UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Student volunteering project promotes STEM learning

30 January 2023

UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE) student volunteers inspired school pupils to explore STEM through university-level projects and practical experimentation.

Student participating in Project X

The Fleming Society, EEE’s student-led departmental society, teamed up with Dr Thomas Gilbert, EEE Lecturer, to bring back the award-winning Project X to the department. This year, they volunteered to design and lead a 5-week course for pupils from Newham Collegiate Sixth Form (The NCS).

Students created their own microcontroller-based circuits with the support of EEE’s students. Over the course of five weeks, the Fleming society covered the fundamentals of prototyping, supporting and enabling pupils to confidently create their own circuits using breadboarding. 

Moving from hardware to firmware the students had their first experience with Arduino programming. Bringing together all their newly acquired skills in Arduino coding, week 4 had the students program their own microcontroller chip and circuit boards. Finally, the students populated their circuit boards by soldering on their sensors, actuators, batteries and microcontrollers, resulting in some amazing-looking designs. 

Dr Serena Maugeri, Director of Engineering Admissions, Newham Collegiate Sixth Form, stated: 

Project-X contributed significantly to nurture our students’ curiosity and enthusiasm for electronic and electrical engineering. This programme represented a one-of-a-kind experience that will have a long-lasting positive impact on their future. As a result of their participation in Project-X, our students are now more confident about their decision to pursue a STEM path, with several of them wanting to study engineering at University. 

Extensive support was also provided by EEE’s lab staff - Gerald McBrearty, Andrew Moss, Martin Scott, Muhammad Omer and Noordeen Marikkar - who dedicated significant time to ensure the smooth running of the project, including organising multiple lab spaces to manufacturing the circuit boards.

On the importance of taking STEM into schools, Dr Thomas Gilbert said:

Having been in the Fleming Society myself when Project X first started in 2014, I was excited to hear that we would be bringing it back to the department after it was halted due to COVID restrictions. This year’s students and volunteers were amazing both in the technical aspects of the project as well as the social and creative elements. The last few weeks have highlighted the importance of opening up electronic engineering to pupils at an age where they can grasp crucial concepts and are keen to engage. I am pleased to say, Project X has returned with a bang! 
Student testimonials

Project X was an exciting and eye-opening opportunity to see and experience, first-hand, how projects are carried out in a rigorous academic University environment.
Het Vora, Year 12 pupil

I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with the students at UCL. Their enthusiasm and passion for electronic and electrical engineering deeply inspired me and strengthened my decision to pursue Engineering as a future career. Every second has been worthwhile, and I keenly look forward to more outstanding opportunities like this.
Ibrahim Ahmad, Year 12 pupil

Working in the company of undergraduates, in one of the most prestigious universities in the U.K was a wonderful experience for me. Learning to create my own circuit board using computer software, assembling the components of the circuit together as well as coding tasks for the circuit really broadened my understanding of what an electrical engineer does and I am sure the knowledge gained from this will be an asset for me in the future.
Abubakr Wadiwala, Year 12 pupil

Prior to partaking in the project, I had no real interest in studying electrical engineering, as I did not know what "electrical engineering" was, but having developed my own circuit and programmed a reaction game that could be played on it, I now know that electrical engineering may be a path I pursue. The experience was one-of-a-kind not just because of the many skills it taught me, but because it gave me an opportunity to experience a real development process. I especially enjoyed designing my own game. The volunteers spent a lot of effort as they looked through and patched up our code and designs between sessions to ensure nobody got left behind. I strongly recommend anyone who is entertaining the idea of studying electrical engineering to participate in UCL's Project X.
Arda Sinecikli, Year 12 pupil

I really enjoyed it as it gave me an insight into electrical engineering. I particularly liked doing the soldering as it was something I’ve never done before and was out of my comfort zone. Due to this opportunity, I was able to play around with different programs to design my very own circuit board.
Polina Bogdan, Year 12 pupil

About Project X
Project X is an outreach project which has volunteers from the Fleming society running an engineering project for several weeks to sixth formers from schools across London.  See images

Further information
EEE Fleming Society 
Dr Thomas Gilbert
Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre