Systems Centre blog

Welcome to the Systems Centre blog - a place to discuss research activities, to share experiences and exciting ideas!

Mark Hall, 'Data Hackathon: Improving collaboration between universities and business' blog for UK National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB)

"The benefits of collaboration between universities and business are widely publicised. National Centre Chief Executive Officer, Dr David Doherty,recently wrote that a healthy relationship between business, universities and Government is vital to long-term prosperity and well-being in the UK..."

Mark Hall, IEEE Systems Conference Highlights

"The 10th annual IEEE International Systems Conference (SysCon 2016) was held in Orlando, USA which brought together 250 attendees from 30 countries. Attendees were diverse and ranged from engineers and practitioners to academic and government representatives, all with a shared common interest of systems engineering for complex systems. The conference consisted of tutorial sessions and research paper presentations throughout the week related to themes including Decision-Making, Cyber Security, Knowledge Management, Big Data, Complex Systems, Modelling and Simulation..."

Giulio Galvan, 'Real World Risks and Extremes'

"Few locations in London are more appropriate to discuss risk and extremes than the Shard in London. The daring skyscraper, completed in 2012, was among the first high-rise buildings to be designed in the aftermath of 9/11 - terrorism risk mitigation has been a major challenge for the structural engineers working on the project..."

Prof. Ruth Deakin-Crick, International Centre for Infrastructure Futures workshop

The Learning Emergence team hosted an International Centre for Infrastructure Futures workshop at the Systems Centre yesterday to explore the synergy between ‘customer journeys’ as developed in the digital architecture of retail banking – and ‘learning journeys’ as developed by the Bristol team to capture the personal and social processes which contribute to the development of ‘resilient agency’.

Chris Weeks writes for

"So you have your smart suit on, you have done all your interview preparation and you feel like you are all set for your project management interview. Then the first question comes: “How do you manage the relationship with difficult stakeholders?”This is a general question, and it quite regularly comes up in interviews, and a number of times I have asked this question. Therefore, I thought I would go through and put together my view of a model answer"

Tom Bartley writes for the ICE blog

"2016 marks a major deadline for implementing BIM on UK government funded projects. Tom Bartley of ICE’s BIM Action Group tells us why it’s time to get on with it – and about his experience of collaboration at our October BIM Conference".

James Ramsden, Presents at CIBSE Technical Symposium

'Last week I presented a software tool I have been developing in collaboration with Smart Space at BuroHappold called SmartBuildingAnalyserCIBSE Technical Symposium is a meeting of academic and industrial developments which aim to look at the latest advances in tools and methodologies for the many aspects of building environmental design. This year, the conference was held at UCL in London...'

Panos Andriotis, Return trip to Tokyo

'The last time I visited Tokyo it was summer and it was 2013. The University of Bristol has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Institute of Informatics (NII) and accepts interns (Masters and PhD students) twice a year...'

Simone Simeone, SciTech2015

'The AIAA SciTech 2015 is the largest event for aerospace research, development and technology in the world. This year, the event was held in the orange Florida, precisely in Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee..'

Bradley Doswell, Research Trip to India

'Undertook the main purpose of my visit yesterday. We visited the Vivekanda Shobhaa Jyoti Kendra (VSJJK) orphanage to see how renewable energy services may support the work that they are doing..'

Alison Turner visit to Tamar Bridge & Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee 2015

'To find out more about how other bridges approach asset management, I travelled to the Tamar Bridge to talk to both their Engineering and General Managers...'

Alison Turner, ICE Transport Asset Management Conference 2014

'Asset management is seen by the UK Government as a vital to managing the extensive number of ageing assets and ensuring value for money under continuing budget restrictions and financial cuts. The conference set out to cover both general asset management principles and specific case studies from the road and rail management...'

Dr Mike Yearworth, A Systems Reading list

'Over the years I’ve accumulated quite a collection of books on all things related to systems thinking, systemic problem structuring, and systems modelling. I often get asked to recommend books to read, from general introductions to specialist texts...'

Richard Craig, IEEE 2014 Conference

13th October 2014

'The 2014 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC2014) was held at the luxurious Paradise Point Resort in San Diego, California, USA. Keynote presentations from industry were be given by executives from Ford Research, Cisco Systems, and Qualcomm, with topics covering the Vehicles of the Future, Networked Applications, and the Smartphone Powered Future...'

Chelsey Cooper URSI GASS 2014 conference

24th September 2014

"The International Union of Radio Science General Assembly and Scientific Symposium (URSI GASS) is an international conference held every three years to present and discuss ongoing research in the field of radio science. From the 16th to the 23rd of August 2014 the 31st URSI conference was held in Beijing, China and hosted by the China Association for Science and Technology...."

