Congress 2016

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The Art of Engineering was the theme of the 2016 Engineering Professors’ Council Congress that took place at the University of Hull on 4-6 September 2016.

Coinciding with the Amy Johnson Festival, the Congress explored the creativity and spirit of adventure in engineering, and how engineering is more like the roots of a tree – spreading itself beneath other disciplines and shoring them up – rather than the trunk, standing alone.

The Congress’s proceedings began on Monday 5th September with a welcome from Prof Calie Pistorius, Vice-Chancellor of hosts Hull University, who is himself an electrical engineer.

Tony Graham (Chairman UK NEST), Jane Atkinson (Director, Specialist Services, Cape plc), David Downs (Engineering consultant) and Charlotte Downs (Managing Director, Cinter) presented employer perspectives on Creativity, Design and Engineering Skills for the Future.

Tony’s presentation titled The Naval Enterprise Approach to National Skills and Technology highlighted the central role of passion in the workplace, as a driver of learning, innovation and resilience, and raised attention to the lack of 35-45 years old employees in industry.

Jane explored The Future Industrial Challenge focused on the importance of combining processes, procedures and people to succeed in industry. Both presenters mentioned the need to have effective succession planning when it comes to sharing knowledge and work experience.

Finally, father and daughter David and Charlotte Downs presented jointly, giving a personal and endearing perspective, showing projects where, by bringing together the best of engineering and design has overcome exceptional challenges with great success.

Next we enjoyed views on engineering from academics whose work brings them alongside engineers.

The first was Hillary Carlisle (Dean of Design & Architecture, Norwich University of the Arts and DASSH UK) whose presentation on Creativity and design thinking in the practice-based arts curricula highlighted the need to promote creativity in learners all across the disciplines. She shared evidence of the impact on self-esteem and overall achievement.

Second was Carl Gombrich who is Programme Director of UCL’s pioneering interdisciplinary degree in Arts and Sciences BASc, whose student all study a mix of Arts (Humanities) and Sciences. Carl challenged the audience to rethink what an engineer is.

Three workshops were held in the afternoon: (A) Early Career Workshop, (B) Engineering Ethics and Responsibility in Research & Teaching: An Inter-Disciplinary Approach, led by Kevin Macnish (IDEA Centre, University of Leeds), and (C) Degree Apprenticeships and the EPC Toolkit for Engineering Departments, led by Professor Simon Hodgson (PVC for Research and Innovation, Teesside University).

The day ended with an inspiring Public Lecture Bird in a Bi-Plane by Tracy Curtis-Taylor, the aviator who recreated Amy Johnson’s flight to Australia, which was followed by a reception and the opening of the Amy Johnson Biographical Exhibition, featuring photos telling the story of one of Hull’s most famous figures.

The Congress Dinner was held at The Deep – Hull’s spectacular aquarium – where delegates were treated to a backstage glimpse at the innovative technologies used and the ground-breaking research conducted in The Deep’s flume.

During the dinner, the winners were announced of the 2016 EPC Prize for the best students’ essay, sponsored by the Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow. Taking the titles ‘Back to the future… if I’d known then what I know now’, the essays were invited to detail six things the students would tell their primary school selves about what it means to be an engineer.

The winner was Jon Runyon of Cardiff University (PhD) with runner-up prizes going to George Anderson (MEng) of Southampton University, Andrew Popadynec of Coventry University (BEng), and a High Commendation to Abdil Basit Ghias of Glasgow University (MSc).

Tuesday started with the feedback from the three workshops, followed by a presentation from sculptor and lecturer Claire Barber (University of Huddersfield) on her creative journey to design the Ventilation Dress. Following this, Claire was in conversation with Lara Goodband, Curator of the Engineered exhibition and David Sowden, School of Engineering, University of Hull, discussing the cross-fertilisation of ideas between art and engineering.

Winner of the student prize, Jon Runyon gave a witty and insightful presentation based on his essay ‘Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads:  A Back to the Future Guide to Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers’, inspired by quotations from the classic film franchise.

The Keynote Lecture A Diverse Future for Engineering: and a strategy for responding to it was delivered by Professor Will Stewart, Vice President of the IET, who captivated the audience with a sound background of what an engineer is and does, the importance of cross-discipline engineers – or ‘poly-engineers’ – in modern times, and presented what might be possible in future engineering.

The congress ended with a presentation from the EPC’s recently appointed Executive Director, Johnny Rich on From Brexit to TEF: New Challenges for Engineering & the EPC, which explored the challenges for engineering and higher education in the light of policy changes and, in particular,  the impact of Brexit. You can read EPC’s Briefing paper on Impact of Brexit on Engineering Higher Education here.

The EPC would like to acknowledge the kind support of The IET Academic Partnerships programme, the University of Hull and the Amy Johnson Festival.


All the Congress slide presentations can be downloaded, and  you can listen to recordings from the plenary sessions from the dropdown box below.

You can also have a look on the tweets of the conference #epcccongress16 @EPC1994

Click here to see upcoming EPC events including the Recruitment & Admissions Forum 2016 on 9th November.


Programme, presentations and podcasts

 5th September  Programme
The Naval Enterprise Approach to National Skills and Technology Tony Graham, Chairman UK NEST Presentation Podcast
The Future Industrial Challenge: The Design of Processes, People and Procedures Jane Atkinson, Director, Specialist Services, Cape plc Presentation
Engineering – Inspiring the Next Generation – a personal perspective David Downs (Engineering Consultant (formerly Aircraft Carrier Alliance Engineering Director) and Charlotte Downs (Managing Director, Cinter) Presentation  Podcast
Creativity and design thinking-in the practiced based arts curricula Hilary Carlisle, Dean of Design & Architecture, Norwich Univ of the Arts and DASSH UK (Deans of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities) Presentation Podcast
Interdisciplinary Engineering Programmes at UCL Carl Gombrich, University College London Presentation Podcast
WORKSHOP A:  Early Career Network Co-organised by Kevin Webb, University of Nottingham; Pieter Desnerck, University of Cambridge; Alborz Shokrani, University of Bath; & Inês Direito, EPC
WORKSHOP B: Engineering Ethics and Responsibility in Research & Teaching: An Inter-Disciplinary Approach Kevin Macnish, University of Leeds
WORKSHOP C: Degree Apprenticeships and the EPC Toolkit for Engineering Departments Professor Simon Hodgson, Teesside University  Presentation  Podcast
6th September
Workshop sessions feedback
  • Workshop A: Pieter Desnerck, Cambridge University
  • Workshop B: Kevin Macnish, University of Leeds
  • Workshop C: Georgina Harris, Manchester Metropolitan University
Podcast A
Winner of 2016 Student Essay
“Roads?  Where we’re going…we don’t need roads” –  A “Back to the Future” Guide To Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers
Jon Runyon, PhD Candidate at Cardiff University Podcast
Ventilation Dress II Claire Barber, Sculptor and Lecturer at University of Huddersfield  Presentation  Podcast
From Brexit to TEF: New Challenges for Engineering & the EPC Johnny Rich, Executive Director of the EPC  Presentation Podcast
Keynote Lecture A Diverse Future for Engineering & a strategy for responding to it Prof Will Stewart, Vice President of the IET (the Institution of Engineering and Technology)  Presentation Podcast