UNITECH GA 2014 follow up

A long time ago I mentioned that I would share some photos and video footage that Abdi and I had taken whilst we were at the UNITECH General Assembly (GA) 2014 in Delft, Netherlands. I’m sure some of you may have come across the videos if you’re part of the UNITECH Alumni Association. Anyway, in order to reminisce what happened and to give an idea of what we’re looking forward to in Dublin for the UNITECH GA 2015, take a look at the links below.

UNITECH Trialogue 2014 – Round 1

UNITECH Trialogue 2014 – Round 2

UNITECH Trialogue 2014 – Round 3

UNITECH Trialogue 2014 – Round 4

UNITECH Graduation 2014

In case you did not see my comment on my earlier blog post, here are some photos taken by photographers appointed by Delft University of Technology (aka TU Delft).

I forgot that Abdi and I had taken some photos during the event as well. So here’s a different perspective and a reminder of some of the great ideas by the 2013-14 and 2014-15 students.

Maybe see you in Dublin?

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UNITECH Assessment Centre 2015

The Centre for Engineering and Design Education (CEDE) at Loughborough University hosted the UNITECH Assessment Centre on Thursday 12th February 2015. This was for students looking to participate in the UNITECH programme during 2015/2016. Students had to submit a full application similar to what would be submitted for an internship (placement) year or a graduate job in industry. This included a full study plan at three academic partners, three goals that the individual wishes to achieve through the UNITECH programme, competency questions and an up to date CV. The day was led by David Ward, Secretary General for UNITECH and included six assessors from five Corporate Partners (CPs). These were Caterpillar, Evonik, Hilti, SKF and ZF Services UK.

The day consisted of an introduction to UNITECH and those present. The students were split up into three groups for a group exercise. Followed by a short break, students prepared for their presentations based on a case study provided on the day. This was my first opportunity to ‘invigilate’. These were presented to the assessors and once all had completed this it was time for lunch. This provided an opportunity for the students to network with each other as well as the assessors. After lunch, each student had an individual interview with one assessor. This was followed by an evaluation session by all assessors, David Ward, the Local Coordinator Dr Adam Crawford and the Programme Director Dr Ashraf El-Hamalawi. I shadowed this session to learn more about how decisions are made on candidates, which will be useful later on when I have to participate in the recruitment of the next CEDE Intern. At the end, each student was given individual feedback on areas they did well in and how they can develop in other areas, whether they made it through to the programme or not. Finally, the day was brought to a close with further information on the programme by David and Ashraf followed by a Q&A session.

Overall, the UNITECH recruitment and selection process was a success, with our highest ever number of applications (13) from five departments/Schools and 10 selected to be on the programme (with one reserve).

The five departments/Schools are:

  • Chemical Engineering department
  • Design School
  • School of Civil and Building Engineering
  • School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering
  • Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

You can find some of the photos from the assessment centre here.

UNITECH Mid-Term-Week 2015

Loughborough University hosted the UNITECH Mid-Term-Week 2015 between Sunday 4th – Friday 9th January 2015. This is the second time it has been hosted here since Loughborough joined the UNITECH Programme in 2010, with the first time in 2012 when I was part of the programme as a student. This time the roles were reversed as I was an Academic Partner (AP) and as part of my intern duties organised the event with Kate Everest with support from Dr Adam Crawford and Dr Ashraf El-Hamalawi. We would like to thank Room Bookings (Carmela Valentine and Mike Earl) who supported us in securing the rooms that we needed during the first teaching week back after the Christmas holidays. Catering was provided by the Refresh service from imago which everyone enjoyed and we would like to thank them for their flexibility during the week.

There were 79 students, eight coaches and 20 corporate case advisors who attended overall. This is the second joint module in which the exchange students participate, developing their non-technical core skills and using them in their groups for a case provided by the Corporate Partners (CPs).

The week started off with a Welcome Dinner at The Link Hotel, on Sunday night at 19:00. It was a traditional English dinner with a choice of fish and chips, lasagne or vegetarian lasagne followed by dessert.

On Monday, it was an early start with registration at 08:30, followed by an introduction at 09:00 from Professor Chris Linton, Provost & Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Next, Bob Reed, Senior Programme Manager for the Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC), presented the AP lecture on behalf of Loughborough University. This focused on communication skills and how to work in multifaceted groups, relating to his experience in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Students asked questions at the end and used the skills gained throughout the week in their case assignments. The coaching perspective started at 11:00 with David Ward, main Coach from UNITECH International Society in the Keith Green Building. This was followed by lunch at 12:00 and then at 13:00 the students started working on their case assignments in their allocated groups. At 15:30, we were all invited to the Caterpillar Visitor Centre in Desford, Leicestershire, by one of the UNITECH CPs, Caterpillar. This gave UNITECH participants a chance to learn more about what Caterpillar does and speak to senior engineers and managers as well as graduates. Also, this gave Caterpillar a chance to learn about the talent that UNITECH offers to them as a CP.

