Hannah Wood

Meet Dr Hannah Wood

Hannah Wood is a Principal Lecturer in the built environment subject area, focusing specifically on construction and project management. Hannah’s experience in the construction industry began in topographical surveying, moving into construction engineering and management.

My career path and journey to teaching

My interest in engineering and construction goes back to my childhood, my father was a topographical surveyor and I used to spend a lot of my school holidays accompanying him to work which I always enjoyed.  Initially I was planning on studying to be a civil engineer, but after attending some university open days and finding out more about the industry I decided that Construction Management would be the best fit for me.

I grew up just outside of Brighton and have always loved the city, so much so that I did both my undergraduate degree and PhD here at the University of Brighton.  Brighton is an amazing city to be a student, it is a vibrant, diverse and inclusive city and has something to offer everyone. Teaching was never something I had really considered before doing my PhD, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to teach alongside my PhD studies and this is when academia became my primary career objective.  As much as I had loved working out on construction sites, I found teaching to be just as interesting and challenging and equally satisfying when you can see the progress that your students have made. 

How my professional life provides the backdrop to teaching

I try to include as many real life projects and examples in my teaching to help student understand how things happen in the industry.  My modules also involved lots of practical work so that students can apply the knowledge from lectures into practice to help them deepen their understanding of concepts.  Drawing on my research and experience in industry allows me to broaden students’ horizons by providing them with lots of different examples which demonstrate how diverse and exciting the construction industry can be.

Achieving my PhD alongside teaching part time is one of my proudest achievements personally.  In my career overall I am probably most proud of the success our students go on to have.  Seeing students graduate after three of four years of hard work is a great moment and it is always mice when graduates keep in touch and update us with what they are working on now – to have been a part of their career journey is great feeling.

The built environment is really important in addressing global challenges

We spend so much of our time in buildings and therefore they have a huge impact on how we live.  Buildings play a role in many aspects including climate change and sustainability, equality and inclusivity and wellbeing of users and occupants. 

One of my research interests is specifically around inclusivity and diversity in the construction industry and involves investigating the experiences of women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds in the construction industry in order to increase representation of these groups at all levels in the industry.  I am also passionate about encouraging more young people to consider the construction industry as a career option. My research interests also cover new technologies in the construction industry and how they can be applied, many of which can be used to make construction more sustainable.

Advice I would give to prospective students

I always tell prospective students to consider the whole University experience, obviously the course is a major aspect of your university life but being somewhere that you feel comfortable and happy is just as important.  Make sure you get involved with clubs/societies or other social activities to keep a good work life balance!

What I love most about teaching

One of my favourite things about teaching is seeing the development and improvement in a students confidence and ability, it is a very rewarding part of the job of an academic. Students are supported in so many ways at university, not just in their academic life but in many different aspects.  In my role as a lecturer I support students through their academic work and am always happy to spend time with students if they are struggling with any of the course materials.    

Sanaz Fallahkhair

Meet Dr Sanaz Fallahkhair

Dr Sanaz Fallahkhair is a Principal Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction. Sanaz’s research interests include human-centred development of new technologies that incorporate studies of user’s experiences, cognition and collaboration in designing a novel intelligent systems delivered via multiple platforms: mobile devices, interactive television, tag-based technologies, wearable technologies, and robotic interactions.

Why I wanted to get into teaching

I always been interested in understanding the universe in scientific, and artistic perspectives. It may sound controversial but to me the combination of science, art and humanity together can only triumph. Exploring a potential of novel technologies into designing something useful, usable and accessible was my aspiration when started to purse career into software engineering through my UG degree and later to PG and PhD.

What drew me to teaching was not something that I started to explore during my PhD studies, however, it had been started when I started my UG studies. I have started to pursue teaching Maths, and Physics to GCSE and A level students.

Another aspiration to pursue teaching, is the social and collaborative nature of teaching that I appraise. Teaching enables me to work in an environment surrounded by enthusiastic minds.

