Guest Blog: To trust or not to trust?

Imagine the situation, you have worked tirelessly to make a discovery which is important, potentially revolutionary, or worked long days and nights and sacrificed everything in order to bring that life changing product to the market. You feel elated and hopeful of what the future holds only to find out that everything you have worked for is for naught as your partners have passed off all your work as their own. Or even worse the discoveries you have made are being used to increase oppression, or worse, and your reputation is damaged even though you had no knowledge of the use. The following case study shows the risks:

A university signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on research into facial recognition technology with an overseas university. As part of the proposal, the overseas university committed to providing significant funding and to sponsor two research fellows. The university conducted in-depth due diligence, including financial assurance and checking compliance with export control legislation. A year into the research, a newspaper published an exposé which highlighted well-publicised details of the overseas university’s work with the military and police of their country to support surveillance and repression of dissents to the political leadership.

I wish I could say these were one off incidents but worryingly, this is happening a lot more than is realised. A quick search online reveals stories of IP theft from universities or AI being used to increase mass surveillance.  However, these risks can be mitigated and CPNI and NCSC are here to help.

The CPNI (the national technical authority for physical and personnel security) have now collaborated with the NCSC (the national technical authority for cyber security) to bring you Trusted Research to support academics to manage the risks to international research collaboration. This guidance

  • Outlines the potential risks to UK research and innovation
  • Helps researchers, UK universities and industry partners to have confidence in international collaboration and make informed decisions around those potential risks
  • Explains how to protect research and staff from potential theft, misuse or exploitation

The website also includes a simple checklist to help identify potential risks and also has guidance for senior leaders.

We recognise international collaboration is vital, we also realise that collaborating with the wrong people could end up costing everything, rather than paying dividends.

In an increasingly uncertain world, it is safer to know who you are doing business with.

Guest Blog: Engineering Council on Revised Standards

By Catherine Elliott, Education and Skills Manager at the Engineering Council

The fourth edition of Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) has been published, ahead of the 2020-2021 academic year. There will be a transition period, from publication until the start of the 2023 academic year, during which providers can request accreditation against the old or new learning outcomes.  

Accreditation is the process of reviewing an engineering degree programme to judge whether or not it meets the defined standards set by the Engineering Council. A degree may be accredited by one or more of the engineering institutions licensed to do so, particularly where it spans several engineering disciplines. Accredited engineering degrees offer students, their parents and advisors, and employers an important mark of assurance that the programme meets the high standards set by the engineering profession.

Alongside the fourth edition of AHEP, we have published:

  • a summary of key changes to the document
  • a comparison of the learning outcomes in this fourth edition to the previous edition of AHEP, ‘Mapping Learning Outcomes AHEP4 against AHEP3’
  • a table of ‘Defining characteristics and learning outcomes’, which sets out the characteristics that define accredited programmes and the generic learning outcomes

all of which are available at: https://www.engc.org.uk/ahep4th

Revisions to AHEP aim to encourage development of innovative programmes and pedagogy, as well as making the importance of industry involvement in programme design and delivery clear. The updated document also has a sharper focus on inclusive design and innovation, and the coverage of areas such as sustainability and ethics.

Approval and Accreditation of Qualifications and Apprenticeships (AAQA) is the new Engineering Council Standard against which apprenticeships (including Degree Apprenticeships and Graduate Apprenticeships) and non-degree qualifications can be recognised.   AAQA supports the formal recognition of competence, as well as knowledge and understanding, developed through non-degree qualifications and apprenticeships. For higher level programmes this refers to the same defining characteristics and generic learning outcomes as degree accreditation.

More information on and links to all the Engineering Council’s revised Standards is available in our press release.

The Engineering Council would like to thank the professional engineering community for its valuable contribution to this process, including providing consultation responses and nominating volunteers for the relevant Working Groups. This revision of our Standards would not have been possible without the expert perspectives offered by higher education providers, the professional engineering institutions and the community as a whole.

Emerging Stronger: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation – a new publication

At the start of 2020, no-one could have known what major changes lay just three months ahead for HE. Yet, here we are living through a pandemic, and in the midst of one of the most significant, challenging, and disruptive periods imaginable.

As COVID-19 hit, we all saw and delivered innovation, change, and resilience in colleagues and students of unprecedented scope, on an unprecedented scale, and at unprecedented speed. What was striking about these changes was the apparent loss of perceived barriers that had previously hindered innovation. COVID-19 provided a new freedom for us all to try new ideas and do things differently, and a catalyst for everyone to do so: the status quo no longer existed to be maintained.

An obvious question quickly arose: what value might there be in the longer term retention of some of these new approaches, beyond the immediate crisis? Some benefits seemed immediately apparent – for example, open-book assessment prompted a shift to more authentic questions of application rather than simple recall of knowledge; digital delivery of lectures enabled students to choose the pace and place of their learning with greater flexibility; and students’ employability was enhanced through developing skills in collaboration across space and time. There were, of course, challenges, too: How do we develop practical skills in students at a distance? How can students gain workplace experience in the absence of internships? How do we maintain academic standards in remote assessments?

To explore these questions, we launched a series of webinars – Engineering Education: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation – through our Pioneering Programmes and Practice in Engineering Education Advance HE Connect network. Across six weeks, we brought together over 250 educators and practitioners to share ideas and discover how the sector was responding. We explored assessment; collaboration and professional skills; remote laboratory work and practical skill development; employability; and student partnership in learning design. In the sixth week, eight invited contributions from across the sector showcased emerging good practice.

We were encouraged to see so many positive innovations, and the creativity of our community in keeping the show on the road, with determination to deliver positive learning outcomes for students. Emerging Stronger: Lasting Impact from Crisis Innovation  – published today by the EPC – celebrates this work, sharing the thinking and discussion that we explored together. It adds further examples of emerging good practice in case studies from colleagues across the sector, and students’ perspectives on the changes to their learning experience.

