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The University of Southampton

Inspiring young people about bioengineering

Published: 5 August 2013
Smallpeice Summer Event

The University of Southampton has hosted an inspirational course on bioengineering for school pupils. Educational charity The Smallpeice Trust tapped into expertise from academics in engineering and medicine to stage the four day event for 24 young people fresh from their GCSE exams.

After master classes on topics such as muscle mechanics, ultrasound monitoring and gait analysis delivered by Southampton researchers, the young people were challenged to work in teams to tackle practical projects. They were asked to design and make useful aids for disabled people such as no-spill saucepans and safety gloves for cooks with visual impairments and a prosthetic hand: two teams even tried out ‘keyhole surgery’ on a dummy. All the teams presented reports on the final day and there were prizes for the best work.

“It’s been great fun and we learned a lot,” says Sophie Hutchinson from Derby, who is interested in a career in mechanical engineering. Jack Ford from Cheltenham enjoyed the teamwork and the presentation and says the week reinforced his ambition to be an engineer.

Professor Martin Browne, head of the Bioengineering Sciences research group at Southampton, was one of the judges and spoke to the young people at the end of the course: “Your work has been really impressive and today could be the start of a career in bioengineering for you. It has been a pleasure to have you here.”

“The best thing about these courses is seeing bright young minds at work; they have such potential,” says The Smallpeice Trust Education Officer Tom Adams. Southampton lecturer in bioengineering Dr Nick Evans, who co-ordinated the event for the University, adds “We ask our early career researchers to get involved with the sessions to explain their work and show the teenagers what they’re doing. It’s good experience for them and a valuable opportunity for the pupils to meet young engineers.”

The Smallpeice Trust bioengineering science course for year 11 students was sponsored by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) and supported by the University of Southampton.

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