Invitation to the Uniquip Seminar

7 Aug

Uniquip Seminar – “Defining standards for the publication of research facilities and equipment data” – 18th & 19th September

Loughborough University is a partner in this national project and all interested colleagues are welcome to attend – please forward onto staff who may be interested.

You are invited to a national seminar on the subject of research equipment data sharing, supported by EPSRC and hosted by the University of Southampton, with key note speaker Professor Nigel Shadbolt.
The UNIQUIP Project (, launched in July this year, was established with the aim of driving developments in the sharing of research facilities and equipment datasets.  
This two day seminar will facilitate discussions and debate in some of the key areas of data sharing including:

  • Vocabulary development – creating data rich information
  • Technology developments – including interoperability
  • Sustainable practices – managing and integrating data
  • The future – creating national data sets

It is hoped that the outcome of the seminar, will be recommendations from the community, for the description, management and publication of data on UK research equipment and facilities.  The seminar promises to provide some fascinating insights, spaces are limited so register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Participation is invited from Research Managers and Co-ordinators, Data managers, Systems Developers, Laboratory and Facilities Managers, specialists from standards bodies, libraries and catalogues,  academics and researchers.

Keynote from Prof Nigel Shadbolt and presentations from CERIF, EPSRC, ESRC, Kit-Catalogue project and across the community.

18th and 19th September

University of Southampton

Free – (Kindly sponsored by the EPSRC through the UNIQUIP Project).

How to book your space?
Please visit

Announcement of HEA National Teaching Fellows

1 Aug

The Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship Scheme celebrates excellence in learning and teaching, recognising individuals for their positive impact on the student learning experience.  This year’s 55 recipients have been announced and I’m very pleased to say that my colleague Fiona Lamb, from the Centre for Engineering and Design Education at Loughborough University, is one of those.

Fiona, until recently, has been the Centre’s Associate Director and has been at Loughborough since 1996.  Since joining Loughborough, Fiona has been totally committed to establishing, developing and leading the support and promotion of engineering education at the University, across the UK and beyond and I’m exceptionally pleased that she has been recognised in this way.

Fiona will now be a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Engineering and Design Education and the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University, and will continue to work with us in key areas.

To find our more, please visit Fiona’s profile on the HEA website.

Benefits of Membership to SEFI

9 Jul

SEFI is the European Society for Engineering Education and Loughborough University is currently a member.  This means that staff at Loughborough can benefit the advantages of being a member of this organisation.  These include:

1. Access to Publications (including)

2. Information:

  • about initial and continuing engineering education
  • about publications in the field of engineering education
  • about European cooperation programmes such as DELTA, SCIENCE, EUREKA, TEMPUS, Lifelong Learning Programme, Framework Programme (Research)

3. Participation:

  • free access to the different SEFI working groups, the backbone of SEFI
  • in seminars, workshops and conferences at reduced prices
  • in projects.

SEFI members currently have reduced prices for many events including the following:


09  Responsible Conduct in Training and Practice for Scientists and Engineers: Twin International Meeting
14  21st Century Workshop: The Role of Industry-University and Accreditation
23  10th Latin American and Caribbean Conference for Engineering and Technology
26  PAEE’2012 – Project Approaches in Engineering Education


07  ABET – IDEAL 2012
20  IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering 2012 (TALE 2012)
27  EADTU Anniversary Conference
29  7th European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education


03  Abenge – 60 th Brasilian Congress of Engineering Education – COBENGE 2012
11  24th Annual EAIE Conference
13  AECEF Association Symposium 2012 – 20th anniversary of the foundation of AECEF
14  EUGENE Final Event – Public Closing Conference
17  WFEO Executive Council and World Engineering Forum
18  EE2012 – International Conference on Innovation, Practice and Research in Engineering Education
23  SEFI Annual Conference 2012
26  SEFI – General Assembly
IGIP – International Conference on Engineering Pedagogy


05  FEANI – General Assembly
12  World Engineering Education Forum (WEEF) 2012
18  CESAER General Assembly
International Conference on Engineering & Business Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
29  5th Asia-Pacific Conference of Engineering and Technology Education (APCETE)

Version 1.0 of Kit-Catalogue now released

13 Jun

We’re pleased to announce the first full release of Kit-Catalogue.  You can download Kit-Catalogue v1.0.0 here:

IF INSTALLING – Please setup your web server, unzip the software, and follow the installation wizard by browsing to http://<your-site>/install/

IF UPGRADING – There are no database changes in this version, so those of you updating from v0.9.8 do not need to run the upgrade wizard.  However, this release does include a tidy-up of the code base, and the removal of many files that are no longer needed.  If you’d like a tidy installation, we’d advise deleting all the old application files before unzipping the new version, but please remember to leave your  local  and  writeable  folders in place!

