Mobility under COVID-19: Understanding transport mode choice through agent-based modelling

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


Problem or Challenge
In district energy systems, economic risk, regulatory uncertainty, and technology lock-in all weigh on decision makers' choices. Accordingly, model parameters are coming under scrutiny for their inherent uncertainty. More recently, optimisation methods which account for uncertainty have been proposed. However, the quantification, propagation, and management of uncertainty in model parameters continues to pose challenges.
Furthermore, current models are fundamentally ill-suited to project future evolutions of energy demand. In the context of economic volatilities, organizational restructuring, and environmental vulnerabilities, we are likely to see shifts in historic trends of energy consumption. At the moment we have no mechanism to efficiently assimilate these shifts.
MRes/PhD project objectives
This project will investigate the role of digital technologies and new data sources to quantify uncertainties in district energy system optimization. It will explore hybrid-models that combine statistical and numerical modelling for improved management and reduction of uncertainties in model outcomes. Specific emphasis will be on communication of uncertainties for effective decision-making.
PhD project description
The PhD will extend a recent model of district energy optimization in the following aspects: (a) representation of additional components and technologies (for eg. EV charging within the district energy network), (b) develop a systematic methodology to quantify uncertainties in model inputs, especially those pertaining to resilience of the system. This will be carried out by exploiting digital technologies (c) propagation, management, and communication of uncertainties through novel combinations of statistical and numerical modelling.
MRes component
- A thorough literature review of the state-of-the-art in stochastic optimization
- The component (a) listed above, along with identification of relevant digital technologies.
PhD - Expected Outcomes, Contributions to Knowledge & Practice
- A tool for stochastic energy system optimization
- Data assimilation across the system lifetime to assess changes in system operation
- Efficient display and communication of model outputs through appropriate computational platforms.

Planned Impact

The primary impact of the FIBE2 CDT will be the benefit to society that will accrue from the transformative effect that FIBE2 graduates will have upon current and future infrastructure. The current FIBE CDT has already demonstrated significant impact and FIBE2 will extend this substantially and with particular focus on infrastructure resilience. There will be further impacts across academic research, postgraduate teaching, industry-academia partnering and wider society. Our CDT students are excellent ambassadors and their skills and career trajectories are inspirational. Their outputs so far include >40 journal and conference papers, contributions to a CIRIA report, a book chapter and >15 prizes (e.g. Cambridge Carbon Challenge, EPSRC Doctoral Prizes, best presentation awards). Our students' outreach activities have had far reaching impacts including: Science Festival activities and engineering workshops for school girls. Our innovative CDT training approaches have shifted the culture and priorities in academia and industry towards co-creation for innovation. Our FIBE CDT features in the EPSRC document 'Building Skills for a Prosperous Nation'. Our attention to E&D has resulted in 50% female students with the inspirational ethos attracting students from wide ranging educational backgrounds.

FIBE2 CDT will build on this momentum and expand the scope and reach of our impact. We will capitalise on our major research and training initiatives and strategic collaborations within academia, industry and government to train future infrastructure leaders to address UK and global challenges and this will have direct and significant technical, economic and social impacts for UK infrastructure, its associated stakeholders and civil society at large.

As well as the creation of cohorts of highly skilled research cohorts with cross-disciplinary technical skills, further specific impacts include:

-a transformational cross-disciplinary graduate training and research approach in infrastructure with depth and breadth.

-new forms of Industry-University partnerships. Co-creation with industry of our training and research initiatives has already led to new forms of partnerships such as the I+ scheme, and FIBE2 will further extend this with the 'employer model' variant and others.

-skilled research-minded challenge-focused graduates for UK employers who will derive significant benefit from employing them as catalysts for enterprise, knowledge exchange and innovation, and thus to business growth opportunities.

-enhanced global competitiveness for industrial partners. With our extensive network of 27 industry partners from across all infrastructure sectors who will actively shape the centre with us, we will deliver significant impact and will embrace the cross-disciplinary research emergeing from the CDT to gain competitive advantage.

-support for policy makers at the highest levels of national and local government. The research outcomes and graduates will contribute to an evidence-based foundation for improved decision-making for the efficient management, maintenance and design of infrastructure.

-world-class research outcomes that address national needs, via the direct engagement of our key industrial partners. Other academic institutions will benefit from working with the Centre to collectively advance knowledge.

-wider professional engagement via the creation of powerful informal professional networks between researchers, practitioners, CDT alumni and CDT students, working nationally and internationally, including some hosted by FIBE2 CDT industry partners.

-future generations of infrastructure professional inspired by the FIBE2 CDT's outreach activities whereby pupils, teachers and parents gain insight into the importance of infrastructure engineering.

-the generation of public awareness of the importance of a resilient infrastructure to address inevitable and often unexpected challenges.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02302X/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2439061 Studentship EP/S02302X/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Teresa Irigoyen Lopez