Next generation doctoral training for future infrastructure and built environment
ISNGI 2017 International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure
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Gibbons, N., Lees, J., & Al-Tabbaa, A. (2017). Next generation doctoral training for future infrastructure and built environment. ISNGI 2017 International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.22740
Urbanisation, population growth, scarcity of resources, climatic change, rapid technological development, and the globalisation of both construction and engineering design are driving the pace of change within the construction industry. There is a clear need for engineering education to evolve alongside these changes. Specific challenges facing the construction industry include the delivery of large complex construction projects, creating complex underground spaces and the ramifications of extreme environments. At a doctoral level, there is a need to provide training that reflects both modern research practice, facilitating multi-disciplinary and industry collaborations, and the need for industry leadership in order to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. There is also a shortage in skills to address the complex and multi-sector challenges facing future construction. We have been advocating a new philosophy for training doctoral students which will deliver the next generation of PhD graduates who are equipped with the deep technical skills needed to address future challenges in Engineering, but who will also become future leaders capable of thinking outside current norms and with a strong sense of social responsibility. To achieve this aim, a new MRes/PhD programme was established. From the outset, one striking feature has been the range of disciplines outside of civil engineering that the students on the programme come from including architecture, town planning, applied mathematics and physics, information and computer engineering, manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science. This has introduced challenges in terms of ensuring that a sound civil engineering technical basis is established across the cohort during the MRes year. However, it has greatly enriched the diversity of the cohort and promoted the importance of the role of multiple disciplines to successfully address 21st century engineering challenges in new and innovative ways. This paper discusses and reflects upon the achievements to date, the pedagogical and structural approaches taken, the practicalities of implementing this vision and shares the lessons learnt to date. Selected contributions to doctoral training are highlighted through a series of case studies in the context of the development of a T-shaped skill set, providing breadth of knowledge with depth of specialist expertise, and the delivery of multi-disciplinary research with significant industry engagement. The case studies illustrate how these aims have been implemented through project work, focusing on multi-disciplinary aspects of large infrastructure projects and commercial feasibility of nascent technologies.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.22740
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/275506