Universities in the UK and China have teamed up to create a research network which aims to ensure that machines ranging from aero engines to wind turbines operate as reliably and efficiently as possible, leading to cost savings and environmental benefits.
The University of Huddersfield’s Professor Andrew Ball and Professor Fengshou Gu, leading experts on diagnostic engineering, are at the heart of the development. The pair helped to inaugurate the new research hub on their latest visit to China.
Professor Ball is the founder of the University of Huddersfield’s Centre for Efficiency and Performance Engineering (CEPE) and Professor Gu is the Deputy Director. The Centre is the world’s largest research centre in the field of diagnostic engineering, with 15 academic staff, more than 30 doctoral researchers and more than 30 visiting academics working to improve machinery reliability and safety and to boost plant performance whilst reducing harmful emissions.
The Centre has developed highly-productive collaborations with teams of researchers at several other UK universities, so that it is now at the centre of a network, sharing expertise, facilities and data.
“We also have links with numerous institutions in China,” said Professor Ball. “The network in the UK works well because CEPE is a hub with ‘spokes’, consisting of individuals or groups at other universities in the UK. We realised that we now needed a hub in China.”
Beijing Institute of Technology in Zhuhai (BITZH) – one of the institutions with which Professor Ball and his colleagues have forged links – offered to act as the hub for a new ‘CEPE China’, with ‘spokes’ to a range of highly-prestigious Chinese universities, including Shanghai Jiao Tong, Xi’an Jiao Tong, Tsinghua, Chongqing, Nanjing, Tianjin and Zhejiang.
Together the UK and Chinese CEPE hub and spoke institutions form a large international network which will foster close research collaboration, staff and student exchanges and host a large annual conference, held alternately in the UK and China.
Professor Ball, who is the University of Huddersfield’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, flew out to China for the inauguration of the hub at BITZH and was very impressed by the dedicated facilities that they have made available.
The two-day launch event involved a series of keynote seminars on themes in diagnostic engineering, detailed discussions of how to organise and hence maximise the benefits of the new network, and laboratory tours and demonstrations.
During his welcome address in China, Professor Ball said: “It is all about collaboration and sharing. A fundamental principle is that all members of the CEPE International Network can access every member institution’s specialist research facilities, their data sets and their expertise.
“This is a hugely enabling opportunity and I believe that, because of the much closer collaborative working that the network will bring, it is entirely realistic for member institutions to expect to see a step change in the volume of research outputs and IP disclosures that they make.”
Whilst in China, Professor Ball was also conferred with honorary professorships from three institutions, including the top-ranking Chinese Higher Education institution, Tsinghua University.
At the same ceremonies at Tsinghua University, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, was also awarded an honorary doctorate.