Research fellows and doctoral students help us innovate for the future


02 Mar 2023

We're celebrating the work of research fellows and doctoral students to mark World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development (4 March 2023)

This is the first year of World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development. The event celebrates the important contributions of engineers and engineering to modern life and sustainable development.

More than two dozen research fellows and doctoral students are working in partnership with us. Their research spans a range of engineering topics.

Here, two of our research fellows explain how their work helps us contribute to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals.

How would you explain your research?

Sustainability must underpin our decisions in response to the climate and energy crisis. Everybody is talking about carbon, but do you know how reliable or trustworthy is the data we are using for carbon management?

Actually, the data mostly comes from averages and estimations, and there are a lot of carbon emission not well measured and reported.

Availability and accessibility of good data forms the baseline of informed decision making in carbon-management. If we don’t have accurate and trustworthy data:

  • we don’t know how good or how bad we are doing toward our net-zero target
  • we cannot make more informed decisions and take more effective actions to achieve the target.

Currently, data collected from different technologies are like pearls scattered on a plate, and I am going to string the pearls up with a standard data model to make our future roads like shinning necklaces.

Just like every car has a real-time dashboard for drivers to make prompt decisions, every road should also have a dashboard to help planners, designers, asset managers and users be aware of its real-time situation for decision-making underpinning carbon management, and finally sustainability.

How would you explain your research?

My work has strange similarity with a diet. The weight of each material used in building and maintaining roads is accounted for, in addition to the composition of the material, like counting calories and nutrition.

The net addition to the road stock can be calculated either by a simple input-output calculation or by difference of the stock from one point in time to another, like weighing yourself to see if weight was lost or gained.

Unlike in a diet, the generated waste is also accounted for, for input-output calculations, landfill capacities and environmental impact.

After understanding the system of materials circulating in and through the road sector, a future diet plan can be established to help the sector to achieve their goals.