Resilience is the key

Resilience is the key

Higher Education (HE) engineers experienced three days of stimulating talks, knowledge sharing and networking events at the AUE Annual Conference 2019.

The conference, which took place at Lancaster University from 4th-6th September, saw over 100 delegates and 50 exhibiting companies discuss this year’s theme of ‘The Resilient Estate: Engineering Continuity in Higher Education’.

In the ever-changing climate, engineers are responsible for ensuring that their buildings and campuses are resilient against both internal and external factors and operate in a productive and cost-effective manner, as well as providing a pleasant working environment and experience for all staff and students.

The diverse programme presented key insights into system resilience through innovation, energy savings and risk management; using contemporary case studies to provide examples of how institutions are future proofing their estates.

The event began with delegates exploring the local surroundings with some afternoon excursions to showcase the picturesque scenery Lancaster has to offer. The theme further continued at the welcome dinner, which provided guests with a Taste of Lancashire at Barker House Farm. 

Engineer turned Presenter and Champion for females in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, Kate Bellingham, hosted the conference alongside Henry Gun-Why, Estates and Facilities Consultant of Gun-Why Associated LLP. Kate provided a unique perspective on the topical issues explored throughout the conference, utilising her own experience in engineering and education to further encourage discussion amongst delegates.

The first plenary session delivered by Ashley Hulme, Head of Engineering Planning and Paul Richards, Principal Mechanical Engineer, both of Keele University explored a number of innovative projects that Keele University are trialling and implementing such as the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND), and ‘HyDeploy Live Trial’ to ensure the campus is increasingly resilient in the evolving climate.

Mindfulness Specialist Martin Summerfield provided an interactive session demystifying ‘mindfulness in engineering’ and highlighted the importance of enhancing wellbeing and focus as well as offering practical tools for delegates to take back to their colleagues throughout the sector.

Further extending the theme of wellbeing, John O’Brien of LCMB Building Performance Ltd. presented leading research on the impact of indoor environmental quality on workplace productivity and performance; with some key drivers for change to improve the student and staff experience on campus.  

Parallel workshops offered a choice of topical sessions with speakers from Wilson Power Solutions and Waterco Limited providing workshops on water management plans and transformer losses. Guests from Solent University and Southampton University gave a participatory session focused on critical electrical systems, whilst speakers from Electricity North West Limited shared an overview of the latest innovation projects in electricidal distribution.

Delegates also had the opportunity to visit Lancaster University’s wind turbine, accompanied by Jan Bastianns, Energy Manager at Lancaster University who demonstrated how this enables Lancaster to reduce carbon emissions and costs.

The second night was a conference highlight, with the gala dinner held at the LICA Building on-site at Lancaster University. Actor and comedian, Chris Barrie ended the evening with a captivating speech full of laughter and impressions from some of his best loved characters from Spitting Image and Red Dwarf.

To kick-start the final day, Lancaster University hosts Simon Corless, Electrical Engineer and Julie Ferguson, Emergency Planning and Risk Manager, offered an insightful session, detailing some of the recent issues that Lancaster has faced, providing key learning points to help other universities ensure their infrastructure is prepared and protected from potential external threats.

Scott Brooks, AUE Chair, said: “It was fantastic to see so many new faces at the 49th Annual Association of University Engineers Conference, kindly hosted by Lancaster University. This year over 100 delegates had the opportunity to meet up with 50 sector specific consultants, suppliers and manufacturers and to hear from 11 guest speakers on various topics centred around the theme of “The Resilient Estate”. Some personal highlights included hearing from Paul Richards and Ashley Hulme about the Smart Energy works taking place at Keele University; hearing from Martin Summerfield about the role that mindfulness can play in preparing our teams for whatever comes our way and from the fantastic motivational speaker Andrew Walker MBE about resilience in the face of adversity.

Thanks go out to Simon Corless, and his team, and to Assured Events for delivering another fantastic conference; the exhibitors and sponsors who continue to support the AUE not only at the conference but also throughout the year; our guest speakers and conference hosts and to all of the AUE members that took time out of their busy schedules to join us at Lancaster. Planning is well under way for the 50th Annual AUE Conference and we hope to see you all next year!”

Glamox Limited and TAMLITE LIGHTING were the main sponsors of this year’s conference, joined by an exhibition of 50 leading industry suppliers. Colin Lawson, Head of Sales and Marketing at TAMLITE  LIGHTING said: “For us it’s a great opportunity to see some old friends, to meet some new  customers and find out what the latest trends are within the university sector, so it’s a fantastic annual event that we come to every year”.

The conference drew to a close on Friday afternoon with an inspiring talk on ‘Resilience in the face of adversity’ delivered by motivational speaker Andrew Walker MBE, who drew upon his personal background to highlight how all experiences can be used to positively influence future opportunities.

Members are invited to Scotland next year to celebrate the 50th Annual Conference at the University of Stirling from Wednesday 9th - Friday 11th September 2020 - the anniversary celebrations are definitely not to be missed!


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