About Oliver Broadbent

I am a writer, podcaster and trainer with a passion for engineering, creativity and practical philosophy. Most of these things you can find on my blog Eiffelover.com, as in 'I fell over' - get it? In 2017 I launched Analogue Skills, a new project to rediscover the richness of our pre-digital lives so that we can understand how best to engage with the technology of tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Knowledge Club

Happy Birthday Knowlege Club

This month Engineering Knowledge Club is one year old. Last year, UCL and Think Up launched EKC with the aim of inspiring undergraduate engineers to develop their own engineering general knowledge. In the Autumn of 2013 a group of undergraduate engineers got together to identify engineering topics that they would like to know more about, and what they could do to build their knowledge about these topics. The deal was this: if the students could come up with their own set of activities to meet their learning aims, the UCL and Think Up team would do what it could to support that learning.

During the year, two students took up the challenge. Matthew decided that he wanted to learn more about architectural design styles and Friba Housseini chose to develop her understanding of tunnelling methods on Crossrail. Members of Engineering Knowledge Club are asked to write on this blog about what they are learning (click through previous entries on this blog to see what Matthew and Friba have written). The year of activity culminated in a Crossrail site visit organised by Think Up in support of Friba’s chosen topic.

While the take up in the first year has been small, it was sufficient to demonstrate how the concept could work, and gave us a clear idea of how the activities of the club needed to be organised in order to keep students motivated. The positive learning experiences of these two individuals have been sufficient for us to decide to run Engineering Knowledge Club for another year at UCL. In recognition of Friba’s active engagement with the initiative, the Think Up team have appointed Friba President of Engineering Knowledge Club at UCL for the academic year 2014-2015.

Very shortly, the date of the first Engineering Knowledge Club of this academic year will be posted to this blog, so watch this space. If you are interested in getting involved then please post a comment on this blog entry.

Engineering Knowledge Club visits Crossrail


Crossrail site visit

Today we had our first Engineering Knowledge Club site visit. Friba, one of our most active members chose Crossrail as her topic of interest. Since our early Knowledge Club meetings she has been researching and writing about tunnelling, and has been on a site visit to Bond Street. She fulfilled her side of the bargain. Our side of the bargain was to help go on a Crossrail site visit.

And that was how Friba and five of her colleagues ended up peering into the vertiginous shafts of the Crossrail station that spans Moorgate and Liverpool Street. I have taken students on plenty of site visits before, but it is stark just how higher the level of engagement is when the student is already will read on the topic.

The five other students have become knowledge club recruits. We look forward to helping them grow their engineering knowledge in the future.

Maple House

What Design Style

Maple House Maple House – Tottenham Court Road

This is Maple House, taken on a very rainy day , it is a building that faces onto Tottenham Court Road, the view above is the side that faces Grafton Way. The building is one I pass most days, some may think it is just a huge grey block as did I when I first laid eyes upon it. However over time seeing it on different days I actually like it as  building, in the rain it shines and has a mirror effect, and in the sun the colours in the granite can be seen. Yeah that’s right, the entire building is clad in granite from Quebec More info. The architect for this building was Sir Richard Seifert & Partners and was completed in 1976. The building is not a particularly well documented one but from what sources and opinions I have gathered I think it falls…

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Brickblog now live


To help me get up and running with my plan to learn about bricks, I have set up Brickblog, a new Pinterest board that I am using to help my capture interesting examples of brickwork I come across on my travels. My plan is to do some background reading, and then to go out and look for examples to reinforce what I have read. I expect this process to be iterative and reinforcing. The background reading should help my notice more, and my observations will help my ask more questions which I will want to find the answers to in my background reading. Well, that’s the idea at least!

Engineering Knowledge Club launched today at UCL

Today we launched Engineering Knowledge Club with a group of civil engineering students at UCL. The idea is to help engineering students to become excellent engineers by helping individuals individuals identify the knowledge they need, and then helping them develop imaginative ways of generating this knowledge. Continue reading

Introducing Engineering Knowledge Club

Engineering Knowledge Club is for students who want to become excellent engineers. It is based upon a simple idea about how people develop engineering skills, and alternative approach to learning

The idea is this. Many of the things that engineers do, like  identifying problems, understanding contexts, designing solutions, creating prototypes and persuading others, are very advanced skills. But all of these advanced skills are founded upon a broad range of general engineering knowledge.

But nobody wants boring lectures on general knowledge! Engineering Knowledge Club is designed to be an interesting alternative.

When students sign up to engineering knowledge club, they choose an area of their engineering knowledge that they would like to develop. We then support them in developing their own exciting way to build this knowledge that builds on the skills and knowledge they already have.

Engineering Knowledge Club is intended to be a community of learners. Everyone who participates blogs about what they are doing, and where students have similar interests or approaches to learning, they can share what they are doing.

At present, Engineering Knowledge Club is open to engineering students at UCL. If you want to get involved then email us at info@thinkup.org

Engineering knowledge club is funded by UCL Teaching Innovation Grant scheme and was created by education design consultancy Think Up.