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The University of Southampton

Southampton wins £15 million to train scientists and engineers for Britain’s future

Published: 4 December 2008

The University of Southampton has won funding for three new centres that will generate the scientists needed for Britain’s future, it was announced today (5 December 2008) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – the UK funding body for science and engineering.

The funding will support three new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Complex Systems Simulation; Transport and the Environment; and Web Science, to provide advanced training and research in response to the emerging needs of UK industry and society.

The new centres, each of which receives around £5 million, are part of a £250million initiative, announced by the Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, which will create 44 training centres across the UK and generate over 2000 PhD students. They will tackle some of the biggest problems currently facing Britain such as climate change, energy, our ageing population, and high-tech crime.

Phil Nelson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton, comments: “The three new centres at the University of Southampton will provide a new wave of engineers and scientists to find answers to many of the challenges we face in the 21st century, build a strong economy and keep the UK globally competitive.”

The CDT in Complex Systems Simulation aims to train a new generation of scientists to satisfy a national need for highly trained people in this discipline. The huge and increasing availability of computational power is now providing unprecedented opportunities for scientists to use computational modelling and simulation to better understand the structure and behaviour of large-scale and complex systems.

Understanding these systems better will drive progress in addressing global problems such as climate change, the need for better drugs and treatments, the shortage of resources, the effectiveness of global communications and the interdependence of the world’s economy.

The Transport and the Environment Industrial Doctoral Centre will help meet the demand from industry for engineering solutions in the transport sector, to reduce adverse environmental impacts and improve energy and resource efficiency. It will provide students with the business skills they need to turn pioneering ideas into products and services, boosting their impact on the UK’s economy. Engineering at Southampton has an established international reputation for education and research in transport and the environment, together with a long history of collaborative research with industry.

Web Science is a new but rapidly growing interdisciplinary research area, pioneered by the University of Southampton and MIT, which examines the World Wide Web and offers practical solutions needed to help guide its future development. The establishment of a CDT in the area of Web Science at Southampton, with 80 PhD students being trained over a period of eight years, will give the UK a truly leading edge in this area and enable UK employers to take early advantage of employing the students who graduate from the Centre.

The three new multidisciplinary centres bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle today’s evolving issues. They also create new working cultures, build relationships between teams in universities and forge greater collaboration with business.

Students in these centres will receive a formal programme of taught coursework to develop and enhance their technical knowledge and broaden their set of skills. Alongside this they will undertake a challenging and original research project at PhD level.

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