We hope that Emerging Stronger will provide inspiration, guidance – indeed, reassurance – to colleagues as we now face the challenge, over summer 2020, of planning for the start of the new academic year with online or blended approaches to learning and teaching. We encourage you to capture your own stories of innovation, and to reflect on the benefits and challenges that arise. The EPC has created a new set of webpages to share your innovations with the wider community, and we encourage you to tell us what you’ve been doing, using this form.


Engineering admissions: share your insights and help us make engineering’s voice heard in the national admissions debate.

EPC response to the Office for Students (OfS) consultation on the higher education admissions system in England.

In response to both the pending consultation and the uncertainty around this year’s university admissions the EPC is conducting a one-off admissions survey (in addition to our annual temperature check of the health of HE engineering enrolments which will take a light touch this Autumn). Please complete the survey here. You can view all questions here before you begin.

Background

Earlier this year, the OfS launched a review of the current English higher education admissions system, with an emphasis on the interests of undergraduate applicants. The scope included the effectiveness of the current admissions system as well as reform.

The consultation was paused – in response to the coronavirus outbreak – before it really got going, but not before it was heavily criticised for overstepping the mark when it comes to institutional autonomy and the right of individual providers “to determine the criteria for the admission of students and apply those criteria in particular cases” (as per the Higher Education and Research Act).

Meanwhile, despite the OfS not having the power – at that point at least – to require changes to individual institutions’ admissions processes, and the coronavirus pause in the admissions consultation, ministers and the OfS waded in to “protect” the integrity and stability of the English higher education sector by imposing an unconditional offers moratorium and proposing the extension of OfS’s regulatory powers regarding admissions. A new temporary condition on sector stability and integrity was adopted by OfS on 3rd July 2020 but the scope of the condition was narrowed as a result of EPC and others’ lobbying, with only unconditional offers and marketing activity in final scope. The EPC’s concern that OfS would be able to take enforcement action in relation to conduct that predated the consultation was heard, and this additional power conceded.

At the same time, other reform pressures are rife and PQA is undoubtedly back on the agenda.

EPC Admissions Survey

With the triple whammy of curbed international student imports, squeezed budgets and student number controls weighing down on HE engineering portfolios, we know that the HE engineering sector needs to know more…urgently. An engineering admissions profile will give our members an insight into how our sector manages admissions, the benefit of understanding what our peers are doing, and an opportunity to share best practice. The EPC will also play a critical role in carefully evidencing HE engineering’s collective admissions behaviour in order to inform future policy responses in the interests of engineering.

Please be assured, there are no trick questions and we won’t share your information or publish any findings which might identify your university.

There are 9 sections to this survey:

1. About your engineering courses

  1. About your recruitment and admissions response to Covid-19
  2. About your response to government policy resulting from Covid-19
  3. About your admissions infrastructure
  4. About your undergraduate engineering admissions processes
  5. About your wider engineering admissions processes
  6. Evaluating your admissions processes
  7. The future of admissions
  8. Get involved

You’ll need to set aside about half an hour to complete the survey in full but you can skip any questions you don’t want to answer. You can also save your partially completed survey to come back to if you are short of time in a single sitting. Please complete whole sections in a sitting where possible. They survey is easiest to complete on a computer or tablet, but can be navigated on a phone if necessary. You can view all questions here before you begin. Please complete the survey here.

Principles of the paused OfS admissions consultation

Notwithstanding that no revised deadline for the OfS admissions consultation has yet been published and, in any event, the impact of Covid-19 may have an urgent and lasting effect on university admissions anyway, a summary of the original admissions review is provided below.

The consultation starts with the overarching principle that “all students, whatever their background, are able to choose between and select courses and providers matched to their needs, achievements and potential” plus a further set of proposed principles for a reliable, fair and inclusive admissions system (revised from the 2004 Schwartz review).

  • Applicants, their advisers and universities and colleges should find that the admissions system is transparent and that they have access to full information, presented in a way that enables applicants to make effective choices.
  • Applicants should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their achievement and potential with clear evidence. They should know how this evidence will be used by universities and colleges to select students.
  • Applicants should be assessed using methods that are reliable, fair and inclusive.
  • Applicants, their advisers and universities and colleges should experience a system that is professional in every respect and underpinned by appropriate structures and processes.
  • The public should have confidence in the admissions system.

Perceived admissions issues

Beyond these principles, there are a total of ten issues in scope:

  1. Advertised entry requirements versus actual entry requirements
  2. The use and accuracy of predicted grades in undergraduate admissions
  3. The use of assessment methods including personal statements and references, auditions, portfolio, admission tests, and interviews
  4. The role of contextual offers and contextual admissions
  5. The use of unconditional offers and “attainment offers”
  6. The use of offer incentives, inducements, and false marketing claims
  7. Applications which are made later in the admissions cycle, including the use of the UCAS Clearing system
  8. The transparency of the admissions process
  9. Applicants’ experience of the admissions system processes
  10. Stakeholder’ perceptions of the extent to which the English higher education admissions system is fair and effective.

The last three are predominantly aimed at applicants but within these they pick up on the following institutional activities:

  • The use of integrated foundation years
  • The use of admissions processes other than UCAS
  • The use of admissions processes where more than one university, college, or other organisation is involved, such as under a partnership arrangement or for an apprenticeship
  • The use of recruitment agents to recruit UK, EU and international students onto higher education courses

Somewhat off topic, the OfS is also seeking views on the use of higher education provider ‘league tables’.

Future options

OfS consultation includes three possible future admissions models:

Existing system with reforms

Possible reforms here include more transparency on entry requirements, getting rid of personal statements and/or references, and limiting the use of unconditional offers and incentives. Slightly more sweeping reforms, including getting shot of predicted grades entirely, and reforming clearing, are also mooted.

Post-qualification offers

Applying to full-time undergraduate admissions, this would be a halfway house between what we have currently – seeing applicants apply before their A levels but receiving offers after results are known. This would likely see some changes to dates for results or the start of the academic year for first years and would mean the end of conditional offers.

Post-qualification admissions

This would see students applying to full time undergraduate courses after their A level results are known, with a speedy response from providers seeing offers made and accepted before the (delayed) start of the academic year. Conditional offers would again disappear.

