Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Life at Wye: 2003

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

In 2003 we produced a DVD for the undergraduate course in the Faculty of Life Sciences. The DVD covered course details for Biochemistry & Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences and Agricultural Science in the Department of Agricultural Sciences.

This section looked at “Life at Wye”

Colin Grimshaw May 2017

Pimlico Connection: 2006

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Begun in 1975 as an undergraduate group project, the Pimlico Connection has grown over the years to become a key strand in Imperial’s widening participation activities. Emeritus Professor Sinclair Goodlad, founder of the initial project, recalls the early days of the scheme when just a handful of students began mentoring in local schools. “Originally we were looking at it primarily from the point of view of what students would gain from the experience – developing their communication skills and really getting to know their subject by finding ways to explain concepts clearly. However it soon became clear that there were great benefits to the schools as well.”

Students provide tutoring between 1-3 hours per week January-March. And now, in 2016, the Pimlico Connection is already celebrating its 40th year.

Colin Grimshaw April 2016

Management School Video – 1995

Friday, August 21st, 2015

We made this 1995 promotional video for what was then simply called, “The Management School”. Its base was across the other side of Exhibition Road at 53 Prince’s Gate, a building already owned by Imperial College. 0082_02 The school opened in 1987 and was headed by David Norburn. At that time the department planned to teach about 120 students in a full-time MBA course and about 150 part-time MBA along with about 150 undergrads in a business degree course.

The idea behind the Management School was for Imperial to compete with the best business schools in the country. It was quoted as saying “the primary aim of the Management School is to become a top international business school”. A few names changes later, the Imperial College Business School is now based in a new Norman Foster designed building on Exhibition Road.

Colin Grimshaw August 2015

Centre for Robotics and Automation 1984

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

In 1981 the Centre for Robotics and Automation was formed by Professor Tom Husband and was located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 30 years ago, in 1984 we made a promotional video for the centre to showcase the activities and work being carried out.  I can find little or nothing about the centre (or any photos) from college sources and assume it was closed some while after Tom Husband left Imperial College in 1990. Indeed, in Hannah Gay’s ‘History of Imperial College’ she comments that the move towards robotics didn’t work out as expected since the research attracted computer scientists rather than engineers. The only article I found on the centre is from an edition of the student newspaper Felix dated May 1985 (see pages 8&9). That centre is not to be confused with the current Centre for Robotic Surgery, which is something completely different.

The centre was located in the area of Mechanical Engineering that was on the corner that fronted onto both Exhibition Road and the entrance for cars (Imperial College Road). You can see people walking along the pavement and very close to the windows in the section that shows the Lansing robot working. The running of the robots was in fact a bit of a crowd-stopper at times, especially school kids on their way to and from the museums. It was one of the few showcases that Imperial ever had, maybe we need to bring one back again!

Colin Grimshaw January 2014

Promotion: 4 – Mastering the Future 1985

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Back in 2010 I brought you the two videos that were made to coincide with the City and Guilds centenary in 1985, they were Studying for the Future and Discovering the Future. I had promised to bring you a third video made later in that year called Mastering the Future. Obviously, this video was intended to showcase and promote the idea of taking a masters degree at Imperial College.

Key figures from Industry were featured to give a sense of what was required from University students taking such masters degrees. One person appearing was Sir George Porter, later Lord Porter who was then President of the Royal Institution. Later he moved to Imperial College to continue his research work. By the time the video was made Eric Ash had become Rector, superseding Brian Flowers. One of the few recordings that we have of Professor Bruce Sayers, then head of computing and also dean of City and Guilds is part of this video. Once more there are some great views of ‘Imperial past’ featured such as: the original front entrance on Exhibition Road; Sports Centre and Gym; Libraries and the 1960’s Walkway with Bookshop.

Colin Grimshaw September 2013

Engineering with Atoms

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

26 years ago, in 1987 I made a promotional video for the Department of Materials. It had a slightly grander title that usual, “Engineering with Atoms: Materials, Science and Engineering at Imperial College”. Once again this video is a treasure of scenes and images of life at Imperial College in the mid 1980’s. And, as with most promotional videos that we made, it contained a large amount of ‘stock footage’ from previous videos and some of this is now notable because of the vast changes that have taken place on the South Kensington campus.

As with all promotional videos an enormous input was required from the actual department in terms of what they needed to say and to show. Getting the words right is vital, so from the department I was aided by colleagues: Kilner, Rawlings, Flower and Walker. The latter two also provided the male and female voice-overs heard on the video. Harvey Flower is notable because of his tragic death in April 2005. He’s also seen in one sequence sitting at an electron microscope and later on he’s standing with his colleague at a departmental party.

Other worthy mentions are Princes Gardens with its old layout design and masses of colourful summer flowers, along with the original halls of residence. Also making an appearance are the 1960’s frontage of buildings facing onto Exhibition Road; the walkway and JCR. Making it into the video as well is the old swimming pool and tennis courts (located where the new Eastside Halls now stand). I’m fairly certain that the departmental library would have been merged into the central library, so shots of that in the video are also a record of daily life in the department. In fact the whole video is a snapshot of what Imperial College was like in 1987 and a true Video Archive post if ever there was one!

The usual tape problems occurred with the digitisation of this video, so any slight glitches or jumps are due to those problems. As always, if you are seen in this video please do let us know where you are now and what you are doing. Use the reply box below to make contact with me.

