Computer Engineering Systems

February 15, 2012

Many of the advances this century have relied on engineers, whose skills can encompass many areas, from the programming of smart devices to that can control systems in a variety of ways. For example modern cars may now have separate computer control systems that have been programmed to monitor both engine speed, fuel consumption and the input from the driver. These systems communicate over a network in order to achieve optimal engine efficiency with engine performance. This is true now for many industrial systems that require communication between many devices in order to for these complex systems to work. The need to understand both hardware and software design of these systems is vital, as well as the need to integrate distributed systems using networking is also a vital skill. The understanding of electronics required in order to control these electrical systems, is also a necessity in order to control motors, monitor sensors and communicate system parameters via a network.

This course has been designed for such engineers in mind. There are three clear themes of software design hardware applications and networking in order to achieve this level of subject integration


CTC Bike Ride

February 7, 2012


To enjoy ourselves, the beautiful countryside and appreciate the different cultures of the different regions.


From Workington to Tynemouth


Day 1

Train from Leeds to Carlise then Carlisle to Workington

05:29 Leeds [LDS] Platform 5A Workington [WKG] 09:31 4h 02m More details on the 05:29 service from Leeds to Workington

cheapest fare

Single Fare


 Cycle 31 miles to Youth Hostel in Keswick , stay the night there, lovely town, much culture

Day 2

Cycle 45 miles from Keswick to Alston ( up hill to highest market town in England), stay the night there, at the Youth Hostel, great little town, much culture.

Day 3

Cycle 64 miles from Alston to Tynemouth (mostly down hill !), stay the night at daughters flat in Newcastle, celebrate at Crown Passada.

Day 4

Train, Newcastle to Leeds.

10:17 Newcastle [NCL] Platform 5 Leeds [LDS] Platform 16A 11:52 1h 35m 0 More details on the 10:17 service from Newcastle to Leeds

cheapest fare

Single Fare

£16.00 Advance More fares


Train to Workington very expensive, suggest alternative from Alston??

Progressive distances, first 2 days are toughish, many hills. Final day, long but easier going.

Train home much cheaper, but will have to book bikes on, with Cross Country Trains

Suggestions? Comments?

Engineering Systems Control Blog

November 3, 2011

IET Accreditation for the MSc in AEM

October 18, 2011

MSc in Advanced Engineering Management

1         About the course

This course addresses current thinking in the field of Engineering. With the ever increasing demand for new products, the drive to use global industrialisation effectively and the burgeoning need to consider environment issues, courses such as this one is right for its time. The need to increase efficiency and cost effectiveness via effective management is essential in current competitive markets in order for a company to survive let alone prosper. The latest and future thinking in this area is considered by this course, subjects such as agile manufacture, logistics, simulation and modelling are important to enable the optimal control and design of whole factory systems and products. The Engineering evaluation of product designs can be made through rapid prototyping and how the international supply chain management of individual components can be made via the on-line community. This course is suitable for full time students who wish to further their studies in this field as well as part time students who may be working in industry and wish to update their skills and knowledge in this area.

2         Aims and Learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of a full MSc Advanced Engineering Management programme, students will be able to demonstrate: –

  • A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of it at, or informed by, the forefront of the Engineering and Technology field of study and professional practice.
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the engineering domain.
  • Conceptual understanding that enables them to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the engineering and management field and evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

2.1           Skills and Other Attributes

On successful completion of a full Masters programme students should be able to demonstrate: –

  • They are able to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
  • Continued advancement of their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.
  • Qualities and skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations and independent learning for continuing professional development.

Course structure ~Full time mode

The diagram below shows the Full time course structure over 1 calendar year.

          Tri 1              Tri 2              Tri 3


Course structure ~Part time mode

The diagram below shows the Part time course structure over 2 calendar years.   


       Year 1                                          Year 2

        Tri 1             Tri 2                  Tri 1            Tri 2          Tri 3 

The course is taught in an integrated fashion with the first trimester concentrating on Process Control and the second trimester concentrating on New Product Development. The completion of each trimester accrues 60 credits towards the final Masters in a cumulative fashion i.e. 60 credits for PGCert, 120 credits for PGDip and 180 credits for the MSc qualification.