Although postgraduate and other direct entry applicants are largely ignored through much of the consultation, we are told that they are in scope and asked to consider whether aspects of a PQA might apply across the wider admissions system.

Survey for European engineering students in the UK

This is the student survey, for the staff survey, please click here.

Are you a non-UK European citizen? And an engineering STUDENT in a UK Higher Education Institution?

We want to hear from you. This survey is part of an EPC / UCL Engineering Education project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, looking at the experiences and expectations of European nationals currently studying engineering in the United Kingdom.

Last year we interviewed European engineering students, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, who shared a variety of experiences, expectations and concerns about their future in the UK. When the interviews were run, the General Election (on the 12th December 2019) had not occurred. Since then, the UK has left the EU and is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020.

It would be enormously helpful to understand why you have chosen the UK to study engineering; what your experiences have been so far; and what are your future plans and expectations. We want to understand how UK universities can support your capacity to learn and succeed in your engineering studies and future career.

Link to the survey: https://is.gd/EUengineeringstudent

We hope that this survey is relevant to you, but we understand that you are frequently asked to complete online surveys. We would like to give you a £5 gift voucher for your time completing this survey. The survey is organized in 4 sections and it should take about 20 minutes to complete. If you wish to receive this voucher, please provide your student email (your university email address) at the end of the survey. The voucher will be sent by email no later than September.

All the information you provide will be kept anonymous and you will not be able to be identified from your responses. You can find more details in the Participant Information Sheet, which explains how we will analyse and store your data. The submission of your responses implies consent to participate in the research.

Although COVID-19 has been impacting the whole society in unprecedented ways, when completing the survey please focus on the impact of UK’s departure of the EU on your experiences and future plans.

Your voice matters! Thank you for participating in this critical research.

Dr Inês Direito, UCL Centre for Engineering Education

Contact: i.direito@ucl.ac.uk

Survey for European engineering academic staff in the UK

This is the staff survey, for the student survey, please click here.

Are you a non-UK European citizen? And an engineering academic working in a UK Higher Education Institution?

We want to hear from you. This survey is part of an EPC / UCL Engineering Education project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, looking at the experiences and expectations of European nationals currently studying and working in engineering HE in the United Kingdom.

Last year we interviewed European engineering staff, who shared a variety of experiences, expectations and concerns about their future in the UK. When the interviews were run, the General Election (on the 12th December 2019) had not occurred. Since then, the UK has left the EU and is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020.

It would be enormously helpful to understand why you have chosen the UK to work as an engineering academic; what your experiences have been so far; what are your future plans and expectations; and how can the engineering education sector support you.

You are, therefore, invited to participate in the survey and / or share it with your European engineering academic colleagues.

Link to the survey: https://is.gd/EUengineeringAcademic

The survey is organized in 4 sections and it should take about 20 minutes to complete. All the information you provide will be kept anonymous and you will not be able to be identified from your responses. You can find more details in the Participant Information Sheet, which explains how we will analyse and store your data. The submission of your responses implies consent to participate in the research.

Although COVID-19 has been impacting the whole society in unprecedented ways, when completing the survey please focus on the impact of UK’s departure of the EU on your experiences and future plans.

Your voice matters! Thank you for participating in this critical research.

Dr Inês Direito, UCL Centre for Engineering Education

Contact: i.direito@ucl.ac.uk

President’s Prize announced: Professor John Perkins honoured by the engineering academic community.

Prof John Perkins CBE
Prof John Perkins CBE FREng

The Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC), the representative body of engineering academics in UK universities, has announced that its biennial President’s Prize has been awarded to Prof John Perkins CBE FREng for his outstanding contribution to engineering education.

Media release

DATE: 00:01 Wednesday 10th June 2020
For more information: Johnny Rich 078 1111 4292, j.rich@epc.ac.uk

The Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC), the representative body of engineering academics in UK universities, has announced that its biennial President’s Prize has been awarded to Prof John Perkins CBE FREng for his outstanding contribution to engineering education.

Professor Perkins’ illustrious career includes roles at Imperial College London, the University of Manchester and the University of Sydney as well as serving as Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

From 2012 to 2015, Professor Perkins was the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and was commissioned by the Government to author a landmark report into engineering skills, known as the Perkins Review, which was published in 2013.

The continuing impact of the Perkins Review was confirmed by the 2019 report, Engineering Skills for the Future: The Perkins Review Revisited, which Professor Perkins produced for the Royal Academy of Engineering, including contributions from the EPC.

The EPC has also worked closely with Professor Perkins in recent years when he acted as the inaugural chair of ‘New Approaches to Engineering Higher Education’. This joint initiative with the Institution of Engineering & Technology has had a wide and lasting influence on innovation in the teaching of engineering in universities in the UK and beyond.

The announcement of the President’s Prize was made by the EPC President, Professor Colin Turner, who is also Interim Dean of Learning Enhancement at Ulster University, at a live webcast last Friday (5th June) during which Professor Perkins gave an address on ‘Engineering Skills for the Future’.

In the address to mark the award, Professor Perkins, said: “I can’t begin to say how touched I am to receive this award, particularly as it decided upon by my engineering professorial peers.”

Previous recipients of the President’s Award in recent years include Dame Anne Dowling (2018), Sir William Wakeham (2016), Sir John Parker (2014), Prof Julia King (2012) and Lord Alec Broers (2010).

EPC President, Professor Colin Turner, commented:

“There was no doubt about who should receive this year’s President’s Prize. No one has done more in the past decade to further the learning experience and skills development of tomorrow’s engineers than John Perkins. He has achieved change for students, for academics and for employers that will help our wider society to become more sustainable and prosperous for many generations to come. I am very proud to have the honour of awarding this prize to an engineer who has been a most deserving friend, mentor and role model to so many colleagues.”

A presentation ceremony and celebration is planned to take place in the coming months when public health control allow.

Media release: University engineers across the UK commit expertise and equipment to join coronavirus struggle

Tales are emerging of the many ways that universities across the UK have stepped up to beat coronavirus and Engineering departments in particular have been at the forefront, lending specialist equipment, resources and problem-solving skills.

