New Airbus research professor takes off in February

January 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Professor Jonathan Cooper, formerly Professor of Aerostructures and Aeroelasticity at the University of Liverpool, is to take over as the new Airbus Sir George White Chair in Bristol this February.

“Aerospace engineering at Bristol is one of the leading aerospace research and teaching departments in the UK, with strong industrial links benefiting both students and researchers,” said Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol. “Professor Cooper has an outstanding reputation for his research and we are delighted that he will be joining colleagues who are internationally recognised for their groundbreaking research.”

Prof Jonathan Cooper, the new Airbus Sir George White Chair

Bringing extensive experience in aeroelasticity, loads and structural dynamics, Professor Cooper will be leading the Bristol University Aeroelasticity and Aerostructures activities in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. The joint Bristol University and Airbus position commemorates Sir George White who founded the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1910, one of the forerunners to BAE SYSTEMS and Airbus in the UK.

This new appointment will benefit the aerospace industry, as it will play a key role in linking Airbus into academia. Additionally, it will also benefit the University, with a strong industrial input into the University research programme.

“In our ever demanding and challenging role in aerospace engineering, it is essential to maximise the combined strengths of both industry and academia, and this role is an important step in that direction,” said Neil Scott, Vice President of Engineering and Head of Landing Gear Centre of Competence.

Originally from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Professor Jonathan Cooper graduated with a BSc in Engineering Mathematics and a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from Queen Mary College, University of London. He then worked at the Royal Aerospace Establishment in Farnborough and spent 18 years at the University of Manchester lecturing on the Aerospace Engineering courses and researching in the fields of vibration and aeroelasticity.

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Agent-based modelling helps simulate the spread of diseases

January 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Demonstrating the value of working across disciplines, researchers at Bristol University’s Civil Engineering department have developed computer models that could help with managing the spread of diseases.

They have developed models that provide accurate simulations of how crowds behave can be used to identify health and safety issues at mass gatherings and could be adapted to simulate the spread of infections and to test the potential of public health interventions to disrupt or prevent an outbreak, and have published the results in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Dr Anders Johansson from the Department of Civil Engineering and colleagues reviewed how crowd behaviour can be sensed, analysed, and modelled, and used this to manage environments in which mass gatherings take place to improve safety and security and lessen the risks of injury or death.

Large crowd disasters such as stampedes are major causes of death and injury at such gatherings, the inevitable result of extreme crowding. In 2010, ineffective crowd control and a poorly designed venue (the site was designed for 250 000 participants, but had 1.4 million) resulted in a stampede in a narrow tunnel during the Love Parade music festival in Germany, in which 21 people were crushed to death and 500 injured.

The authors observe that although the objective of mass gatherings is to bring people together, crowd management strategies aim to keep people separated (in time and space). To resolve this paradox requires environmental management to guide the appropriate movement and emotion of the crowd.

Agent-based computer models use fine-scale data from actual movements of individuals obtained by techniques such as detailed video recordings, Global Positioning System (GPS), or mobile phone tracking to identify points of congestion and overcrowding that are useful for crowd management. Such models have already been used for the Notting Hill Carnival to simulate the ways crowds interact and disperse under different conditions of movement and congestion, and to assess alternative routes to reduce the number of accidents, delays in treatment, and public order offences.

Johansson and colleagues also describe how models of crowd movement can be adapted to take into account other scenarios, for example, how individuals in confined spaces might spread disease through their proximity.

This new modelling approach to the spread of epidemics incorporates population-level features typically used in epidemiological models, while also taking into account individual-level behaviour and features that could prevent the spread of disease such as immunisation, screening, and quarantine.

“Such models would allow us to test various interventions on a virtual population with a computer and measure their success rates before testing them on real populations, possibly saving both resources and life,” said Johansson.

Bath chip maker bought for $75m | Silicon South West

January 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Bath-based chip designer Picochip is to be acquired by US company Mindspeed Technologies for $51.8m with a potential further $25m over the next year

Mindspeed to buy Picochip for $75m | Silicon South West.

Chip industry is talking itself into a recession | Silicon South West

January 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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The chip industry is in danger of talking itself into a recession, said a leading technology and market analyst in Bristol recently.

Analyst warns of ‘reckless pessimism’ in semiconductor startups | Silicon South West.

Bristol hosts key security and safety conference

January 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Next month Bristol hosts a key conference on safety critical systems at the Marriott Royal Hotel from 7th to the 9th Feb.

The region is hosting expert speakers from around the world on a wide range of issues from the Fukushima nuclear accident and train security to cyber security and the vulnerabilities of the GPS navigation system.

SSS ’12 – Celebrating the accidents that haven’t happened – covers the vulnerabilities in global navigation satellite systems; safety culture and community; transport safety; cyber-attacks on safety-critical systems; improving our approach to systems safety; accidents; assessment, validation and testing; to safety standards and safety levels.

Alongside the conference, now in its 20th year, will be an exhibition and tools and services fair. SSS ’12 is organized by the Safety-Critical Systems Club, and is the must-attend forum for all those working on safety-critical systems in industry and academia.

In the opening keynote address, Martyn Thomas will highlight vulnerabilities in GPS and other global navigation satellite systems, demonstrating the impact on safety of many general purpose systems. Other keynotes include Roger Rivett looking at the challenge of technological change in the automotive industry, Chris Johnson looking at cyber-attacks on safety-critical systems, Peter Ladkin on the accident to the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, and Jens Braband presenting a risk-based approach to assessing potential safety deficiencies. The final keynote, by John McDermid and Andrew Rae, focuses on goal-based safety standards. Like all the previous symposia the proceedings will be available from Springer.

More details are on the SCSC website at

Contact: Joan Atkinson, on 0191 221 2222 and


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