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‘How to Change the World’ programme to equip South African engineers

uclqjle21 July 2017

Earlier in the year, UCL’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) trained faculty from three South African universities to run a pilot version of UCL’s How to Change the World (HtCtW) programme for undergraduate engineers.

HtCtW prepares engineering and management science students for today’s global challenges by emphasising creative thinking, collaboration and the societal impact of their work.

With funding from the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa, STEaPP provided training to faculty from the Central University of Technology (CUT), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

Viv Crone, acting director of the Academic Development Unit of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) at Wits, was one of the academics who took part.

He said: “As an observer I found the experience extremely enjoyable, especially interacting with the student groups, UCL staff and outside industry and academic experts who showed real interest, innovation and passion in addressing and solving the real-world problems.”

HtCtW forms part of UCL Engineering’s Integrated Engineering Programme, which was developed as a response to the changing education needs of future engineering.

The programme provides a blend of scenarios and classroom learning, which take place alongside specialist training and give students from across the faculty the chance to come together to engage in interdisciplinary research and design projects.

“The working in multi-disciplinary groups is particularly valuable as it mimics the requirements and skills necessary for engineers’ future success,” added Viv.

“The emphasis is not only seeking pure technical solutions, but including facets such as environment, finance, sociology, politics and industry in the potential solution.”

Wits FEBE is currently reviewing its engineering curriculum and initial discussions have been held to introduce a similar course into their engineering programme.

STEaPP will provide further curricular support and materials before a UCL team flies out to Wits, CUT and TUT later in the year to run pilot versions of HtCtW with students over three days.

UCL in India: strengthening partnerships

Sophie Vinter15 April 2016

Group photo at Mumbai Alumni ReceptionAcademics from across UCL joined Vice-Provost (International) Dame Nicola Brewer on a major recent scoping visit to India.

Representatives from the fields of engineering, population health sciences, management, architecture and education met with leading public and private higher education institutions, top private schools, charitable foundations and UK and Indian government bodies during the visit.

At a time of strengthening ties between the UK and India, the group visited Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi between 29 March and 12 April.

Alumni receptions in the latter two cities attracted over 50 alumni at each – twice the number than at previous events.

Interdisciplinary approach

The aim of the visit was to review UCL’s current engagement with India and to investigate new opportunities in line with the Global Engagement Strategy (GES).

Lesley Hayman, Head of Global Partnerships, said: “The response to UCL’s visit was clear – there was considerable enthusiasm for working with UCL in all the sectors represented and more, both from our existing partners and those that we met for the first time. Several of the charitable foundations we visited expressed an interest in partnering with us for joint research and capacity building.

“Many of our discussions centred on how an interdisciplinary approach combining education, engineering for development and child health could tackle long-standing community problems effectively.”

Long-term partnerships

Among organisations visited during the trip was the Mumbai-based Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA), with whom Professor David Osrin from UCL’s Institute of Global Health has been working in the Dharavi slums for over a decade.Made from tobacco packets, the Dharavi Art Biennale Sculpture "Hollow Man" shows how smoking hollows out the inside of a person

Through their long-term partnership, they are successfully helping to improve children’s health and reduce gender-based violence.

Lesley added: “There were many lessons to be learnt from the project, not least that it takes years to build up trust and to effect change at the community level.

“Although the work with SNEHA predates the GES, it is a living example of how co-creating wise solutions to global problems can work in action.”

The delegation left India with a strong list of contacts and ideas from which they hope to build future collaborations.