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Costain Supports Cambridge University Study

12 March 2014

Costain’s focus on Engineering Tomorrow, the Company’s commitment to identifying, developing and implementing innovative solutions to meet major national needs, means there is now greater demand for academic, technical and theoretical recommendations borne out of academic research.

Understanding the complex technical challenges and being able to provide industry-leading solutions in specific areas is key to winning large, and long-term, strategic contracts across the full life cycle of a customer’s assets. Ideas honed on site are often first developed in the classroom; from Building Information Modelling (BIM) and mobile cloud computing technology, to advances in asset management and maintenance, all have their origins in rigorous academic research.

That is why Costain is supporting the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment, at the University of Cambridge, in seeking applicants to undertake a 4-year full-time PhD studentship starting in October 2014.

The structure of the programme is a one-year MRes course followed by a 3-year PhD study. The MRes covers core Civil Engineering technical topics, research and commercial skills training. The specialist PhD study will be in one of nine identified interrelated themes: asset management, building physics, computer technologies in engineering, construction design and technology, construction materials and waste minimisation, future energy infrastructure, infrastructure resilience against natural hazards, sustainability and urbanisation and water and waste.

The successful applicant will receive full EPSRC funding of £13,726 student maintenance plus fees. Candidates are likely to have a Civil Engineering background and students are expected to have a 2.1 or 1st class honours degree from a UK university or an equivalent standard from an overseas university.

Costain supports the contribution that post-doctoral studies can make, not only to its business but also to the wider industry. Costain’s Oliver Teall is currently undertaking a PhD in ‘Self-Healing Concrete’ in Cardiff as part of the Materials for Life project which aims to develop self-healing construction materials. He decided to undertake the PhD after considering where it would place him in his career, as well as the benefits of additional qualifications in general.

“One of the main drivers was that I could remain an employee of Costain, thereby maintaining the industrial link and ensuring I had a job to return to following the research. The decision to undertake a PhD has in itself changed my career goals. Rather than focussing on a project management route, I will now have the opportunity to become a technical expert in the business. This in itself is a way of advancing my career and moving me forward in a different way than I had originally anticipated upon joining Costain as a graduate engineer,” said Oliver.

Costain is collaborating with the University of Cambridge on a number of projects, including on the restoration of nuclear sites and the Materials for Life project.

Tim Embley, Costain’s Group Innovation and Knowledge Manager, sits on the steering committee of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC), which aims to develop and commercialise emerging technologies and provide radical changes in the construction and management of infrastructure. He believes the value of post-graduate research cannot be overestimated, not least in promoting innovation and allowing people to develop the right skills to meet future demand.

“Costain understands the value of post-graduate research in addressing the needs and challenges of our customers. Our business thrives on innovation, whether it’s harnessed on site or through academic, technical and theoretical recommendations. Post-graduate research is ultimately the best place from which to accelerate innovation to market,” said Tim.

Costain’s Harrison O’Hara, a Mobile BIM Technician in the Costain Group, is currently undertaking an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in BIM and Mobile Technology. With little dedicated and conclusive research in mobile technology, particularly around BIM, the EngD gives Harrison an opportunity to provide a significant piece of research that could potentially impact the whole industry.

“My Engineering Doctorate continues to unlock new opportunities as technology in the construction sector is constantly evolving. The completion of an EngD will give me the status of being a leading authority in Mobile BIM Technology.  One of the most rewarding aspects of this research study is the ability to share my knowledge and experience with both colleagues and clients. The other bonus is being exposed to significant career development opportunities within a leading innovative employer like Costain,” said Harrison.

For anyone interested in post-graduate opportunities at Cambridge University, potential applicants need to complete the online pre-application form on the Centre website as soon as possible, the deadline is March 31 2014.

Centre website: www.cdt-civil.eng.cam.ac.uk

Further enquires: Dr. Janet Lees [email protected]  or Dr. Abir Al-Tabbaa [email protected]

Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment


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