David Lowe Operational Research (OR) Society Annual Conference at Royal Holloway

23rd September 2014

"Earlier this month I attended the Operational Research (OR) Society Annual Conference at Royal Holloway..."

Panagiotis Andriotis (PhD Researcher) A research visit at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

23rd September 2014

"...After flying for 15 hours I landed to the International Hong Kong Airport. I barely noticed any difference in the climate except the fact that in Britain it was not raining and in Hong Kong it was just sunny. Immigration inspection, baggage claim, customs, Octopus card purchase, train to the Central Hong Kong station..."

Dawn Gilbert - about participating in the ISSS 2014 conference

8th August 2014

"...I personally found attending the conference highly valuable.  I was able to gather a great deal of context on the problem area I’ve been working in, the approaches I’ve been taking, and the relevance of the work I am doing to the world outside Thales and the Systems Centre...."

David Lowe, Cohort 8 - Five Days in Barcelona at the 20th IFORS Conference

1st August 2014

"The International Federation of Operational Research (OR) Societies (IFORS) conference is a behemoth of an event.  So big it only happens once every three years...".

Dr Neil Carhart, EngD Alumnus about how the Systems Centre engages in extensive Outreach programme with schools

22 July 2014

"...The Systems Centre is passionate about its programme of outreach activities aimed at communicating its research and widening participation in academia and engineering..."

Bharat Kunwar, What have lentils, bottlenecks and Systems Engineers got in common?

"...13/14 and 15th of June I was involved in the Systems Centre stand titled `Go with the Flow’ at the Bristol Festival of Nature ("

Natasha Watson, Girls in Engineering

"...The day long visit set out to show how varied and rewarding engineering could be as a career as well as dispel the myths that engineering was ‘for boys’..."

Chris McMahon, points of interest

"...Panos Papalambros of the Optimal Design Laboratory of the University of Michigan ( will visit the University on 27 June..."

Panos Andriotis, A report from The 2014 Honeynet Project Workshop

"...The Honeynet Project Workshop awarded 10 scholarships to PhD and MSc students to attend the conference..."

Thomas Walworth report on attending IEEE SysCon 2014

"...The focus of this year’s conference was Systems of Systems (SoS) engineering, a concept that we felt was incongruent with the systems teaching approach that we are used to; that every system is both a part of and encompasses a number of other systems..."

Blake Kendrick Report on the DET 2014 Conference

"...The 8th Digital Enterprise Technology conference covers cyber-physical issues surrounding manufacturing. The theme of this conference was a discussion of the disruptive innovation potential of Manufacturing Engineering towards the 4th Industrial Revolution. This was covered mainly during an intriguing first day of international..."

Dawn Gilbert on attending and participating in CSER , March 2014

"...I was able to gather a wider view of the current relevance of my research topic, and the state of knowledge across the various academic and industrial sectors...."

Paul Gibbons about attending and participating in INCOSE Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER), Los Angeles, March 2014

" ... Do you want a chance to Travel, Get Published, Present Your Work, Meet Like Minded People, Receive Expert Advice On your Eng/PhD & Discuss Your Research in a Friendly Environment?   If so then please read on…."

James Ramsden (Cohort 8, Buro Happold) - about 2 day workshop on Computational Optimisation of Low Energy Buildings -COLEB, Zurich, 6-7 March 2014

"... I have already attended a conference – FutureBuild at the University of Bath – but did not present – it was far too early in my research, and in any case the theme seemed too far removed from my own work. But COLEB – with its intention of looking at the latest modelling and optimisation methods as applied to efficient building design – seemed perfect for me as a place to give my first presentation..."

Martine Monks - 8th March - Happy Women's Day!

a reflection on the Parliament Report ‘Women in scientific careers’, Jan 2014

Daniel Pashley about the Food Industry Innovation Event

'The food industry innovation event or INTENT as it is known, is a four time annual event held at Leatherhead Food Research in Surrey. This has the exclusive purpose of drawing new technologies into the food industry to improve their processes. With a wide variety of representatives from the food industry present along with several outside speakers per event, this is aiming to identify technologies that were not necessarily designed to be used in the food industry and introduce them to this new market...'

Thomas Walworth (Cohort 6, Thales), INCOSE ASEC 2013

'INCOSE ASEC 2013, INCOSE UK's Annual Systems Engineering Conference took place at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire over the 12/13 November. The theme for the conference was "Effective Systems Engineering" and the technical program included two mornings of joint plenary presentations and papers before splitting the conference over the afternoons between tutorials and further a further paper session...'

