News from the Professional Development Unit

Newcastle University enters Top 10 in the THE Student Experience Survey 2015

9 April 2015

Almost 15,000 full time undergraduate students responded to the 10th annual Times Higher Education survey, assessing campus facilities, industry connection and cheap amenities, as well as the more traditional benchmarks such as assessed learning and teaching standards.

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Traffic light technology could reduce congestion and pollution

3 April 2015

The revolutionary new device, which attaches to vehicle windscreens like a Sat Nav, can detect traffic lights from 100 metres away and allow drivers to adjust their speed so they can pass through a series of green lights and avoid the red ones.

The system is also able to warn drivers of obstacles on the road and give ambulances priority at lights.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is piloting the gadget to see if it could create an easier journey for patients.

Phil Blythe, Newcastle University's Professor of Transport, said: "Traffic management systems are already in place across the city to improve traffic flow but what's unique about this trial is that we will be giving personalised information directly to the driver.

"For example, the system might advise a driver that if they travel at 24 miles an hour they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green.

"In more congested areas or particularly busy times of the day, then vehicles on key roads might be given priority in order to keep the traffic flowing."

It is hoped the system will play a key role in turning Newcastle into a "smart city of the future".

Full article: The Independent and Newcastle Chronicle

Prof Phil Blythe

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Engineering a halt to the 'superbug'

25 March 2015

Antibiotic resistance and the associated spread of untreatable 'superbugs' is one of the major public health concerns of the 21st century. Now, a team of experts from Newcastle University and the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi are shedding new light on how to tackle this global problem.

Newcastle University Professor of Ecosystems Engineering, David Graham, said: "In the age of international travel, antibiotic resistance genes and organisms in the gut of individuals as a result of inadequate sanitation can be carried anywhere, exposing wider populations to such resistance.

"We know that many 'hotspots' of antibiotic resistance exist around the world, particularly in densely populated areas, such as urban Africa, the subcontinent and Latin America, where there is inconsistent sanitation and generally poorer water quality.

If we can stem the spread of such antibiotic resistant genes locally - possibly through improved local sanitation and waste treatment - we have a better chance of limiting its spread on a global scale.

"We are now using our research to call on policymakers to recognise the importance of clean drinking water as key to solving this global issue."

In full: Newcastle University: International Research Impact

Prof David Graham

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Chancellor announces £10 million for Science Central

19 March 2015

Newcastle University will be receiving £10 million of government funding for research in infrastructure and cities, as announced in the Budget.

This is part of a wider £138 million of funding announced by the Chancellor for the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), and is subject to a satisfactory business case and the provision of co-funding. The UKCRIC will apply research to ensure the UK's infrastructure is resilient and responsive to environmental and economic impacts.

The focus of the funding announced will be to establish a new state-of-the-art urban water infrastructure facility as part of Newcastle University's Urban Sciences Building. This will be integrated into equivalent urban infrastructure test-beds for energy, transport and ICT infrastructure already under development.

Professor Richard Dawson, Professor of Earth Systems Engineering at Newcastle University, said: "The new facility will enable experimentation and testing of new 'smart' technologies and urban flood management features.

"It will provide new insights into how cities of the future can be designed to better work with water, so that it is used more carefully as a resource, and less disruptive and damaging during extreme weather. This issue is of particular interest in Newcastle where summer floods, caused by intense rainfall, in 2012 caused millions of pounds of damage and disruption.

"Integration of the new urban water infrastructure facilities into the urban sciences initiative will provide a unique facility that will enable improved understanding of interactions and dependencies between different urban infrastructure systems. This is crucial as there is still a substantial disconnect between laboratory performance and 'real world' performance of many systems.

The Urban Sciences Building will provide a 'Building as a Lab' and 'Urban Observatory' that provide a platform for testing the long term 'real world' performance of new technologies and their wider impacts and benefits across the urban area. This will provide the evidence, and large scale demonstration, of how better quality local and integrated infrastructure services can be provided at lower costs and deliver better social and economic value."

