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1. New Support and Services

2. Priority Themes

3. Forthcoming Events


1. New Support and Services

Supported Change Programmes

This new initiative will provide an integrated package of support measures worth over £30,000 to a small number of departments each year. We hope that by concentrating our efforts in this way we can provide more effective support, tailored to the needs of each department, that will result in real improvements in learning and teaching. The exact format of an SCP will depend on individual circumstances but could include a £10,000 grant, workshops in the department for staff and students, an experienced educational developer seconded to the department for extended periods, and the services of a professional education evaluator to help plan and assess your work. (more...)

The award of these programmes will not be subject to a competitive bidding process. We would prefer to work with you to explore your planned developments and structure an appropriate support package.

On-line Collection of Electronic Learning Objects

UKCME has been awarded £90,000 by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) to develop an online bank of electronic learning objects (or assets). The collection will include photographs, micrographs, diagrams, phase diagrams, video clips, animations, and simulations. It will be fully searchable and the assets will be ‘copyright clear’ - allowing academics to download and use them however they wish in the preparation of teaching materials.

The greatest challenge will be to populate our collection with a broad range of high quality resources. UKCME will unearth and catalogue many from existing collections, but the richest source of material will be the academic community. We are considering how lecturers might be encouraged to share their resources with one another and would value your guidance.


Community Networks

We recognise that often the most valuable source of advice and guidance is not our Centre but other lecturers, in other departments, who have common interests and who are facing similar challenges. We suggest we could usefully establish and activate networks of academics teaching different elements of the materials curriculum - i.e. those teaching composite materials, those teaching microscopy and so on. We could perhaps devote sections of our web site to feature news and resources specific to each subject; hold occasional workshop events; provide an on-line discussion forum for each group; and include dedicated sections in the Materials Education Digest.

We would value your feedback on this idea, and seek suggestions for possible subject networks and the types of activity that would be of value. Please send your comments and suggestions to Susan Doyle at

2. Priority Themes

Education for Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is becoming an increasingly prominent item on international political agendas. It is widely acknowledged that education, particularly higher education, will play a pivotal role in society’s progress towards a sustainable way of life. Later this year HEFCE will launch its Strategy and Action Plan for Education for Sustainable Development, and this will become a priority theme across the sector. The Academy is working with HEFCE to ensure their strategy reflects the diverse perspectives, contexts and sensitivities of different discipline communities.

An important goal will be to develop new curricula and pedagogy that will equip our students with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to live and work in a sustainable way. New approaches to ESD must be developed: approaches that expose the technical disciplines to the broader social-economic dimensions of sustainability, and vice versa.

The subject centres will be awarded a significant additional grant to support and fund such developments within their communities. UKCME is carrying out background research into the extent and nature of current ESD provision in materials programmes, and will be undertaking a long-term programme of work in this area from August 2005.

A detailed briefing on this subject will shortly be circulated, and if you have particular interest and experience in ESD, would like to contribute to our initial research, or participate (with funding) in our future work please contact the Centre.

Enhancing Graduate Employability

In an era of student loans and tuition fees student choice of university and course is increasingly driven by career prospects: their ability to quickly secure a well paid job is paramount. To improve student recruitment departments must take a proactive approach to enhancing and demonstrating the employment potential of their graduates.

In today’s competitive employment market our graduates must develop and demonstrate a range of skills that extends beyond the scientific and technical content of their degree course. These wider skills will better equip them to apply for ‘traditional’ materials jobs and will broaden the range of alternative careers open to them. It is important that students are made aware of the value in developing such ‘soft skills’ and are helped to recognise and communicate the full range of their abilities.

UKCME has been participating in the Student Employability Profiles project: a national cross-disciplinary programme, supported by professional careers advisory organisations, to produce a set of learning and teaching resources for the materials discipline. Our guide will help students develop, record and communicate their knowledge and skills; will help academics support their students and prepare them to enter the job market; and will help employers understand and value the attributes of a typical materials graduate.

The Materials Student Employability Profile may be accessed on line here, and will be published as hard copy later his year.

Supporting Student Recruitment

Increasing student numbers remains a priority for much of our community, and UKCME will continue working to raise awareness of materials as a discipline and as an attractive option for study. We have developed the Materials Interactive CD-ROM (in partnership with Matter and the Armourers and Brasiers Livery Company) as a tool to support undergraduate recruitment.

Materials Interactive includes a variety of information, presentations and interactive exercises designed to illustrate the importance of materials in everyday life, to explore the central themes in materials science and to highlight the career paths open to graduates. It is designed for use by schools, careers services and those involved in university recruitment.

The CD-ROM is currently in production and will be distributed widely in the near future. In the meantime it can be viewed online at

UKCME would like to develop a new web site based around MI and including further content such as a directory of materials departments, a programme of university open days, and a range of teaching resources for schools.

3. Forthcoming Conferences and Events

In future UKCME will be co-hosting two bi-annual conferences on innovation, good practice and research in learning and teaching: one for academics from the science disciplines and, on alternate years, one for those from the engineering disciplines. These events will offer the chance to hear about new ideas and research that may help you develop your own teaching practice, and will be an opportunity to share experiences with others working in circumstances similar to your own and facing many of the same challenges.

The Science Learning and Teaching Conference, 27-28 June 2005, University of Warwick

This conference will feature an impressive programme of nearly 40 workshop sessions, presentations and posters on a broad range of themes. There will be a dedicated session for materials academics to get together and discuss their work, the issues they face, and the types of support UKCME could usefully provide.

The conference fee is £150 (including all meals and overnight accommodation). UKCME will pay the conference fee for the first three materials academics who email SUE

Full details and registration instructions can be found on the conference website:

Engineering Education Conference, 24-26 July 2006, Liverpool

Abstracts for workshops, presentations and posters are invited for this three-day conference. For further information please visit the conference website:





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