Daniel Pashley (Cohort 8, Imetrum), The Advanced Engineering Show

'The Advanced Engineering Show is an event that occurs every year at Birmingham’s NEC and is a collection of five show areas under one roof. This includes the Aero Engineering show, Composites Engineering show, Automotive Engineering show, Auto Electronics show and the Printable Electronics for Industry show...'

Prof David Blockley's blog about Engineering and its image, 1st November 2013

Professor David Blockley is an engineer and an academic scientist. He has been Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, and the Royal Society of Arts.

Dennis Crowley (Cohort 7, Renishaw), SAE AeroTech Congress 2013, Quebec Canada

'The SAE AeroTech Congress is a biennial event, held this year in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The aim of this event is to bring together academics and industrialists from the aerospace industry to discuss the future challenges and technologies of the industry. This year’s conference was on “Aviation Leadership for a Sustainable Future”, showing the aerospace industry’s commitment to sustainable growth in the future....'

James Ramsden (Cohort 8, Buro Happold), Film Course Day 2, 22nd August 2013

'The second day of the film course was when we would take our storyboards from the 6th August, have some fun in front of a camera, and turn our ideas into professionally edited short films. The morning was scheduled for filming, and with barely time to eat, the plan was to get the film sent back to Uni and stitch the clips together into something we could be proud of...'

James Ramsden (Cohort 8, Buro Happold), Film Course Day 1, 6th August 2013

'A great problem for academics and those in highly technical professions is trying to communicate what they actually do in terms that the wider public can understand. Quite often, such people can explain their research in wonderfully deep detail that sounds fascinating to anybody already in the know, but there will always come a time when it is necessary to get somebody non-technically-minded excited about your work...'

Thomas Bartley (Cohort 7, Parsons Brinckerhoff), Outreach School Visits to University of Bristol, July 2013

'In summer 2013 the Systems Centre has hosted two outreach sessions, welcoming local school students to the centre to introduce them to engineering and our flavour of systems thinking...'

Christian Agostinelli (Cohort 5, Airbus), AIAA Conference, San Diego 2013

'The 31st AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference was held in San Diego 24-27th June.  I was presenting the paper “Propeller-Flexible Wing Interaction using Rapid Computational Methods”...'

Dennis Crowley (Cohort 5, Renishaw), FAIM Conference, Porto 2013

'This year’s Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM) Conference was held in Porto, Portugal. The conference has been running for 23 years and this year had 155 published papers by authors from over 40 countries. The main theme of this year’s conference was: “The challenge of sustaining global competitive manufacturing systems”....'

Gary Ford (Cohort 7, Babcock), Product Lifecycle Management Conference, Nantes 2013

'The Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Conference provides a forum for an “integrated business approach to the collaborative creation, management and dissemination of engineering data throughout the extended enterprises that create, manufacture and operate engineered products and systems”...'

Rachel Freeman (Cohort 5, Sustain), Attendance to the EuroFM Conference, Prague 2013

'I presented my paper on the potential for energy savings in schools at the pre-conference research day held at the Czech TU and Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. The day started with some open discussions and presentations from three speakers on the subject of research in the FM field, introduced by Prof Keith Alexander who heads the EuroFM Research Network...'

Rachel Freeman (Cohort 5, Sustain), A Systems Approach to Tackling Bristol’s Air Quality Issues workshop 15th May 2013

'The workshop ‘A Systems Approach to Tackling Bristol’s Air Quality Issues’ was held on 15th May 2013 at the Systems Centre, University of Bristol. It was facilitated by Rachel Freeman (Research Engineer at the University of Bristol’s Systems Centre) and Darren Hall (Bristol Green Capital Partnership Manager). Dr Mike Yearworth provided systems thinking methodology advice and support through the day...'

Charlotte Dunford (Cohort 4, Rolls-Royce), Christian Agostinelli (Cohort 5, Airbus) and Tom Walworth (Cohort 6, Thales), IEEE SysCon April 2013

"This year was the 7th IEEE Systems Conference.  Attendance has been growing each year, with almost 250 delegates in attendance this year.  This is smaller than other major international systems conferences, though this smaller size and its excellent location at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando tempted 3 research engineers from the Systems Centre to attend and present their papers..." 

Per Saunders, Cohort 4, Lamdamap Conference March 2013

“Advanced machine tool metrology supports superior part production; enabling understanding and tracking of the baseline performance of your machine ... ... Bringing together machine tool manufacturers, measurement and control specialists plus process engineers to share critical developments, Lamdamap 2013 will provide delegates with comprehensive, up-to-date know how in instrumentation..."

