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ETUDE WoE Bridge building demonstration
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ETUDE WoE debate 1
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ETUDE: WoE debate 2
Who is Responsible for Communicating 
Science and Engineering?
The Fracking Great Debate
ETUDE: The Fracking Great Debate
Part 1 - introduction
ETUDE: The Fracking Great Debate
Part 2 - discussion
Rescuing Our Brownfield Spaces
ETUDE: Rescuing Our Brownfield Spaces Video
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Infrastructure Debate
The Great Infrastructure Debate, 
April 2012
Transport Challenges
The Challenges of Sustainable Transport,
March 2012
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The Future of Energy for the North East,
December 2011
Future of the City
Visions for the Future of the City, 
October 2011
March workshop     Events     Project Description    Partners    Outline

ETUDE: Engineering Transmission Using Deliberative Events

ETUDE was a unique opportunity for engineers to benefit from training and experience in public engagement.

From the Earth to Mars, micro- to mega-scale, research or practice, a group of engineers were invited to take part in a series of events exploring the practice and potential of engineering. A project full of ideas, expertise and imagination!

A series of events were held in the North East in 2014, full details of which can be found below.

Engineering Transmission Using Deliberative Events

The success of engineering projects depends on understanding the intersection of technology with human values and behaviour. Engineers who lack an understanding of the human side are at a disadvantage, as are citizens who lack an understanding of the technology. Following on from the successful Sustained Engagement project, ETUDE brought engineers and the general public together in creative ways to encourage each group to engage deeply and constructively with the other, to the benefit of both. ETUDE was funded by Royal Academy of Engineering as part of the Ingenious grant scheme.

In the course of the project The Great Debate delivered five events providing engineers with practical experience of public engagement. The events spanned a range of issues related to engineering and used a variety of formats: from stand-up and busking to panel discussions and conversations with a public audience and the consensus-building method Crowd Wise devised by new economics foundation (nef).

A three day workshop was delivered (19th to 21st March) leading up to an open day on 22nd March in which participating engineers presented their work in unconventional formats. The workshop introduced participants to a variety of approaches to public engagement. Pair work, group work and individual mentoring exposed participants to different approaches and provided time and space to experiment, obtain detailed feedback and prepare materials for the open day.

Topics included the use and remediation of brownfield sites; Newcastle Science Central: The Engineering Challenges; Building Better Buildings; Energy; Infrastructure; The Future of Manufacturing in the North East; Revitalising the Economy of the Ports; Engineering Education; Flooding.

Group discussion at Visions for the Future of the City event Group discussion at The Challenges of Sustainable Transport event


The events were organised by The Great Debate in partnership with

Etude Project Steering Group:
Dr Caspar Hewett, Director and Chair, The Great Debate, Durham University
Prof. Richard Dawson, Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Newcastle University
Dr Sara Walker, Director of Business and Engagement, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University

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ETUDE Public Engagement Training
Wednesday 19th - Saturday 22nd March 2014

This workshop will expose participants to a variety of ways of engaging publics from demonstration and presentation to busking and comedy. It will be an opportunity to experiment, obtain detailed feedback and prepare new materials leading up to presenting for real at The Wonders of Engineering on Saturday 22nd. The timetable will be flexible and tailored to participants requirements, but below is a rough outline of the timetable.

Day 1 (Wed 19th March) Room G.27. Devonshire Building (map), Newcastle University
Focus on presentation skills – each participant will give a short presentation, receive feedback and work on general and specific areas for improvement with an eye on how to engage general (as opposed to specialist) audiences. We will also have a demo of successful public engagement activities.

Day 2 (Thurs 20th March) Room G.27. Devonshire Building, Newcastle University
Experimenting with a variety of alternative ways of presenting including: the 3 minute format; stand up comedy; busking and discussions that work. Using group work and pair work. Introduction to audience-building.

Day 3 (Fri 21st March) Room G.27. Devonshire Building, Newcastle University
Preparation, rehearsal and promotion for Saturday event. New thoughts and experiments.

Day 4 (Sat 22nd March) Rutherford Hall (map), Northumbria University
The Wonders of Engineering (see below)

Facilitator: Caspar Hewett

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Devonshire Building

Devonshire Building

Devonshire Building

Location Map - Devonshire Building, Devonshire Terrace
Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne
[See also Newcastle University Campus map]

The Wonders of Engineering
Part of National Science and Engineering Week
Saturday, 22nd March 2014
Rutherford Hall (map)
Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne

A day of discovery, discussion and laughter

From the Earth to Mars, micro to mega, engineering influences every aspect of our lives today. This one-day extravaganza invites you to come and hear about cutting edge from engineers from around the country. Talks, discussions and exhibits all mixed with a dash of comedy will take you through a wonder tour of engineering today, and offer the opportunity to ask questions, challenge assumptions and engage in debate with each other and the presenters.

Come along and be amazed and inspired!



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The Great Debate in association with Institute of Hazard, Risk and Reslience,
Durham University and Great North Festival
Rescuing Our Brownfield Spaces
5.30pm - 8pm, Thursday, 3rd April 2014
SALSA Café & Tapas Bar
Westgate Road, NE1 4AE

What do we need to do to develop brownfield sites and make the best use of them? How do we want to use them? What technologies can be applied to make them useable? Brownfield or previously developed land, is everywhere. Nearly everyone has visited or lived near an area that was once used for industrial purposes, making it unsuitable for redevelopment. Besides being an eye sore, brownfield is also known to be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of communities who live near it, but often the financial costs are too great for it to be restored and developed. As the global population rises and land for agriculture and housing increases in demand, redeveloping brownfield may hold a solution to some of these challenges, but how do we do it? Some technologies are available, while others are in the making, but how can they best be used? This event will explore these questions with a panel of experts and practitioners and a general audience. Light refreshments (food and drinks) will be offered to participants to help keep you on your toes.

