Top 5 ways to get your students to engage with industry and research…
…via Engineering Inspiration
Engineering Inspiration is a great tool for getting students to learn about developments in fields connected with their courses of study. Known as ENGins, it’s a free, public, UCL-curated website that brings together industry and research news from across technology and the physical sciences: the site currently has almost 40,000 articles, all chosen for interest, relevance, and quality by technical editors. The publications they are taken from include Bioscience Technology, The Engineer, IEEE Spectrum, Chemical & Engineering News, Physics World and literally hundreds of other technical and trade magazines and sites, in English, from across the world.
These articles are particularly suitable for first and second year undergraduates trying to engage with research for the first time, and can also help early PhD students to see the forest for the trees. Unlike journal papers, the technical trade and popular science articles ENGins run are written for people with a lower level of specialist knowledge (like management). This makes them much more accessible than the technical literature, and so a good place to gather ideas at the beginning of a research or design project.
ENGins also includes a calendar of technical events in and around London and the South East, again categorized by topic: presenting students with new opportunities to learn from and network with potential colleagues.
Although the site may look simple initially, it has lots of sophisticated features that allow you to customise new stories and events to your interests. You can also choose how they’re delivered: including via e-newsletter, RSS, Twitter, and even Moodle.
Here are our top suggestions to get your students using the site. If you have any questions, contact Dr Sunny Bains. She runs the site and can help you to troubleshoot it both from a technical and educational perspective.
1. Get your students to use ENGins as a research tool
If you’re trying to get students to find good, relevant, accessible technical information quickly, the search tools on ENGins are a good place to start. When they find an article that’s particularly interesting, they can use the Related Posts menu on the top bar to find more material along the same lines.
2. Encourage them to promote themselves using ENGins portfolios
Today, a professional online presence is as important as a good CV for networking with potential employers. It’s difficult for a student to look impressive on a site like LinkedIn with few credentials and little work experience. An ENGins Portfolio page, on the other hand, is designed to show off what they’ve done and what they’re interested in. Students can create profiles, show blurbs and short videos of their project work, create widgets showing books and articles that interest them, and pull in RSS and Twitter feeds. They can either make these pages – and the individual widgets on them – public, semi-public, or private as suits their needs. Send your students here for full details of how to set one up.
3. Tell students about relevant competitions
@ENGins_Compete is a Twitter feed that highlights upcoming competitions and awards for students related to research, engineering, and entrepreneurship (we also include these competitions in the Money section of the site). You can follow this yourself and let your students know about relevant contests, or just let them know the Twitter handle so they can find them for themselves. Incidentally, there are also lots of other special @ENGins_ Twitter feeds following different topics we cover. Have a search for them!
4. Create and distribute the ideal news feed for a module or course
Everyone’s technical interests are different, and every course requires interdisciplinary thinking. ENGins articles are carefully tagged with relevant subjects across technology, engineering, and the physical sciences, so that you can create your own specific mix. Once you register on the site, you can click to customise your account, choosing only the subjects that interest you. Once that’s done, the web page will reconfigure itself to your specifications and you’ll be able to get a link to your own tailored RSS feed with all the stories you’re interested in (no duplicates). If you want to have lots of different feeds for different groups of students, just register with a few different e-mail addresses and customise each one differently. You can read all the ways you can deliver this news via Moodle, social media, and the web, here.
5. Send out a customised newsletter with news, events and books
You’ll see there’s a preference (in the customisation settings) that will also allow you to receive a weekly e-mail newsletter of calendar events (which will also include top news stories and new books in your selected technical areas). If you want, you can send this out to your students by copying the Open this e-mail in your web browser link and sending it to them via Quickmail on Moodle or however else you communicate with them.