Alison Turner (Cohort 7, Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust), Patrick Tully (Cohort 7, Frazer-Nash Consultancy), Tom Bartley (Cohort 7, Parsons Brinckerhoff) Public Engagement Skills Training, February - March 2013

"As publicly funded researchers it is important that we are able to justify the investment to the general public. Many of us do our research in very technical areas ..."

Joel Igba, Cohort 7, Vestas, 26th March 2013

"My Trip to the States was filled with high and low moments. As anticipated whenever travelling to the States, one always expects high moments with fantastic views, amazing environment..."

Sophie Causon-Wood, Innovate 2013, March 2013

"Innovate 2013 a joint conference and exhibition organised by TSB and UK Trade & Investment was a two day show which expected 4000 individuals from industry, government and academia to visit..."

Sophie Causon-Wood, Oksana Kasyutich - The International Woman's Day tomorrow - 8th March!

Friday 8th March is the International Woman's Day 2013, marked every year on the same date. Wiki describes:”… In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements”....

Blake Kendrick, Cohort 6 with Renishaw, CIRP Conference - Paris 2013

"The International Academy for Production Engineering, commonly knownas CIRP, is the world leading organisation in production engineering research.."

Jonathan Rees , Facilitator of the session " Induction for Supervisors and REs", 12 November 2012

".....the supervisors (Academic and Industrial) attended a workshop intended to provide some value-adding material, applicable to their role as a Supervisor".

Cohort 7, Induction Week, 24th October 2012

"Arriving at the Systems Centre on the first day felt a little bit like being a fresher again..."

Oksana Kasyutich, Deputy programme director/Centre manager, 18th October 2012

"As a part of our outreach and public engagement portfolio of activities, the Systems centre sponsored a new initiative, facilitated by diverse group of people, who feel passionate about making science and engineering accessible to all, i.e. gender independent...."

David Oxenham, Systems Centre Visiting Professor, 8th October 2012

"On 25th Sep I ruthlessly took advantage of the Systems Centre’s generosity and took the Centre over to run a workshop on affordability, specifically how well Systems Engineering/Thinking can cope with affordability analysis and handling affordability issues....."

Darren Williams, Research Engineer Cohort 3, 28 September 2012

Paul Gibbons (EngD Systems Alumnus) and I arranged a workshop at the site I am based at with Rolls-Royce...."

Charlotte Dunford, Research Engineer Cohort 4, 22 September 2012

"On September 20th I had my third year independent review with a professor from Bristol's Department of Management..."

David Greenwood, Research Engineer Cohort 7, 21st September 2012

 ‘Human Behaviour in Fire Symposium’ is one of premier conferences on the study of fire safety, fire engineering and the study of human factors in relation to evacuation...

Natasha Watson, Research Engineer Cohort 5, 17th September 2012

Strictly Engineering is an initiative set up by the British Science Association to initiate conversations about how engineering impacts our everyday lives and also to draw attention to cutting edge engineering research....

Liam Boyd, Research Engineer Cohort 4, 11th September 2012

One of the issues with being an RE on the EngD programme, is that we are a rather fragmented.  We come from different years, different places around the world, different universities...

Ellie Cosgrave, Research Engineer Cohort 4, 1st September 2012

"...Taking part in the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games was one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life. Not only did it open my eyes to the beauty and diversity humanity, but it showed me that with the right support, dedication and passion, any dream is attainable....

Team SOS have a Grand Day Out, 31st August 2012

So if academics go to conferences, REs go to conferences/ study days/ summer schools what do the support team do....

Richard Craig, Research Engineer Cohort 5, 30 August 2012

I recently arranged a modelling and simulation workshop at the University of Bristol System Centre, and to my surprise it went quite well. The motivation for organising a modelling and simulation workshop came from a number of conversations ....

Natasha Watson, Research Engineer Cohort 5, 1 August 2012

Having just given a webinar on the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education, a wonderful innovative low carbon building in Wales that Buro Happold provided the structural engineering for, I am very aware of how important public engagement with engineering is....

Paul Gibbons, EngD in Systems Alumnus, 31.July 2012

From ‘Could do Better’, to Has Done Better!

(1979) My old secondary school reports always used to say things like, ‘could do better’, ‘when he puts his mind to it, Paul can produce excellent work’ etc…. I did not like school that much as I found the lessons boring and I just did not see the benefits of the things I was being taught! Troublemaker, perhaps yes (I was bored), stupid, no! Although that is how the teachers often portrayed me...

Joe Clarke, Research Engineer Cohort 4, 5th July 2012

I was invited to the AEngD Steering Committee meeting in Southampton on Wednesday 4th July to present my idea for a national EngD magazine, but it was also a great opportunity to learn a bit more about the new society and its inception, and to take a look around another university.....