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At UCL Engineering, our research is changing the world. Find out how our departments are focusing their efforts

Mechanical Engineering

Biochemical Engineering

The UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering is at the forefront of bioprocess research and is the largest centre in the UK. In the 2014 REF, 75% of academic staff were rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

Our interdisciplinary Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering (ACBE) coordinates bioprocess research and training collaborations with more than a dozen UCL departments, a similar number of external university partners and over 40 international companies.  Our research aims continually to innovate the biomanufacturing of chemicals, medicines and therapies, by harnessing biological systems and biotechnology.

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Three major themes run through our research programmes:

  • Industrial biotechnology
  • Macromolecular bioprocessing
  • Cell therapy bioprocessing

Over 75% of our research projects are collaborative with industry and all address strategically significant issues, frequently on a truly global scale. This close working relationship with industry provides unparalleled opportunities for our research teams to tackle long-term problems with leaders in the sector and is a hallmark of the UCL approach.

Vision

UCL Biochemical Engineering aims to retain its position as internationally leading in Biochemical Engineering, Bioprocessing and Biological Engineering Research, for addressing key biomanufacturing challenges.  These challenges are emerging from novel advanced therapies, that include stratified protein therapies, cell therapies, and vaccines.  They are also emerging from the increased need for sustainable chemicals manufacture via a global bioeconomy.

Priorities

  • To consolidate our position as number one UK Biochemical Engineering Department in the next REF.
  • To establish ourselves among the top Biochemical Engineering / Biological Engineering Departments in the world.
  • To support research-career development at all levels, but specifically to nurture the most talented early career researchers and under-represented groups.
  • To raise department profile through: publications in the highest venues, leadership of large grants, editorial roles in the top journals and conferences, representation on key committees and advisory boards.
  • To enhance internal communication among research groups through departmental seminars and research meetings focused on key societal challenges or emerging topics of interest.
  • To increase the synergy between Biochemical Engineering and a diverse set of other UCL departments, UCLH and other institutions.
  • To maximize the impact of Biochemical Engineering research via industry collaborations, IP generation, licensing, spin-out of companies, and public engagement activities.
  • Recruitment of excellent researchers, including Lecturers, Professors and Research Fellows, as well as technical staff who answer the Department’s strategic needs.
  • Foster increased research activity in Global Research Challenges, in collaboration with developing countries.
  • Utilising our Industrial Advisory Board to invigorate the departmental activities via a stronger synergism between research, education and outreach to all stakeholders.

Find out more on the Biochemical Engineering website

Chemical Engineering

Ever-changing environmental, economic and social drivers create the Global Grand Challenges that need to be addressed in the 21st century. The context of dwindling natural resources, the water-energy-land nexus, climate change, and evolving global socio-economic factors requires new approaches in energy production, consumption and storage, and product manufacturing.

At the heart of chemical engineering are chemical transformations by which raw materials are converted to products, such as fuels, commodity and specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, construction materials and consumer products.

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Our current awareness of the world’s finite resources demands that these products are obtained in a sustainable, efficient and environmentally acceptable fashion. This is only possible through a new generation of ultra-efficient manufacturing technologies, flexible chemical plants, integrated process and product design approaches, and working across disciplinary boundaries. Within this exciting and demanding context, the Department of Chemical Engineering develops innovative and impactful technological solutions that leverage advances in basic science. We address Global Grand Challenges in the domains of:

  • Energy, Water and CO2
  • Health, Environment and Sustainability
  • Functional Materials
  • Advanced Manufacturing

Vision

UCL Chemical Engineering aims to be a leading Chemical Engineering Department in the UK, and one that is routinely recognized as among the top 5-10 Departments in Europe. We strive for excellence across the board, via seamless integration of research, teaching and knowledge transfer. We aspire to be the first choice for the most talented applicants, sought after as a preferred partner for research and industrial collaborations. We want to grow our 4* stature and be seen as a global leader, because of our creative, scientific scholarship and engineering effectiveness.

