EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


Our civil infrastructure and built environment must adapt and innovate to address the challenges and opportunities of a low carbon future, of limited space and limited natural resources, economic and societal change and climatic uncertainties. The UK needs a high-level skill base to meet these challenges and opportunities and to maintain its world class leadership position in this sector. 'The need for low carbon infrastructure and buildings will make demands on industry which industry is currently under-equipped to meet. New skills, and different applications of existing skills, ranging from conceptual thinking, to policy, operation and use, through all layers of the supply chain will be required at a time when the construction industry has been badly weakened by the fall in its workload' (BIS report 2010). A prime objective of the CDT is to develop the next generation of Civil Engineering professionals who will provide leadership and are equipped with the required skills to successfully design, construct and manage existing and future infrastructure and buildings. This can only be achieved through strategic Academia-Industry collaboration.

This bid for a CDT at the University of Cambridge, led by the Civil Engineering Division, is designed to build upon and channel Cambridge's internationally leading current research, investment and funding in the diverse areas related to Future Infrastructure and Built Environment. Our vision is to develop world-class technically excellent multi-disciplinary Engineers equipped to successfully face current and future infrastructure and built environment challenges to meet societal needs and aspirations. The CDT seeks to address the UK's training needs collectively with our Industrial and Academic partners. The involvement of Industry and practice partners will be integral in producing work of relevance and applicability in the delivery of design and construction of sustainable infrastructure. The CDT's research and training will focus on integrating Cambridge's internationally recognised strengths in structures, geotechnics, materials, construction, sustainable development, building physics and water and waste within the wider context of related engineering disciplines, architecture, the sciences, land economy, manufacturing, business, economics, policy and social science. We will focus on core Civil Engineering technical areas using a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on underpinning fundamental principles together with appropriate theoretical and experimental work (as evidenced in PhD studies at Cambridge).

Our Industrial partners will work with us to co-create and shape the Centre's training programme to meet National skills needs. There will be significant added value from this strong Industry/University partnership. Our new MRes/PhD programme is based on a 1+3 model with a one year Master of Research (MRes) degree with depth and breadth and a multi-disciplinary approach. The MRes is followed by a 3 year PhD in a specialist field. We will also offer a new, 'I+' scheme, in collaboration with two strategic industrial Centre partners; Arup and Laing O'Rourke. The initial broad cohort-based MRes education will cover core advanced Civil Engineering technical topics, research and commercial skills training and expose students to disciplines that impact on future infrastructure and built environment. The PhD research will be of the highest quality. The CDT's inclusive approach to engagement will extend the impact of the CDT and CDT students will act as role models to inspire future generations of Civil Engineering graduates.

The CDT will deliver enhanced doctoral training for future leaders and provide a focal point for UK Civil Engineering excellence. CDT graduates will be engineering leaders of the highest calibre whom we can entrust to lead us through the anticipated significant technical and societal challenges facing our UK Construction Industry.

Planned Impact

Our CDT will build on Cambridge Civil Engineering research strengths and capitalise on established and new high level collaborations with leading UK companies. In partnership with Industry we will shape new directions for the training of Civil Engineering researchers to meet current and future societal needs and aspirations. Specific impacts include:

- Highly skilled researchers with core technical skills: These future engineering leaders will have direct and significant technical, economic and social impacts for UK Civil Engineering and associated stakeholders. The requirement for 'New skills, and different applications of existing skills' (BIS, 2010) will be personified in our CDT graduates and these graduates will have immediate and wide ranging roles to play.

- A transformation in Civil Engineering Graduate Engineering at Cambridge: The new CDT MRes/PhD will offer a broad education as well as deliver world-class PhD research supervised by Academic experts.

- New forms of Industry/University partnerships: Industry co-creation of the training curriculum and the shaping of research needs will lead to new forms of two-way engagement and partnerships.

- Availability of skilled personnel for UK employers: UK employers will derive significant benefit from employing PhD graduates from the Centre to act as catalysts for enterprise, knowledge exchange and innovation thereby leading to new business growth opportunities.

- Enhanced global competitiveness for industrial partners: The strength of our industrial support is evidence of the strong user pull for the Centre. CDT Industrial partners will be in a strong position to embrace the research innovations that emerge from the PhD projects.

- National and local government: The CDT will support policy makers with the mission for energy demand reduction, reduced whole life costs and the efficient management and maintenance of infrastructure and the built environment. The CDT research outcomes and PhD graduates with multi-disciplinary awareness will contribute to an evidence-based foundation for improved decision making. Some of our CDT Engineers will go on to roles in national and local government and hence will influence government decisions at the highest level.

- World-class research outcomes: Direct engagement and involvement with our key industrial partners will lead to research innovations that address industrially relevant national needs. Other academic institutions and research organisations will benefit from working with the Centre to collectively advance knowledge. The CDT will thereby strengthen the University of Cambridge's reputation for Civil Engineering research excellence.

- Professional Engineering institutions: Institutions will leverage the raised profile of UK Civil Engineering with decision makers and across allied research fields and industrial sectors.

- Wider professional engagement: Creation of powerful informal professional networks between researchers, practitioners, CDT alumni and a stream of CDT students, working internationally and supported with social media.

- Future generations of Civil Engineers: Through the Centre's outreach activity, school pupils, their teachers and parents will gain insight into the importance of Civil Engineering thereby enthusing future generations of engineers.

- Raising the profile of Civil Engineering: Public engagement will lead to a better appreciation of the Civil Engineering challenges associated with sustainable infrastructure and built environment. This will promote trust and raise the profile of Civil Engineers in the service of society.


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