A look back at 2015

With 2015 now well and truly over, I thought it might make for a good reflection to look back at how 2015 went in terms of the EngD, and prepare some goals for 2016 to measure a successful year. This way, when it comes to the end of 2016, I can look back and see if I achieved what I set out to do by having them written somewhere as notes.

EngD

2015 started very academically, with coursework due in the January and modules beginning for semester two in the February. Between February and May (excluding the Easter break in April), I spent two days a week at Loughborough for two modules, People & Teams (PAT) and Quantitative & Qualitative Research Methods (QQRM). These were supplemented by additional modules with no contact time, Management & Professional Development 1 (MPD1), EngD Short Project (ESP) and my MSc equivalent dissertation project. This made the first few months of the year very busy with modules, leaving little time for project work with BuroHappold. Despite some challenges with the coursework deadlines (no exams thankfully), each modules was successfully completed, leaving only one module remaining as part of my EngD requirements - Management & Professional Development 2 (MPD2) which began in November and will conclude in April 2016.

In February I attended the Health and Wellbeing conference held at Loughborough where I met many interesting researchers looking at other healthcare aspects beyond the efficiency in buildings, such as robotic care aids, sports care, and social care. At the recommendation of Becky (industrial supervisor), I presented a poster based on some of the recent work I'd completed in 2014, and offering a glimpse into what I would eventually create as part of the ESP module, for which I would go on to be awarded the 'best poster defence' prize.

By the middle of the year, most of the modules had been completed and I was able to move into my next area of research, though some focus was retained on the MSc project, and writing papers based on previous work. In July I submitted my first academic paper for consideration with the Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) journal, which was eventually accepted in November pending minor revisions, and accepted for publication at the end of December. Once it's been published I'll provide a link to where it can be accessed or downloaded from for those interested in healthcare building design.

Marshalling

I continued my marshalling career with BEMSEE in 2015, continuing my role as a Clerk of the Course for race meetings. In February I was asked to provide a presentation as part of the annual marshal training on the role of the Clerk to provide a brief understanding of the role to others. Of note this year, to me, was the occasion in August when I assisted in running a meeting on the Brands Hatch GP circuit. BEMSEE are the only bike club in the UK that race the Brands GP circuit, so the opportunity to Clerk a meeting on it was a highlight for me in 2015.

Life

In addition to the academic achievement of an accepted journal paper, and the marshalling achievement of assisting in running a meeting on the Brands GP circuit, I was fortunate enough to accomplish two additional achievements which fall into neither category. Since August 2014, I've been riding to/from work on a Yamaha YBR125 on a learner licence. Due to the confusing way in which motorcycle licences are handled in the UK (a bit of which is explained in this post), it took a while to sit my motorcycle test. When I initially began riding in 2014, I wished to obtain familiarity with the bike and some experience riding. Then it became winter and I didn't wish to sit my test then, so opted to get some winter riding experience on L-Plates instead. By the time spring arrived in 2015, I was busy at Loughborough so often that there wasn't the time necessary to complete the theory test and practical elements. In July I was able to sit the theory test, achieving a pass and began preparing for the practical test. It was then I decided to wait until after September in order to obtain an unrestricted licence. This meant I ended up doing my test in the winter of 2015, however, with over a years worth of experience I was confident and capable, passing the motorcycle test first time (both modules) and obtaining my unrestricted 'A' motorcycle licence.

The second achievement/experience of which I was pleased with in 2015 was the trip to India I took with James in September. The experiences were enthralling and, although not entirely enjoyable at times, the trip itself was a nice change from the monotony of the UK.

2016

2016 marks the half way point of my EngD journey, with my third year beginning on April 1st. At this point next year, I will need to be thinking about the thesis write-up stage, so this year I need to make sure I continue the research to a standard which is worthy of the doctorate. For this end, it is my intention to have at least two more papers accepted for being published in journals or conferences by the end of this year. If all goes well, that count may well be three. I also intend to complete the final module (MPD2) successfully by the time year three begins, allowing full concentration on the research project for the remaining two years of the EngD.

2016 looks set to be a year of academic achievement so that is where the majority of my focus will be. Achievements in other areas are likely only to occur in personal projects of which not all are known about at the moment. With maybe a little weight loss thrown in for healthy measure.

Though if I'm really lucky, I might get round to putting boards down in the loft...

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