Article | May 15, 2021
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has revealed the long list of sites under consideration for development of the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant.An open call for sites to host the Spherical Tokomak for Energy Production (Step) facility was opened last year and compliance check of those nominated has led to publication of the long list.
According to the UKAEA, moving fusion from research and development to design and delivery is an important part of the UK’s ambition to be a world leader in sustainable, low-carbon energy. Fusion has the potential to provide an abundant source of low-carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars. UKAEA has said that this new technology will play an important role alongside established renewable technologies such as wind and solar.Step programme director Paul Methven said: “STEP is about building on the amazing science done over decades in fusion and translating that into a real prototype power plant that paves the way for this fantastic new energy source.
Article | July 28, 2021
The use of highly sophisticated building models – as a result of BIM – has transformed how we design the built environment. However, although the digital models used by architects and engineers during design enable impressive visualization and documentation of the designer’s intent, the data and considerations required to construct it are often considered separately. We typically use the design model to communicate the final state of the project – not how it is constructed, even though such considerations result in a more accurate estimate on both project time and cost. Of course, different flavors of BIM tools exist that do consider such topics during manufacturing and construction, but how often do we truly consider the impact of the construction process as part of making the right initial design decisions?
Article | April 27, 2020
Software Engineering is about building systems that behave the way it is meant to. Security Engineering on the other hand, is about ensuring a given system DO NOT behave in a way it is not meant to. Consider the example of a Adobe Reader - A software which is meant to process and visualize the contents of a PDF Document.
Article | August 4, 2021
In amongst the chatter about how we can 'do' infrastructure better, there's now a growing consensus that we need to improve the way we design our interventions - 'design' in the broader sense of the word, rather than the narrow sense we tend to use as engineers.
My front-end principles for better infrastructure
Over the course of my career, the following front-end principles have served well to ensure we think through, before we rush in where angels fear to tread.
Be clear about the purpose and the expected outcomes, and engage communities in decision-making through an effective communication strategy.
Prioritise the user, aiming to offer services that are modern, effective and affordable.
Seek to improve people's quality of life and support the transition to a more sustainable future, while also facilitating the functioning of the economy, enhancing productivity and accommodating growth (to the extent possible, given other competing objectives).
Extract greatest value from existing infrastructure through timely maintenance, repurposing, renewal and upgrading. Seek to remove constraints and bottlenecks.
Aim to make best use of data, automation, innovation and technology (including for future asset management), recognising the complexity and risks this may introduce.
Recognise, analyse, mitigate and manage technical, environmental and climate risks, and complete any surveys necessary to support this.
Improve governance, with robust, timely and transparent decision-making, supported by strong evidence-based planning, clear prioritisation, and best practice technical design and delivery.
Seek an appropriate funding balance between 'user pays' and general taxation which incentivises behaviours in the best long-term social, economic and environmental interests.
Complete well-evidenced business cases and risk assessments of proposed initiatives before embarking on projects, including financing proposals. Aim to allocate the risks identified to those best able to carry them.
Facilitate collaboration between the government and business to promote delivery of the broader social, economic and environmental benefits.
Clearly, there are many other issues to consider as a project develops, and the above principles may seem obvious to some, and a counsel of perfection to others, but it's surprising how many are overlooked in the rush to build.