I am a strong believer in research-informed teaching

The important and stimulating interplay between research and teaching is one of the defining aspects of studying at university as it enhances the student experience, facilitates learning novel and cutting-edge knowledge, and improves student employability. It also enriches research culture and environment. So, I do endeavour to inform my teaching by research.

What I am most proud of in my career is to be in the position to educate young minds as well as to push the knowledge acquired by research and innovations. In addition, I am also proud of being a woman in STEM – leading and working in an advanced computer science field developing an innovative technological solution and addressing global challenges.

I have received various awards and recognitions in the capacity of being a lecturer and researcher, i.e. a teaching excellence award from a UK higher education institution (University of Portsmouth) in the past, and best paper award at various highly ranked international conferences, including IEEE Advanced Learning technology in Japan.  

I was invited to speak at Meta (Facebook) in the US. I was on a panel of data scientists – we were addressing, the keynotes on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ethics of AI and how will it affect our lives in the new decade? “ I’ve also delivered a keynote speech at IBM Research in Brazil on Augmented Reality Applications for Contextual Learning with Mobile and Wearable Technologies.

My research and teaching relate to global challenges

My research and teaching relate to the addressing important global challenges – designing and developing a human-centred technologies in the domains of healthcare modelling, cultural-heritage and e-learning. By designing technologies around human needs, experience, cognitions, and collaborations, we can design and develop human-centred technologies. The significance of our work also comes from our deep understanding of software engineering and computer science and how to model an intelligent system. Systems that can think and learn – the machine that can evolve which also can be accessible via multiple platforms: mobile devices, interactive television, tag-based technologies, wearable technologies.

The subject of human-centred development of technologies also endeavour to address global issues of developing responsible innovations. Responsible and accountable human-centred technological innovations addressing ethical, legal and socio-cultural requirements of humans and incorporates human needs into developing technological solutions.

My advice to prospective students

My advice to prospective students is to be truthful to their own aspirations in learning. It is good to be you, to be bold, to be diverse! Studying at higher education at university-level will give you knowledge, experience, and life-long transferable, social and communication skills that goes beyond knowledge that you can learn from book or online.

Our graduates are highly-knowledgable and skilled

My students have developed human-centred technologies that aim to addressed some of the main global challenges such as pandemic, global warming and social injustice. Some of these projects won the best project award at university-level and British Computer Society students competitions held annually.

Our students are highly knowledgeable and skilled and during an industrial placement year or after graduation are much in demand. They have found jobs in high-tech sectors, in corporate companies such as Microsoft, Google, Disney, IBM and so on, and some of them have gone on to work in SMEs or developed their own business in high-tech industry.

Duncan Baker-Brown

Meet Duncan Baker-Brown

Duncan is a part-time Principal Lecturer and Climate Literacy Champion based at the University of Brighton. He is a qualified Chartered RIBA Architect who has practised, researched, and taught around issues of sustainable design, the Circular Economy and closed-loop systems for over 25 years.

My career path and journey to teaching

When I was younger I wanted to be either a gamekeeper or work for Greenpeace. My mum said that she thought one day the only natural spaces in the UK would be the nature reserves, which slightly terrified me, so I was always aware of environmental issues.

I was always really good at art – my uncle was an architect and it was him that got me interested in architecture –  I worked with him at his practice in London.

After I’d studied a postgrad in London I came down to Brighton where I was given the space to do what I wanted, which in 1990 was to look at sustainable design and the way I could merge the environmental activist in me with the designer. Brighton uni has allowed me to do that for 30 years, so it’s been incredible.

In 1993 me and another student from Brighton entered the RIBA’s House of the Future competition which we won, and I was invited back to teach in Brighton in 1994. Architecture is on one level a vocational pursuit but there’s no better way than being involved in an academic environment where you are doing research as you’re having to explain your ideas in a very rigorous way. And with teaching, having students asking questions really keeps you on your toes!

