On Wednesday 7 June 2017 the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences celebrated the achievements of its student societies with the fourth annual EPS Societies’ Awards. This spectacular black-tie dinner with live entertainment and 13 prestigious awards was a brilliant way to end the academic year.
After receiving 611 nominations from students, staff, alumni and friends of the College the judging panel had a tough job of selecting winners. Ultimately there can only be one winner for each award, but ALL of our finalists deserve the utmost recognition.
The winners of the 2017 EPS Societies' Awards are:
Outstanding Event Award
CSS: Computer Science Society
HackTheMidlands is a 24-hour hackathon hosted at Millennium Point on 1–2 October 2016. The event was lead-organised by Tom Goodman, President of CSS, alongside his equivalents from Aston and Birmingham City Universities, and representatives from the Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge. Hackathons are ‘invention marathons’ where attendees are invited to learn, build and share, in a truly unique environment. In 24 hours hundreds of passionate people collaborated and competed alongside one another, worked on innovative ideas and projects, and were given a platform to demonstrate their creations. Before this event, almost all CSS’s hackathons were only open to UoB students, meaning that nonstudents, under 18s, professionals and many others were unable to take part. HackTheMidlands was a significant step forward, being one of the first hackathons open to all. The event promoted diversity and encouraged newcomers to technology by running beginner workshops and talks on the day. It also drew on the expertise of local professionals as mentors so help was always on hand. There was an excellent turnout of 160 attendees from the local community and dedicated hackers from across the country, some as far away as Wales and Scotland! Its success will pave the way for future events to achieve a broader reach, attract greater proportions of underrepresented demographics, and keep the true community spirit that makes HackTheMidlands special.
President, WISE: Women in Science and Engineering Society
Helena’s contributions to outreach are extensive and she works tirelessly to communicate science to young people. This year alone she has spearheaded a new WISE initiative to mentor girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in Birmingham. Not only has she funded this through sponsorship, she has enrolled over 100 volunteers to visit partner schools and run weekly workshops. In doing this she has fostered stronger links with outreach groups such as STEM Ambassadors and the Royal Society of Chemistry to help enrol Birmingham students onto their programmes. Helena has a long history with outreach including involvement with The Big Bang Fair for the past six years and volunteering with various companies including the BBC, Ministry of Defence and Exxon Mobil. She is a CREST (the British Science Association’s enrichment programme) mentor at the Aston University Engineering Academy, a programme she benefited from and is now giving back to. Other activities include demonstrating experiments to Brownies at the Infirmary Museum in Worcester and giving talks at schools careers’ fairs. As a previous progress mentor for the University’s Outreach Office, she was recently invited to be the School of Chemistry’s Undergraduate Outreach Rep. Helena is always on the lookout for new ways to inspire the younger generation and goes beyond her studies to do an amazing job of communicating her love of science to the wider world. Her efforts to make learning more inclusive translate in her desire to make the world a better place.
"I have always seen outreach as a way to both increase diversity in STEM and to provide some support to extremely hard-working and dedicated teachers who, unfortunately, do not always have the resources and impact that they deserve. The outreach work I have done throughout my time at Birmingham so far has been on occasion challenging and frustrating, but incredibly rewarding and truly eye-opening. It is a great feeling to receive recognition from the entire College in the form of this award, and I intend to use this to further expand my outreach activities."
Volunteer of the Year
Volunteering Officer, MathSoc
Lucy has had an amazing year as MathSoc’s Volunteering Officer. She organised more events than in ever before and raised an incredible amount of money for charity. The year began with the now traditional Family Scheme where students from higher years welcome new students to the School of Mathematics, make friends and help ease the transition between sixth form and university. In Fundraising February Lucy coordinated several groups of volunteers to take on bake sales, bucket shakes and more. She organised the EPS University Challenge which saw seven of the College’s societies compete against each other, and ‘The Big MathSoc Charity Pub Quiz’ with over 50 people taking part. In addition to this Lucy set herself the challenge of running the Coventry Half Marathon. She started from scratch not having run before and encouraged others to join her and she and the MathSoc team raised a brilliant £1,700. In total MathSoc’s Fundraising February raised £3,227.34 for their charity of the year, Mind! If that wasn’t enough, Lucy has masterminded the new MathSoc Tutoring Scheme, where she single-handedly made links with a nearby secondary school in order to give opportunities for MathSoc members to volunteer to tutor and mentor pupils who didn’t previously aspire to go to university. She made this a huge success for everyone involved and this is something that MathSoc have been very positive in wanting to continue into next year.
"I am so proud of all that myself and the rest of the MathSoc committee have achieved this year. Winning the award is absolutely fantastic, the others shortlisted for this have all done some amazing things this year and should be very proud of themselves. It’s such a great feeling knowing that our hard work has paid off. Thank you so much!"