Trimester 1 (Process Control) 60 credits   

Simulation and Modelling

This subject investigates how modelling and simulation of industrial systems can increase productivity and reduce response time to market demands, through the application of discreet event simulation. Further investigations into the simulation tools available to optimise the manufacturing process will also take place as well as critically evaluate the statistical data a discreet event simulation package can produce via different datapoints including throughput, content, machine state, utilization and interpret the financial analysis data generated by a discreet event simulation package and defend a strategy of improvement.

Engineering System Control

This module investigates the design, programming and data capture for the management of distributed computer controlled industrial systems. Subjects studied include: Human Machine Interfaces (HMI), alarms, historical data capture, with reference to SCADA and other management systems, for example Open Communication (OPC) systems.

Engineering Management

The aim of this module is to develop the students’ understanding of the key concepts associated with engineering management which is concerned with the optimization of complex processes or systems. The focus will be on logistics and operations management in the context of engineering and the management of the international supply chain. This will also encompass the management of integrated systems such as human resources, finance, knowledge, information, equipment, energy and, materials, analysis and synthesis. The application of statistical analysis to Operational Research is also covered.

Trimester 2 (New Product Development) 60 credit points

Future Engineering

This module will examine the future state of engineering through a critical exploration of shifting social, cultural and technical context and emerging themes in design. Students research the principles of speculative technological futures and emergent engineering approaches in practice. By definition this module aims to review key topics each year based on case studies and new aspects of engineering. Current indicative examples include mass-customisation, advanced material science, generative design, open-source hardware, engineering for reusability, craft resurgence, anthropomorphic machines, shanzhai innovation and intellectual property.

Eco Engineering

This module will critically examine sustainability and sustainable development and their application in product design and the manufacturing process, including international supply change management and PAS 2050 implications. The student will develop their awareness of how the internet can be used to source products in an efficient, environmental and sustainable way through factory 2.0 scenarios.

Along with evaluate the application of AMTs and their impact on the environment.

Lean and Agile Engineering

The holy grail of being able to respond quickly to demands for new and improved products in the international arena,  while at the same time delivering the product on time at least cost with the optimal quality is vital. No amount of the latest technology will enable new or existing companies to prosper without proper Management and planning. Students will critically evaluation the underlining principles of lean and agile engineering from six sigma, CI, SMED, SCRUM, kaizen, Muda, 5S etc and estimate their importance within a engineering environment. The module will investigate the benefits of cellular manufacture, CADCAM, DFM, DFA .

Trimester 3 (Project) 60 Credit Points


  • Research Practice
  • Final Year Project or Dissertation

Course management team

The management team include:

Steve Wilkinson

Extension 27427

Duncan Folley

Extension 24741

Reflective Blog Analysis (audio)

April 5, 2008

Well here is another blog,

just returned from Hull University’s Open Day as my son is interested in studying Accountancy there. Very interesting to see how they deliver their curriculum, many exams, 6 written reports and a fair bit of on-line blackboard work. They were very clear that the main modules were in lectures of around 400. However very interesting and flexible course ie many different routes and options. They did not seem to have the number of 15point modules that we have, in fact they were rather large and spread over the 2 semesters, makes you wonder about our 7 week block system that we have. Are we doing the right thing in teaching and assessing a very technical subject over such a short period of time ?

A big problem is turning around marking and giving feedback in such a short time, especially when we have 270 students on 2 * 7 week blocks. I know Simon has been investigating a JISC project on Audio feedback, if this helps give quicker and more comprehensive feedback then tthis will be a great help. anothe issue is the stress on staff who have to work quickly to get results to the office at the end of each block. I have spoken to a few people with carpal tunnel problems, RSI etc, again audio would help here. I think it would also enhance the material, although all my screen casts contain audio, perhaps a simple audio only explanation of principles and technical detials would help. Hwever the subject id 3D Animation which is a very visual subject.

I will find some theory to support these ideas.



Reflective Blog part 4 ( more analysis, 1. Affordances)

March 26, 2008


here we go again, had a great week away skiing, thrown myself down at least 2 mountains, every muscle in my body aching, had a great time !!

I had some excellent comments from Christina on how I can analyse my reflections to take my thinking further. Here are some areas that Christina suggests that I can analyse :

  1. The Camtasia tours you have created that students don’t seem to be engaging with is a good example of the affordances of narrated screencasts that aren’t being realised-why?
  2. Why and where do you expect audio to improve your module?
  3. How has the WP debate affected you in your thinking around the quality assurance activities currently carried out at your uni or about the poor submission rate?
  4. The assignment you report that hasn’t been submitted-might it be worth describing and reviewing it’s relevance? 

