Participants were external partners, academics and students from across the University (including SAMBa, Mathematical Sciences, Architecture and Civil Engineering) and The London School of Geometry and Number Theory, alongside a number of previous ITT partners.

ITT’s are intensive, week-long events which formulate mathematical problems in collaboration with external partners, leading to both short and long-term collaborative projects. The aim is to take large scale, applied challenges and reformulate them into mathematical questions that could be addressed through future research activity.

Measuring and predicting the natural environment

The partners for this event were the Environment Agency and the National Physical Laboratory. The theme was focussed on Measuring and Predicting the Natural Environment. The Environment Agency aimed to address the impact and management of floods and the National Physical Laboratory asked participants to look at issues concerning data assimilation in engineering.

The partners presented a number of problems around source and tracking optimisation including uncertainty in sensor networks, understanding temporal flooding data and flooding in small catchments. After the initial presentation of their problems, industrial partners worked with students and academics to investigate novel ways forward and to co-create potential research projects.

A unique experience

ITT’s are part of the training experience for SAMBa students and form an integral part of the first year. Students are encouraged to cross traditional boundaries and take a multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving. In collaboration with the industrial partners, students work on real-world problems in teams and present their findings at the end of the week.

First-year SAMBa student, Kevin Olding enjoyed his first ITT experience: “The ITT was a great chance for us to try to apply the things we are learning about in SAMBa to real world problems. There was a real sense of collaboration between the industrial partners and the academics, and over the course of the week the ideas formed at the brainstorming sessions began to crystallise into some concrete solutions and proposals for further work. It was definitely a very intense week, but a very rewarding one, and provided an insight into the challenges and opportunities of working on the interface of academia and industry.”

Sean Longfield, Lead Scientist for Flood Risk Research said: “The SAMBa ITT was a unique experience for me. To have a room full of enthusiastic, highly-skilled applied mathematicians working on real-world challenges for a full week was great. The ITT provided the building blocks for longer-term collaboration and partnership which I hope will help to address some of the big technical challenges we face in flood and coastal risk management.”

National Physical Laboratory Fellow, Alistair Forbes said: “It was great to see not only ideas being generated in real time, but the application of new technical approaches to improve our understanding, and the friendly interaction between all the participants of the ITT.”