Diversity and Inclusion Award
MathSoc set themselves a new objective this year to improve diversity and inclusion within the Society. They began by securing funding to provide free membership to international students as both the Society and the School believed this was the best place to start improving interactions between students. There is now a growing relationship with the School’s international community and great friendships are starting to form across previously separate groups. They are also increasing their work with the Mathematics postgraduate community to bring another different set of students into the MathSoc fold. To meet the needs of their expanding and varied membership they have increased the number of opportunities available to their members and organised a huge range of new events so everyone has the chance to get involved in something different. They have increased the number of non-alcoholic socials, put on more career-related events, arranged an extensive volunteering programme and created a new tutoring scheme. Thanks to this MathSoc has experienced a significant growth in membership from 206 to 289 (now consisting of undergraduates, postgraduates, staff and even alumni), a consistently larger turn out at socials, and a huge leap in attendance for the MathSoc Spring Ball. MathSoc’s award-winning Family Scheme continues to grow and help new undergraduates transition into university life with the help of older years taking them under their wings. All of this has made MathSoc a more accommodating society than ever before and has had a significant positive impact on the sense of community within the School.
"MathSoc's success in the inclusion of as many students as possible, regardless of background or interests, was thanks to the guidance and vision from the School. We would not have been able to achieve an inkling of success without the amazing staff. From their support we were able to put on more diverse events, give many more opportunities to socialise, improve upon skills, gain new ones and also give insights to possible career paths. During the awards night, it was amazing to see all of the great work that other EPS societies have done in order to be more diverse and inclusive, and we are privileged to have been awarded such an important award. We are extremely happy and proud to have been crowned the winners, and we hope that MathSoc continues this great work in the future!"
Highly commended: School of Engineering RFC
Sports Personality of the Year
School of Engineering RFC
Matthew joined the team with an already broken leg but such is his love of the sport he turned up to training on his crutches and gleefully cheered the team on at every match. Whether it be a surging effort from the bench or a rousing speech from the sideline he has lifted everyone’s performances and morale at every game. When he returned to playing, Mathew’s stand out moment was his debut game. During the Engineers’ Alumni match, the Old Boys (ie, the graduates) were a player down and Matthew was the first to volunteer to play for the opposition and allow everyone to enjoy the afternoon’s game. Of course he was sure to put the rest of the Engineers firmly through their paces! No ruck is meaningless, no tackle too dangerous, Matthew puts himself through the ultimate physical challenge for the sake of the team. Matthew brings a new edge to the Club by not only being enthusiastic himself, but inspiring others to match his passion. He supports his fellow teammates, assists with training and even helps those injured recover and get back on the pitch, just as he did. Win or lose, Matthew is always encouraging the team to step up a level and he is one of the main reasons the 2016/17 season has been one of the Club’s most successful yet.
Sports Team of the Year 2016/17
Engineering Eagles Hockey
This has been an exemplary year for ‘Engineering’ Eagles Hockey; although the name ‘Engineering’ is no longer fit as they have extended their membership to become one of the most inclusive teams across EPS and beyond, with members from physics to physiotherapy. No one is excluded and their match-day squad is so large that there are substitutes for substitutes and spectators cheering the team on. Their pre-season worries over several of the 2016 squad graduating were soon quashed with eager new members joining. The Eagles have embraced the intramural spirit and make friends with other teams, loaned out spare players and arranged numerous friendlies throughout the season. The team are always keen to increase their appeal across campus and have secured sponsorship from PwC for a second year running, enabling them to welcome a wider variety of students from across the EPS Community to the team. It is testament to the spirit of the club that players would rather play for the Eagles than the University teams and alumni regularly return to don the shirt again. Even with such a large team they have remained inclusive of all abilities, maintained a real mix of male and female students and built a strong sense of camaraderie. The Eagles have clearly cemented their legacy by yet again winning the University intramural league and have been crowned best hockey team in the UK for the second consecutive year at the Frank Morton chemical engineering sports day competition.
"Winning the EPS Sports Team of the Year is a great honour and it recognises the fantastic commitment from the players to the team, not only over the past year but over the last few years. This effort has allowed the team to develop to the strong position that we currently in. The Engineering Eagles are ready to build on these successes and become an even stronger and more successful hockey team, that brings students together from across the EPS College."