Priorities

  • Positively impacting the profession via timely publications in highly visible journals and monographs, IP disclosures, training of post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers, and integration of research in education at under- and post-graduate level.
  • Securing funding from national and international sources, as well as new avenues that lead to a steady stream of diversified research funds to sustain our operations at high level.
  • Building stronger, interdisciplinary, outward-looking research groups in selected areas capable of bidding successfully in themes of high strategic importance, notably those of significance in energy, manufacturing, environment, health, and sustainability.
  • Recruitment of excellent researchers, including Lecturers, Professors and Research Fellows, as well as technical staff who answer the Department’s strategic needs.
  • Building new (UCL/UK/international) academic and industrial strategic partnerships that allow us to address new challenges more effectively and open up opportunities for funding for research and education, knowledge transfer and impact activities.
  • Engaging with strategic research activities and initiatives where we have key strengths: electrochemical engineering, integrated catalysis and reaction engineering, and functional materials.
  • Implementing a comprehensive approach from molecular-level observations to system-wide analysis and optimization.
  • Pioneering visionary new approaches, such as nature-inspired chemical engineering.
  • Ensuring transfer of knowledge to stakeholders via industrial collaboration, spin-outs, and public engagement activities.
  • Utilising our Industrial Advisory Board to invigorate the departmental activities via a stronger synergism between research, education and outreach to all stakeholders.

Find out more on the Chemical Engineering website

Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

The 21st century presents us with a complex world of continuous change. Turbulence in our environment, economic and societal structures challenge our ingenuity as engineers.  CEGE is famous for its innovative problem-based learning approach to education and its interdisciplinary research breadth and reach with constant reference to the human needs which drive the requirement for engineering solutions. 

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Resilient Nation where we quantify the risks of natural disasters for people, the built environment and its infrastructure. We develop innovative probabilistic and statistical tools for performance-based structural design and for managing risk caused by extreme loads on buildings and infrastructure networks. Working with HR Wallingford we measure and model the impacts on people and losses caused by earthquake, tsunami and coastal wave action.

Productive Nation where our materials, environmental and geotechnical research is developing new advanced materials such as environmentally safe cement from industrial waste and specialized low carbon concrete for the high speed rail industry. Our partnering with Airbus where CEGE optical metrology, robotic and big data handling capabilities form an essential part of the new £40M Advanced Wing Integration Centre preserving UK jobs.

Healthy Nation where our research contributes to promoting and protecting people’s health and wellbeing. Understanding how best to provide clean water and sanitation is delivered through global engagement projects with activities in India and South America. Our Healthy Infrastructure Research Laboratory is unique in civil engineering bringing together the specialists necessary to reduce disease transmission in the built environment, whilst our UKCRIC funded Pamela laboratory takes a practical global lead in furthering the design of our cities and transport systems to improve mobility for all.

Connected Nation where our unique expertise in applied finance and risk provides the UK treasury and the World Bank with strategic tools and advice. Our strength in multi-dimensional spatial and temporal big data was essential to TFL’s Olympic transport solution and is now being used to detect spatial patterns in criminal activity for predictive policing. With government and industry we enhance the future value of Building Information Models for critical infrastructure through deep learning founded on ensuring the quality of dense country scale data sets captured with state of the art geospatial technologies.

We are proud to celebrate our 190th birthday in 2017. In 1827 the founders of University College London appointed a professor of engineering, John Millington, to teach civil engineering, the first such appointment in England. Over 180 years later, we remain at the cutting edge with a rich interdisciplinary portfolio of research that is engineering a better world.

Vision

In CEGE at UCL we share the vision that no single engineering discipline has all the answers to current and future challenges. This is why the Research at CEGE integrates and focusses extensive industry experience, knowledge, skills and talents, and above all, passion to positively push the boundaries of the research envelope and produce unique contributions for a better world. The research carried out within the CEGE reflects a broad multidisciplinary view of the engineering world, from environmental soil observation using satellites, to the design of adaptive structures for natural hazards, constantly referencing human needs and sustainable growth as driving forces towards engineering innovative solutions.

Priorities

  • To promote and establish our pioneering approach in civil engineering, which is the synthesis of several disciplines, and which ultimately responds to the needs of our pluralistic society.
  • To foster excellence in research, in which we are global leaders, by creating platforms of international collaboration among scholars.
  • To focus on building and empowering the next generation of civil engineering technologies and innovations.
  • To stimulate continuous interchange and co-creation between public and private sectors and civil society.
  • To encourage high impact applications and implementation of our research in order to make the world more sustainable, safer and equitable.
  • To actively support our research community (from PhD students to academic staff) in order to encourage their talents and intellectual curiosity.
  • To launch an outward-looking campaign to further raise our profile and engage with society.

Find out more on the CEGE website

Computer Science

We rank first among UK Computer Science departments by GPA according to the 2014 REF. As of 2016, the department has 83 academic staff (36 professors), 93 research staff, and 180 PhD students. We established, in 1973, the first internet connection outside the US; our code is used in all 3G networks for instant messaging and videoconferencing, it has made prostate cancer diagnosis faster and neurosurgery safer; and has transformed the UK government’s delivery of on-line security.

