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The EPSRC-sponsored UK Acoustics Network (www.acoustics.ac.uk) has been formally launched. Over 140 delegates gathered at the Royal Society in London on the 27th of November 2017 to plan the structure and future operation of the new Network. Delegates attending represented academic and non-academic communities working on a range of challenges in the field of acoustics.
The main aim of the UK Acoustics Network (UKAN) is to bring together researchers working in different areas of acoustics to enhance communication between groups, provide focus for collaboration and innovation, and to maximise the future impact of acoustics related research in the UK.
The Launch Event was opened by three speakers on behalf of acoustic consultancy, design and manufacturing industries: Ian Knowles (Arups), John Lamb (Dyson) and Mark Swift (Armacell). Their presentations advanced the appreciation of commercial needs for acoustics-related research, illustrating the importance of academic and industry collaboration. In particular, Ian Knowles, Head of Arup Acoustics commented, “it is very beneficial for everyone when consultancy, academia and industry collide, significantly reducing skills gaps”.
Matthew Juniper (EPSRC UK Fluids Network) and Bruce Drinkwater (EPSRC UK RCNDE Network) shared their experience of running two successful EPSRC networks in related areas. Jean-Philippe Groby (EU COST Denorms) presented an example of a wide reaching international research network, with members spanning 100 institutions in 34 EU countries.
Leaders of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) of the Network presented the context, gaps and opportunities which this Network needs to address.
At present the Network consists of nine SIGs:
- Communication Acoustics
- Non-destructive Testing
- Numerical Methods in acoustics
- Physical Acoustics
- Underwater Acoustics
The SIGs are committed not to work in isolation preferring to collaboratively identify overlaps, mutual research interests and future opportunities for developing joint research projects with wider non-academic impact. For example, the Numerical Methods in Acoustics SIG can link strongly with the Physical Acoustics SIG, whereas the Metamaterials SIG can link to the Underwater Acoustics SIG. There are opportunities to expand the number of SIGs. This is an agenda item on the Networks Steering Committee’s first meeting in January 2018.
Part of the afternoon was spent discussing the purpose of Special Interest Groups, key deliverables and next steps for the Network in its first 6 months. Key messages from these discussions revealed plans to:
- Host and co-host specialist/non-specialist meetings, workshops, training, site visits, summer schools and symposia.
- Target different levels of expertise and raise awareness of acoustics.
- Share examples of what network members do with others, promote acoustics to students and companies.
- Forge new partnerships between industry and academia, identifying problems that need solutions, roadmapping and generating funded projects for innovations that would not happen otherwise.
- Create an inventory of state of the art capability, identify gaps and build a picture of shared interests across the SIGs.
- Collate web based resources to share data, codes, software and more.
- Grow the number of Network members and establish working internal and external links with other networks.
- Explore routes to more funded PhD places and/or Doctoral Training Centres/Centres of Doctoral Training.
The afternoon included discussions of the opportunities for early career researchers to become actively involved in the Network’s activities by working alongside the SIG leaders; helping them develop academic leadership capabilities for the future. This lively session involved detailing milestones to be achieved in the short and longer terms through the existing and new SIGs.
To celebrate the launch of this open Network the delegates walked to Westminster Pier and joined a boat trip along the Thames. The networking continued in a relaxed and informal space, helping people exchange ideas on the Network’s operation and ways in which the great ideas expressed today can be practically implemented.
This event was supported by the UK’s Institute of Acoustics. The organisers and delegates are particularly grateful to Mrs. Linda Canty of the Institute of Acoustics for her extraordinary support of this event.
NOTE: The UKAN is fully open to anyone with an interest in acoustics that cares about the future of acoustics related research and innovation in the UK and globally. To join the network click here.