We think it’s essential that you get to know important staff members in your School. Meet Nasser Sherkat who is the Head of the School of Engineering and the Built Environment. Learn more about his background, his interests and what he enjoys about working for the School and the University.
What did you study at University?
Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering and PhD in Automation.
How did you become the Head of School for Engineering and the Built Environment at Birmingham City University?
Since obtaining my PhD I started working as a lecturer. In addition to teaching, I started to develop a research and enterprise portfolio. Publishing in reputable international journals enabled me to establish my track record and obtain funding from UK and EU research councils and industry. In partnership with colleagues, I founded a number of small companies to enable commercialisation of my innovations. Further growth and development of my experience enabled me to become a chartered engineer (CEng) and later Fellowship of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET). This track record enabled me to demonstrate leadership ability which is one of the key requirements for becoming the Head of School.
What does your job involve?
Higher Education, in essence, is about creating and exchanging knowledge. My role is to draw on my experience in teaching and research to lead the development of a strategy that is aligned with BCU’s vision of being The University for Birmingham.
What’s your favourite thing about working for the School?
I really enjoy every aspect of my job but most of all, if I was to pick one, it would be creating opportunities for the learners and the academic members of the School alike, and sharing my experience to help them make the most of these opportunities.
What have been your career highlights so far?
Being awarded the fellowship of the IET because this demonstrated a peer recognition of my skills and expertise. As well as winning a significant grant for research in Assistive Technology because this enables me to do what I am passionate about whilst making a difference to peoples’ lives.
What are your specialist areas?
I am very interested in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to achieve high-level human-machine interaction where the machines adapt to human needs on how we prefer to live and work. The core technical elements of this are mechanical engineering, control, automation, robotics and AI. I am also passionate about project-based learning where we learn through doing. Here, whilst it is important to know the underpinning theory, the emphasis is on a hands-on approach to help better understand and appreciate the role of theory.
How would you describe the School of Engineering and the Built Environment?
The School covers a set of nicely related subject areas which are very well placed to address the worldwide challenges that we experience now and in the future. Our Engineering courses prepare learners to tackle the technical aspects of these challenges such as poverty, green growth and healthy aging, and the Built Environment courses approach the same challenges but from the living and working place perspective. We have a hands-on approach to learning. Through learning by doing we develop knowledge and skills of how to analyse, design and develop sustainable solutions.
How would you describe your staff?
We are a welcoming and supportive community where we are all passionate about creating opportunities and fulfilling potentials. Working closely as a team our academic, technical support and professional services colleagues share this passion. They draw on their specialist knowledge and expertise to create a great environment for teaching and research.
What can new students most look forward to?
You can expect a welcoming and supportive community where our primary aim is to help you fulfil your potential. You will meet staff who are experts in their fields and care about your success. You will have the opportunity to work with expert staff and fantastic industry-standard, state-of-the-art facilities. Through field trips and industrial project-based learning, you will get first-hand exposure to the world of work.
How can future students prepare for university?
Read around the subjects you are interested in. Come and visit us on open days and ask lots of questions about what we do and how we teach. See closely what expertise and facilities we have to offer. There are many open days that you can book from our website.
Do you have any advice for working in the industry?
Industry operates in a very interdisciplinary way. Wherever you look there are teams with a range of expertise to tackle various challenges through innovative problem solving. Teamwork is therefore very important and having the skills to confidently, clearly and concisely communicate are essential. We have designed our courses to prepare our learners to not only have the specialist expertise, but to also know how to work in teams.
Getting some industrial experience is very helpful. Placements, no matter how long, are greatly valued by industry. Our courses are designed with this in mind offering numerous opportunities to work on industry-led projects at every level together with industrial placement options. These opportunities allow you to learn as much as you can about the relevant industries, their priorities and how you’d be best equipped to play a role within the businesses.
Open Days 2021/22
Our Open Days are designed to give you all the information you need about the University and the experience you will have as a student at BCU.Register now