The Power of Engineering – A Reflection During Wales Tech Week

A student in our engineering labs using the equipment

Since the start of the pandemic, the world has been completely captivated by global science and health sectors in the battle against Covid-19.

Particularly in the UK, there has been endless public appreciation for the NHS and other healthcare workers and volunteers, who have dedicated their careers to saving lives and prioritising others. Similarly, science and epidemiological industries have rightfully been put on the world's stage too, with leading experts across the planet coming together to develop and deliver vaccination programmes. 

One discipline that has also been integral to the pandemic response and recovery is engineering. Professional engineering organisations such as the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) are clear that Covid-19 has affected engineering in a variety of ways. The education sector has been transformed as classrooms switched to a virtual setting overnight, lockdown restrictions saw emission levels fall dramatically across the world, and engineers were and still are in high demand to support healthcare organisations and to help make sure that life-saving technical equipment, such as ventilators, are functioning correctly and efficiently. These are just a few examples which highlight the demand for engineers and innovation.

The other global challenge that will transcend Covid-19 is climate change. Indeed, at the G7 summit of world leaders in Cornwall, the two priorities were Covid-19 and committing to a sustainable revolution. Renewable energy and zero carbon technology will no doubt drive the next few decades of engineering developments. 

Dr Neil Pickles, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, has seen how engineers have risen to these global challenges: 

“The scale of research undertaken during Covid-19 has been staggering, and inter-disciplinary research between healthcare and engineering has really taken off. Sensor technology, ventilator production, anti-viral materials and airflow analysis are just a few examples of this. The greater spirit of collaboration is a welcomed development, and will be vital for tackling both Covid-19 and climate change. In the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, we look to draw upon expertise across our subject disciplines and rise to these types of challenges. Our students recognise the importance of renewable energy and technology and this is an increased focus of our research expertise.”

It is a timely reminder to witness how the ongoing crisis is enabling leading experts to collaborate and build a better future together, as we celebrate Wales Tech Week 2021. The awareness week, commencing 21st June, is an opportunity for all those either currently working in industry or those aspiring to start their career within the tech community, to pause and celebrate the diverse range of expertise and learn, share and innovate together during the week and beyond. You can read more about the events and view the full agenda here, which comprises of virtual workshops and networking opportunities to keep conversations moving forward. 

On a localised level, here at WGU within the Faculty of Arts, Science & Technology, we’re proud of the broad range of programmes we can offer students to harness their specialisms, whilst still providing opportunities to connect and learn more about other technology disciplines. In addition to the range of engineering courses we offer, the faculty comprises a vibrant grouping of other disciplines, ranging from sustainable architectural design technology and related built environment and housing subjects; computing, games and cyber security courses; forensics and related sciences; through to the visual and performing arts, humanities subjects and a media area embracing music, sound, TV and video communications technologies.

The faculty has ambitious plans to grow our portfolio over the coming years, which brings more collaboration opportunities across different fields. Two recent examples of this include our new BA (Hons) Product Design, which is a hybrid of both art & design and engineering, and our BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science programme, which too features engineering elements as well as science, health and medicine. 

Written by Alice James, Faculty Engagement and Liason Officer at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.