X Close

UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy

Home

Applied in Focus. Global in Reach

Menu

Understanding Engineering Advice in Policy Practice

laurent.liote.1920 August 2020

Laurent Liote is a first year PhD student at UCL STEaPP. He is also a member of the 21st Century Decision Making research unit. Follow him on LinkedIn (Laurent Liote) and twitter (@LaurentLiote).

“So, what’s your PhD on again?”

What is the worst question you can ask a PhD student? You guessed it, the classic “so what’s your topic then?”. I generally mumble academic buzzwords for three minutes before looking at my confused interlocutor and concluding: “Huh, basically political science”. So, this post is my attempt at clearly explaining what my research is about, and by extension what the next three years of my life will look like.

My research interest was sparked by something I read in the 2018 National Infrastructure Commission report (yes, I read those for fun): “policy design [is to be] embedded into the engineering-driven culture of infrastructure planning”. This raises several questions, what is an engineering-driven culture and what does that mean for engineering expertise in the policy process? More digging revealed that very little research had been done on engineering advice for policy; no one had systematically looked at why interactions between engineering experts and other policy officials happen the way they do and what that means for the policy process.

(more…)

Academic Conferences in Crisis Mode – a verdict

Andreas P Kopp12 June 2020

What works and what doesn’t when conferencing online

Academic conferences are among the most important events for researchers. It is the place where you get to present results and receives feedback, where you can put your own name out there and show your face to the academic world, and where you get to network, meet heroes and heroines, academic crushes, and friends from across the globe. Conferencing is one of the perks of academic life – especially for early career researchers and PhD students, who rely on the networks gained at conferences for knowledge sharing and continued learning, for future collaborations, and above all, for the academic job hunt.

Three out of four conferences I planned to attend in 2020 are now over – one has been cancelled, two were transferred to online conferences. In addition, various workshops I meant to attend in person also ‘went digital’. It is time for some reflections and a verdict about academic conferencing during the current global crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. These are my personal reflections, and your experience might be different. I think, however, that I capture some general aspects that might have been observed by many colleagues out there.

Coffee at desk

Cosily conferencing at home with better coffee, but less socialising

 

First of all, kudos to the many organisers who in most cases had very little time to change entire conferences to online layouts – it must have been stressful. Yet, it worked just fine most of the time. All the participants usually understand that these are different, challenging times, so nobody takes any hiccups seriously but instead remains patient and calm.

(more…)