Design Engineering
Showcase

BBC

Student
Amy Mather
Team
BBC Research and Development - Sustainable Engineering Team
Supervisor
Dr Lorenzo Picinali/Dr Michel-Alexandre Cardin
Role
Junior R&D Engineer
Sector
Technology, Media and Telecommunications

Since April, I have been working remotely for BBC Research and Development. Throughout this time, I have developed a new web-based platform for the Sustainable Engineering team which I used to prototype a tool to better inform employees about their individual carbon footprint. This work is an important step towards the department’s desire to become carbon neutral.I was seeking to gain experience working in a large company, having only worked in small start-ups before, therefore the BBC placement was an ideal opportunity. I was responsible for all facets of the project, providing me with an opportunity to grow confidence in many design engineering skills.

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

My background in human-centred design has enabled me to bring alternative perspectives to the team, including a comprehensive understanding of different stakeholders and their individual needs. This has enabled me to better support the team, from offering inputs into my colleague’s project, to expanding my brief to create a prototype that’s able to support future projects.

Key activities included: background research into the problem space including conducting meetings with stakeholders across the company; undertaking web-based training to the JavaScript user-interface framework React; liaising with data protection and accessibility teams across the company; designing the software and user interactions; programming the initial prototype; conducting user-research; planning future features of the tool; and finally documenting the project & handing it over to a colleague.

 — BBC

Role and Contributions

My role was a Junior R&D Engineer within the Sustainable Engineering team. The team is responsible for looking at the operational environmental impacts of R&D and how to reduce them; further research into what changing media technologies means for the environment; and disseminating what has been learnt with the BBC and wider industry.

The final prototype I delivered includes a tool for dynamic survey creation which I built using the python web-framework Django combined with React. Whilst this wasn’t in my initial brief, I saw an opportunity to improve the quality of my contribution to the team by building my prototype in a way that would make the future work of my team easier.

I used this tool to create the questionnaire for a functioning carbon footprint calculator. The survey covers commuter travel, business travel and building utilities: gas, electricity and water, as research revealed these to be the biggest contributors to an employee’s footprint. The prototype processes the responses given and uses the Government’s carbon conversion factors to show the user a breakdown of their annual workplace carbon footprint.

One of the team’s objectives is to understand the carbon footprint of the department and develop tools to calculate and monitor it over time. This is important because the department is moving towards carbon neutrality and therefore need to know where reductions can be made. My prototype lays the groundwork for a better understanding of an employee’s carbon contributions.

Summary

Placement is an excellent opportunity to explore your future career so where possible look for companies, or teams within companies which align with your long-term goals. For me this meant sustainability was an important element.

Whilst working remotely don’t underestimate the benefit of 30min social calls and virtual tea breaks with your colleagues. The wellbeing boost was crucial and the relationships it helped me form, despite never meeting in person, was invaluable professionally and personally.

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