Written by Cohort 2 researcher Athanasios Pouchias

I had the great honour to be awarded with an Armourers & Braziers travel award, to attend the SAMPE Europe Conference 2017. SAMPE is a general organization devoted to the promotion of technical excellence in materials and process engineering, totalling around 15,000 engineers, technologists and materials scientists.

The conference took place in Stuttgart, Germany from 15 to 16 November. The conference covered an expansive list of subjects regarding lightweight materials and their processing. The conference commenced with keynote presentations of BMW on "Multifunctional Materials for Aeronautics and Space" presented by Dr. Gunnar Rieber and Lufthansa Technik on "More mobility for composite aircraft” by Dr. Christian Sauer. The first day was concluded with tours of AUDI, Porsche, DITF, Trumpf and Fraunhofer ICT. The second day more than 64 professional speakers from both industry and science came on stage in four parallel sessions.


During the conference I had the opportunity to present a poster of the work I have carried out during the first year of my PhD. My research focuses on monitoring the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process which is one of the most promising available technologies for manufacturing large complex three-dimensional parts from composite materials. The collection of the parameters that are used by current models is inadequate and therefore, online monitoring of the process is proposed to enhance the understanding of resin’s flow and cure.  The RTM process is mostly used in aeronautical, automotive and wind energy applications, such as the manufacturing of wind turbine blades.

The SAMPE conference supports sectors occupied with the aerospace and defence, the automotive and transport, the offshore and energy and many others related with advanced materials and process engineering. The main sessions of the conference addressed the developments on materials, like composites, new light metals and alloys.

ThanasisThe conference was very interesting as I could notice great interest on composite materials, mostly thermoplastic materials for automotive and aerospace industry. Also, there is a push from the industry to automate manufacturing processes and this is urged by the automotive sector because of the high-volume production needs. Germany is one of the leaders in addressing the “Industrie 4.0” concept and this couldn’t be missing from this conference. I was fortunate to network with professionals who work on the “Industrie 4.0” concept and share my knowledge as the core subject of my research combines embedded intelligence with materials science and development.  

The presentation of my poster offered me a great opportunity to communicate and discuss the project with the leading manufacturing and advanced materials associates. Finally, this conference provided the chance to network with the scientific community and professionals and receive their insight on the state-of-the-art work. I believe attending this conference has been a rewarding experience and has enhanced my confidence for the future.

Written by Cohort 3 researcher Jorge Garcia

The National Physical Laboratories (NPL) in London hosted on the 30th and 31st of October the second annual conference for postgraduates students engaged at NPL and its partners universities. The conference had a really clear purpose to make all the attendees aware of the diversity of projects from different fields of expertise that are being supported by NPL.

As the conference gather postgraduate students from different universities across the UK, the event was also the perfect opportunity for networking and set the path for possible collaborations for projects where different skills and science fields are needed.

My participation on the NPL conference involved an elevator pitch style presentation and a poster of my project “Compact Coherent Camera for Use in Synthetic Aperture Interferometry”. I presented the developing of a set of compact coherent sensors to perform surface measurements which can be use on modular flexible configurations (1D array, 2D array or single moving sensor). The aim of my project is to build a measurement system with high-resolution and a wide field of view to characterize and detect defects on printed micro wires manufactured by the company Epigem.

Even though the project is on its early developing stage, it drew the attention of the audience as a flexible imaging system could be potentially applied in a wide range of industries, from the manufacturing field to biological samples imaging.

Pawel Ladosz one of CDT-EI researchers had an opportunity to attend ROScon and IROS conferences this year in Vancouver, Canada.

ROScon which lasted two days on 21st and 22nd of September is a conference dedicated to Robotic Operating System (ROS). ROS is a very popular tool amongst both academia and industry to allow quick and easy integration of sensors, actuators and robotics platforms. The conference was a single track and was focused on latest development of ROS, future updates and examples of current usages. Presenters included but were not limited to guests from ETH, Shadow Robot, Clearpath robotics, Bosch and Daimler AG.

