Take a look at all the projects that have and are advancing learning practices, supporting our staff and enhancing our students' learning experiences.

Exploiting gamification and Virtual Reality (VR)

This project aimed to demonstrate and prototype new game-inspired apps and online resources in order to increase awareness and knowledge of the engineering disciplines, and enhance fundamental engineering skills and technical competencies relevant across university degree programmes. The project focused on three areas:

  • University-level education on common engineering technical themes particularly relevant to widening participation in postgraduate taught programmes
  • Work-transition/transferrable skills development for cross-functional skills – such as advanced communication, presentation, professional ethics and teamwork – relevant to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes
  • Late primary school/early secondary school level education on the nature of engineering and its role and impact on society (ie. primary outreach).

One of the outcomes of the project has been the development of a Virtual Chemical Engineering Pilot Plant, based on Surrey’s Fluor pilot plant, which is one of the only facilities of its kind at a UK university. This VR simulation allowed students to gain experience in operating the plant without being exposed to dangers and without having direct access to the plant and the resources that entails. Learn more about our Virtual Chemical Engineering Pilot Plant.

The original project, ‘Gamification in engineering education: From primary outreach to work transition’ was funded by a HEFCE Catalyst Fund in 2016.

To find out more about this project, contact Esat Alpay.

3D printers in engineering education

The use of 3D printers is becoming increasingly popular in education across a diverse range of engineering subject areas. However understanding how the technology can be used effectively in teaching and learning contexts, while maintaining its accessibility to students and teachers who do not have a rigorous knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD) software, remains a challenge.

This project explored what benefits students perceive from 3D printing in their engineering education – not merely in the usual ‘printing of a design prototype’ task but in a wider context. The study found that students and recent graduates were very receptive towards 3D printing in education and suggested that it could open up learning content in areas of CAD, real plant layout and magnitude (scale) appreciation in calculations and design, creating a bridge between mechanical and non-mechanical engineering disciplines.

The original project, ‘Engineering education innovations through 3D printer technology (EE3D)’ was funded by a Fluor Global university Support Programme in 2017.

To find out more about this project, contact Esat Alpay.

Student wellbeing and personal development

Poor student resilience and wellbeing is a prevalent issue in UK higher education which compromises progression and attainment levels, the overall student experience and effective personal development. While universities provide a range of support services such as wellbeing centres and mentoring schemes, few engineering curricula address issues of self and social awareness.

In this project, novel year 1 learning activities are being developed which address student personal development and wellbeing issues in a practical way, contextualised within engineering. This will include a range of online resources, self-evaluation tasks, group tasks and workshop sessions. The work will focus on specific areas such as cultural values and awareness; social and personal inhibitors; stress management; and recognising and overcoming marginalisation based on gender, BAME and LGBTQ+.

This project, ‘Student wellbeing and personal development in engineering education’ is being funded by a Fluor Global University Support Programme (2019).

To find out more about this project, contact Esat Alpay.

Maximising student participation: Factors that facilitate dialogue

This project was the result of a co-inquiry between a second year chemistry student and chemistry academic Dr Katerina Ridge into the factors that facilitate educational dialogue. In the project, data was collected by both the student and academic from a range of sources including lecture observations, student surveys, focus group discussions and interviews. The aim was to highlight practical ways to facilitate conversation within a learning environment.

The results pointed to a number of possible practical improvements including: increasing ‘icebreaking’ activities (especially for first year students); communicating difficult content through increased dialogue rather than extended tutor explanations; and increased awareness by tutors of students who may have questions but are hesitant to ask. Interestingly the project itself, which introduced a ‘dialogue about dialogue’ between academics and students, helped to diminish the usual barriers between the two communities.

To find out more about this project, contact Katerina Ridge.

Design, Assemble and Dismantle (DAD) project

This project – which has been run by Surrey’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering every year since 2016 – aims to give undergraduates a hands-on experience which improves their understanding of the practical considerations of design and construction. The project challenges students to design, assemble and dismantle a full-scale lattice structure within a set timeframe, using a specially designed kit consisting of prefabricated tubular steel members and connectors.

The DAD project also involves international collaboration, with students at institutions around the world taking part over the past four years. These have included the Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico, University of Fukui (Japan), University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (Iran).

The inaugural DAD project in 2016 arose from Dr Alireza Behnejad’s research project, ‘Benefits of full-scale physical models in civil engineering education’ which found that engineering students show a greater interest in topics which are demonstrated physically rather than being explained using the ‘chalk and talk’ method.

To find out more about this project, contact Alireza Behnejad.