On Thursday Provost Ian Walmsley and President Alice Gast welcomed the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP, to the College for the Department for Education board’s away day.
Before the board meeting began, Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, a number of senior civil servants and non-executive directors from the Department for Education met Provost Ian Walmsley, Vice-Provost (Education) Professor Simone Buitendijk and a number of students and academics from across the College.
The visit included tours and demonstrations at the Aerial Robotics Lab, the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant and the Dyson School of Design Engineering.
Director Dr Mirko Kovac gave a presentation on the work of the Aerial Robotics Lab at Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics. PhD students then put talk into action, giving a demonstration of how the drones might be used to repair pipes in extreme environments, such as on oil rigs. Dr Kovac spoke of how students and researchers learned from each other and told the guests how undergraduate students had contributed towards cutting-edge new drone designs.
The group were then taken to the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant, where they were met by Dr Colin Hale and ten chemical engineering students. They were shown the four-storey state-of-the-art facility, which represents a scaled-down chemical engineering plant. Dr Hale explained how the plant gives students real-world, hands-on industrial experience, and the group were given a demonstration of a simulated emergency which was then solved by the student volunteers.
Next stop was the Dyson School of Design Engineering, where the delegation were given a short introduction to the School and its pedagogy by Professor Peter Childs, Head of the School of Design Engineering. Dr Petar Kormushev, Director of the Robot Intelligence Lab, gave a live demo with Robot DE NIRO, demonstrating the robot’s physical skill learning capabilities.
Design Engineering Ingenuity
The visitors were then given the chance to meet Dyson School of Design Engineering students and learn about their projects, including Anna Bernbaum’s chess-playing robot and Laerke Rasmussen’s Design 2 sustainability project, which looks to replace difficult-to-recycle toothpaste tubes with perfect dosage droplets using edible packaging. Michael Hofmann also exhibited a variety of work from the Engineering Design Project, a second year module where students are tasked with redesigning a powered hand tool for an underserved user group, such as the blind, elderly or children.
The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, described the students’ demonstrations as “fabulous” and full of “many great ideas.”
The Department for Education team were then taken to the Data Science Institute and given a demonstration by Dr Mark Kennedy in the Data Observatory, showing how employees in a bank moved between different departments within the company through several years as job roles changed. The ensuing discussion focused on how jobs would be changed by the fourth industrial revolution and automation, and what kind of roles have been automated in recent decades.
President Alice Gast later welcomed the delegation to 170 Queen’s Gate, where she spoke about the importance of embedding excellent teaching in a vibrant, research-led entrepreneurial environment.