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We have world-leading expertise in:

  • Computer Systems: internet architecture, privacy and security, ubiquitous computing;
  • Data Science: machine learning, financial computing, information retrieval;
  • Human Computer Interaction: affective computing, future interfaces, education technology;
  • Image Computing: computer graphics, machine vision, and medical imaging;
  • Robotics: artificial intelligence, internet of things, tele-operation.
  • Software Engineering: fault finding, system design, logic & verification, programming languages;
  • Super-computing: cluster, GPU, quantum and biological computing, modeling complex systems.

Vision

Our goal is to be an internationally leading department in experimental computer science through direct impact on key challenges of the 21st century digital society. Those challenges include designing the future internet, robust software systems, human health and wellbeing, a stable economy, virtual reality, and computing in the developing world. While applied challenges drive our research, we also aim to advance theoretical understanding of the nature of information and computation.

Priorities

  • To consolidate our position as number one UK computer science department in the next REF.
  • To establish ourselves among the top computer science departments in the world.
  • To support research-career development at all levels, but specifically to nurture the most talented early career researchers and under-represented groups.
  • To raise department profile through: publications in the highest venues, leadership of large grants, editorial roles in the top journals and conferences, representation on key committees and advisory boards.
  • To enhance internal communication among research groups through departmental seminars and research meetings focused on key societal challenges or emerging topics of interest.
  • To push the boundaries of CS application through links with a diverse set of other UCL departments and other institutions.
  • To promote flexibility in our working approach allowing opportunistic capitalization on new challenges and collaborations.

Find out more on the Computer Science website

Electronic and Electrical Engineering

The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering is one of the leading departments worldwide in its subject area. Of departments that submitted all their academic research staff for assessment in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), UCL was ranked as the leading department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in the UK in terms of research outputs, with 37.7% of research outputs given the highest 4* world leading rating and 58.3% given 3* internationally excellent. 

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Departments were also assessed for the non-academic impact of their research and for the quality of their research environment to arrive at an overall rating. Here UCL was ranked as one of the top two departments of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in the UK who submitted all of their academic research staff for assessment, with an overall ratings profile of 40% 4*, 57% 3*, 3% 2* and no 1* or unclassified activity.

Research Strategy

The research strategic focus of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering is on information: information sensing, ranging from nerve impulses to radar returns; information processing from specialised analogue and digital signal processing to systems for “beyond Moore's Law" quantum information processing; information transmission, with new coding approaches, advanced wireless systems and technologies at up to THz frequencies, optical communications systems that will reach the ultimate throughput limits of optical fibre and the exploration of new network and service approaches to enable the future internet; information output from nerve amplifiers to advanced display modelling.

Our research spans the range of the subject from fundamental materials investigations through the creation of novel devices and sub-systems to large-scale systems studies.

Since energy, manufacturing and public policy considerations underpin all electronic systems and their applications we integrate these considerations in all our work with active participation in the worldwide GreenTouch collaboration for energy efficient Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and participation in UCL Engineering initiatives, such as the recently launched UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering. Our work involves extensive industrial and other user collaboration, a noteworthy example is our involvement with the BBC Research and Development-UCL strategic partnership.

The department’s research areas comprise the following five Research Groups:

  • Communications and Information Systems
  • Electronic Materials and Devices
  • Photonics
  • Optical Networks
  • Sensors, Systems and Circuits

Vision and Priorities

We aspire to become the best Electronic and Electrical Engineering department in Europe, and one that is routinely recognized as among the top 5 departments in the world. We strive for excellence across the board, via seamless integration of research, teaching and knowledge transfer. We want to grow our 4* stature and be seen as the global leader, because of our innovative minds, scientific scholarship and engineering effectiveness. Examples of our key priorities are listed below.

  • A key part of our research strategy, supported by UCL Engineering, is to create and lead a new Communications Institute, which will bring together all communications and networking activities across the Unit and other UCL departments, since we recognise that the future communication landscape will require both vertical and horizontal integration across different disciplines.
  • In quantum technologies, we have played a major role in the successful acquisition of two new grants, (£9.0 M for quantum technologies capital investment and £3.6 M to found a training and skills hub in quantum systems engineering). These grants, which are cross-faculty, are part of the Government’s £256 Million strategic initiative in the Quantum Science and Technology area. We are working to secure further money to provide long term funding for our research staff, and the necessary costs involved in generating new quantum information and IP in this important and emerging area. Our work has generated considerable industrial interest and, with our partners, we are engaged in experimentation in many different quantum areas which will further enhance our substantial reputation in this area.
  • Our work to support and enhance our existing specialist research areas will be complemented by initiatives to grow interdisciplinary activity in collaboration with, for example, the UCL Energy Institute, the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering and the UCL Robotics Institute.
  • We plan to further strengthen all our research activities and influence future and emerging technologies and applications. For example: (i) our optical networks research is setting the scene for 2020 and beyond, covering different time- and length-scales; (ii) in the THz work we intend to demonstrate the first ultra-high capacity (> 10 Gb/s) THz wireless systems based on photonic signal generation and apply our coherent techniques to quantum state manipulation and information processing applications, as well as develop HyperTerahertz technologies; (iii) in the areas of electronic materials and devices we will continue to pioneer new Si-rich nanodevices, e.g. for memory and photovoltaic technologies, and new diamond (nano)electronics for high precision sensing; (iv) in the domains of systems and circuits we will extend our radar and antennae systems to new applications, and develop new bioelectronic medicines and biosensors.