How I combine my professional life with teaching

I’ve always enjoyed collaborating. My practice worked on the Greenwich Millennium Village for a few years, we were teaching and also running the Innovation Task Force for the Greenwich Peninsula envisioning what urban sustainability would look like.

In 2008 we took part in a Channel 4 TV show called the House that Kevin Built which was a live version of Grand Designs. We had to design and construct a prefabricated house made primarily out of organic carbon locking materials in only six days. It was the UK’s first A* rated low energy dwelling and it was 90% carbon locking materials. But the frustrating thing was students weren’t involved, so we had this idea to do a rebuild of it at the University of Brighton as a school project.

We changed it and with totally different material sources and the emphasis of it. The design and construction process involved professionals and students as young as fifteen – with over 360 students, plus over 750 school kids. Whatever module they were doing around design, technology, construction, professional practices, they were achieving their module credits by being involved with the design and construction of this live project, which the Guardian newspaper named the Waste House. It is a two-story teaching facility on campus which is also an ongoing research project and laboratory.

I’m really passionate about social justice and climate justice

I’ve just come back from COP27 where I was speaking, and that was the number one issue there which is why we had success with the ‘loss and damage’ funding decision for climate change impact on the Global South.

Understanding the real social and environmental impact that your decisions as a designer make, is what I’m really passionate about. When you think about where things come from – you need to find out if child/ forced labour is involved in the extraction of the copper you are going to use for example.

Advice I’d give to prospective students

You’ll be working quite hard and a lot of the way we teach at Brighton is studio orientated, so you’ll be working with a lot of people. Designing buildings is complex and hugely exciting but you need to learn to work as part of a team.

The great thing about architecture is that you could be designing a door knob or a city -the scale of projects can really be very diverse! And you can bring your own passions that might be outside the built environment into it – for me it’s been 35 years of doing lots of different jobs under the banner of architecture. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do as I liked art, design, science, nature and architecture is a big enough umbrella – you can bring lots to it.

What I love about teaching is that it’s intellectual exercise that keeps you fit – you realise how unfit you are in that world after a day or two teaching!

Cliff Dansoh profile shot

Meet Dr Cliff Dansoh

How did you choose your subject?

I have spent most of my life in industry. Having started in the Royal Navy and then through a range of consultancy roles I have been lucky enough to experience a variety of diverse types of engineering and ways of getting things done. This journey has impressed upon me the merits of not only being technically competent, but:

  • Having the vision and creativity to establish what needs to be done; and
  • The implementation skills, competencies and behaviours to have the best chance of actually achieving the end.

      What are you most proud of in your career?

      I worked for London Underground in a variety of consultancy roles over several years. On the rare occasions these days that I travel on the London Underground, I have a spark of pride when an S Stock train comes into view having spent 3 years as part of the team that bought it into service.

      Continue reading “Meet Dr Cliff Dansoh”

      Brighton CCA explores AI visions of a sustainable future

      Visitors to Brighton CCA from 27 January to 27 February will have the chance to explore the (quite literally) limitless potential of Artificial Intelligence-rendered art to inspire solutions for a world impacted by climate change and environmental degradation. 

      The art will be displayed as part of a free exhibition of AI-generated images which integrate the built environment and the natural world.

      Titled SOS: Let’s share our dreams for more sustainable futures and healthier communities, the exhibition is the brainchild of Dr Poorang Piroozfar, a Reader in Architectural Technology and Digital Construction at University of Brighton, and Dr Eric Farr, an Honorary Professor of Architecture and Design at University of Liverpool.

      The AI algorithm behind the show has delved into myriad concepts and imagery around ‘green architecture’ to create visions of a startling world where nature is integrated totally into the structure of urban buildings, from houses to skyscrapers.

      Continue reading Brighton CCA explores AI visions of a sustainable future
      Angad Panesar

      Meet Dr Angad Panesar

      As a Principal Lecturer my role encompasses leadership on mechanical engineering course pathways, and research and development on a range of sustainable energy technologies.

