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Tenth Research Project Boosts Technical Leadership

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A new Costain-sponsored research project being launched at the University of Reading will bring to ten the number of PhDs now being supported by the business, further demonstrating Costain’s commitment to technical leadership and innovation.

The new four-year research project ‘Urban Energy Rhythms’ aims to model different energy scenarios across different infrastructure systems underpinning the importance of infrastructure in smart cities, and come up with recommendations on the best ways to manage energy demand. The successful candidate will be based at both the University of Reading and Costain’s Maidenhead head office, and will be able to trial their work at Costain projects.

Costain, said David Miller, Industry Liaison Manager at the University of Reading’s School of the Built Environment, is an ideal partner: “It’s a leading infrastructure company and has a successful track record in innovation. We look for commercial partners like Costain that have the vision to help realise the impact of research undertaken at our Technologies for Sustainable Built Environments Centre for the benefit of society as a whole.”

Two more Costain-funded PhD projects are also due to begin this year. A project at the University of Cambridge will look at how data can be used to improve asset management, while at the University of Edinburgh a project will focus on the use of forensic engineering to avoid future infrastructure failures.

For Bill Hewlett, Costain Technical Director, the PhD projects not only help Costain to bring innovation to the market but also enable the company to invest in technical leadership.

“As a leading engineering solutions provider, Costain needs both great business managers and great technical leaders. Our PhD students add real substance and quality to the technical capability of the business – they draw out the knowledge and expertise that’s embedded there and make it available to the company, our customers and the industry at large. Now, with ten PhDs in place, we’ve reached the critical mass we need for future technical leadership.”

Oliver Teall will complete his PhD on self-healing concrete at the University of Cardiff later this year. He will be bringing back to the business the knowledge and expertise gained during the three-year project, and will be Costain’s link with the work as it moves towards commercialisation.

“It’s a very good example of how we’re involved in cutting edge research,” he said. “It helps us solve technical challenges that affect our suppliers and customers and also allows us to engage with universities.”

Collaboration with customers is also key. Some Costain PhD students are embedded with the customer to address their needs and bring innovative solutions that pre-empt future challenges. Ioanna Papanikolaou, undertaking a PhD at the University of Cambridge on Future Infrastructure and Built Environment, is Innovations Champion for the Costain joint venture on the east contract at the Thames Tideway Tunnel. “We were set the challenge to reduce carbon at every design gate and so have successfully used the Costain carbon baseline tool, which projects and tracks carbon performance. We’re always looking for ways to improve and to identify potential research areas that could benefit both Tideway and the wider Engineering industry.”

For more information on the ‘Urban Energy Rhythms’ project and how to apply, click on the link:
http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/tsbe/2016/05/04/fully-funded-icase-phd-research-studentship-opportunity-project-title-urban-energy-rhythms/

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