Exploring emerging technologies: UC Leeds hosts Digital Immersion Day for ESOL and GCSE students 

University Centre Leeds (UC Leeds) recently hosted an inspiring Digital Immersion Day for students studying ESOL and GCSEs in further education. Funded by the Luminate Education Group Innovation Fund, the event aimed to enhance students’ STEM skills and provide insights into the application of technologies in various industries, focusing on developing digital skills in demand in 2024 and beyond. 

The day featured engaging taster sessions across various fields including Sport, Health, Games, Science, Engineering, and Business. Workshops offered hands-on experiences and deeper understandings of potential career paths, focusing on developing seven core STEM skills: creative thinking, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, adaptability, continuous learning, and data-driven decision-making. 

Healthcare session: Pioneering careers in Health & Wellbeing 

The event started with a session on healthcare, offering students a glimpse into careers as Health & Wellbeing Coordinators or Healthcare Assistant Practitioners. Using digital tools, students participated in sensory and therapeutic activities and experienced a simulated clinical environment with Nursing Annie, a mannequin used for nursing training. This session illuminated the critical role of technology in modern healthcare and highlighted various career opportunities. 

Engineering session: Building tomorrow’s world 

In the engineering session, students explored the basics of mechanical and electrical assembly of robotics and participated in a “Chalk and Talk” about engineering design. This combination of theoretical and hands-on activities emphasized the importance of engineering skills in driving technological advancements. Key skills developed included critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration, as students worked together to solve engineering problems and design solutions. 

Biomedical sciences session: Exploring the microscopic world 

Students then donned their lab coats in the biomedical sciences session. They used spectroscopy and chromatography to analyse drug samples, in a quick whistlestop tour of anaesthetics that allowed them to analyse three powders identifying unique components. To support students understanding, our Biomedical Sciences student ambassadors joined the session and challenged participants to answer any burning questions and provide their experiences. 

Gaming session: Crafting virtual realities 

Next, students were introduced to Unreal Engine Development, digital sculpting, and visual effects in the gaming session showcasing the creative and technical aspects of game development, allowing students to explore the process of creating immersive virtual worlds and the skills required to thrive in the gaming industry as students learned to use advanced software tools and think outside the box in their designs. 

Business session: Simulating success 

In the Business Innovation Suite, students competed in a digital business simulation aimed at improving the profitability of a cycling business. They learned about the intricacies of running a business, from inception to market expansion, and the strategic decisions involved in each phase, fostering essential skills in communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. 

Sport session: Enhancing performance with technology 

The final session of the day took place in the Sports Lab, where VR coaching, BlazePod recreation, and movement analysis demonstrated how technology is revolutionising sports training and performance analysis. Students experienced firsthand how digital tools can enhance athletic performance and open new career opportunities in sports science. 

Reflecting on new opportunities 

The day successfully provided students with a comprehensive overview of exciting opportunities in STEM fields by offering hands-on experiences and showcasing the practical applications of technology. The event inspired students to explore new horizons and consider careers they might not have previously envisioned, all while developing essential STEM skills for future success.  


Laura Macgregor, Widening Participation & Outreach Manager, University Centre Leeds