      My career path and route to teaching

      I have always had a keen interest in sustainable technologies in energy recovery, energy storage and sustainable transport. I joined our internationally-recognised research group, the Advanced Engineering Centre at Brighton, to undertake my PhD in thermal engineering themed research. For this I received institutional award of ‘Best Presentation in the Faculty 2013’ and a further ‘Best Presentation in the Faculty 2014’. I was drawn to innovative approaches in practice-based teaching in engineering, with the aim to develop cross disciplined, multi-skilled and solution focused engineering graduates through ingrained fundamental principles.

      How my professional life influences my teaching

      I have 14 years research and development experience in energy engineering, via simulation and experimental methods applied to transport and stationary applications. I have gained this through successful industry-focused large and small projects, these include, ‘Libertine waste heat recovery unit via Innovate UK 2016’ to ‘Engine efficiency challenge via Advanced Propulsion Centre 2018′.

      To integrate my professional experience with teaching opportunities, I founded the STEP Lab (Sustainable Technology and Engineering Projects) in 2020. This offers a multi-disciplinary project-based environment, in a tutor-student collaboration, and has embedded the employability advantages on our engineering courses. During 2020-22, over 50 masters, bachelors, internships and shadowing students have completed authentic engineering experience via real-world industrial projects.

      I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy which has allowed me to lead the implementation of comprehensive changes on our largest practice and skills module in 2022, resulting in significantly enriched student experience. I have developed, managed and delivered our course portfolio, which is accredited (gold standard) by professional engineering bodies. I was awarded the ‘Inclusive Teaching Award 2017’, followed by the ‘Excellence in Facilitating and Empowering Learning Award 2018’ and a further ‘Excellence in Facilitating and Empowering Learning Award 2019’, all recognising my contributions in improving student engagement and achievement in engineering education at the institutional level.

      How the subject addresses global challenges

      To align with the emerging industrial skills and demands, the STEP Lab offers students at all levels of studies to problem-solve energy challenges in heating, cooling, power and energy conversion. To pave the way from the theoretical concepts to practical engineering for diverse and large cohorts I have implemented various methods in my practice, these include: problem-based learning; reverse engineering; puzzle-based learning; real-world case studies; practice-based learning; feedforward plans; peer-based learning; and simulators as virtual training tools.

      We pride ourselves in offering an authentic engineering experience

      At Brighton, we use a variety of teaching and learning methods. You will see me delivering courses in interactive and group learning sessions via, modern case studies, inspirational guest talks, reverse engineering, projects, and personal academic tutor group challenges, in a new approach to embed practice and skills in our courses.

      From year one these sessions and their activities range from 30 min (sustainable engineering challenge ideas), to two hours (writing engineering code of conduct), to one day (small robot competition), to one week (creation of feedforward plans), to four weeks (rocket car challenge), to finally a 12-week Engineers Without Borders project.

      We support you to reach your potential

      Our courses are multi-disciplinary and combine theoretical, analytical, computational and practical activities and have accreditation from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. We have stepped up to the challenge of developing and implementing a range of active teaching approaches and learning opportunities for our aeronautical, automotive, design, electrical and mechanical engineering students.

      For example, during year one you will use laboratories in automotive simulator for telemetry, wind tunnel for aerofoil measurement, and the aircraft simulator for flight control, engine testing for energy balance etc. This is all part of our forward-thinking ‘Energy Systems’ subject area, where there will be a range of problem formats during the sessions, these will include numerical, descriptive, conceptual, diagrammatic, graphical, practical and diagnostic.

      Finally, we are proud of the success of our students through collaborative real-world projects. My colleague, Dr. Nicolas Miche, supported students in the highly selective European Space Agency competition, to build and test an experiment for a CubeSat micro-satellite on the parabolic flight. More recently, supported by my colleague Dr. Steven Begg, our university students not only successfully completed, but also won an award in the London-to-Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally 2022.