Engineering Strategic Advisory Team meeting February 2016

The 16th meeting of the Engineering Strategic Advisory Team.

Lydiard Park, Swindon

For the 16th meeting of Engineering Strategic Advisory Team (SAT)
Held on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th February at Lydiard Park, Swindon.

Tuesday 23rd February

12:00 – 12:30

Arrival and lunch

12:30 – 12:45

Theme Update


12:45 – 14:30

Balancing Capability – Input to Draft Rationales



14:30- 14:50


14:50 – 15:20


Balancing Capability – Draft Rationales, Plenary

Whole Team  

15:20 – 16:45

Balancing Capability: Guiding Principles


16:45 – 17:30

Engineering Research Programme in the New Delivery Plan



End of Day 1


Wednesday 24th February

08:30 - 09:00


09:00 - 10:05

Engineering Research Programme in the New Delivery Plan



10:05 - 10:15


11:00 - 11:30

Engineering Research Programme in the New Delivery Plan


11:30 - 12:30

Building Leadership - People Support in Engineering in the New Delivery Plan



12:30 - 13:00

Lunch and Close

Summary of Meeting and Discussion Items: Engineering SAT Meeting 23rd/24th February 2016

The 16th meeting of the Engineering SAT took place on the 23rd/24th February 2016 in Swindon.

Engineering SAT members attending: Professors Karen Holford (Chair) – Cardiff University, David Butler – University of Exeter, Sarah Spurgeon – University of Kent, Jon Binner – University of Birmingham, Ian Metcalfe – Newcastle University, Eileen Ingham – University of Leeds, Robert Smith – University of Bristol, David Lane – Heriot-Watt University, Jason Reese – University of Edinburgh and Drs Lionel Clarke – BionerG (23rd only), Simon Pike – Tata Steel, Deborah Pullen – Building Research Establishment and Ruth Mallors Ray – Aerospace Technology Institute

EPSRC staff in attendance at the meeting were: Kedar Pandya, Daniel Smith, Carol McAnally (23rd only), Liang Tang, Elaine Massung, Vicki Marshall, Roger Singleton-Escofet, Sarah Ashford, Sinead Balgobin, Judith McCann (23rd only), Martin Champion (23rd only), Mark Tarplee (23rd only), Ruqaiyah Patel, Andreas Kontogeorgos and Michelle Lascelles (24th only)

Apologies were received from: Dr H Alicia Kim – Cardiff University

  1. EPSRC and Theme Update

    The SAT were presented with a cross-EPSRC update, including details of the Delivery Plan with respect to potential allocations and the delivery plan framework. This provided the context to the overall meeting.

  2. Balancing Capability

    The SAT were given an update on Balancing Capability, the forward plans and a recap on their role in this process. The SAT were reminded of the key outputs from their November 2015 meeting and how EPSRC had utilised this. The session then sought SAT input on the proposed rationales for the engineering theme’s research areas and the evidence therein. SAT members critically analysed these first drafts as generous generalists, providing specific feedback to portfolio managers to strengthen the rationales. The SAT were informed that the draft rationales will be revisited at April’s SATs Conference

    The SAT were split into groups and tasked prioritising research areas based on draft rationale evidence and the guiding principles as agreed at the November SAT meeting. This task mapped research areas against a number of criteria, principally quality, national importance and capacity. The SATs independent group discussions were jointly considered with a common position agreed.

    Reflecting on the task, the SAT provided the executive with a number of options to consider as part of its decisions on what research areas should be grown, maintained or reduced.

    The SAT also advised the executive to explore options for standardising the quantification of evidence across research areas. SAT members recognised that this was a complex task and that a number of qualitative and quantitative factors would need to go into the final prioritisation and cross-comparison of areas. This discussion was held on the understanding that the SAT’s advice would be re-visited a number of times, in light of the external evidence received. The SAT would then be able to finalise its advice to the Theme Leader, noting the separation of duties between the advisory function of SAT members and the formal decision making function of the Executive.  SAT members recognised the importance of their role going forward and offered to work with the executive between meetings to progress the balancing capability considerations

  3. Delivery Plan

    The SAT were provided with an update on the engineering theme’s plans as part of the new delivery plan (2016-20). These plans were then discussed as a group with SAT members providing input such that the executive could consider as part of its theme plan for 2016-17 and beyond.  SAT members were collectively supportive of the proposed plan topics and provided wider suggestions to consider in the longer term.

  4. Building Leadership

    The SAT were provided with a recap on Building Leadership, with an overview of the strategies key aims and what has been achieved over the last delivery plan. The SAT were then tasked with an opportunity to consider the features of a high-level framework, looking specifically at key principles and desired outcomes. The ensuing discussion provided the executive with advice that would be considered as part of the framework.

  5. AOB

    The executive thanked Karen for all her contributions as chair and that Ruth Mallors-Ray was welcomed as the new chair of the SAT. Karen remains a member of the Strategic Advisory Network.

    The next Engineering SAT meeting will take place on the 4th-5th July 2016 in Swindon.