Is it only technologists that have to number every thing ? Still can deal with these one at a time.

1.  I found this article on

There are today a number of educational video sites modeled on commercial or public Web 2.0 technologies such as YouTube. These sites often archive (with easy search capabilities) video clips of educators talking – essentially employing technology as a conduit for the transmission of information. There is undeniable value in capturing and sharing the world’s most creative teachers’ discussions of their favorite subjects. However, we argue that limiting the use of digital video to the mere transmission of classroom lectures does not take full advantage of the capabilities of the medium. 

In contrast, we believe that digital video technologies offer unique opportunities (through interactivity and user-generated content) to rethink the instructional paradigm particularly to match the needs of the subject to be taught. The technology now makes it possible to capture computer displays to create screencasts, combine images with student narration for digital storytelling, and construct digital animations such as Flash movies, among other possibilities. As a result of emergent technological advances and concomitant expansion of the affordances of the medium, the definition of digital video and digital movies is broader than in the past. As we shall see, the best uses of digital video can vary dramatically from one content area to another.

The article suggest the following relationships :TPCK model

 Another article which supports the benefits of screencasting compared to other technologies such as narrated PowerPoints and Video Conferencing :

Screencasting— Camtasia, Captivate, Snapz,       Computer software         Self-paced for learners, higher
                         Viewlet Cam and Builder             tutorials,Simulations       resolution and more annotation

so where am I going wrong , Christina suggested affordance?

 “An affordance is a quality of an object, or an environment, that allows an individual to perform an action.”

“Well-designed objects make it clear how they work just by looking at them. Some doors have big metal plates at arm-level. The only thing you can do to a metal plate is push it. In the words of Donald Norman, the plate affords pushing. Other doors have big, rounded handles that just make you want to pull them. They even imply how they want you to place your hand on the handle. The handle affords pulling. It makes you want to pull .”
 more clues come from the following quote :
“This expanded view of pedagogical reasoning can be described as the ways knowledge about tools and their affordances, pedagogy, content, learners, and context are synthesized into an understanding of how particular topics can be taught with technology in ways that signify the added value of technology”.
 Grainne Conole, the Professor of e-learning OU
states :
“Some students like the reflective nature of blogs, others don’t and prefer the more targeted discussions which are possible in the forums. We wanted the students to get a feel for the technologies so that they could then make up their own minds on the different affordances of the technologies and their own personal preferences.”

The figure lists ten common pedagogical affordances that a teacher might want to promote – the opportunity to provide students with an authentic experience, getting students to critically reflect, enabling them to communicate or collaborate with others, etc. Then the idea is that as part of the design process you decide to what extent particular tools or tasks promote these pedagogical affordances and use this as a basis for tool and task selection in the creation of a learning activity.


From the above articles we can see that applications such as sceencasting are very useful tools but not the ultimate solution to delivering content. There is much more to teaching a student how to use a particular piece of software than just by talking them through it and showing them how to do it as a captured screencast. Does it take into account all leaner preferences ?
Although a student can rewind a screencast tutorial, there may be a problem that he still does not understand, who does he then call ? his peers, his tutor ? He may think he can watch the tutorial upon returning from work or the SU ie does he need to attend the formal tuorials at all with this type of facility avalable ? Affordance suggests that it is not perfoming the function the tutor or student expects, for example :-
  • Authenticity- is this real world ie simulated experience as being apprenticed to an expert  ?
  • Interaction- can the student interact and query the screen cast ?
  • Collaboration- can the student collaborate with others either on-line or within a class to aid their learning.
On reflection I would say no to all the above. I would change my strategy from :-
  • Lecture- Inspiration, good examples, talk them through the principles and techniques.
  • Screencast led tutorials
to :
  • Fewer lectures, howver keep the inspiration and principles
  • Work collaboratively on given apprentice pieces.
  • Fewer screen casts, there are too many for every eventuality and it must have become confusing.
  • Redesign Vista to include more staged progression ie degrees of difficulty as we go through the module.
  • Take more account of different learning styles ie some students prefere more audio or text based content rather than visual media, some like to work on thier own, others in groups.
More to think about !!

