UWE Design Show 2009

Issue date: 04 June 2009

BIT show Future This! 2009 Bristol Institute of Technology Degree Show

University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, N-block

Thursday 11 June 18.00

Quieter aircraft, an aid to help partially sighted people enjoy the internet and a fun tool for young readers are amongst the many innovative ideas that will be showcased at Future This! 2009.

Future This! is the Degree Show of final year students from the Bristol Institute of Technology at the University of the West of England that launches on Thursday 11 June at 6pm.

Tod Burton, Deputy Head of UWE's Bristol Institute of Technology (BIT), said, This year's show is an excellent demonstration of the emerging talent from students on our technology programmes with some brilliant ideas that all have the potential to make important contributions to our lives in arenas as diverse as health, education and aircraft design to name a few. Our graduates are developing the technology of tomorrow but just as important for us here at BIT is the ability to effectively communicate this technical understanding. Our Degree Show is at the heart of this.”

Projects produced by this year's graduates will be on display from the following areas of study Aerospace Engineering, Computer Systems Engineering, Computer Science, Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics Mechanical and Motorsport Engineering, Multimedia Technology, Music Technology and Soundscapes Product Design, Robotics and Software Engineering
Student profiles

Darrell Meason, Creative Product Design

Darrell Meason has designed a tool that will help blind and partially sighted people get more out of technology. His design is called LOCU and it provides a roaming connection to the internet that helps people access up to date news feeds, e-mail and an updateable calendar.

Darrell said, “To help inform my design I have been attending a special technology training class designed for partially sighted people run by the Gloucestershire Association for the Blind in Cheltenham to research the specific problems encountered with technology. Web pages are almost always over designed now and if you zoom into a small area in order to read text it can be difficult to get to grips with an entire story.

“Locu helps by breaking the design down into high contrast and simplified pages that also work with voice recognition software. I was talking to a woman in one of the classes who said that her husband often had to pick out stories that he thought she might find interesting and then zoom into that area of a web page. With Locu it is possible for partially sighted people to make their own decision about what they want to read.”

Unusually, Darrell shifted onto the Creative Product Design course after spending two years on the Aerospace Engineering degree at UWE. He said, “I became interested in the varied nature of the product design work and it was easy to integrate work already learned on the Aerospace Engineering Degree. One of the great things about studying at UWE is the openness and accessibility of courses and the fact that it was possible to make this change.” Darrell will take Locu to New Designers in London once his finals are over with the hope that he can find an industrial partner.

Chris Shields
Computing for Real Time Systems

Chris Shields from the Computing for Real Time Systems (CRTS) course has come up with a fun and interactive way of helping young children learn how to read using the Synthetic Phonics approach to learning. Working with Richard Barker, a Chartered Educational Psychologist from Bath and North East Somerset Council, he has come up with a device called SPLAT (Synthetic Phonics Literacy Activity Tutor).

Chris explains, “SPLAT is a tool designed to help young children who initially may have problems learning to read by enabling them to practise blending phonemes. It is not meant to replace teaching, but it helps to reinforce what the children have learnt; it allows them to practise independently and also provides feedback to the teacher of areas where the child may need to improve.”

“SPLAT consists of two software components: a client for the child and a server for the teacher.”

“On the client, the phonemes of the word are sounded and the child blends the sounds in their head before selecting the corresponding image on the display. The child continues blending sounds and selecting the matching picture until all the pictures on the display have disappeared. Feedback is given to the child at the end in the form of a number of stars. The idea of the game is to allow children to practice this fundamental part of learning to read frequently and on their own until it is mastered.”

“Using the server software component, teachers can check the words selected by the children and monitor their process. Individual sounds (phonemes) which are causing problems can then be identified and addressed by skilled teaching and further independent practice.”

Chris has also benefitted from the innovative professional mentoring scheme set up earlier this year by CRTS programme leader Dr Rob Williams. Chris said, "My mentor, Ross Scott has also been really helpful with guiding me during the implementation stage of this project".

Timothy Mamo
Engineering Aerospace Systems

Timothy Mamo came to UWE from Malta. He was keen to learn about Aerospace Systems in the UK and chose UWE because of the good partnerships the university has with the local industry. He said, “I was really impressed with the resources at UWE, particularly the fantastic flight simulator and with the expertise of staff who all have good industry experience.

“My final year project is a design to help reduce aircraft noise generated by the undercarriage during take off and landing. There has been a lot of research into the noise made by engines so I thought that it would be interesting to try to work on a different part of aircraft to see if there might be a design solution to further noise reduction.

“I found that by altering the design of the aircraft floor before the cavity for the under carriage (where the aircraft wheels are stored during flight) into a curved wave pattern that this reduced noise by about 10%. Currently the undercarriage is box shaped but by modifying the shape this significant reduction in noise is achieved. This is important as aircraft are being subjected to increasing legislation and a raised awareness by the general public. The idea is also possible to achieve in a way that is cost effective”

Timothy will spend the summer following graduation at the Italian Aerospace Research Centre and will then return to the UK to take an MSc at the University of Bristol.


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