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Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Collegium tackles global coastal eco-cities challenge

Published: 20 September 2013Origin: Engineering

Students from around the world have been in Southampton for the past two months at an annual event to help solve society’s biggest global challenges – this year’s focus was coastal eco-cities.

The Lloyd's Register Foundation (LRF) Research Collegium, which finished last week, brought together 24 postgraduates representing 22 countries to the University of Southampton to develop imaginative solutions to the problems faced as the world's population concentrates more and more near the coast.

The eight-week Collegium, now in its third year, welcomed scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines to work in small groups through a programme that included lecturers drawn from academic research institutes and industry partners. The programme focused on boosting the scholars' knowledge of new and emerging technology and engineering systems, regulatory and commercial issues and design challenges.

Each group prepared a major technical paper suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal in which they interpreted what coastal eco-cities mean to them, before sharing their problem-solving ideas. The Collegium closed with the presentation of all five papers to an audience of academics, industrialists, young engineers and students from Southampton. All of the papers were published by the University and shared with colleagues and contacts of the LRF, the participating universities and others with a commercial and academic interest in coastal eco-cities.

"The success of the Collegium depends on the collaborative application of a broad range of engineering and other competences, as the drive for improved efficiency and environmental systems performance places greater demand on the design community," said Professor Ajit Shenoi, Director of the University's Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute that hosted the Collegium.

"The postgraduate scholars who participate in the Collegium are selected on the basis that they are likely to be future leaders in business, industry, government, research and academia," he continued. "We place them in a high-pressure situation where they have to deliver something that can stand the test of time and give them the opportunity to return to their own countries, universities and disciplines as better informed people and to share with their audiences at home about the value of this kind of educational experience."

For University of Southampton postgraduate researcher Erin McMurtry, the whole experience has helped to develop her scientific and social skills by working with a multi-disciplinary group in such a pressure-packed environment.

"I'm an environmental scientist but I was joined in my group by an oceanographer, a civil engineer and two naval architects," Erin explained. "All of us have come at this from different angles but we pulled together quickly and agreed on an idea that we all thought was worthwhile and beneficial.

"I'm not a natural leader but I've been in position to help guide the group which has been really enjoyable," she continued. "Working with the whole group has been equally enjoyable as we've got together every week during the Collegium to present our findings and give progress reports. There are five completely different group projects and it's been fascinating to see the different directions each group have headed in based on their own experiences and research."

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