Faculty Research Strategy
People lie at the heart of our research strategy. Our goal is to generate world-leading scientific discoveries for the good of humanity. We aim to create an effective, supportive and rewarding research culture that inspires, engages and retains high-quality staff and partners.
The quality of UK academic research is assessed by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, last held in 2014 and due again in 2021. Though the Faculty contributes to research across many disciplines, the research we lead falls into four main categories: Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences; Mathematical Sciences; Computer Science and Informatics; and General Engineering. Over half of our research achievable the highest possible ratings – 3* and 4* – deemed ‘internationally-excellent’ or ‘world-leading’. Below are three of the impact case studies we submitted; you can also explore Coventry University’s full REF 2014 results.
Looking to the future, our ambition is to build on our excellent REF results, increasing the volume, scope and breadth of the research we undertake.
Since 2014, we have awarded 85 PhDs and have tripled the number of active Faculty researchers. The Faculty has invested over £0.5 million to enable early career researchers (ECRs) to establish new research networks and conduct experimental work with appropriate facilities and equipment. In 2016/17, our annual EEC summer internship programme enabled over 140 undergraduate and postgraduate taught students to spend two months working on a variety of research projects and we recently launched a cotutelle programme with Deakin University, a five-star rated Australian institution. This enables our research students to work alongside world-class researchers across two continents and potentially be awarded two degrees.
Concerns about energy sources and rising utility bills have heightened awareness of the need for affordable, sustainable energy solutions. The EU-funded Digital Environment Home Energy Management Systems (DEHEMS) project investigated the use of smart technology to monitor household energy consumption.
A new digital meter – launched commercially as EnergyHive – has since been installed in homes and companies throughout the UK, Europe and internationally. One user, Camden Council estimates that over the lifetime of their heat metering programme they will save 8,000 tonnes of CO2 within 2,500 homes, while housing authorities in Australia are projecting to reduce energy consumption for their tenants by 20%.
An exciting new use of ultrasound, High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), is viewed as a promising non-invasive treatment for cancer. HIFU equipment emits high frequency sound waves, like those used in diagnostic imaging, but in a focused sense.
One central beam allows the doctor to visualise the tumour and guide the treatment, while multiple focused beams penetrate the body from a concave source to create an intense area of heat, just like a magnifying glass in the sun, which targets and kills the cancerous cells. Feedback from patients has been very positive, with no reports of pain or side effects. In some cases, patients returned home the next day. Follow-up MRI scans have shown that the tumours are dead or beginning to shrink.
To improve occupant safety, initially in the automotive sector, we developed sophisticated computer modelling and crash simulation techniques. Research into pedestrian impact, vehicle roll-over, airbag deployment, adaptable vehicle structures and human body modelling led to improvements to the MADYMO software suite.
This is the industry standard for safety design and virtual crash testing, used by the main transport equipment manufacturers. Expanding to the aerospace sector, we also undertook the first successful modelling of helicopter rollover. The HeliSafe project has since informed the policy debate on aviation safety at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the sector’s hugely influential regulatory and policy-making body.