IROS which took place between 24th and 25th of September is one of the most prestigious conferences dedicated to robotics research. The conference consisted of two workshop days and three conference days. It covers all fields related to robotics such as computer vision, path planning, machine learning, control and design. In 2017 2164 papers were submitted and out of those 970 papers was accepted. Speakers included but were not limited to Fei Fei Li expert in computer vision from Stanford University and Google, Dieter Fox expert in artificial intelligence from the University of Washington, Jorge Cham creator of PhD comics and Joey Durham one of the creators of Amazon robotic warehouses from Amazon robotics.

Pawel presented his work on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) communication relays during IROS. His focus is on using UAVs to help a group of ground nodes (such as rescue workers) communicate with each other during a disaster relief scenario in urban environments. In this work machine learning technique called Gaussian Process was used in assistance of UAV trajectory planner to learn to predict communication strength between itself and ground nodes. For more information and access to paper email Pawel at p.ladosz@lboro.ac.uk

biosensing and surf

10 November 2017

Cohort 3 researcher, Marcus Pollard, had the opportunity to develop some new skills during a recent bespoke training course. He explains more...

My trip was to attend a one-to-one training course which was supplied by Nanopore Solutions Ltd at ITQB-NOVA in Oeiras, Portgual. The aim of the training was to introduce myself to a modern method of nanopore fabrication, but also covered many other elements of nanopore experimentation such as equipment set-up, troubleshooting and data analysis. I hope to apply what I have learned to my work in the future. The highlight of the trip for me was the opportunity to network with James Yates, the Manager of Nanopore Solutions, which gave me further insight into the nanopore and biosensing industry. However, it wasn’t all work and no play, I managed to see Lisbon, sample the local delicacies and even tried a spot of surfing which is not as easy as it looks on TV.


Say YES to enterprise

9 November 2017

As part of the CDT programme we take part in a unique set of training focusing on leadership, management and teamwork skills under the ‘transition zone’. Last month I got the opportunity to apply these skills in the Engineering Young Entrepreneur Scheme at Nottingham University. The challenge ran from October 18th to 20th and consisted of two full days of training and mentoring before we pitched a business to a panel of judges on the final day in the form of a presentation.

Our team consisted of cohort 2 and 3 students including myself (CEO), Marcus Pollard (Finance Director), Joel Earps (Research and Development Director), Robin Hamer (Commercial and Marketing Director) and Athansios Pouchias (Operations Director). Our business was called ‘Intelligent Cold Engineering – ICE’ and aimed to reduce food waste within the cold store part of the supply chain through technology based on the internet of things and sensor-based intelligent management system.

Yes Team

Even though we were pitching a fictional company for a fictional investment, we still applied the knowledge we had gained through the seminars and training sessions in finance, marketing strategies and intellectual property to develop a real and convincing business model. For this reason the competition was an invaluable experience to undertake during the PhD. In addition to our studies, we got the opportunity to see and understand the necessary steps in building a start-up company and what must be considered. One of the most insightful aspects of the competition was the ability to see and reflect upon other groups and other entrepreneurs work, and see what methods were successful in obtaining funding. As early career researchers gaining an understanding of this is truly valuable. Also, we had hours of personal mentoring with financial experts, business leaders and venture capitalists who were able to reflect upon their own experiences within obtaining and giving funding.

The event was very well run, as each day managed to fit in so many activities in addition to us developing our business pitch. Personally, I am truly grateful that I got to experience this opportunity with close colleagues as it was through hard work, and a positive atmosphere that got us through the often long nights required to finish the work. I would also like to thank Tracey Hassall-Jones for organising the event. I believe this was a fantastic opportunity to practice presentation and finance skills. However, what I was most grateful for was the opportunity to see how non-technical audiences interpret the work of the CDT. Embedded intelligence is a very technical field and often as PhD students we spend the majority of our time communicating with our technical audiences, often we can forget just how important it is to develop our communication skills to all audiences and understand what their agenda and take away might be. I would thoroughly recommend this experience to students in the other cohorts, but make sure you approach it with a positive attitude where your aim is to learn as much as possible from the experience, even in failure. This is a particularly important skill as an entrepreneur because if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.


