The coordination and leadership role played by the Institute will aim (i) to reinforce, grow and enhance established centres of excellence in identifiable areas of civil and environmental engineering research, (ii) to facilitate pan-Scottish research groupings that are complementary to (and not competitive with) those existing within the regional partnerships and which provide added value to existing research strengths, (iii) to promote inclusivity by promoting opportunities for relatively small, group- or individual-based research activities to collaborate or join with larger units, (iv) to identify (and support preferentially) new and existing pan-Scottish growth areas of excellence, (v) to introduce initiatives to assist established individual research centres and new pan-Scottish research groupings to attract significantly higher levels of external funding than presently obtain, (vi) to increase the overall competitiveness of Scottish research groups within the UK, (vii) to work with the regional partnerships to identify new funding opportunities not available to small centres of research activity, (iix) to avoid duplication of research effort by effective dissemination of present and planned activities, (ix) to exploit multi-centre use of present and future specialised equipment and instrumentation (x) to promote and raise awareness within the governmental, public and industrial sectors of the civil engineering research profile of Scottish universities and (xi) to identify opportunities for diversification and further research collaboration within the UK and internationally.
Existing Areas of Expertise and Excellence
Research activity within Scotland can be classified conveniently within 6 coherent themes, namely
- Water, Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics
- Geotechnical Engineering
- Transport Engineering
- Construction and Project Management
- Structures and Materials
Inter- and multi-disciplinary research connections exist presently between groups and individuals working in these areas and others in mathematics, physics, life sciences, architecture, environmental sciences, medicine and biomedical engineering disciplines. The Telford Institute can help significantly to strengthen such inter- disciplinary connections by promoting awareness and disseminating information of their existence.
Several cross-cutting themes have been identified, namely
- Sustainable Infrastructure and Transportation
- Flooding, Geohazards and Climate Change
- Extreme Environments and Events
- Engineering Aspects of Renewable Energy
- Innovative Design and Construction
- Water Resources and Waste Management
Telford Institute Sponsored Initiatives
In seeking to satisfy the strategic objectives delineated above, the following general initiatives will be implemented after detailed discussions with the relevant JRI Directors and approval from the Telford Institute Strategic Management Board and its Advisory Committee and Governing Board:
- Detailed inventory of present and planned research activities (i) to identify centres of international excellence, (ii) to identify growth areas suited to pan-Scottish effort, (ii) to promote bi- or tri-lateral research connections not covered by existing regional partnerships, (iv) to compile a list of specialised equipment and large scale experimental facilities available in individual centres.
- External input activities, including (i) specialised series of Workshops to be held in the specialised coherent and cross-cutting themes identified above and including leading researchers from elsewhere in the UK and overseas, (ii) Visiting Lecturers and Visiting Fellows, (iii) Telford Seminars.
- Publication (web-based) of outputs from Workshops, Seminars, Specialised Working Groups.
- Facilitation of joint funding opportunities (to include approaches to Research Councils), separate from and complementary to those pursued by individual, partnership-based and cross-partnership research groups.
- Promotion of joint publications (papers, reviews, monographs) and joint supervision of graduate students across regional partnerships.
- Promotion of joint initiatives (e.g. international conferences) to raise the international profile of civil engineering research in Scotland.
- Interaction with government and industry (i) to publicise civil engineering research in Scotland and raise awareness of expertise available to these bodies from the academic community and (ii) to play a role in identifying strategic civil engineering developments and influencing policy decisions affecting civil engineering activity.