Stephen Alty

11th April 2019

Stephen is the Director of Teaching and Learning for the Department of Electronic Engineering.

Stephen, tell us a bit about the department.

The vision of Electronic Engineering at Royal Holloway is to focus the minds of students on the creative side. Without creativity, the maths and science is really rather dull and perhaps doesn’t lead to a great deal of success.

Is the building supporting that vision?

It’s a great place for us to be able to deliver our programmes and get that sense of creativity through. The labs have excellent daylight and we can be seen from the atrium area as well so it gives a bit more visibility. You can actually see students going through a design process.

The creative thinking room gives students a space to thrash out some ideas – then they can move into the practical laboratory space and test their designs out. Once they’ve settled on the design, they can move into the next room along which is our fabrication lab. They can design and build their printed circuit boards and can fabricate the physical enclosures for any engineering project they want to build.

Do you have a favourite space?

In terms of my own personal favourite, the labs are important to me. The labs teach a lot of the hands on activity and we need good facilities to be able to deliver labs effectively.

Does the building make you feel more confident as a department?

Before we were in a building which doesn’t quite have the same attraction. We weren’t able to properly show our dynamism as a new department. It’s fitting to have a nice new building which is a sort of flagship and pioneering to the programme.

Are the open plan offices working well for staff?

It’s very easy to have discussions. They come to you without having to organise a meeting. You can decide things quite rapidly. And when you need to get on with something on your own, you can go off into one of the meeting rooms.

Do you feel there’s a sense of community here?

Yes there’s certainly a sense of community. It’s nice for our students to have a principal location to know as their home. Although there are students from all over the university using the common space, the creative thinking room is only available to our students, so that is a personal space for them and there’s definitely a sense of ownership.