Reflective Blog Part 3 ( widening participation)

March 10, 2008


interesting how coincidences happen !! I have recently had a bit of a hard time from management on why my module ( along with many other modules) have high non submission rates, currently 25% for a cohort of 270 students. Even the external examiner made the comment that the majority of non submissions were due to repeating students. I had these terrible statistics hurled at me as if I was a rogue lecturer, one member of staff commented that I should have redesigned the assignment so that they did not run away. However technology is truly wonderful and I have religiously kept on-line registers and can monitor engagement via Vista. I can clearly see that they have not even seen the assignment never mind read it !! So whats going on ?

I know that I have been asked by students to give them more conventional seminars during laboratory time in the PC labs instead of point them to the multitude of learning objects I have created using Camtasia ( I sweated blood over those !!). I spent a great deal of time putting together the WebCT Vista VLE with all the information required in a structured format with Learning objects to support my lectures, yet all they want is someone to talk to !! ie Synchronous communication.

I know that some students don’t attend because they have work commitments and because they have so much information on Vista, do these able students need to come in ? Why can’t they stop at home and use their own personal machine and come in if they need help ?

 I know that managemnt now review modules as well as courses, they have already axed a number of poorly performing awards, it looks like the poorly performing modules are next. I just wish they would look at the story behind the statistics. I know our University is very aware of any poor performance and makes sure we maintain standards. We have had a number of QAA reviews that have been very favourable so we must be doing something right. I just hope that the changing face of HE takes note of widening access and the pressure on staff to perform.

 The comments in last weeks Telegraph made thoughtful reading.

 Uk HE retention no better than 2002 even though £1billion had been pumped into supporting students from poorer backgrounds.

So can technology reach out and help these students who don’t want to come in and submit ? I am not sure, its all about committment, maybe the assessment design could be on-line for the first week ie a skills audit and use this as a basis for generating an initial mark to determine which students are engaging and which ones are not. Immediate action could then be taken to chase up and help these students.

I have enjoyed our on-line seminars on WP and there is much useful discussion that can point to the right direction.



SBOSE part 2 reflective blog

February 27, 2008

I don’t know what’s happened to the month but its flown by. Rather late creating this blog, but now I have an handle on it I hope I can write something thats worthy. The moral is don’t go away at critical times such as the start of semster B at Leeds Met and start of SBOSE part 2, I like Simon promised no excuses so here goes.

 What I have got from the course so far ?

 1. That it is great to talk to other colleagues and students about something which binds us together … education. We all came into the business from different directions and for many different reasons, its great to share those during the discussions.

2. I have generally enjoyed the theory ie I seem to have blasted through the last 25 years of teaching after throwing away my PGCE notes and adapting to my own style of teaching ( don’t laugh colleagues !), don’t forget that we are all different characters and have our own way of delivering to the many different styles of learner. I have an APD in Teaching in HE, Fellow of the HE academy and numerous other courses that have dealt with the theoretical aspects of  Assessment and Learning and Teaching, it used to be TLA when I first started !! However I have enjoyed sharing those thoughts and had the occasional light bulb moment when I thought, that theory fits our practice, or we have been doing that for years but never thought of a fancy name for it before. Some of the papers were inspirational, others made you think, whats the point of this paper ie beyond my limits of comprehension, although that is probably my background.

3. I loved the great examples you showed us on the different tools and techniques that are available for WebCT Vista, I used some of your ideas when I produced my individual project for part 1 ie :-

Blocked progressive tasks and assessment, a variety of different mediums, although I only had audio in Youtube and the Web Trailers, not audio such as your podcasts, will try though. I have encouraged both my level 2 and 3 to keep Wikis for the management and administration of their projects. Also Chat rooms to encourage on-line communities ie they don’t always meet up as teams, most of them like to run up enormous mobile phone bills ie we cannot make them become an on-line community.

4. Most of all its good to hear what you as tutors have related ie its not easy to be an on-line tutor ie the 3 rules, be there, be there, be there. Also as much as we admire and value group work, it is very hard to manage and can be very demanding, especially when things don’t work out between students. I know that you are just as busy as us and have the same work specific problems.

The implications for me is to become more hopeful about the value of e-learning ie its not just a way of organising learning for the masses but can be a unique learning environment for the different types of learner as outlined in your student scenarous. Parloff and Pratt give some good guidelines, some stating the obvious, others a little utopian ie that will never happen in the real world ie videoconferencing for all ( or will it ?). For me I hope that I can help make my work more interesting and enjoyable and if we can reach out to students who would never otherwise enjoy Higher Education, then that is a good thing.

 Steve 27,2.08