Department of Mathematical Sciences

SAMBa’s second Integrative Think Tank explores energy supply and nuclear reactor core design

Fri Jun 19 12:45:00 BST 2015

Attendees of SAMBa\'s second ITT2For our second Integrative Think Tank (ITT) at the beginning of June, over 60 academics, students and industrialists came together for a week of collaboration.

Our ITTs are forums to help researchers better understand the challenges facing industry and formulate them into mathematical problems that can be addressed through PhD projects or industrial placements.

The ITTs also involve the Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation (IMI), who provide consultancy services to industry.

The industrial partners present at ITT2 were Amec Foster Wheeler, who (amongst other things) develop software to model nuclear reactors, and Électricité de France (EDF), a French utility company. In addition to a number of academics from Mathematical Sciences, researchers from Physics and Mechanical Engineering also attended.

Great results

The week was intensive and everyone put in a huge amount of work, all of which was made very worthwhile by the excellent outcomes:

  •  a number of PhD and postdoc projects, co-funded by industry
  • some short-term SAMBa student projects and consultancy work that will be pursued in collaboration with IMI.

Max Shepherd from Amec Foster Wheeler said: “My expectations have been more than exceeded by the ITT, and I was very impressed by how well prepared and knowledgeable the students were.

“This made a huge contribution to the overall success of the week from which we identified a number of exciting joint projects that takes our research in new directions. It was a very productive, enjoyable and well organised week.”

ITT2 attendee laughing

Involving our students

As well as our current SAMBa students, a number of PhD students within the department of mathematical sciences participated in ITT2, as did three recruits starting later this year.

The work that the students produced in tackling the problems, presenting them and working with industry was exceptional.

Kate Power, who is starting SAMBa in September said: “I feel like I have learned a lot in the way a problem is formed from the industrial presentations, through discussions of possible paths, and working in teams. It was brilliant.”

We also welcomed students and staff from the London School of Geometry and Number Theory (LSGNT).

James Cann, a first year student from LSGNT said: “I had a lot of fun and learned a varied selection of maths from people with different specialisms."

International flavour

Our partners from Universidad de Chile were also present. Jaime san Martín, Professor of Probability and leader of the Astroinformatics Laboratory at the Centre of Mathematical Modelling (CMM) said: “The ITT was a wonderful experience.

"We have strong links with industry at CMM but this is a novel way of engaging with real industrial problems, which we hope we can replicate to some extent.”

Next ITT coming soon

ITT3 takes place in January 2016 with likely partners being GKN and the Met Office. We are already looking forward to another successful week, with academics from across campus also joining us.

If you are interested in finding out more about the ITT model, or attending an ITT week, please contact the SAMBa Centre Manager, Dr Susie Douglas (

For enquiries about the Institute for Mathematical Innovation, contact Joanna Jordan (, Commercial Research Centre Manager. 

Read about the success of our first ITT.

ITT2 group shot