Diverse projects make up this year’s Digital GradEX

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An impressive portfolio of final year student projects is launched today, showcasing the talents of Staffordshire University’s Class of 2021

Digital GradEX 2021 is hosted online and student projects will be shared with alumni partners, industry experts, recruiters and hirers across the country.

The online exhibition features more than 400 students from Computing, Digital Technologies, Engineering, Policing and Science courses. Students who were part of the Art and Design exhibition on campus this month will also be showcasing their work online.

This includes Web Development student Zoe Haddock who has combined her technical know-how and love of animals by creating an app.

The My Animal App includes a range of tips for new and advanced pet owners and helps them to monitor the health and wellbeing of their animals by tracking diet, exercise, and medication. The app also uses image recognition to help identify animal breeds and reunite lost animals with their owners.

The 26-year-old from Meir explained: “I have a rabbit and thought it would be really useful to have an app to help keep him as healthy and happy as possible. There aren’t really any out there that have all these features in one place.”

Zoe now hopes to develop the app to include a larger database of animal breeds and to start up her own app development company.

BSc (Hons) Psychology student Jonathan Patachako set out to understand how ‘ecotherapy’ can help to battle mental health conditions and if the weather really does affect our mood.

For his project, participants completed a stress response survey and were given a list of words to memorise before watching videos featuring a natural environment in both sunny and rainy conditions, then an urban environment in both sunny and rainy conditions

Word recall was significantly higher in participants exposed to the natural environment compared to the urban environment and they also reported feeling less stressed after watching the video. However, there wasn’t any significant difference between the sunny and rainy conditions.

Stephen, 21, said: “It definitely proved the benefits of nature on cognition and stress which is something we’ve come to appreciate more than ever during the pandemic.

“Ecotherapy is a really cost-effective way to help manage our mental health, especially for people living in urban areas where there are higher rates of mortality, stress and chronic illness. It would be great to see more greenery in cities and public places like schools and hospitals to help with this.”

Also exhibiting his work is BA (Hons) Primary Education student Adam Horgan, who explored why more men don’t want to teach in primary schools.

The 22-year-old from Packmoor said: “I’ve always wanted to be teacher – that’s all there is to it! But throughout my own education I didn’t have many male teachers and there was only one at my primary school.

“I wanted to find out why there has been a decrease of male teachers in primary schools and the barriers that stop males from entering the profession.”

Adam surveyed trainee teachers about what might prevent teaching at primary level. He found there were concerns about physical contact with pupils being misinterpreted or being seen more as a father figure than a teacher.

He said: “I think there are definitely ways we can address these concerns. It’s inevitable that primary school teachers come into contact with children, for example helping put coats on or providing first aid, but there is legislation to protect them from this being misread which many people might not realise.

“Part of it is visibility, so it would be great to see government introduce scholarships to encourage men to train as primary teachers and mentoring schemes with trainees and men already in the profession. I’m now looking for my first teaching job myself and hope to pave the way for more men to follow in my footsteps.”

The GradEX Portal, which includes links to students’ LinkedIn profiles, portfolios and CVs, provides both students and employers with a platform to network and connect when they need to and will remain available to employers across the summer months.

Discover more and browse all student projects at https://gradex.staffs.ac.uk/

Staffordshire University is the Connected University; connected to the needs of students, academic partners, business and society. Our main city campus in Stoke-on-Trent features excellent learning and teaching facilities and good transport links. We have specialist Centres of Excellence in Healthcare Education at Stafford and Shrewsbury.  

We were recognised with a Gold award in the 2019 Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for students.  

We were shortlisted for University of the Year at the THE Awards 2020 and were named ‘Midlands University of the Year’ at the Midlands Business Awards 2020. 
Staffordshire University has signed up to the Civic University Agreement, pledging to play a leading role in improving the regional economy and enhancing quality of life in local communities. We were recognised in the top 15 for social inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. We aim to be a leading university for digital technologies building on our proud computing heritage and in 2019 launched Staffordshire University London’s Digital Institute which is committed to preparing students for careers in new and emerging tech industries. 

We are a Top 250 Young University (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020) and are connected globally, with more than 11,000 people studying Staffordshire University degrees overseas.