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UPDATED - In Conversation With... School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Automotive Engineering

Video and Transcript attached. A look at some of the highlights from yesterday's 'In Conversation With...' event with representatives from the School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Automotive Engineering.

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Our ‘In Conversation With…’ events kicked off yesterday with the School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Automotive Engineering taking part and answering your questions. The panel consisted of Paul Greening, Associate Dean for Student Experience in EEC, Wendy Garner, Head of School and Nerea Etura Luque, the Curriculum Lead. Questions were posed to the Panel by Dina Brinduse, Welfare Rep, Eghoghomengbale Okojie, Education Rep and Gabriela Sulikowska, the CUSU Vice President of Activities. The event was chaired by Maryam Ali from CUSU. Below, we’ve picked out some of the highlights from the event.

What changes has the school made to adapt to Blended Learning?

When we went online, we had a lot of training for staff to be able to deliver courses online in the best way. One of the first things we did was amend the timetables, to deliver one module per day. This was so that students would remain with the same academic team and peers for the entire day. We think that this worked well. We liked this pattern and worked hard to try to deliver engaging activities and teaching in all modules. In blended learning, we have tried to adopt the same pattern. We’ve thrown the timetable away; students should be doing one module per day, with an online day. This seems to be going well. We carried out training on how to deliver blended learning this summer.

We are catering for an on-campus audience and an online audience – trying to deliver for both without splitting these groups. We try to create engaging content for students on campus and online. We did trial some sessions – staff and student feedback for some was that one group felt they were getting a better deal than the other. We hope that we have the happy medium. The legacy of the whole COVID situation is that we can offer a rich set of resources to all students. We have adopted a lot more recordings; using Microsoft Teams and Zoom has made sessions easier to deliver. The core of what we do is activity led learning; we try to do this as much we can, and we hope this remains.

The main change has been recording sessions. We try to record everything as backup for students. When technology has failed, we have provided additional sessions for students. A lot of activities that we do are now able to be completed online and are designed to allow students to discuss issues together in groups.

We have tried during the pandemic to keep the hands-on approach. We have tried to recreate the hands-on construction and innovation that would ordinarily be delivered in person.

How does the placement year work? When and how should a student start looking for a placement?

For Undergraduate students, the time to apply is now! A lot of business is done before Christmas. The strategy in the faculty is to provide support to all students to find a placement and put them in a position to secure them. COVID has dented numbers of students on placement. The big change is that placements are now organised by Talent Team and has been since 2020. The service is the same but they cover careers and employability. If you haven’t done so, log onto the TalentConnect portal and make an appointment with the Talent Team. They can review CV’s, help you to find opportunities. Normally there are more opportunities than students who apply.

The Talent Team have a great level of facilities and resource to support and help students. Postgraduate placements are relatively new for us. It is a one year placement taken in the third, fourth and fifth semesters of a two year course. It is the same process as Undergraduate’s with Talent Team. The difference is that Postgraduate placements come with a fee – Undergraduate doesn’t. Our advice is to do a placement – it’s an unconditional positive.

How do students get dissertation supervisors assigned and how often can they meet them for support, review and feedback?

This will depend on the course. Mechanical, Automotive, Motorsport, Aerospace and Aviation Management undergraduate students will be given a range of project topics to choose from and will work with supervisors to put something together. We do try to match supervisors to projects – as of today, everyone should have a supervisor.

For Mechanical, Automotive and Motorsport there is a module (323MAE – Professional Engineering Practice and Project Management) to help to guide students in the more practical and professional skills that will be required in further employment, but also project assistance from an academic.

For Aerospace, Aviation Management and Engineering Business Management, there is a pre-project module that you will carry out in semester one to assist for your final project in semester two. In the final stages you should be meeting every two weeks, but whilst you are in the pre project stage, it is more lecture based. You will likely introduce yourself and your ideas in the pre-project stage. We can do the beginning stages of the Dissertation as a whole, but when you move onto the more detailed parts individual meetings will be required.

For more information on the ‘In Conversation With…’ events, there is a full schedule available here. If you missed this event, a full transcript of this is available here. If you would like to watch the event back, please find the video attached below.

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