New “How to Change the World” programme brings over 500 students together to tackle global challenges from the Red Cross, World Bank and UK Government

2 June 2014

Over two weeks, UCL Engineering students will tackle real challenges posed by global NGOs, Government agencies and departments, and come up with their own solutions, from creating resilient communities to predicting the future of urban transport in a new programme – How to Change the World.

Developed with UCL Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP) as a pilot for the new UCL Integrated Engineering Programme, the course will draw together second year students from management, computer science, engineering and related disciplines.

On 2nd June the students will receive their challenges, including: Transport Futures (from Department for Transport), Really Smart Heating? and Valuing Materials (set by Department for Energy and Climate Change), Forecast-based Disaster Preparedness and Crowdsourcing for Humanitarian Work (set by the Red Cross), Safer Schools (set by the World Bank) and Resilient Cities (set by the Environment Agency).

Working in multidisciplinary groups, students will devise – and where possible, prototype – creative solutions to these challenge problems. Along the way, a programme of themed lectures, facilitated workshops and group studio time will provide training and spur creativity on how to change the world sustainably, equitably, and collaboratively. In addition, the programme will expose students to the skills required for mobilising change through business, public policy, and social change.

Global leaders in policy, business and social enterprise, including Professor David MacKay, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of the Young Women’s Trust, and Prof Josh Silver from the Centre for Vision in the Developing World will share their working experience through lectures. These are designed to give students insight and inspiration for carrying out their challenges, while creating valuable, transferrable skills to tackle issues and communicate solutions.

With help and coaching from UCL and external staff, they will develop ideas, learn to work in teams, document their concepts through writing and video, and finally present their solutions to each other and judges. The winning team, chosen by popular vote, will be presented with prizes by Dame Nicola Brewer – UCL Vice Provost (International) at a gala award ceremony hosted by Dr Steve Cross (Head of Public Engagement) on 13th June.

How to Change the World will give students the chance to experience many features of the new Integrated Engineering curriculum: big challenges, free-form problem solving, multidisciplinary environments and team working. It draws on the resources of UCL STEaPP, a department which explores and enables links between engineering expertise and public decision-making, to give students experience of setting their work in context.

Dr Jason Blackstock, Acting Head of Department for UCL STEaPP said:

“Over the next two weeks, How to Change the World is helping students develop the skills they need to tackle global, real-world challenges, such as food, water, energy, safety and transport. The course is been designed to provide students with an understanding of the wide range of social, business and policy contexts in which their engineering skills can be deployed to make the world a better place.”

Dr John Mitchell, Director of the UCL Integrated Engineering Programme, added:

“This is an exciting opportunity for our students to see how their technical skills can make changes in the lives of people worldwide – ultimately, engineering is about human wellbeing. We are delighted to give them the chance to work with Government and major global organisations, and contribute to real and pressing global challenges.”


Videos and updates from the students studying How to Change the World will be available from 9th June.

Media contact: 

Dr Rebecca Caygill, UCL Media Relations Manager

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3846 Email: ku.ca1537440362.lcu@1537440362lligy1537440362ac.r1537440362

To visit one of the sessions, please contact:

Clio Heslop, Communications and Events Officer for STEaPP

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 5773 Email: ku.ca1537440362.lcu@1537440362polse1537440362h.c1537440362

Notes to editors:

About How to Change the World and UCL STEaPP

How to Change the World is jointly organised between UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) and the new UCL Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP). UCL STEaPP is a new department at UCL which explores and enables links between engineering expertise and public decision-making.

Website: Twitter: @UCLSTEaPP

About the UCL Integrated Engineering Programme

The IEP is a series of shared courses developed by the UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences, to be launched in September 2014. Students will continue to study within separate disciplines, but will also follow courses that cross between streams and embed transferrable skills within a technical curriculum. The course aims to prepare students for the realities of 21st century engineering and maintain inspiration and motivation in their learning.

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