Cohort 3 research Chris Miles reports on his recent conference experience.

On the 7th of May, until the 10th May, I attended the 8th annual symposium on flame retardants in York, at the Principal York Hotel. The Principal York is an excellent example of the late-Victorian architecture prevalent in the city, whilst blending the inside with modern stylings. The programme for the week included 4 plenary speeches, given by four leading researchers from the flame retardant world, along with a huge number of smaller speeches and posters to view, giving ample opportunity to hear about something that piques your interest.

After an opening address from the Lord Mayor of York, the first day began, with a plenary and a session on flame retardants in abiotic environments. This section focused heavily on water environments, and the rising problems of pollution with enlightening talks. After a lunch, consisting of gourmet burgers and a lot of salmon, it was back to the conference room for two more sessions. These were the two sessions that would have the most relation to my current project, analytical methods of detecting flame retardants, and organophosphorus flame retardants. Whilst the organophosphorus flame retardants most commonly seen in these speeches were not the same as the ones I shall be using, the talks were of great interest to me.

Day two saw the focus switch to flame retardants in foods, indoors and in biota. Whilst not as relevant as the first day, it was of great interest to see how the substances closely related to those of which I am studying impacted the wider world and environment. Examples are the concentrations that build up in falcon eggs and the potential relationship between child growth and certain flame retardant types. Once again, the lunch provided was extravagant, including crab and lobster rolls this time!

The final day focused upon rules and regulations of the flame retardant world, and whether they were appropriate or not, as well as discussing some common, and some not so common methods humans are exposed to flame retardants. A more legislative day, focusing less on practical science and more on real world examples and laws. Finally the conference ended in the afternoon, with the announcement of the location of the next one, Canada! Overall the conference definitely broadened my knowledge of the flame retardant community, and allowed myself to gain experience interacting with some of the more respected members of the community.

During the first year our researchers undertake training courses and modules of direct relevance to their PhD research. Here, cohort 3 research, Joel describes one of his elected courses. The training course consisted of three days of modelling and simulation training. The objective was to use the AnyLogic software to tackle problems that occur when trying to model and simulate discrete events (DES), system dynamics (SD) and agents based problems. The trip itself occurred from the 10th of April to the 12th of April 2017 in Paris.

Day 1: DSE and SD
The first day looked at the general overview of the AnyLogic software, DES and SD simulations. Throughout the three days the course teaches you how to use the three different types based on the problem needing to be solved. The use of a manufacturing line was used for the DES example; this included timings, resource efficiency as well as fully animated 3D simulations and objects e.g. conveyer belts. SD simulation was taught using an example based on how people take to a new product on the market through external influences. This has many other target areas such as medicine effectiveness.

Day 2: Agent based modelling
The second day started the introduction with regards to agent based modelling and how to identify the best approach to the given problem. One of the two main examples used was the simulation of a logistics network. This example constituted of trucks travelling two and from distribution centres and warehouses with goods. This taught the group how to use the GIS and (Real Time) database features of the software.
The second example introduced the pedestrian library with an airport example having been used to show its functionality. This example demonstrated how bottlenecks and inefficiencies of a pedestrianised area can be identified through human movement, plus the effects of any machines or processes that must be completed.

Day 3: More Advanced Agent based modelling
Agents are intelligent entities within the AnyLogic software, the third day started with learning how to code properties within the AnyLogic environment. From this you can separate different agents by processes they are involved in and therefore create several simulations within one model. Having completed this step, the remainder of the day was used to either complete an example involving traffic around the colosseum in Rome or ask questions to solve your own simulation issues.

Cohort 3, Lorenzo Stilo and Joel Earps attended the Smart Cities and Communities: Achieving Smart Urban Growth event. Lorenzo Stilo reports on the event.....

On Wednesday the 22nd of March 2017, few members of my research team and I had the chance to take part of a forum event in Manchester to discuss about Smart Cities and how this new aspect of technology is having impact of urban development and integration with everyday life.

This day was organised by ‘Open Forum Events’ an association that aims to gather conferences of this kind on different areas and aspects of life and technologies, mostly focused on a company and industry-based view of the problem/thematic.

The ‘Smart Cities and Communities’ conference focused of having a broad view of how different commercial and institutional entities are interpreting and responding to this new area of development for urban zones.

Our aim for this event was to have an update on the approaches that different speakers and competitors are choosing when we come to deal with the challenges of making our cities ready for the next industrial revolution, to compare them with what our research team is doing in investigating how can cities change to match the new requirements and needs of their citizens.

The morning session opened with two different views for the London metropolitan area, one institutional the other private. Then Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh, welcomed the audience and present his agenda for the development of Manchester metropolitan area.