96% of engineers surveyed reported that they and their colleagues had volunteered their skills and resources in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, deploying their efforts in local communities and on a nationwide level.

University engineering teams’ contributions have ranged from developing augmented reality headsets to jump-start the manufacture of lifesaving ventilators, using drones to deliver medical supplies to island communities, adapting diving masks into medical equipment, and inventing a molecular test and smartphone app that can tell people if they have Covid-19 in just half an hour.

For example, Swansea University engineers are leading a project using a blast of gas for rapid decontamination of ambulances, cutting cleaning time to under 20 minutes and minimising the risk to workers.

Ulster University engineers have been analysing call data from crisis helplines to show that distressed individuals are contacting crisis helplines for longer calls since the pandemic outbreak. This data is critical in showing the increased need for this helpline support while traditional face-to-face options remain unavailable.

At The University of Birmingham student engineers co-ordinated an online quarantine hackathon – Hack Quarantine – with over 2,500 technologists and scientists across five continents taking part. In the global initiative, participants around the world worked to invent solutions to problems created by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, many engineering departments have been collaborating to mass-produce hundreds of thousands of face shields and other PPE for NHS and other healthcare workers. The University of Hull alone produced and distributed over 21,000 and, by working with industrial partners, engineers at the University have increased output to over 70,000 per week – certified to the highest EU standards – to buoy up the national supply chain. 

A survey by the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) has highlighted the phenomenal scale of the sector response as teams of university-based engineers across all UK regions join forces with colleagues, students, industrial partners and frontline clinical staff to support both local and national Covid-19 initiatives.

Out of over 50 separate engineering departments that responded to the survey, all but two had been actively involved in Covid-19 response activities. Four out of five respondents had produced PPE, one-third had supplied or developed other medical equipment, one-quarter had provided specialist facilities, and over half had provided expert advice, analysis and engineering skills.

EPC President, Professor Colin Turner, commented:

“It is humbling to see so many colleagues across the country do what engineers do best: see a problem, get creative and do whatever it takes to solve it. Universities are the anchors of so many towns and cities and we take seriously our civic duty to offer up not only our world-class university engineering facilities and workshops, but also the expertise of leading engineering minds.

“Engineering academics, technicians and students aren’t just helping address our immediate crisis. Our skills and innovations will help get the nation back on its feet logistically, practically and economically. Engineers will be the keyworkers of the recovery.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

The EPC is the representative voice of over 8,000 academic staff working at all levels in UK Engineering departments, schools and faculties.

Our survey, which we opened to member for one week in April, received 56 responses from our 80-university membership.

There is a press resource, giving many more examples of the phenomenal contributions of our engineering academics and details of their press offices, on the EPC website.

For more information:   Johnny Rich 078 1111 4292, j.rich@epc.ac.uk

Engineering departments and the Covid-19 response

University engineers donate expertise and equipment in coronavirus struggle

A survey by the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) has highlighted the phenomenal scale of the sector response as teams of university-based engineers across all UK regions join forces with colleagues, students, industrial partners and frontline clinical staff to support both local and national Covid-19 initiatives.

Out of over 50 separate engineering departments that responded to the survey, all but two had been actively involved in Covid-19 response activities. Four out of five respondents had produced PPE, one-third had supplied or developed other medical equipment, one-quarter had provided specialist facilities, and over half had provided expert advice, analysis and engineering skills.

Please see below for just some examples of the work shared with us during April. The brief summaries – listed by region – are accompanied by press contacts and links, where appropriate. Many staff have also been involved in university wide and community volunteering schemes. Please note that some respondents provided details but did not wish these to be made public; these are not included in this resource.

EPC members are invited to add further examples using the comments box below. Please do provide a media contact.

(L-r) Ed Lester-Card, Dr Chedly Tizaoui, Anthony Lewis and Dr Karen Perkins of Swansea University College of Engineering, with the demonstration ambulance used to test out their speed-cleaning procedure. Picture courtesy of Swansea University.

Yorkshire and the Humber

West Midlands

Wales

South West

South East

Scotland

Northern Ireland

North East

London

East of England

East Midlands

Yorkshire and the Humber

The University of Hull has been leading a collaboration to develop and produce face shields to support the NHS and other healthcare organisations in the region. Over a two-week period in April, they produced and delivered 1,490 3D printed face shields within the University before partnering with an injection moulding company to produce 8,330 injection moulded headbands within 11 days and a further 25,000 within 16 Days. Mass production of the face shields is expected to produce between 35,000 – 70,000 per week to feed into the national supply chain.

Engineers have produced and distributed visors, initially by designing and 3D printing them, but have redesigned them for injection moulding, which is being undertaken by a local company, with the capability of producing 20,000 per week. These are being distributed to local hospitals and health care workers. The materials cost is being funded by crowdfunding (mainly alumni).

Media contact: Stella Harkness, Press Officer e: S.Harkness@hull.ac.uk t: 07484 534322

The University of Sheffield has been mass manufacturing face shields, including 3D printing and disinfection. Around £60,000 worth of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, aprons and eyewear, has been donated by the University to front-line NHS staff treating patients with coronavirus, with significant donations from the Departments of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering.

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering has also provided Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Sheffield Teaching Hospital Trust with eleven powered respirators, while the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has loaned a number of Polymerase Chain Reaction machines to the army for use in Covid-19 testing.

Engineers have joined the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium, a £20 million investment to create valuable intelligence that could provide breakthroughs in how to fight this, and future pandemics. The expert consortium will work together to analyse rapidly the genetic code of coronavirus samples circulating in the UK. In doing so, they will provide unique cutting-edge intelligence about the cause of the disease to share with public health agencies, hospitals, regional NHS centres and the government to help combat the virus.

The University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has, as part of the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium, produced augmented reality headsets programmed to enable skilled aerospace and automotive production line operatives to rapidly switch to the manufacture of 10,000 life-saving medical ventilators. It has also turned its recently opened R&D facility in North Wales into a production facility for the devices.

