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Abertay University Archives Oral History
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Abertay 25: Memories Re-Animated

  • GB 3516 AY25-MR
  • Subfonds
  • 2020-2021

13 videos and text summaries of reminiscence interviews conducted with former staff and alumni of Abertay University by Abertay 25 Young Ambassadors, and current staff and students of Abertay University. Interviewees were as follows:

  1. Sumant Mathure
  2. David Ross
  3. Richard Irvine
  4. Alastair Scott
  5. Nick Hamilton
  6. Alexander (Sandy) Robertson
  7. Graham Milne
  8. Christina Howie
  9. Ahmar Ghafoor
  10. William Mohieddeen
  11. Rebecca Wade
  12. Jenny McNeill
  13. Louise Giblin

6 stop-motion animation videos were created from the interviews and these are as follows:

  1. Craigie High School - William Moheiddeen
  2. Craigie High School - Nick Hamilton
  3. Craigie High School - Ahmar Ghafoor
  4. Dundee Young Carers - Louise Giblin
  5. Larisa Olaru-Peter - Jenny McNeill
  6. Hope Busák - Sumant Mathure

Abertay University

Memories Re-animated Interviews

Interviews conducted as part of the Abertay 25 Memories Re-Animated Phase. Interview subjects were former staff and students who talked about a range of subjects concerning their connections with the University and its predecessor organisations.

Subjects included their experiences of teaching or being taught by the institution, technological developments there in relation to computers, degree courses (especially Nursing), social life, and student association activities.

Abertay University

Interview with Nick Hamilton

Nick Hamilton talks about the academic and management roles he carried out as a member of staff at Abertay University. He also speaks about the travelling he did around the world as a member of the university, and his memories of teaching, and of the time when the institution became a university in 1994.

00.30 Sophie and Abbie as about when he started working at the university (1988)
00.46 Mr Hamilton talks about the jobs that he did while he worked at Abertay University – lecturing in civil engineering and construction. Director of Academic Programmes in Science and Engineering; University Project Manager
01.44 he talks about some of the different projects that he carried out while he worked at Abertay. He also talks about the different jobs that he did he worked as a lecturer and academic leader and a project manager. He talks about how his favourite job was being a project manager.
02.40 Favourite memory - in 2001 he was awarded a one year fellowship which allowed him to take a year out of study
03.00 some background noise
03.10 Some of the places that he visited for the Fellowship - Australia and New Zealand and America – looking at innovation.
03.50 he spoke about reports that he did as part of his fellowship he also said a lot about the travelling that he did. One of the favourite places that he visited was the United States the way he travelled to many different states
04.35 the young ambassadors asked did you like your job at Abertay? Mr Hamilton said that he enjoyed working for Abertay as he worked in many different areas
05.20 The ambassadors ask about Dundee Institute of Technology turning into a University, and changes that took place.
Mr Hamilton talks about some of the courses that the Dundee Institute of Technology had to draw as they wanted to focus on degrees, many of these subjects were then carried out by Dundee college and Angus college.
06.05 Mr Hamilton talks about the things that he enjoyed when the University gained its status. He preferred being a University lecturer rather than a college lecturer as he found it more interesting
06.30 He says that a lot of the staff of the Dundee Institute of Technology like the idea open college becoming a University. He says that the staff enjoyed seeing that they worked at a University.
07.25 Mr Hamilton was not brought up in Scotland he was brought up in London, he went straight into working after he left school. keyboard track instruction company as an engineer, and then later moved to Inverness college to teach civil engineering and then moved to the Dundee Institute of Technology
09.00 Young ambassadors ask if Mr Hamilton has any stories that he remembers
09.05 Mr Hamilton talks about a garden party that was held in Camperdown park, there was a big marquee and people would take their families to the party. Mr Hamilton has three sons which attended the party, Mr Hamilton says that during the Principal’s speech that was sound system failed and nobody could figure out why this had happened, Mr Hamilton continued to say that he eventually found out that it was his 10 year old son. By this point everyone had left the marquee and was outside
11.25 No one has ever found out that it was Mr Hamilton son who had pulled the cable out
12.00 He was seconded to work for a University in Finland, it took him a very long time to adjust to the cool temperatures. Mr Hamilton then tells a story about a time that he was on a train and when the train pulled into the platform and he stepped outside that it was so cold that he almost passed out, he then goes on to say that it was minus 30 degrees.
13.20 the young ambassadors ask if he had ever seen the Northern Lights while he was in Finland
13.40 Mr Hamilton said that he had never seen them even though he was there for a full month, but said it was too cold for him to stay outside
14.20 Mr Hamilton then tells the young ambassadors about in the Dundee Institute of Technology if you wanted to print something you had to go to the other end of the building as no one had personal printers. one time he was given the task of creating an exam paper, which heating printed because he needed a hard copy, later that day he had to go and see the head and when he arrived the head of the printing office was there too. this confused Mr Hamilton, it turned out that there was more than one copy of the exam paper printed and it had been left out in the open meaning that anyone could have seen it. the head Lane told Mr Hamilton that it had been compromised and that he would have to make a new exam paper.

