The NSIRC Annual Conference for 2017 was held over 21 and 22 June at TWI’s state-of-the-art engineering facility on Granta Park in Cambridge. Over 40 students took part in a two day programme of events attended by industry experts from world leading businesses such as BP, Boeing and Rolls Royce and representatives from the NSIRC’s academic partners. 

First year PhD students, including Cohort 2's Athanasios Pouchias, presented their research in poster presentations to industry experts and their peers. Whereas second and third year PhD students gave oral presentations summarising their research topic, reviewing their initial and current research, and discussing plans for future study and work.

The conference also included keynote presentations from Dr Simon Edmonds, Innovate UK Director for Manufacturing and Materials, Professor John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Advisor for BEIS, and Stephen Harris, Science Editor for Conversation UK.

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Congratulations to a team from Loughborough University who have been awarded an EPSRC platform grant to maintain and develop the strength of manufacturing-related UK engineering.  

Over a 5-year period the team will provide a platform for strategic research and impact activities within the embedded integrated intelligent systems (EIIS) domain. All aspects of research for designing and developing products and processes that can demonstrate adaptation and learning will be included. The funding will also support the development of a pipeline of expertise in EIIS for UK industry and academia.

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."

 

Retreat

 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.

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