In the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; academics, technical and administrative staff and researchers are working together to produce the Covid-19 spike protein as rapidly as possible to enable their local NHS to widely deploy an antibody test. Meanwhile, researchers are working on developing RNA extraction methods for the high throughput extraction of viral RNA from patient samples to help with the detection of Covid-19.

The Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering is working with academic colleagues to develop models to help the NHS Sheffield Trust, and the Sheffield City Council to effectively allocate resources.

Professor Vanessa Speight, from the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, has acted as co-chair on a working group at the Virtual International Research Summit on Covid-19. The group looked at the potential to recover Covid-19 genetic material from wastewater to give an indication of the level of infection across the community, sharing best practice and identifying areas where more research is needed to increase confidence in estimates.

A website created by engineers at the University of Sheffield, has been made available to schools as a free resource for GCSE and A-Level physics students, allowing them to conduct virtual experiments and continue their learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Media contact: Meg C Holmes, Marketing & Communications Manager, Faculty of Engineering e: m.holmes@sheffield.ac.uk t: 07966 415653

West Midlands

The University of Birmingham has worked with medical colleagues to design and develop a disposable plastic ‘pop-up tent’ which creates a protective barrier between patients and healthcare professionals. The Disposable Resuscitation, Intubation and Nebulisation Kit Shield – or DRs INK Shield – is a compact device designed to cover the patient’s head, neck and shoulder area while treatments for Covid-19 are administered.

They are also working on a solution to improve the seal and fit of facemasks used in hospitals during the Covid-19 crisis and manufacturing hand sanitiser for local social care workers.

Engineering staff have been joined by students to 3D print protective visors for Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Meanwhile a University of Birmingham engineering student is leading on a huge global initiative in which participants around the world are working around the clock to combat issues created by the Coronavirus pandemic. The global online ‘hackathon’ called Hack Quarantine has over 2,500 technologists and scientists across five continents taking part.

Media contact: Rachel Ellis, Head of Marketing and Communications – Engineering and Physical Sciences e: R.Ellis.3@bham.ac.uk

Wales

Cardiff University has been working very closely with the Welsh Government and industry and clinical partners to develop and test new mask materials and methods of decontaminating masks so they can be reused.  They have been involved in testing and manufacturing equipment for use by Public Health Wales.

Media contact: Amy Stackhouse, Head of Communications, College of Physical Science and Engineering e: stackhouseaj@cardiff.ac.uk t: 029 2087 9717

Swansea University engineers are currently leading a project for rapid decontamination of ambulances. Cleaning the vehicles by hand can take 45 minutes and is potentially dangerous to workers; researchers have developed a new system which could cut that to less than 20 minutes. The new system, using rapid release gases to penetrate all areas of the vehicle, has been developed by researchers and the University also provided space and lab access to carry out the tests. The technology could be used to decontaminate hospitals and schools.

Engineers have also been busy 3D printing visors and ventilator parts and formulating hand sanitisers.

Media contact: Kevin Sullivan e: k.g.sullivan@swansea.ac.uk

University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) has been involved in the rapid development of a highly efficient 3D printed jet Venturi based respiratory support system to support patients with breathing difficulties.

The solution is the result of assessing and revisiting Post-Graduate project work undertaken within the School of Engineering which outlined the potential of the Venturi effect in gas therapy applications.

Engineers have also supported the development of 3D printed face shields supplied to local hospitals and assisted clinicians in the development of respiratory snorkel mask adapters for viral filters.

Media contact: Rebecca Davies, Executive Press and Media Relations Officer e: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk t: 07384 467071

Wrexham Glyndwr has been busy 3D printing.

Media contact: Sarah Collis, Corporate Communications Manager e: sarah.collis@glyndwr.ac.uk

South West

The University of Bath has been making face shields, eye protectors and medical gowns for the Royal United Hospitals, Bath. They have so far made over 50,000 A3 face shields and 10,000 A4 face shields free of charge and achieved BSI approval. They have also delivered to local GPs, care homes, pharmacists and the B&NES GP Hub, and shared their designs online. Additionally, they have helped a collaborator to provide over 80,000 pairs of eye protection.

Engineers have also created trolley enclosures to reduce cleaning time between patient appointments, and carried out research with the Royal United Hospitals to model and simulate whether one ventilator can be shared between two patients.

Media contact: Will McManus, Media and PR Manager e: wem25@bath.ac.uk t: 01225 385798

The University of Exeter is currently working with the local 3D printing community supporting PPE production in the city. The community identified 10 university 3D printers that were of use and these have been loaned out, until the end of May 2020 to support 3D printing of PPE for local healthcare needs in the city.

Engineers have also led a project to manufacture disposable face shields for the local healthcare community, including the RD&E. A team of volunteers has come together to contribute to this initiative in collaboration with the local business community in Exeter.

Large donations of PPE (FFP2, FFP3 and surgical masks, disposable aprons, disinfectant, hand sanitiser, alcohol wipes, goggles, safety glasses, disposable scrubs and PPE suits, and gloves) have been donated to the RD&E, RCH NHS Trust, Devon County Council, and Hospiscare.

Media contact: Press Office e: pressoffice@exeter.ac.uk

3D printers at the University of Plymouth are being used to supply plastic frames for face visors in a city-wide initiative co-ordinated by Babcock engineering at Devonport Dockyard.

University of Plymouth’s Dr Antony Robotham has conceived a novel recyclable face shield that has been developed into a low-cost, high-volume manufacture product by Plymouth based Prestige Packaging. The frame and strap are made from a folding boxboard that is 100% recyclable, 100% compostable and made from FSC-certified wood products. The anti-fog, anti-glare, see-through visor is made from a type of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that is 100% recyclable and can be returned to the production cycle. The product has been assessed by BSI and is type approved for Covid-19 healthcare settings. Initial production will be 20,000 units per week with the potential to increase to 100,000 units per week.

