University of Cambridge students take on new research challenges. In the past issue of "The Future Engineer" we pondered the idea of how to know if one should go to grad school. Now let's take a look into the life and studies of grad students. One of the benefits of grad school is the ability to engage with industry professionals on research topics that will improve industry workflows and processes.

The grad students from the University of Cambridge’s EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment have formed tight relationships with industry to take on research challenges that will benefit future construction. In October, the students met with industry partners in order to learn about upcoming research topics that address significant issues facing the construction industry. Representatives work in conjunction with the university to provide guest lectures, commercial perspectives and mentor the students throughout their research.  

One of the students'  initial task is to take on a “Desktop Study” in which they are provided research topics by industry partners that they need to research and present their findings within one month. Trimble presented two research topics: “The Future Use of Drawings in Construction” & “Data Management throughout the BIM Process”.  

Data Management throughout the BIM Process

Research student Mark Hobbs took on the challenge of “Data management throughout the BIM Process” and with the help of Michael Evans, director of the steel segment, Structures Division at Trimble, he presented a poster that compared the flow of data through traditional construction processes vs. BIM processes and then defined a data management workflow for projects using BIM. You can find this poster here.  

BIM is definitely helping the flow of information amongst all parties, but there is a question on status level and reliability of the information provided in the model when that information is still subject to change. Mark outlines the “Common Data Environment” and how this flow of information is split into four sub areas which represent the Status Level of Data; Work in Progress, Shared, Published and Archived. He continues by showing how the project information flows through the status levels incorporating suitability and revision codes that determine reliability of the data and what the data can be used for.


Future use of drawings in the construction industry

Research student Harry Edwards researched the topic “Future use of Drawings in the Construction Industry”. Technology is changing the way that the construction industry works and BIM is improving the efficiency of construction as well as reducing waste and delays. Harry began his research by investigating how drawings are currently used in today’s construction. He then research current technologies that could be used as replacement to drawings, and concluded by sharing his thoughts on the requirements, challenges and benefits for executing drawing free construction projects. He presented his poster, outlining today’s methods vs what we can expect to see tomorrow. 

Industry Presentation Day

The twelve students taking the course presented their “Desktop Study” posters to a live audience at the FIBE CDT Conference in November. Mark and Harry’s posters can be found above, while the ten other students presented posters on topics ranging from the “Effect of Autonomous Vehicles on local roads” to “Assessment value of Sustainable Drainage Systems”, to “Wearable Technology in Construction” and “Construction Materials”.  


The EPSRC CDT in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment Industrial Partners work closely with the university and are engaged in both the training and research activities. Below is a list of the current Industry partners.    

 Trimble was happy to be a part of this partnership and look forward to continuing this relationship for years to come.

More about the course:

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment is structured to include one year Masters research and three-year PhD and the students are infused in civil engineering subjects, as well as, specialty modules preparing them for their PhD studies. In partnership between both the university and industry, students have the opportunity to explore their interest through lectures, group projects, industry involvement and lab work.   

To learn more about the program visit the program.

More about Tekla Software by Trimble:

Tekla software solutions for advanced BIM and structural engineering are produced by Trimble. Trimble’s construction offering ranges from total stations to advanced software, giving the industry tools to transform planning, design, construction and operation of buildings. Tekla software is at the heart of the design and construction workflow, building on the free flow of information, constructible models and collaboration.  

We provide special licenses of our software to educational institutions. Learn more about our offering here