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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

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 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 Alexander (Sandy) Robertson

Alexander (Sandy) Robertson shared his memories of studying Mechanical and Production Engineering at Dundee Technical College, including his accommodation in "digs", and using early computers. He shares anecdotes about lectures and various lecturers during his time there.

0.00 Interview started
0.20 Studied Mechanical and Production Engineering – father owned a garage in Nairn
1.10 Showed us his certificate
1.25 Donald Macgregor, his friend from Nairn, did civil engineering
1.50 Things going on at the time - Vietnam War. NCR (National Cash Registers) laying off staff in Dundee
2.30 Talked about new technology that he used – showed a slide rule that he used as a calculator.
3.40 “Everything was new technology to me”
4.20 Funny memories – filling out form for new course, someone wrote “occupation - Poet Laureate”, so he was challenged to recite a poem to everyone else.
5.30 There were hundreds of engineers but they all had to do a common course in Chemistry. Chemists don’t normally do complicated formulae (unlike physicists and engineers), but one day when Dr Hargreaves did, the engineering students all cheered. Dr Hargreaves turned around and said “Don’t cheer! Just throw cigarettes!”
6.40 Tutorials – one student trying to impress his tutor, trying fancy equations to solve a problem – nothing worked. An old tutor in “Plus fours” (trousers tucking into socks) suggested using Ohms Law – “you’ve tried everything else, even though it won’t work you might as well try it.”
8.00 Meeting a support tutor, who asks the students how they’re doing. One student had no problems, but the support Tutor kept asking, “Are you sure?”. Eventually, in desperation – “Maybe you could listen to some of my problems.”.
8.50 1966 college computer. I remember a lab on programming the digital computer. Paper tape of an inch wide, punched with a programme. Basic stuff. Another computer we used more and earlier – an analogue computer. More of a continuous computer, plugging in wires to create circuits (like an old telephone exchange).
11.20 At Aston in Birmingham, he used a computer with punch cards. In early days in Dundee, the computer was huge – filled a whole room.
12.20 AR asked Stuart and Aaron if they used computers much. They used computers a lot – for technology, and English for example.
13.30 Societies – “I had friends that played rugby. I don’t remember being in any societies. We had parties, get togethers, played golf. Societies were not something we had in the 60s.”
14.40 Accommodation – we had to find our own accommodation. Stayed in a Church of Scotland Hostel on Hilltown. Had a cubicle. Amongst other people – bakers, plumbers etc. The baker made the porridge early in the morning – hard once they got to it. Then he stayed in an apartment (flat) with his friend Donald MacGregor, then he was in digs (shared rented accommodation) with a schoolteacher at Kirktown Secondary School, Miss Wallace – Kirktown won Top of the Form in 1967 – she coached that team. Knowledgeable person that helped him get through his final year at the College
17.20 Not been back in Dundee since 1970. He thinks the accommodation has changed. Courses have changed. Very different now.

Alexander Robertson

Interview with Christina Howie

Christina Howie speaks about her experience on the Nursing course at Dundee College of Technology, the close friendships she developed with fellow students, the social life (including the rugby match with the engineers), her subsequent career as a nurse, how things have changed, including improved attitudes towards nurses in light of Covid.

0.00 Interview starts
0.10 Why she wanted to be a nurse – came from a medical family (could train in local hospital or get a degree)
1.10 Why they had a computer course on the degree (story about the computer room)
1.50 She picked Dundee because it was the closest to home
3.05 Course was new and intense; theory from September to May and practical work in the summer (paid)
3.50 Story about the year she didn’t want to be a nurse anymore (skin test an vaccine) (potential scene for stop motion animation)
5.00 Lecturers as former nurses vs lecturers with teaching experience
6.20 Her most treasured memory – the friendships (the first 2 girls she met and stayed with are still her friends)
7.35 Abertay building a mix of old and new, doesn’t miss the building but the nice memories created
8.57 The building was new and modern for its time vs the old hospital she could have practiced at
10.52 After finishing the degree she got a job as a nurse straight away, worked at most of Dundee’s hospitals
11.50 Horrible things nurses are exposed to; each nurse has her own thing (sputum)
12.32 Civil engineering and the nursing having fancy parties together
13.17 Having rugby matches with the rugby team and going to their games
13.10 Society of nurses and charities the science department was involved in
14.05 Career choices then were banking, teaching or nursing; there are more choices now but she probably would have still chosen nursing (medical family)
16.16 Nurses always required, especially now with COVID, some robots used – telling patients to sit down
18.02 Shows pictures (with uniforms and class), badge