Industrial Rep, BUCES: Birmingham University Chemical Engineering Society
Chloe has been a great asset to BUCES this year, organising many events to ensure members have the best possible employment opportunities both as students and beyond. She is very approachable, always offering advice from her own experiences and giving her time to help those looking for placements. In November she organised the Industrial Dinner which saw a record number of companies attend, including the IChemE. Along with arranging logistics, she ensured all companies invited had the opportunity to mix with students, making the Dinner a resounding a success. She also opened the event to students from other disciplines leading to better inter-department relations. She secured further sponsorship for the Society in order to put on more events including the Winter Ball and achieved team sponsorship for the annual Frank Morton chemical engineering student sports day. New for 2017 Chloe worked with BUCES’ Charity Rep to put on a dodgeball tournament with Exxon Mobil, allowing students to mix with the company on a more social basis while also raising money for charity. As well as all this Chloe has arranged a huge array of amazing talks from companies, granting greater insight into the role of a Chemical Engineer. First years had informational sessions offering an idea of the breadth of jobs available. For second, third and fourth years she invited industrial partners to present workshops on improving applications and CV writing skills. Throughout the year Chloe has worked tirelessly for the benefit of BUCES, resulting in an ever-increasing number of students securing employment.
"Its an honour to be recognised for my work after BUCES has been such a huge part of my University life. What a way to top off a fantastic 5 years of studying!"
EPS Community Award
CivSoc, EESE Soc and MechSoc
This year saw the inauguration of the Engineering Spring Ball for the new School of Engineering. With the creation of the School encompassing the Departments of Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering, their respective societies were keen to develop a bond, encourage integration amongst all students and staff, and to build a sense of community. They also recognised the need for the three subject societies to maintain their identities while working together with the other five societies in the School. The newly formed Ball Committee worked tirelessly to plan every meticulous detail, even down to ensuring there was a mix of disciplines on each table allowing everyone to socialise and bond with peers outside of their own subject. By organising smaller events throughout the year the Committee not only managed to raise enough funds for the Ball, but also introduced the notion of society collaboration and some healthy competition with pub quizzes and sports tournaments. With a champagne reception, string quartet, three-course dinner and a DJ into the early hours, this was the perfect way to mark the end of the School’s first year. This was the first large-scale event for Engineering, but it certainly won’t be the last. It was this full collaboration between the societies and the hard work from their respective committee members that made this such a special event. The Ball is sure to be repeated next year and there are already plans for more joint events and competitions, with ideas to include more societies and increase interaction across the whole College.
Highly commended: WISE: Women in Science and Engineering Society
Inspirational Committee Member
Chief Engineer, UBRobotics
Edward has been the driving force behind UBRobotics, this year and his devotion has transformed them from a small interest group to a sizeable robotics club capable of international competition. As a member of UBRobotics, Edward has been a core part of everything the Club has achieved so far, playing a central role in their competition preparations and is a great inspiration to all members. As Chief Engineer he has organised the design and build of this year’s competition robots and encouraged many more new members to join the Club. Largely thanks to him UBRobotics have had huge successes with 3D printing, looked into new technologies and built their workshop from scratch. He also encourages as many team members as possible to get involved in outreach to inspire young people to get involved in robotics, and other promotional activities to grow the Club’s reputation. Edward has played a significant role in teaching skills to new and existing members by running Arduino and Raspberry Pi workshops, organising coding sessions, and taking huge amounts of time to encourage and motivate his teammates. Both his knowledge and willingness to learn a vast range of topics for the benefit of the Club has made him an incredibly supportive committee member. He will dive into technical documents and hundreds of lines of code and then teach his team so they can all share these new skills. His extraordinary technical knowledge clearly motivates the team and has made UBRobotics a great place to learn, practise, compete and be inspired.
"I’m really proud of all of the work that UBRobotics has done this year and I’m pleased to have played a role in helping develop the club to where it is now. I hope the club will continue to grow next year and I’m excited to see what we will achieve."
Highly commended: Tom Goodman, CSS: Computer Science Society
Role Model of the Year
Ed has taken MathSoc to new heights, successfully introducing a large number of new activities leading to an increased involvement with the Society. MathSoc’s core aim this year was to increase inclusion; Ed has been a strong advocate for this and ensured inclusivity has been at the centre of everything the Society planned. He actively took the time to introduce himself to everyone across the School and it’s his personal touch which has really made staff and students alike feel involved. Ed has grown in confidence from a shy first year to a superb role model and confident ambassador. He gives student experience talks at AVDs and both applicants and parents have stated that it would be great to be like him in three or four years’ time. Many of the committee have commented on his leadership skills, attributing a lot of the Society’s success this year to his encouragement and willingness to try anything that may be of benefit to MathSoc. He even learnt to drive a minibus just so that runners could get to the Coventry Half Marathon! His dedication, charisma and love of the Society are summed up by him presenting his end of year speech as a song (despite him apparently not being able to sing – at all!). Ed is easily approachable and puts others before himself, remaining unflappable in the face of high stress. His leadership has kept the committee united and focussed and enabled the atmosphere in Maths to be transformed by creating such a strong, positive community.