Nick Hamilton

Interview with Ahmar Ghafoor

Ahmar Ghafoor speaks about his time studying Mechatronics at Dundee Institute of Technology / Abertay University. He speaks about the societies he was involved with - Dungeons and Dragons, Sci-Fi society; his project to design and build a computer; the changes that university status brought; how the university has changed since then; his subsequent career working in mobile technology.

0.00 Interview starts – Ahmar Ghafoor, former student at Abertay, student during the transition to University status
What did you study and why?
Went to do an HND in Electrical engineering because failed GCSEs
0.50 Abertay was the first place to do Mechatronics – MSc sponsored by NCR and so was a joint Abertay and Dundee Uni degree
2.00 Was there anything else you ever considered studying?
Wanted to go to Warwick but family moved to Dundee, really wanted to do Mechatronics
3.20 What groups were you involved with?
Dungeons and Dragons; some people imported episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation from America and they’d all watch them in the pub on the big screen
4.30 What’s your proudest moment/achievement?
Design a computer and it worked first time, completed his MSc project in 2 weeks
5.10 Did you notice anything change when Dundee Institute of Tech became Abertay University?
Yes, more investment in the labs, library was built, there was a joke that there were “more computers that books”
6.20 What do you think the experience at Abertay would be like for students now?
Don’t have to carry so many books now, everything is online
6.40 Are you still in touch with anyone you met at Uni?
Colin McLean who is a former lecturer of his, once a year say hi to some people, Camilla at NCR
7.20 Is there anything in everyday life that I would use that you have worked on?
Mobile phones, 10 years in Nokia, worked on the first GPS Bluetooth chips in mobile phones; very first contactless payment designs but was shelved as was ahead of its time
8.20 Would you prefer to go to University as it was then or with the improved technology there is now?
Prefer it with improved technology, in those days you couldn’t get online if your Mum was on the phone; don’t need to go into Uni now,
9.07 Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories?
Sixth Sense film had just come out, was in a lift with some girls who were talking about it and they gave away the whole plot including the twist at the end. He still watched it that night!
10.10 Are you still friends with anyone from university?
Not really friends with anyone from Uni, moved away and there were a lot of mature students
10.43 What did you do after you left University?
Now works with the robotics team with Dyson, working on the next generation of robotic vacuums, works on the wireless communication to connect it to internet;
Before that CMR Surgical who made robots to aid keyhole surgery; UPTOS – machine that scans your eye
12.35 When a graduate it’s difficult, but afterwards it’s about learning how to learn – filtering, knowing how to find the information;
Never be scared to say I don’t know, the team will help;
Reasons for going into engineering - all about problem solving, need interpersonal skills too
15.20 What was your favourite thing about University?
Dossing around; when they got high speed internet, some would bring in their home computers and download things
After Masters had a researcher post, which can be very lonely, it was nice to share problems with others,
Gave him access to a lab even after he left to work at NCR
16.20 Did you ever get in trouble at University for anything you and your friends were doing?
Didn’t get in trouble at Uni, because it’s different
16.48 Were you involved in any sports clubs at Uni?
No sports at Uni, but now run a cricket club, never into sports until had kids

Ahmar Ghafoor

Interview with Rebecca Wade

Rebecca Wade, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science at Abertay, speaks about her career and achievements at Abertay University in Environmental Science. She also talks about her work as a STEM Ambassador, and her experiences so far on the Homeward Bound leadership initiative.

Rebecca Wade

Interview with Louise Giblin

Louise Giblin speaks about her experiences as a Biotechnology student at Dundee Institute of Technology, experiences in student societies and activism, including her first parachute jump, and the transition to university status. She also spoke about her subsequent career working for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Louise Giblin

Memories Re-animated Stop-Motion Videos

The videos were created using mobile phone technology and simple crafting techniques. They focus on small anecdotes told by the interview subjects that lend themselves to visual representation.

The videos and reference numbers are as follows:

AY25-MR-2-1 Craigie High School - William Moheiddeen
AY25-MR-2-2 Craigie High School - Nick Hamilton
AY25-MR-2-3 Craigie High School - Ahmar Ghafoor
AY25-MR-2-4 Dundee Young Carers - Louise Giblin
AY25-MR-2-5 Larisa Olaru-Peter - Jenny McNeill
AY25-MR-2-6 Hope Busák - Sumant Mathure

Abertay 25 Young Ambassadors

Interview with Alastair Scott

Alastair Scott speaks about his experience as a student at the Dundee Technical College, how classes used to be, about the courses he took and what Dundee and the campus used to look like. He spoke about his role in the family business and how the jute industry provided him with a lot of travelling opportunities (India, Pakistan, Thailand).
He talks about lecturers he remembers and the connections he still has with Abertay University and his role in the Dundee Heritage Trust. He then talked about all the different companies he worked for and other involvements he had (board member in America, part of a counsel).
Alastair speaks about his experience with synthetic fibres (e.g. polypropylene), and his involvement with the university for the creation of the jute museum at Verdant Works.

