Engineering summer school - Transforming lives

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The TEDI-London Summer School students are now more than halfway through their three-week programme. Next Wednesday, they will present their projects at a showcase event for industry and PLuS Alliance partners and influencers.  The projects include a rehabilitation robot for stroke patients; a water filtration fountain to produce drinkable water from Canada Water lake; and a Citizen Hub with informative apps for students and the community around the campus. Although most of the students at the Summer School are studying engineering, there are also students studying Business and Management, Dentistry and Philosophy taking part.  The TEDI-London vision is to encourage innovative thinking and real-world application, empowering a new type of engineering graduate for the 21st Century. The diversity of skills within the TEDI-London summer school are indicative of the types of different perspectives and approaches TEDI-London will encourage through its programmes.

Bisi Olulode, Communications Officer, for the PLuS Alliance talked to several of the students about their Summer School experience so far. 

Nienke Bos is a 2nd year philosophy student at King’s, working on the Citizen Hub with four other team members. Nienke commented, “I wanted to test out my transferrable skills.  I’m used to reading books and theorising. This has been a refreshing change, doing something with a practical objective.  Two of the projects seemed very engineering focussed whereas the citizen hub seemed more about bridging a gap between the community and students.  In the first week I felt that I contributed as much as the other students and didn’t feel any different.  I think my degree has helped our group by looking at the ethical reasons for the citizen hub, analysing questions such as what do we need for the new campus? what does the community want? I’ve been looking at how best to present our ideas at the industry showcase.”

Bisi asked Nienke if even after this short period of time has it made her look at her career prospects from a different angle. She responded “Yes it has. The Summer School has shown me that I could consider loads of different industries and areas which I didn’t think about before.  I don’t feel that with a Philosophy degree the only avenues open to me are law, management, religious studies or teaching.  I can’t do the engineering element of a project, but I could be part of the project management team and skills such as 3D design can be learnt.”

Helen Lu and Frank Foote are both electrical engineering online students from Arizona State University, working on the water fountain.  Having been working individually for the last four months on a similar project, they faced a different challenge working directly with seven other students.  Helen see this as a benefit, “Having people studying different majors and from different backgrounds means that there are people in the group who might see things that I don’t see.” On the water fountain project, she commented, “Recycled plastic bottles are one of the base materials for the project.  Making the water fountain area a social space has wider community benefits, the benches we are designing as part of the solution can make it a meeting place. I’m pleased to be a part of a project that looks at conservation and sustainability and the wider implications of filtering water so that it does not go to waste.”

Having worked in the construction industry for some years, Bisi asked Frank about his views on TEDI-London

“Engineering has changed rapidly with technology. Some degree programmes are catching up with change, whereas I feel TEDI-London will stay ahead of this change." On working in teams he added, “You understand more from the different disciplines and being part of a team and you aren’t just focussed on the one aspect that has been assigned to you. You can take that knowledge to whichever role you apply for that has a general feel of working with teams on design.”

Mariam El Sheikha as a Biomedical Engineering student at ASU has been working on the rehabilitation robot.  She relishes the creative freedom of the Summer School, “Generally at internships you are told what to do every day and you are not as free to have your own creative input.  TEDI-London is the opposite.  We know that there is a deadline and we are all working together to meet it.  Our project could have a major impact on the well-being of so many stroke patients, compensating for the 300 repetitions needed daily for a full recovery, which periodic physiotherapy cannot provide.”

The Industry Showcase will be taking place on 31st July 2019.  For more information contact Bisi Olulode, Communications Officer at Olabisi.olulode@plusalliance.org