UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Inspiring Summer School at UCL Engineering

20 October 2023

The “Bridging the Future” summer school, organized by UCL staff and students, welcomed a group of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers to build their English and STEM skills and inspire educational and career pursuits.

Summer School Students posing for a group picture outside of UCL's portico building

Over the summer, UCL’s Electrical and Electronic Engineering department and the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) co-sponsored a two-week summer school for young refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. 

Running since 2016, the summer school focuses on boosting science, English, IT and coding skills through daily practical group workshops, run by staff from across the Engineering Faculty and the Institute of Education (IoE). Taking on the responsibility for running the summer school this year was a multi-disciplinary group of UCL staff and students including: Adila Islam, Zifa Zuhair, Gargi Giri and Alec Owens.

Students making batteries out of potatoes

The summer school kicked off with “OhBots” led by George Walker, using programmable social robots to introduce students to the basics of computing and robotics. UCL Chemical Engineering led workshops on batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen, making batteries out of potatoes, and Scott Young introduced x-ray tomography tasking students to brainstorm a product that employed tomography. Ideas included a tech glasses and a navigation bracelet for blind people. Students were also introduced to lasers and optics by Francis Lockwood (UCL Chemistry) and learnt about the structure of DNA by extracting DNA from fruits, in workshops led by Alyssa Decruz (LCN).

Summer school students brainstorming "tech glasses"

Students gained confidence in speaking and writing in English, with English lessons run by Nazym Shaikhina, Tomoki Tsuji and Takahiro Nakamura from the Institute of Education.

On the final day, students showcased the skills and knowledge gained, presenting their favourite topics from the science classes at the end-of-class celebrations. Topics included “cognition in zero gravity”, “robotics in the modern world” and “how to make a fruit battery at home”. 

Feedback from students was extremely positive, with plenty of praise given to the welcoming and helpful team and teachers. 

Summer school students at the final day poster presentations

About Bridging the Future
Bridging the Future work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, mentoring and inspiring them towards their educational and career pursuits, improving social mobility and creating new opportunities to bridge the future for all.

Operations/STEM Team:
Adila Islam (UCL/Imperial Chemistry)
Zifa Zuhair (UCL Chemical Engineering)
Gargi Giri (UCL Chemical Engineering)
Alec Owens (UCL Physics

English Team:
Nazym Shaikhina (UCL IoE)
Tomoki Tsuji (UCL IoE) 
Takahiro Nakamura (UCL IoE)

Session Leaders and Speakers:
George Walker (ex-UCL makespace) - Programming basics with OhBots
Alyssa Decruz (LCN) - DNA extraction
Francis Lockwood (UCL Chemistry) - Lasers and optics
Scott (Robert) Young (UCL Chemical Engineering) - X-ray Tomography
Ali Issa (UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering)

Programme Leaders: 
Safe Khan (LCN/Crick Institute)
Muslihah Albakhri (external) 
Massimiliano Ramsay (LCN)