“Together we can achieve more.” The conference tagline rings true in so many walks of life, but none more so than for the STREAM cohort VI students who presented their posters at a recent Institute of water (IOW) conference. Two and a half years ago when we were told all third year STREAM students present at an IOW conference, it seemed like an unfathomably long time away with so many hurdles in between.
The STREAM EngD begins with students spending three months together at Cranfield University completing industry relevant modules and culminates with a group design project presented to industry leaders. After this intense three months the cohort gets together for two weeks each year, one for leadership skills training and the other for the STREAM challenge week. It is astounding how important this time together is, and how underappreciated it can be. The time together instils collaborative thinking from the beginning and sharing experiences with a group of people all taking different routes through the same process is pretty great for morale.
So it was exciting to get the chance to meet up with everyone in Manchester for the IOW conference and to see everyone’s research taking shape. The conference gave the opportunity for regulators, water companies, contractors and consultants to give their views and examples on how the water industry collaborates now and where the collaboration needs to go. While there is plenty of collaboration going on in the water industry it is clear there is more to do. My favourite example involved collaboration between a water company and its customers; Northern Ireland Water created the ‘Water Bus’ a tool to get schools learning about and involved in water issues and things we can do to solve them.
The conference was a tremendous opportunity for us STREAMers to get face time with water industry professionals with only our posters on show. During the breaks we were swamped with people coming to talk about our work which was very much appreciated, there is always a fear of standing there like an unwanted gnome. Everyone at the conference had the opportunity to vote for their favourite poster, I was humbled to be voted the best poster, but it was a very close run thing with just a single vote in it at the end.
We all had a bit of time to enjoy the sunshine and a coffee before parting ways again. Luckily it is not long before we can catch up and put our collaborating to the test at the STREAM challenge week in the Netherlands in just 3 weeks.
Photo credits: Institute of Water