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Homepage / Catching up with the Environment Programme Director to discuss thesis projects and working with industry!

Catching up with the Environment Programme Director to discuss thesis projects and working with industry!


Recently we caught up with Dr Monica Rivas Casado, Senior Lecturer in Integrated Environmental Monitoring and Environment Programme Director to discuss some of the thesis projects she supervised this year. We spoke about two projects that were sponsored by industry, we discussed the aims and findings of these projects.

Alicia worked on a thesis projected titled ‘Engineering Solutions For Upstream Eel Passage’ with the Environment Agency. Alicia was looking into how the European eel has been a very common fish in the past but is now on the critically endangered species list and could disappear if urgent steps are not taken now.

Her project aims and objectives were to develop conceptual designs for improving the current limitation within eel migration. She was able to conclude that the current existing barriers in the rivers are restraining the eel’s migration and they must be removed so that they can complete their lifecycle and spawn. Alicia also suggested different engineering solutions which could be installed, how innovation is still needed in this field and how the current solutions need improvements.

Luke worked with Flood Re on his thesis project titled ‘A mixed methods investigation into barriers for sharing geospatial and resilience flood data across key stakeholders in the UK’. By the year 2050 more households in the UK are expected to be directly affected by flooding due to an increase in the average temperature and predicted rainfall. The aims and objectives of the project were to develop a framework for sharing and improving the data that was available on floods to public and private sectors in the UK, as well as to discuss recommendations in the context of technological economic, regulatory and social.

Luke was able to provide three long-term recommendations to improve the data sharing process and accessibility to the data for the different sectors interested.

We then spoke to Monica about the thesis projects and how she works with the students as their supervisor to support them.

How do you support students with their thesis?

I had meetings booked in with the students on a weekly basis but it also depended on how much support the student needed, I was always happy to have additional catch-ups between our other scheduled meetings!

How did the student and company work together?

How often the students met with the company also depends on the interaction that the company has decided to have with us. Usually students meet with the company every couple of weeks. Interacting with the company is a key part of the thesis project experience, as they are solving real-world problems whilst also getting exposure and experience of working with industry directly. During the projects I have the littlest steering in the sense that I leave the students to find their own way and to interact directly with the industry sponsor.

What are the benefits to industry to sponsoring a thesis project?

It is very useful for the industry to get involved with our thesis projects for multiple reasons, most importantly they get state of the art interaction with researchers and supervisors that we have here at Cranfield. Additionally they have someone working on a project for four months, focusing on the project and a problem that they have identified. The companies we work with understand that as part of the overall process they are helping students to develop their careers as well having an additional pleasure in knowing that they have managed to contribute to the development of an MSc student. Through this, the company is able to establish a good relationship with the students, with some ending up working with the company later on in one way or another. The company also gets access to all our services, in the sense that they can work with our Careers team and be invited to events. They also benefit from the pool of information that we have at the university and the resources. This can range from different state of the art software, the library, or anything that the student will need to complete the project will benefit the company.

How can the students use the taught modules to help with their thesis?

The students are able to apply the majority of knowledge gained from the taught modules to their projects but there is also a component within the MSc group project that they have to develop from scratch.

The theory comes from the modules, but then the students really need to work hard because they are trying to address the challenge that the company has given them. That challenge, even though the theory has perhaps been discussed in the taught modules, is taking what you have learnt and putting it into practice, so really applying the knowledge and putting it into like a real life situation.

Dr Monica Rivas Casado

Written By: Cranfield University

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