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ATWARM Meeting: November 2011

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

This week I attended my third ATWARM meeting. I have written about the previous two here and here. The first day was the typical QUESTOR meeting, with presentations about current and upcoming projects. We also had an interesting presentation by the Environmental Sustainability KTN, which was a new concept to me, and which I found really interesting. We also had the student council meeting, where the new President and Secretary were elected, and my position as student council President came to an end. Following the student council meeting I attended the Supervisory meeting as a representative of the student council. I always find attending the supervisory meeting beneficial, and I really wish that all students could be present (even if just as observers) at this meeting as I think it is a good idea to know what aspects are concerning the supervisory board and how we can work together.

This time apart from being the usual QUESTOR/ATWARM meeting it was also time for the mid-term report which is due regarding the ATWARM project for FP7. Therefore the research officer responsible for the project came over for the ATWARM part of the meeting and we had a day of meetings with him. After an introductory report, all the fellows had to give a short 7 minute presentation about their background, research activities and our aspirations. I really appreciated that this time we kept strictly to the time allotted, since some people tend to keep talking way over the allotted time, and as has happened at these meetings before, people who are to present towards the end have had their presentation truly shortened or alternatively even transferred to another day at the end of a long programme. This was followed by a meeting between all the fellows and the research officer. The research officer was certainly not what most of us were expecting. The thing which surprised me most was that he was not too obsessed with the rules and regulations, but was very flexible to hearing what we had to say. He understood that the most important aspect of the fellowship was that we get training and get our PhD rather than fulfilling the original plan to the letter.

Alas, after the wonderful two days we made our way back to Dublin, albeit not without an initial stop at the Belfast Christmas Market for an hour or so, until the planes, trains etc were due to leave, or alternatively for those who were staying the night to go to their next outing of the night. I look forward to our next meeting in May, where we should be heading to Cranfield, at our partner site there.

ATWARM Meeting: May 2011

May 13, 2011 1 comment

The second ATWARM meeting has come and gone. It was held from the 10th-12th May 2011, at the University of Duisburg-Essen. I had written about my first ATWARM meeting in November previously, and the format of the meeting was relatively similar. On the first two days, the QUESTOR meeting was held, and on the last day the ATWARM meeting was held. Since the ATWARM programme is coordinated by the QUESTOR centre we were all invited to all the sessions.

We traveled over to Germany on Monday evening, since the programme started on Tuesday morning. The first activity was a choice of 2 site visits, and I joined the Water Purification Plant site visit. We visited the RWW Mülheim Water Treatment Plant, where we had a shot introduction to the processes they use, namely the Mülheim method. They do not use chlorine during the treatment, but rather treatment is based on the use of a sand filter, activated carbon, ozone, UV etc. After the short presentation, we all went on a site visit of the plant.

After lunch, and a formal introduction to the QUESTOR meeting, a brokerage event was organised, for one-to-one meetings between the industrial members of QUESTOR, academics and researchers. I had requested meetings with three different companies, and it was a good opportunity to meet with them, discuss my project, how we could collaborate and see their opinions. In the evening a networking dinner was then held at the Museum der Deutschen Binnenschiffahrt (namely museum for German inland shipping). We had an opportunity to visit the museum, followed by a delicious dinner at the restaurant within the museum.

On the second day of the meeting, presentations by students and academics involved in QUESTOR funded projects, updates on the progress of new initiatives and also 2 ATWARM project presentations. In the evening, the QUESTOR industrial advisory board had its meeting, and therefore we had some free time, for some sightseeing.

The third day of the meeting was the ATWARM meeting. This was the most intensive day and the most productive. The first session was on the progress of the ATWARM programme and a discussion of issues related to the programme in general of interest to all researchers, academics and industrial members. After that came 10 minute poster presentations by each ATWARM researcher. This was the first time that all projects were represented, since at the last meeting not all researchers had been appointed or could make it. That made 16 presentations in all. We had all prepared a poster, and we had to present to all the other attendees what our project is about, progress made and future plans. This was followed by questions from the audience. I found this session to be highly interactive, with comments, queries and suggestions, including suggestions for collaborations and the like being discussed. I think the relaxed nature of the session, whereby people were standing/sitting informally on chairs helped for such an informal discussion.

Once all presentations were delivered, and lunch eaten, a session on the secondment process was held. This was followed by the student council meeting. During the student council meeting, all researchers meet to discuss aspects of the ATWARM programme which are of interest to them. Aspects discussed during this meeting included financial issues, how to acknowledge the funding agency and secondments. Once the meeting was reaching its end, an election should be held to elect the student council president and secretary for the next 6 months. Since during the previous 6 months the students were from QUB and UDE, we agreed to have representatives from DCU and Cranfield this time round. Francesco Ometto from Cranfield and myself were nominated to the positions, and therefore for the next 6 months I will be acting as student council president and Francesco as secretary.

Following the student council meeting, the supervisory board meeting was held. The previous president and secretary of the student council attend to bring forward any issues felt by the students, and the newly elected president and secretary attend as observers. It was interesting for me to attend the meeting, and understand the way the supervisory board functions, and how willing they were to take on board our opinions.

Alas, the meeting was now over, and we started making our way to the airport, saying our goodbyes to all our ATWARM friends, and looking forward to our next meeting for the ATWARM summer school, to be also held in Germany in July.

As all ATWARM meetings to date, this was a successful meeting. I feel honoured to be part of the ATWARM programme, and the QUESTOR centre. In particular I believe the strong industrial-academia partnership is extremely important as it allows for immediate and continuous feedback from individuals from industry and also academics from different institutions, allowing for more effective collaboration.

If I were to change anything in the meeting format it would be factors such as the short length of the student council meeting (we had 30mins scheduled and stretched it to 1 hour, however if perhaps it could happen at the same time as the industrial advisory board meeting, it could have been more successful, as we only end up talking about the more important aspects, and less about the possibilities for collaboration and the like). another aspect is the financial aspect. I believe that if for example, we shared rooms or so, we could have all stayed in 1 or 2 hotels (rather than being spread over 4 – due to the Eurovision being held in nearby Dusseldorf, most hotels were quite full) and also saved money from our funding.

However, overall, the meeting was extremely successful. I always feel energised coming back from these meetings, and being in the company of the ATWARM fellows, all of which are really nice and supportive.