EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment: Resilience in a Changing World (FIBE2)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

Our infrastructure is central to the economic prosperity of the nation and to the flourishing of a stable, yet dynamic, civil society. Its interconnected strands - the energy, transportation, water, sanitation and communication networks that provide access to services and markets and which underpin the securities of daily life - must be not only affordable and reliable but also resilient against threats such as technological uncertainty, environmental causes, economic and political change, and demographic and societal change unfolding in an increasingly uncertain world.

FIBE2 CDT will lead a paradigm shift in the approach to infrastructure resilience through the creation of an inspirational doctoral training programme for talented cohorts from diverse academic and social backgrounds to conduct world-class, cutting-edge and industry-relevant research. Our goal is to develop the infrastructure professionals of the future, equipped with a versatile and cross-disciplinary skillset to meet the most complex emerging challenges, harness the full value of existing infrastructure and contribute effectively to better infrastructure decision-making in the UK. The programme's technical focus will exploit high-level interconnected research themes in advanced infrastructure materials, rethinking design & construction, digitised civil engineering, whole-life performance, built environment and global challenges, along high-level crosscutting themes in emerging technologies, performance to data to knowledge, research across scales, and risk and uncertainty.

In FIBE2 CDT we offer a radical rethink to deliver innovation for the cross-disciplinary and interconnected challenges in resilient infrastructure. Our 1+3 MRes/PhD programme proposes a new approach to infrastructure research where students from different disciplines proactively forge new training and research collaborations. FIBE2 is inspired by the paradigm of a 3D 'T' shaped engineer embodying a combination of depth and breadth of knowledge, augmented by our new thinking around cross-disciplinary training and research. High level Infrastructure Engineering concepts will be interlinked and related to the detailed technical fundamentals that underpin them in bespoke core and elective modules. Cohort-based learning will bridge across the wider environmental, societal, economic, business and policy issues within the even broader context of ethics, responsible innovation and ED&I. These depth and breadth elements are interwoven and brought together through problem-based challenges using large-scale cross-disciplinary infrastructure projects. Individual student plans will be carefully crafted to harmonise the specificity of PhD research with the need for expansive understanding of threats and opportunities. The development of Resilient FIBE2 CDT students with strong personal, technical and professional resilience attributes is integral to the FIBE2 approach to training and research.

The FIBE2 PhD projects will build upon Cambridge's internationally leading research, investment and funding in the diverse areas related to infrastructure and resilience. Our major strategic initiatives include >£60M funding from EPSRC and industry. Our engagements in UKCRIC, CDBB, Alan Turing and Henry Royce Institutes and our world class graduate training programmes provide an inspirational environment for the proposed CDT.

The FIBE2 vision has been co-created with our 27 strategic industry partners from across all infrastructure sectors and nine international academic centre partners across the world, who have pledged over £12M. We will work together to deliver the FIBE2 CDT objectives and add new dimensions to our students' experience.

The lasting impact of FIBE2 will be embodied in our students acting as role models to inspire future generations of infrastructure engineers and rising to lead the profession through all the technological and societal challenges facing UK infrastructure.

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.

Organisations

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2277256 Studentship EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Loannis Zachos