"Before coming to university I would never have even dreamed of being president of a society. However, going from a young fresher I have met the most amazing people who truly inspired me to take as many opportunities as possible and make the most of being at university. From this, I put my heart and soul into MathSoc. All of the achievements that MathSoc have obtained this year would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of my wonderful committee. Each and every one of them are so hardworking and had the same vision as myself for what we wanted MathSoc to be, so any credit that I get should really be also given to the committee. This has been proven by our very own Volunteering Officer, Lucy Morris, getting the Volunteer of the Year Award! I am extremely proud to have taken the opportunities that I could, and I hope others can take my most important piece of advise: Make every moment count!"
Highly commended: Arushi Madan, EESE Soc
Head of College Idea of the Year
'Girls in STEM' Outreach Scheme
WISE: Women in Science and Engineering
Inspired by previous outreach experiences from the STEM Ambassador Scheme and being University Outreach Progression Mentors, the WISE committee set out to start their own outreach programme focusing on young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their aim is to encourage more girls to consider science or engineering as a part of their future, and in November 2016 “Girls in STEM” officially launched. In just four months, 12 sessions were carried out in one school alone led by 25 student volunteers. Activities included fraction dominoes, making bath bombs, designing bridges, egg drop experiments and using UV beads to make bracelets and pompoms. All sessions were designed and carried out by the volunteers, and all materials purchased thanks to the Society’s generous sponsors. The success of the Scheme is evidenced by how far the pupils have progressed in less than an academic year. Almost 40% of the pupils have moved up at least one set in maths, with one pupil becoming the 2nd highest achieving student in her year! Over 90 EPS students have now registered their interest to volunteer, enabling the Scheme to expand in the coming academic year to further schools and more groups within each school, ensuring that up to 60 pupils are reached every week. Thanks to generous support by the Alumni Impact Fund and potential collaboration with various other EPS societies, this is set to be a sustainable programme for years to come.
"WISE is very passionate about encouraging young girls to pursue STEM careers, and this sentiment was at the core of our 'Girls in STEM' initiative. Receiving this award has shown us the extent of the support we receive from the College, which will encourage the Society to further build on this idea and expand the scheme to new successes."
Great Achievement in EPS Award
Edna Gama Vaz de Conceição
Vice President, WISE: Women in Science and Engineering and Founder Member, Mozilla Campus Club
Edna is an integral founder member of both WISE and the new Mozilla Campus Club; it would not have been possible to do everything either society has done without her unending support. She seems to know people in every society across the University not just those in EPS, a quality that has encouraged a huge amount of collaboration. She was responsible for much of the work involved in running both the Women in Technology Conference and Women in Science Forum, both of which she chaired. She has been involved in the management of many of WISE’s activities including a mock assessment centre at the EY Birmingham offices, a Coding event with PwC, liaising with Nationwide for WISE Inspire, and assisting with a networking session with KPMG. Outside of societies this year she sat as the student representative on the EPS Alumni Impact Fund panel. During her time at Birmingham Edna has earned tremendous respect from a wide group of students and staff. She truly is a force to be reckoned with and is well known across the University for getting the job done to the highest standard. Even while being so active in the societies and outreach, Edna is still on track to obtain a first class degree this year! She is a great inspiration to many students from both at the University and in the schools she works with, and is an amazing advocate for women in science.
"Thank you for this award - I am truly honoured to receive it. Looking back at my time at Birmingham I got to meet wonderful, inspiring people with whom I have grown and participated in projects with. As my new chapter approaches, this award is a reminder of all the adventures and great memories made in Birmingham."
Society of the Year 2016/17
CSS: Computer Science Society
CSS has undergone a significant transformation, growing rapidly, starting new initiatives and hitting many records. The Society has grown to 200+ members, organised over 40 events and raised a record £22,000 in sponsorship. Not only do they host regular social events for a wide range of interests including games nights, cinema trips and meals, they also work with high profile professionals and distinguished lectures to support academic and careers interests through presentations or workshops and accompanying networking sessions. They have put amazing efforts into ensuring the Society is fully inclusive and have even created a Diversity Officer position as part of their committee. Particularly exciting this year was the launch of HackTheMidlands, a 48-hour hackathon open to CSS members, the wider EPS Community, students from other universities, local schools and the Birmingham tech community. Through all of this CSS has focused on increasing their members’ exposure to potential employers. Through their new sponsor relationships they arranged a number of careers-based events where experts are invited to talk about technologies, concepts and ideas. On top of all this CSS has opened their own office and hardware lab which will encourage more development and exploration in years to come. There is no question that CSS has put huge effort into enhancing the School as a whole, and works to improve students’ experience during their time at Birmingham. All of this work and effort not only supports students’ time at university, but also sparks interests in previously not thought about areas and sets them up for achievement post-graduation.
To find out more about the EPS Societies' Awards, or to get involved in the 2017 event, visit www.birmingham.ac.uk/eps/societiesawards.