Christina Howie

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

Interview with Graham Milne

Graham Milne shared memories of taking the College Rugby team to an international universities rugby tournament in Bilbao, Spain. He talks about the journey there by bus, feeling lost once they got there, beating the English team in the first round, and the feeling of coming third in the tournament. He also talks about how things have changed at the university since his time there, and the importance of taking advantage of the social aspects of university as well as the educational benefits.

0.00 Start of the interview
0.20 Didn’t initially want to do Civil Engineering. Wanted to do Architecture at Dundee University. Dad owned GMB. Failed first year of his degree and did a Higher National Diploma in Civil Engineering instead
1.10 Great honour to be picked by peers to be captain of the rugby team. Great responsibility too – need good attitude, discipline. Wouldn’t see himself as the best player, but had other skills – leadership for example.
4.20 He received a letter from Spain looking for teams to promote rugby in the Basque area of Spain through a tournament. The application he put forward was a little embellished. But to his surprise the team was selected. Initial doubts - didn’t know how they would get there – didn’t think they could do the country credit. Had to try to get funding to travel, but accommodation, food etc would be supplied by Bilbao University. Managed to get the funding but it was a very hard task – some of it came from the College, but most of it was raised externally. They took the Bus to England, cross English Channel, then to Spain via Stagecoach. Train to Arun [???] station. Left there on their own in the middle of nowhere not sure if there would be another train to get where they needed to go. Managed to then catch a train to Bilbao, but they had no-one able to speak Spanish and there was no-one to meet them there in Bilbao. They were afraid of armed police walking around the town due to threat of terrorism (Basque separatists). They felt lost, he “nearly had a mutiny” from the team (i.e. people threatening to go home and not take part). But someone managed to phone University of Bilbao and a bus was arranged to their accommodation.
9.20 First game against England (Salford Uni), and Scotland won. Their opponents had a more professional set up (coach, medics, better equipment etc), but were over-confident, and had gone out the night before, so they were not in good shape for the match. Dundee “took them apart”.
11.20 He feels his team had great camaraderie, team spirit. Great feeling to win Bronze medal. Only sadness is that some players that he had promised would get a game, decided after that first match that they were not good enough and opted out of playing, choosing instead to cheer from the sidelines. He regrets they didn’t get the experience of playing in the tournament.
13.20 He didn’t stay in college accommodation, but stayed at home in Dundee, and had the benefits of that. He managed to see the College’s accommodation, and, compared with what his children have experienced at university, thinks there is a big improvement in what is provided now.
15.10 College / Uni is all new for students, and next steps are work, then rising in your profession, for example, taking part in professional organisations (like the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineers). Planning is important – plan to get where you want to go, encourage others to join your profession. He is a STEM Ambassador (Bridges to Schools) – and has shown school pupils how to build suspension bridges, and conduct disaster recovery exercises. Make sure you contribute to your profession.
19.05 He remembers the whole experience was one of enjoyment. Take advantage of the social aspect as well as the educational one, so join a society or a club that will introduce you to your circle of friends for the next few years. This also applies when you get into the world of work or moving to a new area – it’s all new, and joining a club helps you get into that new environment.

Graham Milne

Interview with Jenny McNeill

Jenny McNeill speaks about her experiences as one of the first nursing degree students at Dundee College of Technology in 1975, and her subsequent career.

Jenny McNeill

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

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

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