School of Engineering - News

West of England Metals and Materials Association (WEMMA - a local group of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) regional heat of the Young Persons Lecture Competition

Last night (Wednesday 13 February 2008), the West of England Metals and Materials Association (WEMMA - a local group of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) held one of the regional heats of the Young Persons Lecture Competition. The aim of the event is to provide an atmosphere of friendly competition for young materials, minerals, mining, packaging and clay technology scientists and engineers so that their presentation skills will improve whilst addressing an informed audience. The Competition (supported by the Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers) selects seven candidates, one from each region, to compete in the National Final. The completion has one class open to students and graduates (this time: age 28 or under on 1st June 2008) who work in industry or academia.

The South West regional heat was held at the University of the West of England with four competitors selected on the basis of abstracts submitted. Each competitor was required to make a presentation of fifteen minutes and then take five minutes of questions (in practice, the questions lasted almost fifteen minutes in each case). The competition was won by Diane Edwards (a research degree candidate at the University of Bristol) who spoke on the investigation of lime mortar/tessarae adhesion in mediaeval mosaics. At the outset of the heat, it was announced that there would be one winner and three runners-up. At the close of the competition, the judges admitted that their extended discussion of the presentations was caused by the very few marks difference in their judgements of the talks by Diane and by Howard Tucker - BEng (honours) Mechanical Engineering with Composites - who talked about Cellulose fibres: the natural progression of composite reinforcements. Howard was nominated as taking second place and will receive a cheque for £50. The two runners-up were Ben Jones (MEng - UWE - materials selection for a fuel efficient aircraft fuselage design) and Philip Cheung (n/k - UWE - Tyre materials and performance in motorsport).

Accreditation of our BEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering, Marine Technology and Mechanical Engineering with Composites courses

The School was visited by a panel of representatives from IMechE, RINA, IMarEST and IoM3 which was co-ordinated by the Engineering Accreditation Board on 16th and 17th January 2007. Preliminary feedback contained several positive points and we expect to receive the formal letters comfirming the continuation of our accreditation status for the above courses later in the year.

The Following Research Degree Completions Have Recently Been Announced:

Hannalie Lombard (PhD) Optimised fatigue and fracture performance of friction stir welded aluminium plate: study of the inter-relationship between process parameters, TMAZ, microstructure, defect population and performance Supervisors: Neil James, David Plane and Danie Hattingh

Chengfei Sui (PhD) Behaviour of masonry panels Supervisors: Yaqub Rafiq, Guido Bugmann (SCEE) and Dave Easterbrook

"Michelle" Tao Xu (PhD) An intelligent navigation system for an unmanned surface vehicle Supervisors: Robert Sutton, Ming Dai, Sanjay Sharma and Andy Stamp

Positive Comments from our BEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering, Marine Technology and Mechanical Engineering with Composites External Examiner, Professor J G Hawley, University of Bath, Summer 2006

Where appropriate, a description or bullet point list of any particular strengths or distinctive or innovative features in relation to standards and assessment processes, that would be worth drawing to the attention of external audiences.

Group Design Project Work
The group design project work is a distinctive feature of the degree programme. Project based learning in the form of process design is complimented by the use and application of Computer Aided Engineering skills. The projects are application focused and require the students to be innovative in approach and to use their analysis skills to address a real life engineering situation. In many instances the project is extended into a build and test phase. The structure of this module and the assessment procedures are such that students have the opportunity to demonstrate their maximum potential.

Individual Project Work
The students are required to undertake an individual project which is closely monitored by a member of staff as well as a visit from the external examiner. Subsequently the quality control procedures adopted are highly robust and any weaknesses in the students approach can be identified and rectified early on.

Assessment Processes
The student assessment processes that are in place are very fair, timely and also very robust. Subsequently the students can have a high degree of confidence that their progress is being continually monitored.

RoV - Final Year BEng Group Design Assignment, 2006.

May 2006 saw the completion of this years remote operated underwater vehicle (RoV):

This years model was built with the best standard of finish seen to date:

Testing was very successful.


The School of Engineering has an excellent reputation for teaching and learning. Diverse and professionally relevant research underpins studentsí experiences here. To support studentsí studies, five £1,000 scholarships are now available for first year entrants to the Mechanical Engineering, Marine Technology and Environmental Building Courses who demonstrate excellence in entry qualifications:

Diving Option to be Available to Students on Marine Related Courses

Diving Option for Marine Related Courses from September 2006 - HSE Professional Scuba (this is the first step on a 3 rung ladder - the next 2 are surface supply and mixed gas)

SoE is planning to make available a diving option to students on Marine related courses, BEng(Hons) Marine Technology, BSc(Hons) Marine and Composites Technology and Marine Sports Technology (as is currently available to Civil Engineering students)
You should note there are additional cost associated with this.

Further information can be found here

School of Engineering Students Visit USA for Design Collaboration

Following the introduction of our collaborative working in Design with Auburn University, Alabama, two years ago, this scheme has been further developed.
Two groups containing final year students from Plymouth and Auburn started work in November on design assignments. Communication has been by e mail with weekly project meetings held over a video conference link.
As part of this scheme the Faculty of Technology funds a visit by the students to the US and 7 students will be visiting Auburn for 4 days at the end of February.

The students from Auburn visited Plymouth at the end of January.

The picture below shows the 6 Plymouth students with 2 of the Auburn students in front of the 'Solar House' in 2005 that Auburn built for a competition. (Note: as it says in the song - 'Sweet Home Alabama' - 'the sky is always blue' - or so it seems to us visitors from England!).

The Auburn students are scheduled to visit Plymouth late March.

This activity has been developed as it gives students an excellent introduction to the skills required for working in a multinational team which is increasingly how modern engineering and manufacturing is operating.

David Grieve, 14th February 2008.