University of Bath: Bath engineer Dr Anna Young wins Covid Unsung Hero Award

Dr Anna Young, a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has won the WISE New Educator Award at the organisation’s 2022 Covid Unsung Hero Awards.

She was recognised for her work during the pandemic to make lectures and tutorials engaging to students, and for playing a key role in the Department’s transition to blended remote and in-person learning.

She said: “To win the award is a real honour. I was very pleased to be nominated and privileged to be at the ceremony among some amazing people who have done incredible work during the pandemic.

“I have to pay tribute to our students, who have really stuck by their work in quite challenging circumstances over the past two years. They’ve truly impressed me – and even laughed at my jokes.”

One effort Anna led on that proved particularly successful was a department-wide move to using ‘visualisers’. These are small cameras that helped to capture a lecturer’s handwritten notes or calculations and proved more engaging in remote learning than slide shows.

Anna added: “A lot of teaching in engineering is what we call ‘talk and chalk’ where we talk through and write out calculations step by step. We weren’t initially able to do that when teaching virtually, but I realised quickly that no-one thinks in completed equations, so I encouraged the University to invest in the cameras and held a seminar for colleagues to get to grips with using them. Being able to show our own working out and thought process was invaluable to students’ understanding.”

Anna was also lauded for her pastoral care efforts, which included regular checks on students unable to attend lectures or tutorials – of particular importance during lockdowns.

“Commitment to students” applauded
WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) held the award ceremony at Windsor Castle yesterday, to recognise women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) whose actions have helped people during the pandemic. The awards were attended by WISE patron HRH The Princess Royal, UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England.

The New Educator Award aimed to recognise a woman who developed an innovative approach to education or training, working at any level or in any sphere, to overcome a challenge created by COVID-19.

Dr Young’s nomination stated: “Anna’s commitment to students, faculty, university and local community throughout the pandemic impressed all our judges.

“She supported not only the students under her charge, but the colleagues around her in new and ingenious ways. She is a wonderful example of how one person can make a huge difference to the world around them.”

WISE ambassador and Professor of Astrophysics, Carole Mundell said: “I am delighted that Anna’s incredibly dedicated and innovative work in supporting students, staff and the wider community through the pandemic have been recognised with this award. She deserves all our thanks and warmest congratulations.”

Anna has previously won international awards for her research into gas turbines, and received the University’s 2021 John Willis Award, which recognises dedication to the academic and personal lives of students combined with a contribution to teaching and accomplishment in research.

She was also a member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering team that helped to produce over 200,000 items of PPE on campus, and helped the team gain BSI accreditation for the equipment – meaning it met high standards of safety and quality.

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