Next speaker present the structure and the development of a European Union project based on updating the public administration, this project involved four different European cities and aimed to understand common problematics and provide possible technological approached to face these problematics.

What follow were two private companies both focusing on developing and selling services oriented to ‘make our cities smarter’. The first from HERMAN International presented strategies to deal with the upcoming needs derived from overpopulation, energy consumption and outdated infrastructure. The second from 3DEXPERINCity showed the audience an example of the solution that this company is providing from great urban agglomerates such as Singapore, a complete virtual replica of the entire city underlining the benefit of such a complex and complete modelling.

The forum continued with the presentation of the joint project held by University of Bristol and Bristol City Council called ‘Bristol is Open’ focused on delivering a programmable digital infrastructure to facilitate R&D, innovation and experimentation at a city scale.

During the afternoon session Selux UK explained their innovation for exterior lighting systems as a case study to underline how aspects that from a traditional prospective have nothing to do with smart innovation find themselves on the verge of progress with simple but crucial upgrades to the current technology.

The Department of Computer Science of University College London (UCL) present an really interesting project base on wireless sensors system to monitor nocturnal animals life based on ultrasound pattern recognition for the area that hosted the Olympic Park in north of London.

Others notable speakers were: representative of CityVerve Project from University of Manchester and the IoT company FutureEverything.

The forum concluded with a panel discussion held by representative of Future Cities Catapult, Nesta and Cisco.

Overall the forum offered us a good experience to understand where different industries and institution are interpreting the concept of Smart Cities and what are some of the more interesting services and project offered in this area.

Gajarajan Sivayogan (Gaj) from CDT-EI was accompanied with Rickie Bewsher for a 1 Day training based in Cambridge. COMSOL experts opened the event by briefly explaining about the history of the product and how COMSOL has developed. Interestingly they strongly emphasized how the customers directed the development and how the user base has grown.

COMSOL also organised a mini oral presentation with highly dedicated end users presenting their findings. The work on an ‘equivalent tensile measuring’ machine that is portable was a very interesting talk. The ability to find material properties that can only be done in a lab but in any environment is a well thought out working concept.

The main part of the training day was split into 2 parallel session. One session is basics of a ‘module’ in comsol, while the other is about the in-depth characterises and settings that can be found. Each of the 2 sessions was split into further 3.  After going to the first of the learning session, it was found that this was not useful, the content shown could have been learned in our own time. However the other type of sessions was found extremely useful. One of the most beneficial aspects of the day was the dedicated support time allocated for the event. Here anyone with a COMSOL model and go and explain to the advisers and help troubleshoot any key issues. Gaj found talking to COMSOL experts directly helped him with his project work. Overall those who have not looked at COMSOL will find the training day highly useful. While people who have used COMSOL will not be fully benefited by the experience, having a dedicated technical sessions accompanied with dedicated one to one support is highly beneficial.

DEN Writing Retreat

24 March 2017

Joe Holt and Orange Gao attended the Digital Economy CDT Network (DEN) Writing Retreat. 28 PhD students from across nine of the DEN CDTs attended the 2-day residential retreat, which took place on 21-22 March, including Cloud Computing, Digital Civics, Financial Computing, Healthcare Innovation, HighWire, Horizon, Media & Arts Technology and Web Science centres.

The retreats, funded by the Network, provide the opportunity for CDT students to focus on a piece of research writing of their choice, where they can work individually in a series of time-focused sessions, whilst benefiting from being able to network and receive support from peers during the breaks and over dinner.


Speaking about her motivation for attending Orange said "Most of time, we never get a chance to focus on writing in the office. Brilliant ideas and thoughts should be written down, but with always lots of things to do and we push writing to the lowest priority. This was a chance for us to  concentrate 100% on writing."



 Orange concluded "It was a brilliant time to get to know myself. From this experience, I realise that I can be productive if I focus to do something. I understand more about saying “one weapon for beating procrastination is starting somewhere… anywhere”. I didn’t have a clear structure of how I should write before attending the retreat.

The event is well organised and the facilitators are extremely helpful. They helped us to set the writing goals: long, medium and short-term. Once we started, everybody was focusing on their own work and I was enjoying the time with professional people. I was impressed by enthusiastic students and especially learning atmosphere. I couldn’t believe I could constantly working for 1 hour without being distracted by social media or being lazy!"

IMAPS-UK’s MicroTech annual conference was held 16 March 2017 at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), Didcot. 3 representatives from Loughborough University attended :  Dr David Hutt , Dr Jacob Wang (poster presentation) and Cohort 3 researcher Youssef Hamid.

The MicroTech event brought together several actors from the microelectronics supply chain  in the UK dedicated to Micro-Assembly and related technologies.