Major improvements in this version include:

  • Improved the styling of the catalogue system, and included more support for custom restyling using your local CSS file.
  • Added an export to CSV option, so you can download all the item information your Kit-Catalogue installation contains.
  • Added custom field and homepage block administration functionality.
  • Added filtered browsing to aid users in finding the equipment they need.
  • Added an enquiry form to each item (enabled by default).
  • Added social network connectivity (disabled by default).

There are new configuration options available for some of these additions, so please check  app/config.php  for any options you wish to add and/or override in your  local/local_config.php file.

You can read more in the  docs/changes.txt  file, or online at:

There are still plenty more improvements and features we plan to add in the coming months, and we’ll soon be releasing our new Kit-Catalogue User Guide, which contains comprehensive information on Kit-Catalogue v1.0, its setup, and how it all works.  As soon as the user guide is available, we’ll announce it on the website and the mailing list.

In the meantime, thanks for supporting us on the road to v1.0.  Your continued engagement, feedback and suggestions have helped us build a better Kit-Catalogue system, and we hope to continue working with you all in the future.

Kit-Catalogue and the Uniquip Project

24 May

I’m managing the Kit-Catalogue™ Project at the moment, which is currently receiving a great deal of interest nationwide.  The Project’s purpose is to promote and support the growing community of UK HE users of the open source Kit-Catalogue™ system.  This online system has been designed and developed to help any Institution organise and manage their equipment and facilities used for teaching and/or research.  So far, Nottingham and Bristol are implementing their own Kit-Catalogue’s™ but many other institutions are taking early steps towards exploring how the system can benefit their organisation.

Loughborough University’s Kit-Catalogue™ can be accessed here at  So, far there are only a handful of the ~2000 items that are browsable by the public but that number is growing by the day.

Loughborough isn’t the only Institution developing online solutions to help catalogue and  manage their equipment and facilities.  The motivation for Institutions is to maximise usage of existing equipment and lessen duplication, thereby saving money and promoting the green agenda too.  Equipment sharing between departments and research schools is already happening at Loughborough but is growing across the regional group of the ‘Midlands 5’ Institutions (Loughborough, Leicester, Birmingham, Warwick and Nottingham).

In fact, to date the UK’s Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) funding has stimulated a number of projects nationally, delivering a variety of “off the shelf” and bespoke databases offering web-searchable publication or authenticated access to registers of research equipment and facilities in a variety of formats.  The level of activity has prompted initial discussion between Loughborough, Southampton, Leeds and Bath.  As a group we recognise the need to establish commonalities within schema for describing research equipment and facilities, the benefits of a common subject discipline categorisation  (or a common taxonomy) and the potential to present or search against common sets of data aggregated from multiple institutions.

The ‘Uniquip’ (Jul’12 – Jan’13) project, funded by the EPSRC, partners Loughborough (and the Kit-Catalogue™ Project) with Southampton, Leeds and Bath.  Our Institutions also have access to, and representing, our respective regional consortia comprising of 22 universities in England and Wales.  The aim of ‘Uniquip’ is to research and propose guidelines and standards harmonising vocabulary and schema to enable the development of solutions to be used in the cataloguing and publishing of research facilities and equipment at a national level.  A conference is planned in September (18th and 19th) in Southampton with the key-note speaker, Prof Nigel Shadbolt, a leading figure in the open data initiative.

I’ll be blogging on the Uniquip project in the near future, but if you have any questions or are interested in the Kit-Catalogue™ system, please get in touch.

Update on Pedestal for Progression Project

18 May

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged on the progress of our JISC funded ‘Pedestal for Progression Project‘.  It’s coming to the end in the summer and we’ve been busy disseminating and pulling together the project’s deliverables.

