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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment: Resilience in a Changing World (FIBE2)


Fibe2 CDT went the whole nine yards and put on a showcase extraordinaire on 19th October 2022. The day started with the Autumn Industry Day, building bridges between academia and business at the state-of-the-art conference centre Moller institute in Churchill college, and culminated with an intellectual Cambridge University style debate at the stunning and historical Cambridge Union, home to the oldest debating society in the world.

Professor Abir Al-Tabbaa, Director and Head of FIBE2, opened the Autumn Industry Day conference with a warm welcome to over 70 attendees, many of whom are industry partners who came from all over the UK to engage with the FIBE2 programme. A quick round of updates was shared on recruitment, governance, the MRes, as well as industry and cohort engagement. Cohort 4 who just joined this year’s  programme gave short introductions on the research they were passionate about and included a fun fact about their hobbies. There was an excited buzz as the conference room erupted in a round of Mingle Bingo with attendees criss-crossing the conference room to fill up themes such as Global Challenges, Economic and Political change and Rethinking Design and Construction on their Bingo cards. The conference focused on industry engagement and how industry can influence and impact FIBE2 with their expertise and experience. The aim is for industry to co-create a vision in the upcoming EPSRC CDT proposal. A perspective of the next generation of infrastructure professionals with leading-edge research and innovation and the multi-disciplinary skills to ensure resilience to challenges and change for UK infrastructure .

"The October 2022 FIBE2 CDT Industry Day turned a new page for the CDT. The day provided an excellent opportunity to the CDT students and academics to mingle with industry partners outside of their specific project scope and start building new relationships. We had excellent sessions on the future of the CDT and closed with an industrial advisory panel meeting with discussions so interesting that it finished late. Feedback from partners were overwhelmingly positive with many looking forward to the 3rd phase of the CDT."          - Professor Ioannis Brilakis


Following on a very successful Autumn Industry Day event at the Moller Institute, conference attendees were transported to the FIBE2 debate at the iconic Cambridge Union in the centre of Cambridge town. In the time-honoured debating chamber which has hosted legends the likes of the Dalai Lama, Cambridge’s very own Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Winston Churchill, one can’t help but be transported to the old-world charm of the Victorian era when it was built.

The team supporting the motion were headed by Professor Lucio Soibelman from University of Southern California, Simon Bennett, Global Head of Research in Aveva and Cohort 2 student James Kinch. The Opposing Team comprised Mark Enzer, OBE, CTO in Mott MacDonald, Dr Weiwei Chen, research fellow from the Future Road programme and Cohort 3 student James Walsh. The event was chaired by Diego Oliva, Chief Executive Officer at Glue Home and moderated by Professor Ioannis Brilakis.

In line with the historic grandeur of the debating chamber, both teams cheerfully took up the oratorical gauntlet, crossing intellectual swords in a spirited battle of wits as they eloquently faced off on the Motion “Is the Metaverse the key to a National Digital Twin?”. Much to the delight of the captivated audience who enthusiastically ventured into the elocutionary foray to express their views when the motion was opened to the floor. In the end, the outcome was decreed by the audience as they cast their votes while walking through 2 doors titled “Ayes” and “Noes”. The winners of the FIBE2 debate was crowned as the Opposing Team. Mark Enzer from the opposing team and James Kinch from the proposing team who were quick at countering their opponents challenges and articulately reciprocated with their own compelling repartees were voted Best Speaker and Best Student Speaker respectively.

The debate was followed by a leisurely round of canapes and wine served in the Library of the Cambridge Union as the audience discussed how much they enjoyed the debate. The debate was live-streamed on Youtube and is available to watch on this link

What an exciting day it turned out to be! The highly successful Industry Day and Debate events shone a spotlight not only on the industry engagement and collaboration but also on the strong community of industry, academia and students on the FIBE2 MRes + PhD programme. For FIBE2 CDT, it was a day par excellence.

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