Imperial College London

CSEI 2030 Vision and 10-year Celebration Report

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Skempton building reception

CSEI 2030 Vision and 10-year Celebration Report

On 23 March 2021 we launched our The Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation – 2030 Vision and 10-year Celebration Report. The report reflects on ten years of Centre research, sets out our vision for the next ten years and emphasizes the critical role of civil engineers in protecting and managing the natural environment.

Central to this vision is a commitment to creating a sustainable built environment that works with the natural environment to achieve a net-zero pollution infrastructure vision, and the crucial role of civil engineers in reaching this goal. In fact, we go beyond and envision a Zero Pollution approach to infrastructure that can future proof the sector. The event was also an occasion to celebrate our meaningful engagement with industry and policy bodies.

The evening was opened by Professor Washington Ochieng, Centre Executive Director, who welcomed participants and introduced the speakers.

Dr Ana Mijic, Centre Co-Director, presented some significant highlights from the report and explained how, within the Centre, we are taking the work forward.

Dr Mijic presentation was followed by an engaging panel discussion chaired by Centre Co-Director Professor Jennifer Whyte. Besides Dr Mijic and Professor Ochieng, the panel included two eminent guest speakers:

Each of the two guest panellists briefly gave their perspective on the report. Professor Penn remarked on the high quality of the report and how well it had achieved a balance between academic thinking and real-world needs. Professor Savic praised the report for its insights into how systems thinking can help achieve resilience and sustainability in infrastructure.

The debate mainly focused around:

  • How CSEI research can best inform policy and industry decision-making
  • How research can help transition to Net Zero
  • The unintended consequences of exclusively focusing on carbon

The panel discussion was followed by a very interactive Q&A session. During the session, current Centre partners commented on the benefits their organisations had gained from sustained collaboration with the Centre. Questions from the audience touched upon the role of research, education, policy, and industry governance.

Some of the main themes that emerged from the conversation were:

  • The role of research in establishing innovative systemic ways to plan and deliver sustainable infrastructure.
  • The benefits of seeing infrastructure as a system of systems and how this will help the transition to Net Zero.
  • The role of research in supporting policy interventions.
  • How to deliver robust academic research that can have an impact from day one.
  • The role of education and leadership development in achieving Net Zero through systems thinking.

The event was invitation-only. It was attended by 62 participants who were a mix of leaders from over 20 different organisations, and representatives of key policy and funding bodies. It was an occasion to reaffirm the 2030 vision of the Centre, which is to better understand the environmental and societal impacts of infrastructure interventions by using systems engineering and innovation to maximise resilience, safety and sustainability. In an increasingly complex world, we will require a change in current approaches to infrastructure systems engineering: starting from the natural environment and its resources, encompassing societal use of infrastructure and the supporting infrastructure assets and services.

You can watch a recording of the event here.

For more information about the Centre and to get involved click here or email Jeni Giambona, j.giambona@imperial.ac.uk.

Reporter

Jeni Giambona

Jeni Giambona
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering