The water sector in the UK is entering a particularly challenging period over the next decade. Rising population, changes in demographic structure and the emerging threat of climate change mean the managed water cycle will be stretched to the limit.

In response to this challenge, a new type of engineering leader is required to help radically overhaul our current urban water systems and make them fit-for-purpose into the 21st century.  We intend to address this need by developing well-qualified, independent-thinking research engineers thorugh our new Industrial Doctoral Centre  STREAM, funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The research facilities are provided by five universities including Cranfield University, University of Exeter, Newcastle University, Sheffield University and Imperial College London.

Stream IDC

I am currently undertaking the below named research project under the supervision of Prof. Dragan Savic at the University of Exeter.

The key objective of the research is to develop a decision support tool which can assist engineers, water scientists, architects on their design of sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS). The development of software toolkit will be based on the application of artificial intelligence (AI).

Due to the nature of EngD, this project will place emphasis on rapid knowledge transfer and integration with Micro Drainage’s (the project’s sponsor) mainstream drainage design suite.

I was an asset management consultant at Skipworth Engelhardt Asset Management Strategists Ltd (SEAMS) from 2005 to 2010. I specialised in strategic water distribution network modelling and large-scale model optimisation based on genetic algorithm.

There is a close relationship between SEAMS and the University of Sheffield. Since I graduated in 2005, I have been helping Prof. Adrian Saul (University of Sheffield) to deliver one of the MSc taught modules named “Whole Life Costing” and mentoring a few MSc students for their dissertation projects.

During my time at SEAMS, my ex-boss, Dr Mark Engelhardt (who was also a PhD student of Dragan Savic about ten years ago), opened my eyes to the wonderful world of modelling and optimisation. These have become my main focus at work as well as my personal interest. That is why I have always wanted to pursue a PhD related to optimisation and modelling at some point in my life.

Mark had also told me about the other academics at CWS (University of Exeter) and their pioneering research in hydroinformatics. When this EngD project showed up in my search back in June this year, I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to gain further knowledge in optimisation and water related modelling.

I am currently doing the induction courses at Cranfield University rather than actual research work so I can’t yet comment on the research environment and support of CWS although due to the high reputation of the research centre, I am very excited to start the real research.

Jo-Fai Chow – EngD Student

“Machine Intelligence Methods for Optimised Design of Urban Drainage Systems”