Media contact: Alan Williams, Media & Communications Officer e: alan.williams@plymouth.ac.uk t: 01752 588 004

South East

The University of Brighton’s Advanced Engineering Centre has responded to an emergency plea from Manchester City Council to urgently provide scientific evidence to evaluate the efficiency of uncertified fluid resistant surgical masks required by frontline staff. The team devised an experimental test rig and procedures to mimic inhalation in order to measure the flow resistance of mask samples benchmarked against the performance of CE approved masks. The results showed a marked difference in filter efficiency between the samples sets and the control set allowing the masks to be ranked and prioritised. 

Media contact: Mr Philip Mills, Senior Press Officer, P.J.Mills@brighton.ac.uk t: 01273 644756

Canterbury Christ Church University has been supporting 3DCrowdUK visor initiative coordinating visors to end users and hub for disinfecting cleaning, fabrication and distribution of 3D printed visors for care homes and NHS.  The science and engineering section has also donated Laboratory personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, laboratory coats, aprons and eyewear to front-line NHS staff.  The engineering team is working with Canterbury Hospital consultant on prototyping for health professionals low cost inclusive PPE respiratory system to support acute phase operation of COVID19.

Media contact: Melissa Cleary, Assistant Director and Head of Corporate Communications e: melissa.cleary@canterbury.ac.uk

The Open University has produced hand sanitiser and PPE for Milton Keynes Hospital and engineers have undertaken specialist research and modelling.

The Open University’s Toni Gladding has been involved in writing national health and safety guidance of international interest for the waste industry. This guidance has been key in keeping the waste collection sector moving and continues to be important in the re-opening of household waste recycling sites.

Media contact: Bridgette Honegan, Media Relations Manager e: bridgette.honegan@open.ac.uk t: 01908 659258

The University of Portsmouth has produced visors for a local hospital and developed prototype respirators.

Media contact: Professor Peter Kyberd, Head of School of Energy and Electronic Engineering e: peter.kyberd@port.ac.uk

The University of Southampton is using drones to connect Isle of Wight to the mainland.

Their towing tank 3D printer has also been used to produce face masks straps and face visor brackets as part of the “Southern Hampshire Covid-19 face visors…non front line medical” initiative.

Media contact Prof. Jim Scanlan, Head of Computational Engineering and Design Research Group e: j.p.scanlan@soton.ac.uk t: 02380 592369

Scotland

The University of Edinburgh is using 3D printing to make headbands for face shields, with students and research, technical and academic staff producing them in laboratories and their own homes. They are also making fully laser cut shields. They have donated thousands of shields made in this way to local health and social care providers including hospitals, a hospice, a dental practice, and a housing association.

Engineers are working with other academics, NHS clinical staff and collaborators at Heriot Watt to investigate the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and mitigation effectiveness of PPE. They have found that wearing face coverings can significantly lower the risk of Covid-19 transmission. The study is available as a preprint.

Engineers are are also working on the development of a pipeline that will enable rapid-response manufacture of bespoke items that could be requested by clinical engineers in a health emergency.

An engineering-led team has won funding from the Chief Scientist Office to design, build, and clinically evaluate some new designs of 3D-scanned-and-printed reusable facemasks for keyworkers in frontline services. The project involves collaboration with clinicians, a virologist and an entrepreneur.

Members of the University are also part of the SRPe Engineering in Response to Covid-19 working group.

Media contact: Edd McCracken, Head of News e: press.office@ed.ac.uk

Edinburgh Napier University has been busy 3D printing.

Media contact: Luigi La Spada, Assistant Professor in Electrical and Electronic Engineering e: l.laspada@napier.ac.uk t: 07584 100162

The University of Glasgow has provided testing equipment, donated a PCR machine to the Lighthouse testing facility in Glasgow and enrolled students to assemble their 3D printed visors for the NHS in Glasgow.

Engineers are also developing a point-of-care diagnostic test that could be used in the community to trace infections and detect more cases than with centralised testing facilities.

Media contact: Ross Barker e: Ross.Barker@glasgow.ac.uk

Northern Ireland

Queen’s University Belfast’s (QUB) engineers sought to quickly design a good-quality face shield which could be produced in reasonable quantities and meet the requirements of NHS staff and other key workers who may be exposed to the virus in their line of work. The design is made from separate parts which can be manufactured through laser-cutting flat polymer sheeting and assembled without adhesive.

The face shield was developed in consultation with senior NHS staff and provides distinct advantages over standard issue face shields. Thousands have been delivered to various key workers at the Royal Victoria, Mater, Belfast City, Ulster, Antrim Hospitals, SW Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, St John’s Ambulance, Care and Nursing homes, NI Hospices and NIFRS, among others.

Media contact: Suzanne Lagan, QUB Comms e: Suzanne.Lagan@qub.ac.uk t: 02890 975292

Ulster University is analysing call data from crisis helplines, from pre-Covid-19 dates to current Covid-19 lockdown dates. Their work has shown that distressed individuals are contacting crisis helplines for longer calls since the pandemic outbreak. This data is critical in showing the increased need for this helpline support while traditional face-to-face options remain unavailable.

Engineers have also mass-produced visors, incubation covers, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks, and sanitisers; as well as providing ventilator parts and diagnostic system 3D parts; and undertaken systems analysis and calibration tests.

Plus, they are developing apps for contact tracking and antibody testing and a near-infrared test system for Covid-19 monitoring.

The University’s Prof Maurice Mulvenna sits on the Department of Health’s Science and Technology Advisory Group (STAC) Behaviour Change Group (BCG) in Northern Ireland. Prof Jim McLaughlin is on a Government led – UK Rapid Test Consortium report to PHE and Minister of Health. The School of Engineering has been key to Northern Ireland Covid-19 modelling and exit strategy.

Engineers are also involved in community projects to help school children with maths and physics projects.

Media contact: Lee Campbell, PR Manager e: l.campbell5@ulster.ac.uk t: 028 9036 6295

North East

The University of Sunderland has designed and developed a door opening device to reduce the spread of the virus via touching door handles.

Engineers have also designed, clinically trialled, 3D printed and distributed face masks.

Media contact: Roger O’Brien, Head of AMAP e: roger.obrien@sunderland.ac.uk t: 0191 515 3888

Teesside University has completed preliminary work on 3D printing PPE equipment for healthcare professionals and batches of PPE have been produced by two industrial partners in Gateshead and Ripon and sent to Sunderland Royal Hospital and a Medical Practice in Spennymoor.