Colin Grimshaw August 2013

Chemistry Teaching Videos: 1981-1993

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

If you were studying Chemistry at Imperial College in the early 1980’s you would almost certainly have come across the series of teaching videos that we made. These were designed to provide a single definitive version of classic experiments carried out in the labs.  The way that it worked was that during a lab period students would have a number of ‘demonstrators’ who positioned themselves around the lab. They would then proceed to show the undergrads the way to achieve what was needed of them during the session. This was deemed to have flaws when it was discovered that very slightly different versions were actually being demonstrated. So, colleagues in the Chemistry Department asked for some of the experiments and also the techniques required, to be captured on video. These videos would then be made available to the students in the college library, prior to the lab session day and also at the start of the actual lab session via video players located around the lab. Starting 32 years ago, from 1981 to 1993,  11 of these classic experiment videos were made. Two of these: ‘Recrystallisation’ and ‘Using an Oil Vacuum Pump’ are on this page.

The old TV Studio Control Room  in 2006

Making them was not always so easy. To capture the experiments we needed to be able to record, as much as possible, in ‘real time’. That is, record the action without stopping or having to then edit later. We needed to be able to try and capture what would have been demonstrated live in the lab. Also, when an experiment had started, it couldn’t always be stopped on a whim from me because I couldn’t get a good camera shot! So, we had to be able to record with several cameras and this meant shooting in the College TV Studio** where we had three cameras available. Shooting this way meant we could, as much as possible, run in real time; if we had rehearsed what was going to happen. So, using three cameras we were able to plan ‘blocks’ of the experiments that could be recorded before we had to stop and reset cameras etc. (more…)

Live-Net TV Network: 2 – Opening 1987

Monday, April 1st, 2013

In the first part of this look at Live-Net I showed the lead-up to the opening of the system with a visit by Princess Anne to the Science for Industry exhibition the previous year. But now, we’ll see what followed on from that. Once the demonstrations were over and the Science for Industry Exhibition closed, it was time to start using the system for real. Many tests and trials took place and slowly teaching started to make use of the system. You’ll see some of that teaching in the video at the end of this particular blog entry. Even though Princess Anne had already seen Live-Net in action it was always planned that she would officially declare it open at some point. This took place from Senate House in central London and linked out to all those sites currently connected. The photo shows the Royal Party along with Richard Beckwith looking at the monitors that showed the Live-Net sites (Imperial is in the centre). On the 28 May 1987 the system was buzzing with images going backwards and forwards to Senate House. BT were standing by as part of the demonstration and to ensure 100% connectivity! The person given the overall responsibility for the connection and use of Live-Net at Imperial College was Professor Ernie Freeman then in Electrical Engineering.

Ernie handed over all of the technical tasks to me and that involved the planning of any ‘studio’, purchase of equipment and so on. Initially we simply used the TV Studio as this had cameras, sound and monitors. Later we produced a separate studio solely for Live-Net. As I had been involved from the very start, I was asked to participate in the opening ceremony and can be seen on the right hand side (all dressed up for the occasion) with a camera control box hidden behind some flowers! The background board was a left-over from the Science for Industry exhibition the previous year. There was one final royal visit to see Live-Net, but this time it was not Princess Anne. (more…)

Live-Net TV Network: 1 – Pre-Opening 1986

Friday, March 1st, 2013

In 1985 a proposal to install an experimental cable TV network between some of the schools of the University of London came to fruition. British Telecom had pioneered the use of fibre optics with the installation of Westminster Cable Television in London. The fibre cables linked to central street boxes that then fed into homes on coaxial cables (Switched Star Cable TV system). This enables users to select what they wanted and the resulting signal was then sent back to the street cabinet and then to the home.

Moving this technology one step further on, BT proposed a system where the fibre came direct to a cabinet located at some of the Universities in London (UCL, Imperial, Kings, QMW, RHBNC and the ULAVC at Senate House). The resulting system was called Live-Net and consisted of a bundle of fibres providing 4 in and 4 out channels at near broadcast quality.  It had been decided to locate the central switch for the whole system at the University of London’s Audio Visual Centre located at Senate House. This would also act as an additional transmission point for establishments around that area, for example Birkbeck College. (more…)

e-MasterClass 2001

Friday, February 1st, 2013

On the 19th June 2001 Sir Richard Sykes, then Rector of Imperial College, launched the first e-MasterClass with a broadcast to distinguished guests from government and other institutions in Britain, Australia and Thailand. The launch was preceded with the statement “Topical debate between masters at the cutting edge of scientific research and peer group scientists and industrialists around the world will be launched next month in what is believed to be the first e-MasterClass of its kind”. This first 40-minute presentation about healthcare policy was chaired by Chris Toumazou and was held in the video conferencing suite, which at the time was located next to the TV Studio on the level 2 walkway.

Video Conferencing using ISDN

Professor Ara Darzi’s live presentation

The technology used to link the various locations was Video Conferencing using ISDN2. The equipment allowed the ‘multipointing’ of the three sites into a split screen which meant that participants could all see and hear other with very little time delay. Images were viewed on 50 inch Plasma screens, something back then that was both new and expensive.


Press release information following the second e-MasterClass announced “Professor Ara Darzi impressed participants at the University of New South Wales, Australia, with a presentation entitled Look no hands — an exploration in cybersurgery which encapsulated his team’s dynamic new approach to micro-surgery and robotics and set out his vision for the future of surgery”.

Professor David Phillips presentation