hope to add further gravity to their protest.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Made in Sheffield @ Gripple Ltd

Abdulla Omaruddin & Aiden Findlay, Cohort 2018

Last Wednesday, the SELA members had the opportunity to visit a local engineering firm, Gripple, specializing in the design and manufacture of wire connection and tensioning devices. Gripple, founded in 1989, initially developed wire tensioning devices for the fencing market. Today, its product range also supports vertical suspension applications, such as lighting suspension kits. Upon entering the facility, we were welcomed by Gordon Mcrae, special projects manager at Gripple, along with two apprentices who were our tour guides.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Taking the difficulty out of honest conversations

Germayne Williams-Sylvester, Cohort 2017

SELA Cohort 2017 recently had the pleasure of participating in a workshop on “Difficult Situations & Honest Conversations”, led by Lucy Owens from Lucy Owens Coaching, with actors Marie Ekins and Jamie Cymbal. The workshop started with Marie and Jamie acting out a scenario in which a student had a difficult conversation with a project supervisor. We were asked to identify flaws in their approach and dialogue, and offer improvements. The scene was then repeated, incorporating our advice. We made some good initial progress on trying to remedy the problematic dynamics within their interaction, but it was clear we needed to dig a little deeper.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Three lessons in Networking

Nadir Al-Hashim, Cohort 2018

Recently, SELA Cohort 2018 sat down to what we had been told was a workshop on networking. I think most of us at SELA knew in the back of our minds that networking was important, but I can speak for myself when I say I had no clue how to take the topic seriously. To me, networking was something that dressed up people do whilst putting on fake smiles and feigning interest in others; hence I was a little sceptical at the whole thing. However, I can say that thanks to our brilliant workshop facilitator, Will Kintish, I left the room surprised with how much better I felt about the prospect of networking in the future.

Here are three things I learned in the session that I thought I could share...

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Student-led Learning

Yun-Hang Cho, Graduate, SELA Cohort 2014 

When I was studying for my degree in Mechanical Engineering, I discovered that I quite enjoyed helping other students so when the chance came to use our training from the Sheffield Enigneering Leadership Academy to help facilitate some training sessions for the Transforming Society summer school, I leaped at the chance.

Monday, 14 January 2019

88 Pianists, 1 Piano: An engineering challenge to inspire the next generation

Jack Trethewey, Cohort 2018

If I was to tell you to gather up eighty-eight of your dearest friends and have them all play the piano at the same time, you would probably think I had finally cracked, that the stress of trying to achieve my own high standards had now caused me to demand the impossible. I wouldn’t blame you. When I was told about ambitious plans of the 88 Pianists project, created in honour of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo DaVinci’s death, I nearly spat out my cappuccino in disbelief. The idea of trying to smash the world record for the largest number of people playing the piano at the same time, seems an unnerving task on its own. However, combine this with expecting eighty-eight primary school children to use comically long mechanical fingers to delight an audience with joyous tunes, and you have an amusing spectacle that appears doomed to fail. But this daunting prospect did not faze The University of Cambridge’s Professor Julian Allwood, who still appears inspiringly optimistic that the record will be broken. This positivity was emphasised within The University of Sheffield by Dr Candice Majewski, a lecturer within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who is coordinating Sheffield’s collaboration with the project.