Find out more on the EEE website

Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering consists of some 31 FTE academics, 31 researchers mainly at the postdoctoral level and 142 PhD students, working across three major research groups - the Biomechanical Research Group, the Energy & Environment Research Group and the Marine Research Group.  We have research income in excess of £10M per annum and we were highly rated in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) when we were submitted under two Units of Assessment. 

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Our work extends from basic science such as new materials development and disease assessment models for dementia all the way to applied, such as the design of replacement heart valves, the modelling of wave interactions in extreme offshore environments, the design of trimaran ships, and the optimization of the combustion properties of the new biofuel types in engines.  Our research is recognized as pioneering across the world and we are proud of our global reputation for excellence in our output.

Vision

Our vision is to play a major part in resolving global challenges including helping the world to achieve sustainability, developing alternative sources of energy, designing new vehicles and their propulsion systems for a low carbon world, and developing new materials and processes, for healthcare and beyond.  We will ensure we maintain our position as a world leading department for basic and applied research into mechanical engineering and to achieve this we will continue to work closely with Research Councils, Governmental Organisations and Industry across the world.

Priorities

The mission statement of our Department, “To generate new knowledge and to communicate and translate this knowledge to our students and to society” places the generation of new knowledge through research at the very front of out pursuits. At the same time, the translation of the fruits of our research for the benefit of society is equally one of the three pillars of our mission statement. To achieve this, we have identified a series of priorities:

  • The Department of Mechanical Engineering will foster an environment in which research activities are valued and embedded in a positive and supportive atmosphere, to enhance our research reputation and the career development of its staff.
  • We will align our research with international, national, RCUK, UCL and Faculty strategies but we will ensure that curiosity research is also fully supported.
  • We intent to nurture young researchers and academics so they are able to undertake research at fundamental and applied levels and be in a position to make world leading contributions.
  • We will strive to encourage greater interdisciplinary research within UCL and the UK University sector and also across the world.
  • We will provide our research groups with the resources they need to ensure growth and success including laboratories and equipment that are fit for purpose.
  • We will pursue to increase the amount of grant income obtained particularly through large scale, collaborative grants and the development of Doctoral Training Centres.
  • We shall strive to expand and strengthen our industrial collaborations, with the aim that 50% of our research income comes from sponsored industrial research.
  • We will continue to invest and develop our infrastructure: laboratories, workshops and office space for our researchers need to be taken to a level that is commensurate with a world leading research.

Find out more on the Mechanical Engineering website

Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

We are a research-intensive department. Our research income per academic is one of the highest in UCL and we are particularly successful at attracting externally funded 5-year Fellowships. In the 2014 REF, our staff were submitted under two Units of Assessment which received the second and fourth highest overall GPAs at UCL. Our work covers the entire research pathway from basic science through proof of principle to translation to healthcare and industry.

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Vision

Our goal is to consolidate our position as the UK’s leading department for basic and applied research into medical physics and biomedical engineering. Our strategy for growth is focused on development of new areas of research which complement the department’s current strengths and resources while offering potential for significant societal and clinical impact.

Priorities

  • To nurture world-leading interdisciplinary research at the intersection between physical sciences and medicine.
  • To provide the necessary research resources for our growing research groups.
  • To promote cohesion and collaboration between the Department and broader research community of scientists, engineers, and clinicians within UCL, UCLH, the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering and elsewhere.
  • To increase the amount of grant income obtained from large scale, collaborative grants.
  • To foster a positive and supportive environment for career development at all levels.
  • To maximise the impact that our research has on human wellbeing.
  • To align our research with international, national, RCUK, UCL and Faculty strategies.

