Imperial College London

Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation – Industry Showcase Event 2022

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2022 showcase attendees

Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation – Industry Showcase Event 2022

On 20 September 2022 the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation hosted its sixth flagship Industry Showcase event. The event celebrated the Centre’s research achievements during the previous year as well as our engagement with industry and policy. The event was also an occasion to hear from thought leaders in the fields relevant to Systems Engineering and Infrastructure and our research agenda. This year, the focus of the Showcase was on ‘Collaborative working’, and specifically on how academia, industry and policy can work together to enable outcome-based decision-making that drives more comprehensive social, environmental and economic value. CSEI welcomed around 60 of our industry partners, collaborators and colleagues who added their voice to the conversation on how academia, industry and policy can work together to deliver infrastructure differently in a rapidly changing world. 

The event, which was run in a hybrid format, was opened by the Head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Professor Washington Ochieng who welcomed participants and gave an overview of the research and teaching being carried out within the Department.

CSEI Director Dr Ana Mijic then briefly outlined the Centre’s research, long-term vision and strategy. Dr Mijic observed that we at the Centre have a particular focus on how we can continue to provide excellent and fit for purpose infrastructure in a sustainable, cost-effective and fair way, while at the same time minimising its impacts on environments. To this end, we advocate for an approach that considers the whole system of systems when it comes to infrastructure projects, and for all stakeholders to work in a collaborative way. Hence, this year, the decision to focus our event on ‘Collaborative working’. Ana also announced the first in a series of collaborative Working Papers by the Centre. The inaugural publication, titled Systems Approach to Regional Water Planning, is a collaboration between CSEI, the Environment Agency and Mott MacDonald, and explains a three-step process for integrated planning for water resources. The Working Paper is freely downloadable here.

Our first keynote speaker was Andrew McNaughton, Infrastructure, Defence and Industrial Lead, Aczel and lead author of the two ‘A Systems Approach to Infrastructure Delivery’ ICE reports, who delivered a fascinating presentation on how innovation can support outcomes and the need, from an infrastructure point of view, to find a fit-for-purpose narrative.

This first keynote was followed by two sessions focusing specifically on outputs from research collaborations between CSEI academics and industry.

  • Paul Eastwood and Dr Graham Bleakley, from Costain Group PLC, spoke about how purposeful collaboration is at the basis of the work Costain and CSEI are doing together.
  • Lina Soderberg and Jeremiah To, from Balfour Beatty, gave an overview of a joint research project that aims to innovate in order to improve onsite people and plant safety.
  • CSEI Post-Doctoral Research Associate Dr Luigi Mosca spoke about the successes of the multi-institution Transforming Construction Network+ programme of research and what it meant for academia, industry and policy collaborations.
  • Pepe Puchol-Salort, from Imperial College London, gave an overview of his research on systems approaches to data-driven integrated urban and infrastructure planning.
  • Dr Brendan Bromwich, from Mott MacDonald, presented the findings from ongoing collaborative research between CSEI and Mott MacDonald on systems approaches to regional water management.

The two sessions were followed by our second keynote delivered by Fergus Harradence, Deputy Director Infrastructure & Construction at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, BEIS, who gave a policy perspective on how to deliver value through systems and stressed infrastructure key role in creating social, economic, and environmental value. 

The event closed with a Q&A session comprising of the two keynote speakers and CSEI Director Dr Mijic. The conversation was lively and energising. It centred around the role of collaboration in:

  • Defining systems-level problems we want / need to solve
  • Outlining the implications of applying systems approaches to infrastructure systems, including what it would mean in terms of skills needed and how to train ‘systems deliverers’
  • Exploring the whole system of systems and the implications of projects as interventions into pre-existing systems.

The event was followed by a networking lunch during which our delegates had the opportunity to continue the conversation, exchange views on topics discussed during the day and create new connections.

If you missed our Showcase, you can watch a recording of the event here.

If you would like to hear more about CSEI’s research, contact our Research and Engagement Manager Dr Jeni Giambona, j.giambona@imperial.ac.uk, or visit our Get Involved page.

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Reporter

Jeni Giambona

Jeni Giambona
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering