Links with Industry
Imperial College works closely with employers and industry, to design Master’s courses which provide graduates with technical knowledge, expertise and transferable skills and to encourage students to take internships and placements.
The MSc in Environmnetal Technology has developed very strong links with employers andresearch organisations, and maintains strong links with alumni in the business sector. Most of our links are with R&D (Innovation) departments in industry or bodies such the Environment Agency and Defra.
In general, industry participation in teaching is appreciated by many students and can deliver real benefits as it connects theory of academia with the reality of practitioners in the field. Although in most other courses, the industry involvement is often delimited to occasional guest lecturers or study visits and as such, it supplements the traditional, academic teaching activities, our course has been developing a different, more integrated approach. Through a series of mechanisms, the engagement of industry is secured through fellowships, visiting chairs, funding of research projects and providing bursaries.
Collaborative frameworks in place aim to deliver outputs beneficial to both organisations and of course the students in our course. For example, the course has been privileged to be awarded a series ofprizes from some of the top companies in the environmental arena.
BENEFITS TO BUSINESS: Businesses report many different reasons for engagement with universities, but typically they fall into three broad areas: to reduce cost and risk with regards to recruitment; for new ideas and horizon scanning; and to develop skills, capability and profile. These kinds of rationale are closely inter-related and contribute to a model of open innovation, for which companies find the interactions with our course very useful.
BENEFITS TO ACADEMIA: The MSc in Environmental Technology benefits from these relationships through:
We are also actively engaging with experts, leaders in their field outside Academia, promoting the use of additional expertise to complement the service we provide. Such professionals normally come with advanced experience, complementary knowledge to the one we offer and can improve the potential for delivering outputs, and based on the feedback we receive from students, also by furtherenhancing the student experience. We have been very successful in attracting and engaging with high profile experts (our teaching strategies actively incorporate the breath of research and professional experience of such individuals). They provide a unique ability to contribute to student learning outside scheduled course teaching and they also have a very positive input to course design and delivery. Some are involved with planning, and help with feedback, assessments and assistance with the students’ professional development.
Similarly, we have been establishing such links with organisations that can have an input to our course and at the same time can also receive some benefits from this interaction. It benefits are mutual there is a greater possibility to sustain more effective strategic links. We work closely with Thames Water, Veolia ES, Anglian Water, AngloAmerican, Environment Agency, Defra, ERM, Mouchel andArcadis, most of which provide important teaching contributions and regularly employ our graduates.
Strategic partnerships with Anglian Water and Veolia Environment
Due to a longstanding tradition of research collaboration with Anglian Water, experts from the company come to Imperial to teach as external lecturers on our course (Water Management option). This provides the opportunity for the students to be taught by experts that work on the particular topic on a day to day basis, giving them the newest information and an appreciation for what it is like to work within the field. In addition every year we have students working on Anglian Water projects for their thesis work. Working on a consultant basis on a real project gives the students the opportunity to experience and prepare themselves for working life, gain valuable experience, widen their contacts and start building a network. A collection of Anglian Water sponsored MSc projects of the past years is available.
Veolia Environment and CEP have teamed up to offer the students attending the MSc in Environmental Technology (natural sciences options) an invaluable experience in waste and resource management. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with world renowned research teams and increase their technical and technological expertise in the field of resource management, with the overall aim of getting the expertise needed for working towards a career in achieving a low carbon economy. They also have the option to undertake projects for their MSc thesis covering a wide spectrum of topics from resource management to energy efficiency and innovation. Apart from the numerous projects it funds, VES also invites students to attend the Veolia Summer School in Paris, France to discover the full range of environmental services in the fields of water, waste management and energy. The company expects that some of the students will go on to take places on the Veolia Environmental Services with the prospect of providing scientific and technical support to the companies numerous projects. Richard Kirkman, Veolia Environmental Services’ Head of Technology explains “We provide case studies, sites and mentoring whilst the students bring a fresh and innovative approach underpinned by world class tutors and advisors on campus. Our aim is a closer working relationship between industry and the research community…”.
The Veolia Summer School Experience: Lessons for young professionals
Each year Veolia Environment holds the Veolia Summer School, at the Veolia Environment Campus situated only 30km away from Paris, France, offering an intensive week of various activities that aim to provide young professionals the full range of environmental services in the fields of water, waste management and energy, with 3 to 4 students from the MSc in Environmental Technology attending each year.
This year 43 students from 17 countries around the world took part in the Veolia Summer School. Three of these, were students from our course (Daniel Tahsin, Nicholas Tansey and Trisha Roshni Bindah).
Each day of the week was dedicated to a particular area of Veolia’s Business operations. The week began on Sunday, 29th June with some brief introductions to the School and Veolia Campus, followed by some informal presentations from all the participants on their background and interests, as well as on the country and institution they represented.
Monday morning was all about water treatment. The day begun with site visit to a drinking water treatment plant at ‘Mery-sur-oise’ where innovative nano-filtration is used to aid the removal of fine organic materials and pesticides. This has been an important visit because “it enabled me to contextualise some of the knowledge I had acquired from the MSc and improved my knowledge on water treatment from an engineering viewpoint.”. After the visit there were some presentations from Veolia Water representatives, who discussed the challenges of securing their competitive position in the water industry in the European markets, and their ambitious plan to expand and grow in developing areas of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where competition is lower. The day culminated in “speed meetings”. In these meeting students had the opportunity to ask questions on varying issues. It was one of the most useful activities of the whole week because it “enabled us to talk and discuss with senior representatives on the role of the company in the field of water, as well as on the challenges of working for one of the world’s largest environmental services providers”. Also, “it was a really unique opportunity to enhance my knowledge of the industry and think about how my future career could develop if I decided to enter this industry”.
Tuesday and Wednesday involved an overview to the rest business streams of Veolia, with Dalkia (Veolia Energy) and Veolia Environment (Waste management), respectively. These days followed the same agenda as on Monday with site visit and presentations from industry specialists followed by speed meetings. Tuesday’s site visit was on a biomass power plant at Cergy Pontoise, where the Urban Heating Network was presented. The presentations given by the directors of Veolia’s Energy division focused on the challenges of renewables and of sustainable energy provision. Wednesday’s visit was to the Buqueval landfill site, a large non-hazardous landfill operated by Veolia. The visit was followed by presentations from the directors of Veolia’s Waste division and speed meetings. Overall, “I found the site visits and speed meetings very interesting. The talks by the representatives of the various divisions and the discussions that followed gave me a new perspective on the important work that Veolia does and the positive impact this work has on everyone who works within the company as well as those who benefit by it.”.
The remaining days involved lectures on Veolia Foundation, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and an introduction to Veolia’s Research division that was followed by a visit to one of Veolia’s many research labs on water treatment technologies.
Apart from the daily agenda of site visits and presentations, there was also a case study project on the development of a new ‘eco-town’, in which all students were involved. The aim was to prepare a bid for securing funding for projects relevant to the town’s waste, water and energy infrastructure development. Four groups were formed based on, Water, Waste, Energy, Clients and Sustainability, and individuals in each group had to work together to develop a tender proposal for funding on the topic of achieving sustainable development in one of the three key areas; waste management, water management and energy provision. These tender proposals were presented on Friday to the Veolia CEO, Antoine Ferot . As part of the water group “we had to develop an efficient waste water treatment facility, manage flood risk and determine ways to reduce water consumption in households – It was an exciting task and an enjoyable experience”. “This task gave me the opportunity to put into practice some of the knowledge I have acquired both from the week at the school and current and previous studies. It was a challenging and enjoyable experience that allowed me to develop both my presentation and team skills. It also gave me an insight as to how companies like Veolia develop proposals for funding”.
During the week at Veolia Campus, apart from activities designed on building knowledge and ex perience, ther e were also a number of entertaining activities, including sports and a surprise dinner trip along the Seine. Over the weekend there was also the chance to explore Paris.
Overall, the school has facilitated in realising the significance of environmental services in our lives, and their impact on moving towards a sustainable future. It has also presented the prospect of attaining an attractive career in the field of environmental services and become the next young professionals in the field.
To conclude on the overall experience of the Veolia Summer School I would like to say that
“it was a hugely enjoyable and interesting week. It gave an insight into the environmental services industry and how Veolia sees itself as a company in the coming years. I made lots of new friends and learnt a lot about an important company.” - Daniel
“ it was a fantastic opportunity. I had an incredible time and it was truly fascinating to get such an in-depth insight into a great company such as Veolia Environment. It was a rewarding opportunity to meet and work with new people as well as to learn so much about the environmental services that Veolia carries out around the world. Although, it was for little over a week, the experience will stay with me forever, and I am very appreciative of having been given this opportunity.” - Nicholas
Veolia and Imperial launch vocational R & D training for engineers
DEFRA-CIWM MASTERS RESEARCH PROJECT PROGRAMME
PAPERS NOW AVAILABLE ON WARRR - Another 5 projects awarded to our students for 2012
On February 8th 2012 at Imperial College London, as part of the Defra-CIWM Masters support programme, students from various universities presented their research to fellow students and invited subject experts from throughout the waste industry. Their theses are now available to read on and download from WARRR.