Find out more on the Medical Physics website

School of Management

The UCL School of Management conducts theoretical, empirical and experimental analyses of managerial, organisational, and operational dynamics in innovation-intensive organisations. The School has 59 faculty members (27 academic staff, 32 education-focussed staff), 3 research fellows and 12 PhD students.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the latest assessment of the quality of research performed by UK universities, 55% of the research outputs of the UCL School of Management were rated as world-leading (4*), placing us in joint first place among UK business schools.

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Vision

The mission of the UCL School of Management is to become one of the world’s leading business schools focused on innovation, technology, analytics, and entrepreneurship, by

  • Delivering world-leading disruptive research and impact for the complex, interconnected world of the future. The School offers an unrivalled combination of research support, academic and non-academic partnerships and a location in a leading global city to research-focused academics who want the freedom and support to devise and undertake innovative, high-impact work, published in world-leading journals.
  • Helping organisations succeed and change the world. The School creates impactful and applied research to help entrepreneurs, high-growth and multinational businesses, and policy makers succeed in a deeply complex, interconnected and data-driven world.

Priorities

The School’s research is based in four research groups, each with a particular research focus:

  • Organizations & Innovation: creativity, social networks, biases in selection, performance;
  • Strategy & Entrepreneurship: innovation diffusion, adaptability, product innovation, trust;
  • Operations & Technology: R&D management, supply chain economics, healthcare operations;
  • Marketing & Analytics: branding, retailing, advertising, marketing channels, e-commerce.

In addition, the UCL School of Management takes full advantage of being part of a world-leading university through its interdisciplinary outlook, and builds on close collaborations in both research and education with other UCL departments, including computer science, engineering, economics, psychology, public policy, statistics and medical sciences.

Find out more on the School of Management website

Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy

STEaPP strives to be ‘applied in focus’ in its study of the mobilisation of Science, Technology & Engineering knowledge in order to enhance the collective capacity of public decision‐making processes and institutions to address complex societal challenges. At the same time, STEaPP researchers have an explicit mandate to be ‘global in reach’ by bringing together international networks of academics and policymakers.

This ethos is geared towards leveraging diverse global experiences, and supporting more resilient public decision-making informed by science and engineering across societies around the world.

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Within STEaPP we aim to maintain a balance between research that applies our expertise to understanding and addressing pressing societal challenges, and research that explores and develops the practices through which Science, Technology & Engineering knowledge can be mobilised to address a broad array of such challenges. Our core themes of research, or ‘challenges’, are embodied by a number of established and emerging research groups in the department, which in turn also align to our masters and professional education offered via STEaPP’s MPA programme.

Some examples of our topical research foci:

  • Energy and sustainability
  • Urban innovation and policy
  • Development and technology
  • Cyber/ digital governance
  • Humanitarian and disaster response
  • Engineering policy

Critical in these areas remain a number of non-topical, practical issues that the department aims to apply across thematic domains. To date, STEaPP research has focused primarily on the practices of science advice and science diplomacy. In particular, STEaPP research has been focused on charting the dynamics of knowledge systems and the politics of science diplomacy at national, international and local scales of governance. These investigations are laying the foundation for the analysis and development of practices research that enables the mobilisation of expertise across disciplines, across societal challenges and across governance scales.

The department aims at stimulating the development of research in the directions outlined above via both externally funded, targeted, strategic initiatives and a responsive funding call open to all STEaPP academic staff. This internal funding mechanism supports the catalytic development of departmental research activities and encourages cross-pollination amongst faculty and research staff.

Find out more on the STEaPP website

Security and Crime Science

We are a small department, currently undergoing a stage of growth. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 84% of our submission was judged to be world leading or internationally excellent, and 100% of our submission was rated as world leading in terms of its impact upon society.

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Vision

From the start we have had a clear mission and a distinctive approach – crime science – to achieving that mission. Research is concentrated on new ways to cut crime and increase security, drawing upon UCL's vast experience in related disciplines, including architecture, economics, engineering, geography, medicine, psychology, statistics and town planning. Our goal is no less than to change the way that academics, policy makers and practitioners think about and respond to the changing nature of crime and security issues.

Priorities

  • to promote multidisciplinary research in crime and security across UCL
  • to produce interdisciplinary research that is academically rigorous and has direct practice or policy value
  • to understand the changing nature of crime and multidisciplinary responses to it
  • to maintain and widen our portfolio of funding sources, attracting funding from research councils, charities, government, police, the EU and other sources
  • to maximise the real-world impact of our research through direct collaboration with practitioners and industry
  • to continue to extend the reach of our research activity through international collaboration with academics and practitioners
  • to provide a supportive environment for multidiscplinary research and staff career development
  • to conduct research that addresses international, national and UCL strategic priorities

Find out more on the Security and Crime Science website