School of Engineering


Matthew Holmes

Infrastructure Reliability And Adaptation

  • STREAM EngD Cohort II
  • Start Date: 1 October 2010
  • End Date: 31 March 15 (EngD awarded December 2015)
  • Research Area: Water
  • Supervisors: Dr Sean Wilkinson, Prof Richard Dawson, United Utilities, Severn Trent and Yorkshire Water

My research project

My project focused on the reliability of water networks, both clean water and sewerage. Increasing attention is being paid to the vulnerability of critical infrastructure networks, such as water, electricity and transport. These networks provide essential support to our daily lives. A particular concern is the extent to which networks rely on each other, so there is the potential for failures in one to cascade to another, causing widespread disruption.

Water companies need to know the extent to which they are vulnerable to such cascading events if they are to mitigate the risk.

The aim of the project was to provide a generic method to assess risk. This was then applied to specific case studies to:

  • assess its effectiveness
  • give an indication of the size of the risk
  • test different ways of reducing vulnerability

My academic and work history

I studied Physical Geography at the University of Durham before going on to Newcastle University, where I gained an MSc in Hydrology and Climate Change.

What STREAM offers

Having a diverse background and a broad outlook is very valuable, and this is what attracted me to study an EngD. It provided an opportunity to combine skills gained from undertaking original academic research with the broader experience gained from working in industry.

Alongside the technical and transferable skills from the taught elements of the course, it has given me a very strong foundation for my career.

An EngD research engineer is well placed to study essential problems which need longer timescales than are usually available in industry.

Studying for an EngD is an excellent opportunity to work in an exciting and topical field. From a career perspective, an EngD enables you to build a professional network and a more nuanced understanding of the industry. On a personal level, it's great to have the freedom to tailor your research to specific needs and see its impact.