1:00 Jute technology course at the Dundee Technical College
3:00 Describes courses he took (textiles, management)
4:00 Practical and theoretical work, jute as an important part of education in Dundee
5:00 His role in the Dundee Heritage Trust (which owns a lot of the College's training machinery now)
6:00 College Lecturers that he remembers and people he stayed in contact with
8:00 Connections from now with Abertay (scholarship)
10:00 His time in the jute industry (travelling opportunities)
11:00 Use of jute replaced by plastics
12:00 His company producing artificial grass, and a story about how it led to him sharing a sports field with Whitney Houston
14:00 Other career opportunities it has provided to him (member of an American textiles board, member of a council)
15:00 Social life, social areas at the College
18:00 Differences in the Campus and university back then and now

  • the use of jute
    20:00 Archway story
    21:00
    23:00 Producing polypropylene + how it took companies a while to get used to it, with
    24:00 The Tech's involvement in research was limited - jute companies were secretive about their processes and in competition with each other
    27:00 College machinery for the jute production and his involvement in setting up the Verdant Works jute museum
    29:00 The Jute industry’s legacy

Alastair Scott

Interview with William Mohieddeen

William Moheiddeen speaks about his journey into university; his reasons for standing for Student Association President; the successful campaigns against the proposed merger of the higher educational institutions in Dundee; the benefits of university education to him in that campaign and his future career. His opinion on the benefits of university education and the need for widening access.

0.00 Interview starts
0.13 At first wanted to be a civil engineer (family expectations) but he enjoyed doing PE and ended up studying coaching and development
2.16 Getting experience at his old school, making students enjoy PE; got the opportunity to enrol at Abertay and started University in 2006
2.48 Why he became the president of the students association, to make the University better, to have an impact, provide better student experience; the story about the union building and the nice football atmosphere and how to improve it
4.51 Set up the society, joined the union and found out what the SA did
6.28 Possibility of providing more services for what students wanted, after getting a degree giving something back to the University and the students
6.40 Nice experiences of meeting people from all around the world and wanted to do something for them
7.07 Why he protested the merger, it was a collective reaction of executives and others to the idea of a forceful merger
8.58 Why Abertay was so important, distinct university with certain resources (its size, the community, the relationships between staff etc.)
10.37 Abertay as great at accommodating students from working class backgrounds and the need to celebrate and defend the university’s qualities
11.40 Keeping in touch with people he meet through Abertay (friends, work colleagues), social media very helpful as he moved all over Scotland
13.29 He was the captain of the Gaelic football club, very important experience
13.42 Lecturers who stood out for him, especially his dissertation supervisor (Andrea Cameron), emphatic, supportive and understanding
15.29 Skills developed in university not just as part of the degree, lecturers played an important role in his development as a person
16.13 How being the president of the SA helped him after university, still working with SAs, supporting others to change the society and the environment (students have a voice, make degree and the experience as a student better, get the needed support)
18.23 Why he began his speech in Gaelic, emphasize Abertay as a place for Gaelic speakers (not “othered” by other Scottish people) and for internationals to show the role of Gaelic (not just one way of being Scottish)
20.41 Abertay as helping him decide what he wants to do in life, story about his job as a butcher, wanting to be a bricklayer
22.58 Lecture about British political system in his first year, learning about politics as their future jobs will be funded by the government
24.58 Efforts put into defending the Abertay from merging (posters, good relationship with journalists, petitions); their petition getting international signatures (Australia, Indonesia) + story about the prime minister saying there won’t be a forced merger for Abertay, then moving towards building support for the university (new campaign)
29.40 March and rally with banner through Dundee, invited students and politicians

William Moheiddeen

Interview with David Ross

David Ross talks about his time in senior management and about being the Dean of the Faculty of Science and the things that he taught (chemistry). He speaks about students and lecturers that he remembers, the courses, how things have changed since he was at the University, and the role that he played in the Dundee Institute of Technology gaining its University status in 1994.
He speaks about celebrations that took place when the university gained its status. and the reasons that the Dundee Institute of Technology wanted to gain university status.

[00:37] Responsibilities as Head of the department
[2:10] Students who stood out
[2:31] Other staff members
[4:00] Developments around 1990’s – course expansion, building expansion, equipment in labs
[5:50] Differences in campus
[7:20] University gaining status (keeping courses successful while getting more students)
[8:23] + title for the university
[9:06] Claverhouse as a potential name
[9:36] Abertay name explained
[10:00] Competing with Dundee University
[12:21] New students from different areas (Ireland, India, China)
[12:47] +advertising for students
[14:30] Why the DIT wanted to get university status (prestige etc)
[16:00] New courses to be brought in and the development plans
[18:00] Courses that still exist and unsuccessful ones (Chemistry and management) due to changing perceptions etc
[20:42] Courses with big numbers of students vs smaller courses
[21:15] Lab developments easier through university status
[22:28] Staff parties and celebrations for getting university status + law hill and banner
[23:12] Staff close together and having parties
[25:10] Staff experience story – getting high profile biologists
[26:30] Getting more staff to match student number
[27:20] International staff (England, India , Belgium)
[28:35] Learning to split time between teaching and researching
[31:39] Recording Ends

David Ross

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