Cohort 2 researcher Jamal Umer tells us abou the event;

I attended the conference on 14th and 15th March-2018 at the IET Austin Court Birmingham. This 2-days conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about recent progresses in the field of tribology. The keynote speakers were well-famous tribologist from universities and industries. In addition to those there were quite interesting poster talks from PhD students from various universities. This conference had various talks ranging from lubricant additives, friction, wear and coating technologies. In-situ measuring techniques to measure wear in tribometers by gathering online topographical data was interesting experimental procedure.  and topography was quite interesting. Conversations with several speakers also directed me to further literature review that will make me think of new aspect of current research. It was also good opportunity to get in touch with my industrial sponsor.

Planning for Impact

19 March 2018

Cohort 2's Rhys Comissiong and Cohort 3's Robin Hamer attended the Planning for Impact workshop. Robin explains;

On the 12th March 2018 an event was held at Loughborough University by Red Vector Ltd (an independent energy consultancy firm specialising in interactive learning). The context of this workshop was regarding the energy sector, which is applicable to myself as I work with EDF energy – nuclear.

Since the energy sector is being transformed, new solutions are being created as various organisations seek to address society's demand for energy in ways that reduce its environmental footprint. This creates opportunities for researchers - working with those organisations and individuals who are seeking to deliver innovative, low carbon energy solutions. Creating solutions to address this need is not just about technology, it’s about policy, economics, society and the business models that bring all of these together; thus providing an excellent route to create impact from work.

The one-day workshop took the form of an interactive strategic game which was designed to give an experience of identifying, prioritising and managing relationships with those needing research outputs, in the hope of creating impact. The game was fun whilst giving experience of making effective, quick decisions around stakeholder engagement, delivering effective communication of work and most importantly delivering high quality research. The simulated research environment saw teams of 3 undertake 5 years of energy-related research starting from the point you finish your PhD. Resources (time and money) were given and had to be spent wisely to build influence, create academic excellence and in turn create impact. There were various routes of doing this within the game – Public funding, industrial sponsorship, academic excellence exposure and general expose e.g. building exposure from a website. In addition, various elements of chance within the game influenced how careers progressed, based on what we did and the opportunities created.

I learnt a few important points from this workshop. Firstly, I found the workshop highlighted how important taking an impact-based approach is to project development. Secondly, how important being proactive and engaging with the right stakeholders is. Finally, it was interesting to see how many different avenues of exposure there are for work to gain impact, albeit novel ways such as producing videos, running research blogs etc. On another note, I felt the environment of the game allowed us to enhance personal skills such as: team work, negotiation skills and strategic thinking.

Since this workshop was a pilot of the game, there were some improvements that could be made to make it even better. A feedback session at the end gave us an opportunity to give thoughts and opinions on the successes and shortcomings of the game which I hope the creators will develop. All in all, it was a day well spent and I will be implementing points learned from the session within my own PhD.

Cohort 4 researcher, Steve Ward explains;

On Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th March I attended the Ambition UK Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response Expo. This ran alongside the Security and Counter Terror Expo, and Forensics Europe Expo as part of UK Security Week, hosted at the Olympia, London.

During the expo I represented my co-sponsor company INMM (In Manibus Meis), demonstrating the research currently being undertaken at Loughborough University as part of the CDT-EI, and its link with their commercial offerings. Whilst at the event, I spent time on the companies exhibition stand meeting key stake holders and gaining a deeper insight into the operation of the business. There was a few prominent interested parties the company will be exploring further. Additionally, over the course of the two days there were opportunities to expand my own personal network, and attend a variety of talks by a wide range of interesting speakers as part of the conference programme. The insights gained from this will be extremely beneficial in applying my research outputs, taking into account the current relevant problems within the wider industry.


Cohort 4 researcher, Matt Smith, tells us about attending his first research conference;

Matt OsEach year the Ordnance Survey (OS) invites the PhD students it sponsors to its HQ in Southampton for a workshop involving presentations of each student’s current status and work, panel discussion on topics and general networking. There were 22 PhD students present at the workshop, all from different backgrounds and Universities spanning the UK and even including one person who travelled from New Zealand.

Each student had the opportunity to prepare a poster and presentation. My poster focused on the opportunities of my research question and how I was planning to tackle the area, as I don’t have any data yet. My 10-minute presentation echoed this in more detail, giving examples of some of the design methods I want to use and what I have read so far. There was an hour-long poster session on both days which allowed the staff members to come and ask us about our projects. Feedback on my poster was positive. In particular, they found it visually appealing and engaging, however, it perplexed a few as it isn’t what you would expect for a typical PhD poster!

