History of Shaping Capability

In June 2009 EPSRC published a comprehensive description of its landscape.

Discussion with individual SATs in place at the time contributed to an understanding of the UK position of the Engineering research areas within this landscape. External feedback was sought and some comments received on aspects of this landscape. More specifically, in respect of Shaping Capabilities in Engineering, there have been three specific stages to the advice sought from SATs:

  • November 2010: separate facilitated M3E and PES SAT discussions to assess taxonomies for research areas, relative quality and importance and proposed actions.
  • March 2011: separate detailed M3E and PES SAT discussions to advise on any revisions to relative quality and importance or actions following the November meeting and to consider a cross-engineering view.
  • June 2011: joint M3E and PES SAT meeting to discuss in detail those Engineering research areas being actively shaped in phase 1 and to confirm the action categories assigned.
  • October 2011: Engineering Theme SAT meeting to discuss in detail those Engineering research areas being actively shaped in phase 2 and to confirm the action categories assigned.
  • December 2011: Engineering Theme SAT meeting to discuss in detail those Engineering research areas being actively shaped in phase 2, to consider inputs from Learned and professional societies and universities, to factor these into their recommendations and to confirm the action categories assigned.

Recommendations from a number of recent EPSRC reviews and workshops, which engaged key experts in relevant fields, have contributed to the development of priorities:

Decision making has also been guided by external reviews and national strategies in specific areas, including:

Given the breadth of the Engineering theme, discussions have normally been held with specific university groups and organisations on particular areas rather than across the full remit. This includes:

  • Relevant EPSRC Innovative Manufacturing Research Centres
  • The Institute of Materials, Mineral and Mining (IOM3)
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng)
  • The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
  • The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
  • The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
  • Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
  • National Platform for Construction
  • Chemistry Innovation KTN
  • UK Manufacturing Professors' Forum
  • International Review Panel - Manufacturing Theme Day
  • Unilever, PandG, Johnson Matthey
  • Meeting with representatives of robotics research
  • RAEng UK panel for Biomedical Engineering
  • Visits to universities including: Imperial College London Engineering Research Committee, University of Birmingham, University of Swansea, University of Oxford - key leaders in engineering, Cardiff University School of Engineering, University of Southampton Engineering, University of Manchester Chemical Engineering, University of Leeds Institute of Particle Science and Engineering, University of Southampton Waste Group.
  • EPSRC / MRC Medical Imaging Technologies Review Working Group
  • Ongoing engagement with key award holders including fellowship/platform/programme grant holders and through advisory groups on large grants.
  • EPSRC Healthcare Technologies SAT, Manufacturing the Future SAT and Cross-Disciplinary Research SAT.

Many of the above review findings, workshop outputs and other inputs have been discussed with the M3E and PES SATs at appropriate times over the last three years. It has been the role of these two advisory bodies to advise the office on options for the active investment decisions taken. The Engineering SAT now fulfils this function.

In developing our plans further we will:

  • Seek inputs on our strategies from key engineering departments and faculties in the UK, focussing on EPSRC's framework universities.
  • Engage heads of key centres (eg Wellcome Trust/EPSRC Medical Engineering centres) in developing the area of Clinical Technologies.
  • Engage with leading academic experts and the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) on the future of chemical engineering.
  • Engage with the Institute of Mechanical Engineering (IMechE) on future directions in mechanical engineering.
  • Discuss the interface between ICT and engineering, including robotics, with key researchers.

Seek specific inputs (e through working groups) to inform strategy on (i) Power electronics, (ii) Medical imaging and (iii) Resource availability, efficiency and sustainability.