The conference featured Keynote speakers such as GraceO'Malley from “iNEMI – International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative” revolving around Future technology trends or Rob Harper from the esteemed “Fraunhofer IZM, Department of System Integration and Interconnection Technologies”, on "Panel Level Embedding for Power and Sensor Applications". Further technical presentations ("Alan Envas-Unisem", "Sebastien Holtkaemper-Hesse Mechatronics") & table top exhibits on the latest developments "Urs Berger- Optomec", technologies and capabilities, in addition to poster displays from UK research.

Part 1


When I started my PhD two and a half years ago, I would never even imagine that I would be writing those words from Ulsan in South Korea (at that time I did not even know such a place existed). Yet here I am on a three months research placement. This post is a brief recollection of my experiences in South Korea so far.

I arrived in Seoul early morning on a cold January day, and after short and uneventful journey I was sitting on a train going across South Korea to Ulsan. Through the window of a train I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful this country is. Wherever you look you can see hills covered in forests with cities blending between. I felt the beauty is under promoted by Korean modesty which is really a shame because the country is absolutely stunning. Nowadays whenever I travel around Korea I still cannot help myself but look around all the time to admire the views.


University is also a nice place to be in. The place I am in is called Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology or in short UNIST. The university is new as it was started only 8 years ago, and building I mostly work in was open no longer than half a year ago. University is located among the hills about 5 km away from closest town but it is well connected to train station and town by numerous buses. Working hours a lot different than in UK, usually students do not come until 10 or 11 am but they stay till very late. When I usually leave at about 9 or 10 pm there are still researchers in the lab.

Another big positive aspect is food. In Korea often food is cooked by restaurant guests on the table in front of them (for example Korean barbecue). In restaurant we went, there was a big table (for about 10 people) and in the middle of the table three spaces for a real charcoal grill, which was brought to us by waitress for us to grill food on. The meat comes in small pieces and is eaten straight from barbecue with variety of sauces and vegetables (including famous Korean Kimchi). Of course there exists restaurants which serve food cooked in kitchen similar to European style restaurants. Also food variety is another point worth mentioning, I did not know you can have chicken in so many different ways before.

Overall the visit is a very positive experience. It is a great insight into Korean culture (and food!) as well as fascinating comparison between European and Asian culture. If you have any questions regarding Korea please feel free to contact me at:

Part 2

The last blog was mostly focused on Korean culture, food and landscape. In this part, I will focus on outlining the difference between universities20170314 130924in Korea and the UK. I will also talk a little bit about Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) itself.

There are a few key differences between universities In Korea and in the UK. First of all undergraduate students are expected to do internships in research groups in university. Generally, they are semester (or summer and winter break) lasting. The internships would be very similar to a final year project where the student is working on a small project. Another difference is freedom of choice of modules to study. In the UK, modules (lectures) are generally same for all students on given degree and module choice is limited to choosing one or two extra per semester. In Korea (or at least in most degrees and universities in Korea) about half of the modules is fixed, while students are free to choose the rest. The choice is very broad; to give an extreme example engineering students in UNIST can even pick up an instrument (Piano, violin etc.) learning module. From my brief encounters with students, it appears that such an approach results in very good independence, self-motivation and pro-activity. Finally, master’s and PhD degrees are similar to USA style where both consists of projects and lectures and lasts 2 years and 4 to 5 years respectively.

In recent years Korea started to invest heavily in science and engineering and UNIST is a result of such an investment. As I mentioned in previous post campus is very modern, and laboratories are well equipped. There is a significant amount of funding available for equipment if anything is necessary. In laboratories, equipment is state of the art (for example numerous motion capture systems or top of the range radio based positioning system). High-quality research orientation is also present in very simple and easy to use administrative support tools such as purchasing done with just a credit card. This approach resulted in many famous professors being attracted to UNIST such as Prof. Rodney S. Ruoff.

With capable students and significant available funding, Korea offers a great working environment for academic researchers. This is supported by other positive aspects like good food and excellent landscapes.

If you have any questions regarding Korea please feel free to contact me at:

CDT-EI researchers have managed to secure funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Innovate UK and Far UK Ltd to develop research that makes an impact on emissions savings from road vehicles. The Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab at Wolfson School, led by Dr Carmen Torres-Sanchez, and her industrial collaborator (Far UK ltd) have been awarded more than £250k to develop excellent science that allows the design and manufacture of low weight structures for vehicle chassis components. Low weight is beneficial for reduced tailpipe emissions for both existing internal combustion engine vehicles but also as an enabler for further electrification of the fleet. The manufacturing of the optimised structures via the sonication process incurs another challenge: to achieve mass market weight reduction this needs to be done cost effectively. This project builds on top of the deliverables that a current CDT-EI studentship, awarded to Joe Holt (from cohort 1), is generating.

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