I felt quite unique as I am the only researcher with a ‘pure’ design background and the only one focussing on wearables and actual physical prototyping. From the conversations I had the majority of other researchers were focused on data, ontologies and especially deep/machine learning and forms of automation. As well as meeting other researchers sponsored by OS I was able to speak with a number of staff members, one person in particular, Tim Newman, expressed an interest in the project as he could see possible applications within the walkers’ community.


Written by Luke Wilkinson, Cohort 4.

Between 9am of Tuesday 6th March and 9am Wednesday 7th March, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) ran its annual research poster Twitter competition. The idea behind the competition is for researchers to promote their own research area to not only the research community, but to a global audience through Twitter. Entrants had to post their academic research poster on Twitter, and use one of ten hashtags which best describes their area of research within chemistry along with #RSCPoster. Twitter users could then tweet entrants questions about their research. The RSC scientific committee kept an eye on posters which stimulated wide interest and featured innovative research; however prizes were given based on content & accessibility, design and interaction with other Twitter users.

I was one of six entrants from Loughborough University with my research poster; “Is My Circuit Board Wet?”. The competition was a global event, drawing interest from the research community in multiple countries. In the afternoon of the competition, a Twitter account @ErrantScience, well known for making light hearted cartoon abstracts of RSC Poster competition entrants reproduced my poster, putting a comedic spin on the content. This was one of only six posters in the whole competition to receive the Errant Science treatment, which significantly boosted interest in my research. On Friday 9th March, it was announced I had won 1st prize in the materials category, winning £100 prize money and a certificate.

The competition reached a global audience of over 1.9 million people, so to win was a massive achievement. As yet, I am undecided how I will spend the winnings.

Even after the competition had closed, all of Loughborough’s entrants were still answering questions and receiving support from the scientific community which shows that STEM research at Loughborough is thriving.

Below is an iamge of the winning poster and @errantscience treatment. Congratulations Luke!


Cohort 2 researcher Jamal Umer explains his recent trip to University of Manchester....

I attended the workshop on 07th March-2018 at the Chemistry building of University of Manchester. The workshop was organized by the Bruker UK Ltd. During the workshop several topics were quite informative and enabled me to gain insight into valuable knowledge regarding nanoindentation, In-Situ tribological testing in SEM and AFM as useful tool for 3D printing for certain applications.

The talks on the atomic force microscopy enabled me to expand my knowledge on this topic. One new aspect of AFM that was demonstrated at the conference has potential to be incorporated in my later research. Conversations with several speakers directed me to further literature which would make good introduction to further aspect of my research.  

Wen Gu & Shaun Smith, of Cohort 3 & 4 respectively, recently attended the 2-day Future Powertrain Conference (FPC2018). The FPC2018 invites over 500 delegates from both academia and industry to present innovative research ideas and discuss the future of the industry.

This was the first conference for the students since joining the CDT-EI and the main reasons for attending was to first potentially discover new research topics and secondly anchor their own research by considering where they could add their knowledge to the problems in the industry. In addition, the FPC2018 offered networking sessions throughout both days allowing the valuable opportunity for the students to fully immerse themselves in the sector by speaking to experts in the industry and open the door for possible collaboration.

The students highlighted several presentations that were very useful for a variety of reasons. These included, but were not limited to, talks by Prof Colin Garner of Loughborough University who challenged us to consider the most efficient sources of energy and to revisit the debate of “Battery vs Internal Combustion Engine”, Richard Burke of the University of Bath who presented a catalogue of research opportunities and Doug Cross of Leadfoot who provided a talk on the future of autonomous vehicle and if they can keep up with the expectations of the consumer. Furthermore, talks by Dr Yan Wang of Ford and Dr Mark Peckham of Cambustion provided a greater insight of the challenges that face the sector from an industry perspective

Wen Gu presented a poster at the conference to demonstrate his current research. By implementing the machine learning algorithm, he developed a model learning approach to reflect the engine behavior faster and more accurate. The adaptive model predictive control method is employed to dynamically optimise the engine fuel economy based on the developed time-varying model. This approach is promising in improving fuel economy of powertrain systems and leading the way to next generation low carbon engines. At the end of the conference, he won the third prize of poster competition section.

The future powertrain conference returns in 2019 at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull, where students will again be attending representing the CDT-EI.

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