The event is OPEN TO ALL and will use the new economics foundation's Crowd Wise process to explore the topic: Beginning with an open question, participants (panel and audience) are invited to work together to create and refine possible answers with a view to deciding jointly what the best solutions are.


Michele Allen, artist
Alero Arenyeka, Newcastle University
Phil Hartley, Land Contamination Specialist, Newcastle City Council
Karen Johnson, Durham University
Elisa Lopez Capel, Newcastle University

Facilitators: Perry Walker and Caspar Hewett

Come along and join the discussion!

Royal Academy of Engineeering
Durham University
ROBUST project
Institute of Hazard, Risk and Reslience
Great North Festival

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Royal Academy of Engineering

The Fracking Great Debate
A Crowd Wise event
5:45pm, Thursday 22nd May 2014
Room 2.32, Cassie Building
Newcastle University MAP

Should we exploit the UK's onshore shale gas, and if so under what conditions?

Induced hydraulic fracturing (widely referred to as fracking) has been in use since the 1940s but has recently come to the fore as a means of releasing natural gas stored in shale rocks that would otherwise be inaccessible. This technology has huge potential for providing gas for energy generation, and has become increasingly attractive as gas prices have risen and the natural gas that can be easily extracted has been depleted. However, there is significant resistance to the technology due to potential environmental risks of its widespread use, such as ground water contamination and the migration of gases and chemicals to the surface.

So, how great are the risks? How will they be managed? What are the long term implications of pursuing this technology? How should we move forwards?

This event explored these questions using the new economics foundation's Crowd Wise process: Beginning with the central question "Should we exploit the UK's onshore shale gas, and if so under what conditions?" participants (panel and audience) will be invited to work together to create and refine possible answers with a view to deciding jointly what the best solutions are.

Click Here for full details, speakers and videos of the event

Ampea Boateng, Narec
Jonathan Imber, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University
Gareth Powells, Department of Geography, Durham University
Jeffri Ramli, Mech-Tool Engineering

Facilitators: Perry Walker and Caspar Hewett

Royal Academy of Engineeering
Durham University
Great North Festival

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Debating the State of the Nation
In partnership with Institution of Civil Engineers
8:30 - 10:30am, 1st July 2014
Lecture Theatre G.05, Ground Floor, Percy Building
Newcastle University
A breakfast debate

What is the current state of the North East's infrastructure? How does it compare with the rest of the country? What should we prioritize over the next decade and the next half century? A panel of six engineers will introduce the current state of play based on the latest ICE State of the Nation Report, followed by an hour of discussion with the audience.

So, come along, join us for breakfast, hear the latest on the region's infrastructure and have your say on its future!

Introduced by Nick Baveystock, Director General, Institution of Civil Engineers

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Royal Academy of Engineering

Project summary

Engineers from industry and academia will be mentored in public engagement skills, and will deliver five public events over 15 months. The programme will include four days of intensive training for 20-23 engineers during National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) culminating in an event devised and delivered by participants and four sets of training workshops leading up to events of two types: consensus-building discussions and panel debates. Events will be part of Great North Festival, NSEW and the ICE president’s visit to the North East. Workshops will provide participants with the opportunity to develop public engagement skills and increase confidence in delivering events. Evaluation will focus on which types of training and events worked best for engineers and public. The project will provide participating engineers with practical experience of public engagement activities involving members of the public in discussing engineering and its impact on our daily lives.


The aim is to involve 35 - 40 engineers in the project. The principal target group will be engineers with little or no experience of public engagement. It is anticipated that they will be drawn from academia and industry in roughly equal numbers. Recruitment will be carried out primarily through established contacts in Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham Universities, ICE North East, Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS), National Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC), Mott MacDonald and Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Through this project, participating engineers will benefit from bespoke training in presentation skills and different approaches to public engagement, the opportunity for specialist and peer to peer feedback and first-hand experience of public events. An engineer might be expected to come to the end of the project with a significant increase in confidence in presenting his or her work to general audiences, many ideas of different ways to do so, and the inspiration and enthusiasm to carry those lessons and experiences forward.


Events will be aimed at general audiences of all ages without pre-existing specialist knowledge of the topics. We would expect our audiences to include a representative cross-section of society with or without any relevant knowledge or experience. This would include people who are unwaged, retired, students all the way through to academics, consultants, Board Directors as well as people working in relevant disciplines. Beyond that, the target audience and therefore the promotional strategy will vary according to the topic. The event organised during NSEW is likely to attract the largest audience since it will span a whole day and will be embedded in the wider programme of the festival.

Project impacts

Impacts are anticipated on participating engineers and engineering organisations, public participants and the wider engineering community.

  • Participating engineers will gain experience and learning on engaging with the public, resulting in increased desire to take part in; confidence in taking part in; and estimation of the value of public engagement. It will offer them insights into how the public reacts to their work which may affect their future practice. They may become more aware of the differential impact of public engagement methods, in particular of deliberative methods.

  • Organisations will increase their capacity to undertake public engagement, increasing the likelihood that they will initiate it in the future.

  • Public participants will gain from discussing, and critically engaging with, engineering topics, leading to increased confidence in discussing engineering issues; understanding of the role of engineers in solving social problems; and interest in engaging in discussion of social and technical issues.

  • The wider engineering community will gain access to guidance and case studies. This will contribute towards the adoption of effective public engagement models across the sector.

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