This week’s interview is with Alessio Corso, Head of Division for Mechanical Engineering and Design from the School of Engineering. Alessio works closely with the engineering students in supporting and encouraging them to participate in national competitions that focus on sustainable development in real life scenarios. In addition to developing their teamworking skills, they learn to develop innovative engineering solutions that have real world impact.
Alessio, you’ve been at LSBU quite a while… can you tell us about how it’s changed over the last few years particularly in relation to the importance placed on sustainability and climate issues in the teaching of your students?
LSBU has been, and still is, such an exciting place to be involved in. I am a very proud LSBU graduate, and there has been so much change since I graduated in 2002. We’re blessed to have the incredible new buildings and facilities that we now use for our teaching, research and enterprise work that previously didn’t exist. What strikes me most is that teaching and learning about sustainability and climate issues is now a thread that connects almost every module and year group on our courses. It isn’t just a standalone subject, since these issues impact everything that we do as engineers and designers. There is a much more unified approach to these subjects across the teaching on our courses which really resonates how enormously important sustainable development and climate change is.
Real world impact is something LSBU strives for and is proud of – how can students demonstrate a real world impact in the early stages of their career?
In the early stages of their career, students can demonstrate real-world impact through their involvement and engagement in different projects. This can be small, personal choices that are made day-to-day, in addition to fully engaging in projects at University that have the potential to influence real change. There’s no substitute for being pro-active; our most successful students are not those that measure success by grades alone. It’s often those creative individuals who have been brave enough to get thoroughly immersed in learning experiences and opportunities outside of taught curricula.
Your students, with support from you and your colleagues, have had a great deal of success and recognition with their competition entries. Tell us about some of the highlights?
There have been so many successes it is difficult to filter them into a single paragraph. That last statement is testament to the hard work that our students put into their work. We’ve had some amazing successes in The Engineering for People Design Challenge; a student competition run by Engineers Without Borders UK. In 2016 two groups of students from LSBU made it into the final six in the National Finals, out of over 6,000 students from the UK and Ireland. The same year one of those groups won the inaugural People’s Prize. In 2017, we excelled again when three groups of LSBU students were shortlisted for the National Finals in the same competition. It’s considered an honour to have one group shortlisted by the esteemed panel of industry judges, so to have three groups selected was an incredible tribute to our students’ work. Since 2016 in fact, LSBU have had no less that two groups shortlisted for the National Finals. In 2019 we also had two groups of students shortlisted for the finals of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition, run by the Mayor of London. Both of these competitions focus on sustainable development and climate change themes on a global and local level.
What exciting things can we expect from yourself and the School of Engineering over the next few years?
We’ll continue to push boundaries through teaching, cutting-edge research and enterprise. We have prided ourselves on providing tools, skillsets and mindsets to our students that enable them to develop their own abilities to stand out. This will only be strengthened further by our research-driven teaching practices and also by further integration of enterprise competences within our student experience. Personally, I have been involved in a very exciting enterprise project with two amazing NHS anaesthetist Doctor’s for the past year, and so I hope that together we’ll be able to share the exciting outcomes of that. It’s a project that can potentially save new-born babies lives, so it’s the most meaningful project I’ve ever been involved in.
What are your hopes for the conference, and more importantly, your hopes for the future when it comes to climate action and sustainability?
My hopes for the conference are to be part of a movement of like-minded, caring individuals. I’m looking forward to sharing our students’ project success stories, and I hope that those case studies will inspire further thoughts and ideas on how human creativity can solve some of the global challenges we face. My wish is to engage in meaningful and pragmatic actions as a result of meeting the diverse range of people at the conference. I look forward to meeting everyone there!
Alessio will be delivering his session on the conference day devoted to ‘Climate’ taking place on 22nd June.