Engineering labs will also be used to test flow and pressure drop measurements of a disposable face mask in collaboration with an industry partner who is aiming to produce up to 3,000 masks per week within two months.

Media contact: Prof. Nashwan Dawood, Associate Dean e: n.n.dawood@tees.ac.uk t: 07879 888080

London

Brunel University London engineers are part of a consortia working on a molecular test and smartphone app that can tell people in half an hour if they have Covid-19.

Staff and students are part of the wide-scale 3D printing effort for Guys and St Thomas’s and engineers have also been using workshop space and personal 3D printers to produce PPE visors and components to repurpose ventilator equipment for the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals.

Electronic and Electrical Engineering staff have researched how Coronavirus can be identified automatically from sick patients’ lung X-rays using artificial intelligence (AI) while Computer Science staff and students have been simulating virus transmission, hospital utilisation and post-lockdown scenarios.

Media contact: Joe Buchanunn, Senior Media Relations Manager e: Joe.Buchanunn@brunel.ac.uk t: 01895 628821

A University of Greenwich engineer has designed a face shield for essential workers who still have to commute in public. The design ethos is to “embrace the change” rather than “respond to emergency” and so the design is among the first of its kind that considers a balanced approach to facemasks products. It fulfils the basic functions of a normal face shield which we see 3D printed on the television, but was designed as an item of fashion, comfort, durability, hygiene, and customisation.

Mohammed Elsouri will personally be supplying 5 free hand-made masks at his own cost, and the rest at material cost for his local neighbourhood delivery drivers and grocery shops initially.

Media contact: Kate Johnson / Phil Cox, Media, Head of Department e: K.Johnson@greenwich.ac.uk / P.w.cox@greenwich.ac.uk / public.relations@gre.ac.uk

Kingston University is producing face protection for local organisations and has provided PPE to local surgeries and to the local hospital.

Media contact: Rob Patterson e: r.patterson@kingston.ac.uk

Queen Mary University of London has 3D printed new and innovative design visors, developed to be rapidly produced and with most components reusable.

Engineers are also supporting projects to enhance the effectiveness of contact tracing and monitoring of symptom development and have also provided consumables and reagents for academic testing elsewhere in the University.

Media contact e: press@qmul.ac.uk t: 07970 096 188

TEDI-London has loaned their 3D printers to the charity HEROES for their SHIELD project to make PPE equipment for the NHS.

Media contact: Helen Merrills, Director of Communications e: helen.merrills@tedi-london.ac.uk t: 07878 871480

University College London is providing PPE – including 3D printing of face visors – and hand sanitisers to UCLH, Royal Free NHS and other NHS trusts as well as numerous specialist offerings elsewhere.

A team of UCL engineers has developed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) breathing aid in partnership with UCLH clinicians and industry partners Mercedes F1. The team has now manufactured 10,000 “UCL-Ventura” devices which have been delivered to the UK Department of Health and are now being used in over 40 hospitals in the UK. To help meet international need, they have released the designs and manufacturing instructions for free to governments, industry manufacturers, academics and health experts across the globe. The designs have been downloaded over 1,800 times in 105 countries.

UCL Engineering has led a consortium of partners brought together by Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub to launch a new platform to provide global access to viable medical and protective equipment designs to aid Covid-19 response around the world.

Teams from UCL Computer Science are also working on tracking Covid-19 using online search – work that has been included in the first PHE health surveillance report on Covid-19. They are also working on resource allocation and flow models.

Researchers are compiling a database of chest x-rays and CTs to construct automated image analysis algorithms and are leading on image database work.

The UCL Biochemistry Department has also provided equipment for the Covid testing centre at Milton Keynes and has repurposed funds to support their Vax Hub partner, Sarah Gilbert’s team at Oxford University.

Derek Hill from the Department of Medical Physics is part of the Independent Regulatory Advisory Group working with the MHRA to define a regulatory approval process for rapidly manufactured ventilators for Covid-19, and to support the teams designing novel ventilators to navigate this process.

The UCL Engineering Engagement team, led by Elpida Makrygianni, is working to support children of keyworkers and other pupils by providing one to one STEM tutors. Engineers are also contributing to STEM Learning, Tomorrow’s Engineers and Engineering UK initiatives.

Media contact: Mark Greaves, UCL Media e: m.greaves@ucl.ac.uk

East of England

The University of East Anglia has supported the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with provision of PPE for key workers including mass producing hand gel and face visors.

Engineers have designed and developed a door opening device to reduce the spread of the virus via touching door handles and have developed and tested components to allow snorkel masks to be used for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and non-Invasive ventilation.

Media contact: Julie Schofield, Head of Business Partnerships e: Julie.Schofield@uea.ac.uk

University of Hertfordshire has manufactured face shields, donated all of their departmental PPE, and supplied their Life & Medical Sciences colleagues with all their appropriate solvents to manufacture hand sanitiser for distribution through PHE Hertfordshire.

They are also in discussion with DSTL Porton Down to identify whether any of their biodetection technology can be rapidly adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Media contact: Media Relations Manager e: d.way@herts.ac.uk t: 01707 281269

East Midlands

University of Derby has been 3D printing visors and providing mathematics teaching resources to support home-schooling children.

Media contact: Rosie Marshalsay, Head of Corporate Communications e: r.marshalsay@derby.ac.uk  t: 01332 591942 / 07920 235586          

University of Nottingham has designed a PPE face shield with CE approval that they are 3D printing at scale for healthcare workers. Engineers have also donated a range of PPE equipment to the Nottingham NHS Trust and have advised on PPE testing and guidelines.

PhD students have provided community support for those isolated.

Media contact: Katie Andrews, Media Relations e: katie.andrews@nottingham.ac.uk

How will the probable collapse in international student numbers as a result of coronavirus affect UK Engineering departments? We’ve crunched the numbers.

