International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Engineering360: Life through an Engineer’s Eyes by Ronak Sharma

Hello, World!! Are you one of those people who is interested in Engineering but never got the opportunity to see how it is actually practised at the University of Sheffield? If so you would be interested in knowing about this project called ‘Engineering360’ which I was a part of, along with 10 other students.

I am part of an organisation called Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA) which provided me with the opportunity to work on this project. The aim of this project was to organise a public engagement activity to promote engineering at the University of Sheffield. Being such a big responsibility, I felt that the theme for this engagement activity should be something ground-breaking. We began with a long brainstorming session during which we agreed it was important to strike the right note so that people would feel inspired about engineering. We began by filming some incredible 360˚ videos about engineering at Sheffield (TUoS is one of best in Engineering!). We focussed on this because in today’s world people are attracted to experiencing new technology, so we used this approach, spreading the message about engineering in Sheffield across the world.  This event was also featured as part of the Sheffield Festival of Science and Engineering (SFOSE: link below) which was a great help to us to target the right audience which was local people from Sheffield.

So, about my experience. Hmmm, I had a mixed experience during this project. It was very exciting but also a bit daunting as it was the first time I was involved in organising such a big event!  We started very professionally making timelines using Gantt Charts and organising weekly meetings but as it is rightly said ‘Humans are bound to make mistakes’. This expression completely defines the progress of our project, suddenly we found ourselves with only two months until the event and we hadn’t made any progress. Although this part of the project came as a shock to me, it taught me an important lesson about effective team management and project planning. Since time was limited, rather than just focusing on a specific task, I was involved in various roles throughout the course of the project. We needed some good content for the videos, so I decided that we should contact companies local to Sheffield and everyone agreed to that idea.

So, I began the project with the responsibility of negotiating with companies to allow us to film some of the cool stuff they design and produce. I really enjoyed this task as I improved my communication skills and also broadened my professional network. One lesson I learned from this task was that if people don’t reply to your emails within 2 working days then you should call them up (emails are useless as the first point of contact if you are in rush like me). Finally, after pestering some companies, I was able to convince a few companies like AMRC and Tribosonics to contribute to this project and inspire people about what they do. For more effective filming, we had to buy our own 360˚ camera (how cool is that!). After all the footage was collected, it was time to make something worthwhile out of it. So, I suggested that it would be nice to design a teaser to excite people about this project. For this bit of the task, I would have to thank Natalka (International Engineering Ambassador Scheme Co-ordinator) for a session she organised with Corporate Information and Computing Services (CICS) to share some tips on filming and editing videos. Although I was still an amateur, I was able to help my friend with the main story line and the content for the teaser and also helped a bit in editing the clip. I would have to admit it to you guys that never I had imagined in my life that video editing would require so much time. Just to create a 40 seconds clip I had to spend 8 hours in the Diamond! (the Engineering building at UoS). If anyone of you had any experience in video editing, you would understand my pain. Eventually, I was very happy with the clip and if you want to have a look at my hard work, just scroll at the end of the page.

After this role, I moved on to help with the marketing of this project. One of the reasons I took this role was because I was a bit afraid of it, but I wanted to challenge myself and see how difficult it would be. When I began the task, I had no clue where I was heading. So, I began by seeking advice from a marketing team, at the University. Taking into account that in today’s society people are always on Facebook or Twitter and other social media. I assigned a member of the team to market our project through social media. Once the leaflets for the project were designed and printed, I had to decide how to distribute them. We were fortunate enough to have a stall at one of the events during the SFOSE called ‘Discovery Night’. This was a great opportunity for the promotion of our project as I was able to show local people how marvellous engineering is. I still remember the amazing expressions of people when they first put the VR headset on their eyes and saw engineering all around them from machines to students working on them.

To conclude our project, we organised a final event called ‘Behind the Scenes’. It was attended by local people during which we were able to share all the work that had gone into this project and we also distributed some VR headsets. I had advertised our final session at many other SFOSE events and I have to admit that my hard work paid off. I was surprised at the large number of people that turned up to our session and seeing people getting excited about engineering at Sheffield in 360˚, made me realise that our project has been successful. I felt proud of the whole team as we delivered a successful project without having any prior experience. We also achieved our most important aim of the project which was to engage people with engineering.

This project gave me the opportunity to make mistakes but to go on and learn from them and not repeat them in the future. Everybody worked very hard on this project trying to manage both academics and this project. But my advice to you is that you shouldn’t fear things if you are passionate about gaining new skills because I tell you at the end of the day it can be a lot of fun and you feel good about giving something back to the society. For me, the experience of working in a multidisciplinary team, with such great people was the best thing that I have gained so far from the University. If you guys are interested in knowing more about the project please feel free to contact. Have a nice day.

Engineering 360 Clip:

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