7 November 2017

Cohort 4 researcher, Maren Schnieder, attended the 5th World Collaborative Mobility Congress – "wocomoco" – in Berlin, Germany. The congress, which is hosted each year by the Swiss Mobility Academy, is a meeting place to discuss the latest innovations in car-, ride- and bike-sharing as well as in ride-hailing and in mobility as service (MaaS). Over the three days, key note speakers from Europe and America presented their innovative mobility solutions. Maren especially benefited from the presentations about bike sharing, logistics, cargo bicycles, ebikes and the digital shift in road transportation. The congress was an ideal platform for Maren to discuss with ebike-sharing startups, city planners, public transport providers and researchers what the next generation electric (cargo) bicycle has to offer.

COMSOL Conference

31 October 2017

Cohort 1 student Joe Holt recently attended the COMSOL Conference 2017 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands during the 17th, 18th and 19th of October.

I had the opportunity to present my conference paper “3D Acoustic-Structure Interaction of Ultrasound in Fluids for the Manufacture of Graded Materials”, which can be viewed here https://www.comsol.com/2017-user-presentations/multiphysics. My slot was in the Acoustics branch of the user presentations where I presented my work on the acoustics of foams. In my model the foam is represented by a bulk material model that calculates the resulting acoustic field in the foam, excited by ultrasonic transducers. The presentation and paper were well received and a number of the questions at the end of the talk were related to application of the model. This model forms an important part of my research which is trying to assess the feasibility of using ultrasound for the manufacture of porosity graded polymers and composites.

During the conference I had the opportunity to network with numerous other COMSOL users from around Europe and discuss our methods and challenges. Additionally, there were COMSOL workshops on specific packages within the software. I managed to attend five throughout the duration of the conference, which provided me with some fresh ideas for my future modelling work.

Report by Cohort 3 researcher, Robin Hamer

This was a one day conference intended for human factors practitioners within the nuclear industry. The conference was split into 11 talks which, each given on a separate aspect of human factors, human factors within the nuclear industry, or human factors related to decommissioning. I found the talks very useful in terms of the human factors challenges within the nuclear industry and decommissioning sector. Many of the talks were suitable and related to my PhD and I obtained the relevant contact details of the speakers in the hope of using them for my second study (expert panel interviews):



Talk Title

Jon Berman

Greenstreet Berman Ltd

Human Factors in Decommissioning Safety Cases – managing a changing safety


Bob Hawkrigg


Cavendish Nuclear

Appropriate human factors input to decommissioning safety case

Jonathan Pyke

Sellafield Ltd

Sellafield: a site under change

Rob Cotterill

EDF Nuclear Generation

Paint it black: End-to-end human factors in design and delivery for Sizewell B dry

fuel store

Christian Wilhelm

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd

Decommissioning Dounreay – Challenges for human factors

John Lovegrove

Canary Designs

A survival guide to practising ergonomics in the nuclear decommissioning industry

when the schedule dominates proceedings

Bill Gall

Kingsley Management Ltd

An EI guide to integrating human factors into decommissioning projects

Clive Tunley

Office for Nuclear Regulation

The Regulator’s view

Grant Hudson

Cavendish Nuclear

Human factors: What flavour are you?

Furthermore, after listening to the talks at this conference it is clear to see that human factors is applicable in 4 distinct areas: existing operations (most money being spent), new builds (some money being spent), decommissioning (no/little money being spent) and fuel recycling and waste storage (little money being spent). This was a great help to know where the scope of the PhD may be best suited for the greatest impact.

Highlights of the day included networking with: Grant Hudson and Christian Wilhelm. I found that both Grant and Christian were very interested by the topic of the PhD and Christian who is also trying to do some Safety-II work and was very interested to share knowledge. They would also be very keen to participate in the expert panel interview which was very useful as they are both in different sectors within the nuclear industry. I also obtained some information on people who are attempted to do practical work on Safety-II in other industries (there was a mention of someone doing work with aviation). I hope to follow up on these leads and find out more information of where Safety-II may fit in.

To summarise, the event was very useful to hear about the burning issues within decommissioning especially with a human factors focus. The event provided some useful networking opportunities which gave some useful contacts. Finally, the event has prompted me to attend more human factors conferences to develop and grow my personal network.

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