Author: Thomas Davidson
On 6th January, fellow DigiChamp Thomas Rowledge and I attended the launch of the latest interdisciplinary research group established by the University of Southampton; Monitoring of Engineered and Natural Systems Using Sensors (MENSUS). We had been asked to help live tweet the event by Interdisciplinary Research Coordinator, Dr Jo Corsi.
While we were initially a bit nervous about doing what was our first live tweeting event (and because we weren’t 100% sure we would understand everything!) it turned out to be a great experience and an event we were both glad to have been involved in. The event consisted of a large number of speakers, each giving an “elevator pitch” to summarise their area of research. This was based on the Three Minute thesis model of presenting, and proved a popular way of launching the group, allowing everyone to explain their research in a short space of time, and proved to keep the audience entertained throughout. As I mentioned previously, the scope of the research was wide, and I have summarised a few of my favourite pitches here:
- Dr Nicola Symonds speaking on Axle Bearing degradation in transport, and explaining exactly what she was researching as so; “We’re looking at broken things to see why they did”.
- Dr Natalie Wheeler who revealed that there is currently more than 300,000km of Optical Fibres in the ground already, making up the backbone of the internet.
- Dr Nick Harris’ “novel wind harnessing systems” which have been producing a light show in the University’s Zepler building for the last 5 years.
- Professor Ole Thomsen, who showed us all a wind turbine blade breaking – hopefully the first and last time I see that!
- Dr Sally Bennett who spoke about work with ECS to produce novel sensors capable of wrapping around the front of the hull of a ship to receive data from the towing tank. ECS’ solution of printable inks is better than anything else available.
- Professor Paul White’s pitch on Monitoring Fin Whales off the Galician coast, from the point of view of Big Data was perhaps my favourite, not just because of my interest in Big Data and my love of wildlife, but because of the fin whale noises he replicated!
All in all, the event was a fantastic experience. As I mentioned, both myself and Thomas Rowledge live tweeted the event under the hashtag “#UoSmensus”. I believe live tweeting the event was very valuable because the large number and breadth of speakers. We are producing a Storify that will hopefully include at least one tweet about every pitch, so those who attended can easily re-visit topics and remind themselves of exactly what was said (see our #UoSmensus Storify).
The final thing I would like to say on behalf of both myself and Thomas Rowledge is a big thanks to Dr Jo Corsi for inviting us to the event, and a big congratulation to her and to the rest of the organisational team for how much of a success the event was. I would also like to congratulate Dr Ling Wang and the co-chairs for their successful University of Southampton Research Group application as a whole. Hopefully DigiChamps will be able to work with the MENSUS group again in the future and keep up to date with their developments.