From Tuesday to Thursday, the students spent their time gaining some coaching advice and working in their case assignment groups to complete their presentations for Friday. They had an opportunity to discuss some of their ideas that they had worked on since the end of November with their Corporate Case Advisors (CCAs) on Wednesday afternoon.

All groups presented their ideas to all participants on Friday. BPA – best presentation award was awarded to the ZF group and there were several runner ups receiving recognition due to their ideas and the impact they made. The students had a chance to reflect on their work throughout the week at the end of the day with the UNITECH coaches.

In the evening, the Networking Dinner took place at Burleigh Court. This provided the students with an opportunity to network with the CCAs who are CPs as they aim to secure an internship that is a mandatory part of the UNITECH programme. Finally, one of the UNITECH Alumni Association Local Chapter Coordinator (UAA LCC) for the UK, Samuel Nunn, hosted a party at Vodka Revolutions in Loughborough.

Overall, the event was a success with lots of positive feedback from the students about the Caterpillar Visit and the running of the week. Photos from the week can be found here and will shortly be presented in the UAA Digest to the rest of the UNITECH network. More information about the week, including the schedule can be found on the CEDE website (correct as of Monday 19th January 2015).

What do bicycles, TU Delft and UNITECH have in common?

They were all based in Delft, Netherlands for the last week of August this year for the 14th General Assembly (GA). For those of you who read my previous blog post, you will be saying, why is this so late? Well, you forget how involved you become whilst you are attending a UNITECH GA. There are so many activities taking place and opportunities for networking with alumni, lecturers, colleagues and corporate partners that time flies by!

On Wednesday 27th August 2014, I accompanied Dr Adam Crawford and Dr Ashraf El-Hamalawi as an academic partner (AP) for the UNITECH AP Meeting. In this meeting, we discussed corporate partner acquisition; Francesca produced a Local Office Coordinator (LOC) handbook in conjunction with the UNITECH office; improvements to the database to validate students who are graduating; marketing, application, assessment and selection strategy for 2015/2016 cohort and ideas & initiatives set up by various APs.

In the evening, the Experience Exchange took place where the 2013/2014 students (as part of their End of Year week) prepared a poster about their respective host universities on what to do and not to do whilst doing their academic exchange. The target audience were the 2014/2015 students who had just started the program, i.e. Start of Year week. It’s always interesting for me to see what is mentioned about Loughborough University and Chalmers University of Technology, as they are my home and host universities respectively. Reminiscing old times…

The next day started off with the UNITECH AP/CP Meeting (CP = Corporate Partner). Some of the discussion points included joining the coaching team; themes for the mid-term week (MTW) cases; involving others within the respective CPs to be involved with the MTW so they learn from UNITECH and vice versa and spread the word within their teams and new UNITECH platform for CPs with regards to internship opportunities for UNITECH students/graduates. One of the last agenda items were results of the Fraunhofer survey which aimed to find out the kind of corporate culture high potentials in engineering would like to work in and which general frameworks and corporate cultures employers should offer in order to attract and retain them. The results are UNITECH specific and will hopefully be published in an international journal in the near future.

Afterwards, there was the Idea Fair where the 2014/2015 students presented ideas on solving challenges that can affect the way we go about our daily lives in the future. It’s great to see fresh talent on display for the alumni, academic partners and corporate partners to see. After lunch, there was the Stakeholders Fair where the APs exhibited their current research areas and the CPs advertised themselves and their internships/graduate programs.

For the first time this year, the UNITECH Trialogue was part of the GA. This was an initiative and a pilot run by TU Delft. They wanted to take a bottom-up approach to see what our own alumni could come up with in order to propel the network into the next phase of existence. What did we need to do? Prepare a pitch on either Talent Development or Stakeholder Interaction and submit this to the panel (Central International Office at TU Delft). They decided on four pitches that were unique and well-related to either of the topics mentioned. My idea on Emotional Engagement was chosen as one of the two pitches on Stakeholder Interaction. Personally, it was a great experience to communicate my ideas to the rest of the network on the big stage and gain pitching experience in the process. I’ve always been passionate about UNITECH ever since I joined the programme back in 2011. I bet you’re itching to know more. Well, keep your eyes peeled for a video of the event!

The morning of Friday 29th August 2014 starts off with the UNITECH General Assembly (GA) where the outgoing cohort and the incoming cohort of students need to be present along with the APs and CPs. This is in effect the same style as an Annual General Meeting (AGM), which gives students experience of what happens in large corporations. People find these type of meetings boring, however they are essential as key decisions are made. Once you grasp the core aspects of an AGM and engage in the process, it’s quite interesting.

Following on from the GA, the UAA met the LOCs, discussing how they can work together. In parallel, career interviews were taking place between students/alumni and CPs for internships/graduate positions. After lunch, the UAA General Assembly took place. I ran for the Financial Officer position however the other candidate was more qualified and worked within finance so was more suited to the job. We voted on having one free year of membership to the UAA as the finances allowed this in the hope that more alumni would get involved. As they say, the more you put in, the more you get out of it.

