Engineering Professors’ Council Annual Congress 2016

The Engineering Professors Council Annual Congress 2016 was held at the University of Hull from the 4th of September - 6th September 2016.

This year our theme was The Art of Engineering. 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.

All the Congress slide presentations can be downloaded, and you can listen to recordings from the plenary sessions by navigating to the ”Event recordings / presentations” tab.

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.

Please see below the detailed schedule for this event.

Sunday 4th September

Monday 5th September

Session 1: Creativity, Design and Engineering Skills for the Future - An Employer Perspective

Session 2: Creativity, Design and Engineering Skills for the Future - Views from Academia

Session 3: Workshops - EPC plans for the future

Tuesday 6th September

Session 4: Feedback from workshops, student prize & art exhibition

Session 5: Engineering Research, Innovation & Strategy

Professor Sarah Spurgeon OBE FREng is Professor of Control Engineering and Head of Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at UCL, President of the Engineering Professors’ Council and immediate Past President of the Institute of Measurement and Control in the UK. Her research interests are in the area of systems modelling and analysis, robust control and estimation in which areas she has published over 270 refereed research papers. She was awarded the Honeywell International Medal for ‘distinguished contribution as a control and measurement technologist to developing the theory of control’ in 2010 and an IEEE Millenium Medal in 2000. She is currently a member of the Council of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and a member of the General Assembly of the European Control Association. Within the UK, she is a board member of EngineeringUK and is a Non-executive Member of the Dstl board. In this later role she is Chair of the Dstl External Review College. She has been appointed as a sub-panel member for UOA 12 Engineering for REF 2021, in which capacity she serves as an Interdisciplinary Adviser.

As well as his role with the EPC, Johnny Rich is well known across the higher education sector as a commentator on policy issues, as the Chief Executive of Push, a student advice and outreach organisation Push, as a consultant working in education and careers, and as an author. Before joining the EPC, Johnny has already worked on many issues of concern to our members. Over the past 25 years, he led Push’s research – such as on drop-out rates and student debt – which has had direct impacts on policy. Johnny’s thought leadership, such as his papers for a graduate levy and a national access fund (2018) and on employability (2015) for the Higher Education Policy Institute, have been influential throughout the sector. Policy issues are also a significant part of his consultancy work, along with communications. His clients have included the European Commission, HEFCE, U-Multirank, as well as many universities, recruiters and charities. He’s a regular speaker at conferences, awards and in schools. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Anglia and his novel A Human Script was published in 2013.

Prof Stephanie Haywood CEng, FIET, FIoP is Emeritus Professor of Optoelectronic Engineering at the University of Hull and Honorary Treasurer of EPC. From 2010-2015, she was Director of the Centre for Adaptive Science and Sustainability (CASS), an industry-focussed research centre, with a broad remit, working on renewable energy and low carbon projects including offshore wind and energy from waste. In this role, she worked with the Spencer Group through a Royal Academy of Engineering secondment, to develop links between industry and academia in both research and teaching.

Prior to the role with CASS, Stephanie was Head of Engineering and Deputy Dean for Research in the Faculty of Science & Engineering at Hull and served on the board of HETA (Humberside Engineering Training Association), which trains apprentices for major companies. Stephanie’s own research expertise is in the physics and design of optical detectors, modulators and solar cells particularly in the mid IR.

She has experience of working in a broad range of academic institutions in the UK and Europe (including UCL, University of Oxford, Middlesex University, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and IMEC, Belgium). She has also worked in industry for Lucas Advanced Engineering (now TRW). Stephanie was a member of the REF2014 Sub Panel UoA 15 for General Engineering. A former Chair of PHEE for several years, she was EPC President from 2015-2017.

Mike is a Professorial Teaching Fellow at TEDI-London and has a strong track record in project-based learning and has published widely in innovations in engineering education. His technical subject area is in metallurgy and materials science, having worked in the steel industry before entering academia. In a previous role he was the Assistant Dean for Academic Development for the faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering & Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University of which he is now an Emeritus Professor.

Mike has been on Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) teams for Subject Review, Higher Education Review, Quality Review Visits and Quality and Standards Review for a wide range of Universities, further education colleges and alternative providers. He is a Governor at Northern College for Adult Education, Barnsley, and chairs its Curiculum and Quality Committee.

Mike is a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and is also an active member and on the Board of the UK Engineering Professors’ Council, being also a member of its Recruitment and Admissions sub-committee. Mike worked nationally as an Associate Director of the Materials Subject Centre from 2003 to 2012 at the University of Liverpool. Mike is also a National Teaching Fellow and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Cardiff University


Cape plc

Formerly Aircraft Carrier Alliance Engineering Director


Norwich University of the Arts / DASSH UK (Deans of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities)

University College London

University of Nottingham

University of Cambridge

University of Bath

Engineering Professors' Council

University of Leeds

Teesside University

Manchester Metropolitan University

University of Huddersfield

The IET (the Institution of Engineering and Technology)

Monday 5th September

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 6th September

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.

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The Engineering Professors’ Council is delighted to announce the winning entries in the 2016 20th Anniversary Awards.

This year we offered two awards, the Individual Award and the Team Award. For the individual award, students were asked to submit essays on the topic: Back to the future…if I knew then what I know now. Six things I’d tell my primary school self about what it means to be an engineer…

For the team award students were asked to work in teams to write an essay accompanied by illustrative 90 second video on the topic: Back to the future: hoverboards and humanoids: today’s engineers’ predictions for tomorrow’s technology.

The prizes were presented at the EPC Congress 2016 dinner on Monday 5th September 2016. The level of talent this year was incredible. Please do take a look at the essays from our winners and finalists here.

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