Chair of Technology Enhanced Science Education

School of Engineering | Institute for Digital Communications | University of Edinburgh

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 5798 | |

Since doing the Scottish Crucible in 2010, I have gone from a Lecturership in Electronics Design at the University of Glasgow, to a Professorship (Chair of Technology Enhanced Science Education) at the University of Edinburgh (2018). That was via a Senior Lectureship at the Open University (2015 – 2018) which involved being Founding Director and Lead Developer of a multi-award-winning ca. £3M remote laboratory for doing large-scale undergraduate engineering practical work at a distance (with students needing nothing more than a browser and internet connection). It turns out that non-traditional laboratories (such as online laboratories) produce as good, or better, outcomes than traditional hands-on laboratories, as well as opening new pedagogical opportunities that directly target sector challenges that we all face. So interesting times ahead!

The lessons from Crucible were significant factors in enabling my journey to a Chair. Looking back, two key lessons – amongst many – stand out for me. First, the Crucible seemed ahead of its time in promoting interdisciplinary working. Finding the intersection of disciplines, collaborators, and challenges that suits your unique talents may very well involve entering uncharted waters. But enter them you must. Second, the creativity course gave me my most memorable (official) moment – something popped into my mind during a group challenge, but I dismissed it as being incomplete, only to find someone else voice it, which prompted yet another person to solve the problem. It seemed an apt metaphor of a successful collaborative research community and was a “lightbulb moment” for me. Of course, even though many academic journeys must follow their own path, there are several common factors for which the Crucible also provides excellent support. These include invaluable activities such as behind-the-scenes access to the Scottish Parliament to understand politics and policy; and media training with top television personalities who have bags of character and a no-holds-barred approach to improving your presentation skills. Overall the Crucible experience has left me with indelible memories and changed the way I approach my research. In my view, the unique Crucible format was essential to it achieving the impact that it has had on my career, with the long-form presentation making it much greater than the sum of its parts.