In full: University press release

Prof Richard Dawson

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Self-driving cars are coming but Britain isn't ready for them, say MPs

6 March 2015

Driverless vehicles which could dramatically cut deaths on the roads are coming to Britain - but the Government must do far more to ensure the UK is a world leader in adopting the technology, according to MPs.

The findings were published after a Newcastle academic told MPs that driverless cars could even potentially cut the number of road fatalities down to nothing.

In full: from the Newcastle Chronicle

Prof Phil Blythe

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International Year of Soils

16 January 2015

Professor David Manning suggests that minerals could be added to urban soils to help them capture CO2 from the air: Inside Science, BBC Radio 4. David's contribution starts at around 20:58.

Prof David Manning

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GIS NERC Advanced Training Course

14 January 2015

During the week 5 - 9 January 2015, the GIS group in Civil Engineering (Laura Hanson, Stuart Barr and Phil James) delivered a very successful NERC Advanced Training Course in Advanced Environmental Data Analysis using GIS.

Twenty NERC PhD students from across the UK from a wide range of disciplines (e.g., Meteorology, Marine Science, Earth Sciences, Ecology, Biosciences and Geography) spent five days developing their analytical skills in GIS.

In 2012 Spatial Analysis and Modelling was prioritised by NERC as one the "most wanted" core skills for environmental science postgraduates. Our course was the only specialised GIS course funded by NERC in 2014/15 acknowledging the team's experience in delivering GIS teaching and CPD.

As well as a packed curriculum looking at spatial statistics, terrain analysis, landscape metrics, 3D visualisation, spatial data management, spatial data modelling and scripting the students were shown the delights of Newcastle both culinary and liquid at a number of social events, and were accommodated luxuriously in the Sandman Hotel.

Laura Hanson, our GIS Teaching Associate, developed and delivered the majority of the course building on her experience from over 20 successful CPD courses. This comes on the back of a packed-out faculty sponsored GIS training course that she developed due to the high demand for GIS skills across the SAGE faculty's PhD students.

We are looking to secure funding to run both courses again next year.

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Six ways city landscapes can be more flood resilient - in pictures

12 January 2015

Guardian Online: A new exhibition argues that a 'landscape first' approach to urban development, via innovative water management, could make our cities more resilient to flooding. Examples include King's Walk at Newcastle University.

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REF 2014: Second in the UK

18 December 2014

The results of the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) were announced on 18 December 2014. The influential Research Fortnight power league table ranked our Civil Engineering research second in the UK (comprising our environmental engineering, geomatics, geotechnical and structural engineering, transport, and water resources groups). In Earth Systems and Environmental Science, our geoscience group was ranked second in the UK for research impact. Almost all of our research was officially classified as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

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Traffic pollution could be up to 60% worse than thought

15 December 2014

A Newcastle University team has perfected what they say is a more accurate way to measure true emission levels. See Newcastle Chronicle.

Dr Anil Namdeo

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Driverless cars could be hacked

21 November 2014

An article in the Daily Telegraph warns that driverless cars are vulnerable to hackers.

However, driverless cars can also bring many benefits:

Phil Blythe, professor of Intelligent Transport Systems (CHECK) at Newcastle University, said: "I think it's an exciting opportunity for the UK. Automation is already here. There is radar to warn you that you are too close to the car in front, various parking assistance and cruise control. What we don't have is them all joined up together.

Major cities have optimised road management to the nth degree. They really can't do much more to improve the road network. This is the next step."

Prof Phil Blythe

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Part Time MSc Courses in Water Resources

17 November 2014

Almost all MSc Programmes offered by the School can be studied part time, making them ideal for those in full time employment. Many of the Modules on these Programmes are also offered as CPD.

Staff and students have produced short videos providing an overview of our Water Resources MSc Courses:

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