We’ve all seen the higher education and national media coverage on the uncertainty around this year’s university admissions following the cancellation of exams and the extended UK-wide lockdown. The worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 has triggered widespread concerns about the impact on international students – the UK is among the sector leaders when it comes to the international student market, attracting tens of thousands of people to its universities every year.

Hopes for growth in this area on the back of Brexit were high, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government announcing last year its aim to grow the number of international students in the country by a third, supported by a new post-study work regime aimed at enhancing the flow of international students. While Gavin Williams has conceded that it’s “realistic” that we should expect international student numbers to fall, a recent QS survey has found that only one in seven overseas graduates and undergraduates due to study in Britain still plans to come. Meanwhile, research from the British Council indicates that half of young people in India and Pakistan who have applied to study overseas say they are “not at all likely” to change their plans. And a London Economics study predicts that around 120,000 international students will not appear, who would otherwise be expected to. Even if they want to come, just getting on flights would be a challenge right now.

Universities UK estimates that the exposure on international fee income could be as much as £6 billion – and that’s before you add the knock-on economic contribution of international students to universities and local communities. With international recruitment such a key factor in many university’s financial strategies, there’s already close scrutiny of those universities for which tuition fee income is a critical component of their overall income and especially those which derive a larger proportion of their university tuition fee income from international students than from home students.

The EPC thought it might be helpful to look at the dilemma of international enrolment through the Engineering lens to help you engage fully with the flurry of activity around the health of this year’s international enrolments within your university.

As we know, Engineering is heavily dependent on overseas enrolments. In 2018/19, nearly one in three (32.4%) enrolments in Engineering and technology were from outside of the UK, nearly double the proportion across all science subjects and far greater than the one in five across all subjects. At postgraduate level, well over half (59.4%) of Engineering and technology enrolments were international last year. It’s about one in four at undergraduate (24.3%) and first degree (25.4%) levels.

As you might expect, it varies by discipline at both undergraduate and postgraduate level from 27.5% and 27.6% in Broadly-based programmes within engineering and technology and General engineering, respectively, to 48.6% international enrolments in Naval architecture. Table 1 shows the distribution of international and UK enrolments at postgraduate and undergraduate levels of study within Engineering and technology in 2018/19.

Understanding the shared international burden on Engineering is helpful, but a more nuanced approach to Engineering within your university is probably needed. Do you know, for example, how dependent your university is on tuition fee income in general and non-UK students in particular? And how does this relate to Engineering?

This information is publicly available through the latest Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) finance data which gives some indication of which universities are most dependent on fee income and – coupled with HESA student data at subject area [i] level – tell us which of our members are most exposed to a loss of international student income. So, we’ve created a basic reference table so EPC members can take a look. Below are some of the key questions it raises.

Is your university dependent on tuition fee income?  

Download the spreadsheet

Is your university dependent on international students?

Where international fees are pivotal to your university strategy (meaning your senior leadership, planning and finance teams are almost certainly all over this), you might already be aware of your department’s role in this. What proportion of your university’s students come through Engineering? Further, is your international student enrolment dependent on Engineering?

Is the Engineering department dependent on international students?

What proportion of your university’s students come through Engineering? Is the university dependent on the Engineering department?

Download the spreadsheet

This is a double-edged sword for Engineering: yes, you’ve got a direct funding gap; no, you’ve still got problems given the inevitable pressure to cut costs and the higher international fees being widely understood to offer a surplus that supports high cost courses or loss making activity elsewhere (notwithstanding the likely loss of research income, especially among universities who work closely with business).

What if – at a glance – your university has a diverse income stream, and/or a good balance between domestic and international enrolments? Then you might need to flip the above questions on their head and ask if the Engineering department is more (or less) dependent on international enrolments than the university as a whole? If enrolments are heavily international in Engineering when, in general, they are not at your university, then this could be a problem. It might be timely to check it’s on the radar and to ensure that you and your Engineering colleagues are part of the discussion and the solution.

Is international student enrolment dependent on Engineering?

If Engineering enrolments are not internationally dependent while those of your colleagues in other subjects are, should you be looking to prop up the other subjects with extra home recruitment?

After all, in times of recession local demand can increase, and what about mopping up those UK students who might otherwise go abroad to study? Or, with the whole sector at risk, is now really the right time to make a dash for bums on seats (even within the 5% cap that the Government has now announced for English universities)?

Acknowledging the heterogeneity of Engineering departments within their wider environments, it would be careless to assume international students are homogenous. So, where do our international students come from?

They come from China – at least in (significant) part. You probably recall last summer’s media headlines of a 32 per cent rise in accepted applications from China, contributing to the new record of students accepted from outside the EU. China is also the major exporter of HE students to Engineering (and has been for many years).

Is the university’s international enrolment dependent on Asian students?

Is the Engineering department’s international enrolment dependent on Asian students?

Download the spreadsheet

And in Europe (remember that – for now – the finances for students from the EU are still equivalent to home students) compare HESA’s Non-UK Domiciled Student FPE dashboard (above) with Google map’s covid-19 map (https://google.com/covid19-map/) and you’ll see a reliance of Engineering on some parts of Europe worst hit by Covid-19. And from a European perspective, this disruption to the international student market comes at the worst possible time in terms of the uncertainty we were already facing, because the sector has no clear idea about how Brexit would have impacted EU student numbers even without Covid-19. 

Is the university’s international enrolment dependent on European students?

Download the dataset

Is the Engineering department’s international enrolment dependent on European students?

Of course, the Google map clearly shows how countries have been affected to different degrees by the virus and by lockdowns and we should expect that normality will resume in some countries sooner than others. Could this lead to international students preferring other HE destinations of choice, not least Canada, Australia and USA, or could we simply defer our international recruitment?

How we cope with recruitment problems now may determine how we deal with what we hope might be potential capacity problems later. 


[i] JACS subject area 9 – Engineering and technology

Attribution: HESA HEIDI+ Non-UK Domiciled Student FPE dashboard, analysis of HESA Finance Record 2018-19 Table 1 and HESA Student Record Full Person Equivalent (FPE) v1. Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited. Neither the Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited nor HESA Services Limited can accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from data or other information obtained from Heidi Plus