To wrap it all up, we went to the Old Church in Delft for the Graduation Ceremony and Celebration Dinner. Lots of photos were taken and potentially a video will be uploaded once it has been processed and edited. Graduating twice within the space of a month is intense! Just need to find space on the shelf for both certificates…

‘Summery’ August Update

Four weeks have gone by since my last post with ‘mixed weather conditions’. I have been supporting various aspects of the mid-term week (MTW) planning for UNITECH, which will take place in Loughborough from Sunday 4th – Saturday 10th January 2015. Room bookings can be quite difficult to do, especially during term time as academics try to find the most suitable venue for their lectures within various constraints. However, we are making progress and hope that it will be sorted well in advance. As a student, you are not aware how much time and resources it takes to manage such a large campus with an ever increasing student population. I hope this gives you some insight and if you want to know more, feel free to ask via the comments section.

Another aspect for the UNITECH MTW is transport across campus. Numerous people have experienced issues with using the Kinchbus facilities, however this should now be sorted. Check out this link on the Kinchbus website which explains which bus you can use when and what the prerequisites are. If you experience any issues, contact Elliott Brown, Travel Assistant based in the Sustainability team. Also for UNITECH, I have come up with some suggestions and initiatives on how to deliver the Loughborough student experience to the participants during the MTW. Keep your eyes peeled!

As part of my role, I am in charge of publicity for our learning spaces, located on the 1st floor of the Keith Green Building. Did you know that you can book our rooms for more than two hours in a single booking? (Subject to availability). This applies to both staff and students from the four engineering schools and the Design School. As a result of the feedback given by students through our annual survey, we now have MATLAB and AutoCAD installed in all five bookable rooms. Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve our learning spaces? Email H.Essajee@lboro.ac.uk, tweet @lboro_cede, or just leave a comment.

In the next few weeks, I will finalise the list of documentaries that will be screened as part of the EDEN FLIX initiative for 2014/2015. Feel free to use the above contact details if you have any suggestions. Furthermore, I am supporting our summer intern, Bethany Cox, who is researching what the student view of Co-Tutor may look like. This is a system that staff at Loughborough currently use to keep records of the meetings that they have with students in any capacity (e.g. personal tutor, project tutor, industrial supervisor and research supervisor). If you would like to contribute your thoughts about the current tools that are available to you as a student, then please complete this survey

Stay tuned for the next update about UNITECH direct from Delft, Netherlands!

Graduate internship at CEDE

I’m Huzaifa Essajee and for the next year I’ll be blogging about my work at The Centre for Engineering and Design Education (CEDE) at Loughborough University. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve just completed my degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering MEng with a first class honours from Loughborough. This included a year out in industry at Jaguar Land Rover between my second and third year and an exchange year abroad for my third year as part of the UNITECH programme. This included an academic year at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden and a summer placement at Vorwerk Elektrowerke GmbH & Co. KG, Wuppertal, Germany. After completing my UNITECH year, I founded the Local UNITECH Chapter (LUC) in the UK in 2012 on behalf of the UNITECH Alumni Association (UAA) with David Jenner who studies Chemical Engineering with Management.

I am the second intern here at CEDE, continuing on some of the work that Raimat did during her internship and also taking on new projects and tasks. I have just started my fourth week and so far am enjoying my time here. The key aspect of this role is student-facing, informing and increasing usage of the rooms in CEDE (bookable here) and supporting CONNECT and UNITECH. I will also engage students in the projects that we do for the 5 Schools (4 Engineering Schools and the Design School) to ensure that the outcome is in their best interests and that they are aware of the improvements being made to their course.

As part of the induction programme and through this internship, I will get the opportunity to learn more about what the university does ‘in the background’ to deliver the ‘student experience’. So far, I’ve had a one-to-one session with each staff member to ‘break the ice’ and learn about what they do. When I need help in the future, I’ll know who to turn to. I also had the chance to join in on the team away day which was split into two. The morning was based in Woodhouse Eaves, finding answers to the various clues and enjoying the trail in the process. We then spent the afternoon in Beaumanor Hall, brainstorming and discussing our ideas/solutions for a potential project.

What am I doing? I’ve just taken over the EDEN FLIX initiative from Jonathan Attenborough and am looking for documentaries to screen in the upcoming academic year 2014/2015. Feel free to email your suggestions to H.Essajee@lboro.ac.uk or tweet @lboro_cede. I will be attending the UNITECH & UAA General Assembly in Delft, Netherlands next month. Furthermore, I am supporting the organisation and logistics for the UNITECH Mid-Term Week taking place here in early January 2015. I look forward to meeting the new cohort of students and the corporate partners.

The benefits of doing an internship here at Loughborough University is that you are encouraged to develop yourself to further your career in an organisation that does teaching for a living. I’m looking forward to doing various courses, working on projects with colleagues and going outside my comfort zone to learn something new.