The project has been looking at issues relating to final year progression using a Service Design approach, looking at both human and ICT interventions that could be enhanced.  We spent a great deal of time exploring the common issues from a diagonal slice of the organisation last summer.  These sessions, combined with drawing upon existing data on student experience, uncovered numerous peripheral, apparently minor, but often highly significant anxieties.  Students raised a number of recurrent issues, including: being able to manage time properly; being able to access the library resources; being able to access to specialised software; having help with employability; being able to contact personal/individual tutors (which included a criticism in the description of ‘knowledgeable personal tutors’, ‘tutors familiar with dissertation brief’, ‘tutors who can advise on module selection’); and more contact time with support staff (tutors, lab technicians etc.,) as lab based final year projects characteristically had problems with access to technicians to build equipment.

Staff also raised concerns about having to visit a number of different sources of information or IT systems in order to get a picture of each student’s experience and this lead to difficulties in identifying problems early on in a student’s final year.  Or indeed, a student’s penultimate year when often, experiences of placements or selection of final year project occurs and has a significant impact on the final year experience.

During this academic year, the project looked at exploring improvements in 3 main areas.  These being:

  • Enabling more ‘active tutor’ behaviour (bring together better quality information or learner analytics in one place for tutors e.g. attendance data, or online course-related activity in order for intervention and support to take place earlier)
  • Preparedness for employment (explore mentoring schemes or increased guidance or support for students)
  • The placement year experience (improve the consistency of experience for students undertaking a Diploma of Industrial Study placement year).

Developments have been done to Loughborough’s in-house systems for attendance monitoring and pastoral care (‘Attendant’ and ‘Co-Tutor) which were presented at a couple of recent conferences (links to presentations below).

A mentoring scheme for finalists was also explored with the department of Politics, History and International Relations.  However, after speaking with trained mentors and staff it was seen as too much of a time commitment for face to face sessions so the project looked at e-Mentoring.  As an off-shoot from the JISC Project a bid was written with the Department of Civil and Building and an E-Mentoring Scheme was successfully funded by the HEA in March 2012 to pilot a fully fledged online mentoring experience for students thinking of undertaking a placement year by mentors who were working in industry.

The final strand of work was with redesigning the placement experience for students within the three departments of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering, Materials Engineering and Chemical Engineering.  These three departments had recently been combined to become a School and they were keen for us to work with them.  We spent December, January and February collecting together the wealth of forms and processes used in the three departments, along with the variety of IT systems used to manage the process, store the data and disseminate information and guidance to staff, students and employers.  Current processes were mapped and more in-depth interviews and focus groups were undertaken with students.  In March, we started to make changes to Co-Tutor (a system currently used primarily for personal tutoring) in order for it to become the focus for the placement management.  We are currently re-mapping their processes and coming up with a service blueprint which combines all three departments requirements and giving a greater emphasis to a consistent experience for the students.

I’m exceptionally pleased to say that we’ve had a great deal of interest in our work from a number of other Institutions, for example we recently hosted a visit on request from the University Edinburgh.  I look forward to being able to present the final findings and outputs of our project in the near future.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to drop me line at

Kit-Catalogue’s community of users is growing

27 Feb

I’m helping to promote Loughborough’s Kit-Catalogue system and have been a very busy advocate over the past few weeks.  Prof Thomson and I demoed the open source system at Nottingham University and I’m very pleased to say that we have been working closely with a number of staff there to get a version up and running in their Institution by the Spring.

Sharing information on research equipment is a very big issue in HEI’s in the UK at the moment and Loughborough’s Kit-Catalogue tool is gaining a great deal of interest.  We’ve had downloads by many HEI’s and have been talking with Southampton, Bath and Leeds on issues around the standardisation of information that describes equipment as well as using open standards to describe the data (e.g. CERIF), interoperable ways of sharing the data and classifications or taxonomies that best describe the category of equipment.

If your institution is interested trying out Kit-Cataloguing, the JISC has just announced that up to £15k is available under their ‘Transformations Programme‘  to help institutions move towards organisational change through the application of existing JISC and other resources (deadline is mid-April).  Please get in touch if you are interested in bidding to this fund and we can see if we can cost in some of our time to support you!