This year the WISE CDT Summer School ran from 17th to 21st June, and was organised by our colleagues at the Centre for Water Systems at Exeter, and took place in Torquay. We stayed at the Imperial Hotel and this provided an opportunity for cohort building (Cohorts 4 and 5 were residential), a week-long Team Challenge, site visits, visiting lectures, and a Poster Session involving all of the WISE CDT students and judged by the Stakeholder Advisory Board. The Team Challenge was to come up with a proposition for a “Flood Defence for Torbay”, together with evidence-based justifications of the resulting flood risk management and financial sustainability outcomes - the different teams were given different areas to focus on.

View across Torbay from the Imperial Hotel.
Dave Stewart of Torbay Council presenting on the flood risk challenges facing the Torbay area.

Invited Talks

In relation to the Team Challenge, we are very grateful to Dave Stewart and colleagues from the flood defence team at Torbay Council. On Monday evening they gave a talk which provided some context to the flood challenges in the Torbay area, including some historical perspectives and current challenges. Dave gave information about and context to the particular locations that each of the teams were to focus on, and he supplied a significant amount of data for the teams to analyse. This set things up nicely for the site visits to follow on the next day.

Prof. David Butler (Exeter) and Dr Wouter Knoben (Cohort 1)

On Monday we were also delighted to have a presentation from Dr Wouter Knoben (Cohort 1, Bristol) who shared the story of his PhD journey with Cohorts 4 and 5. Wouter has successfully completed and defended his PhD thesis, and his project title was "‘Investigating conceptual model structure uncertainty: Progress in large-sample comparative hydrology". Wouter is now moving to a PostDoc position in Canada with Prof. Martyn Clark, Associate Director, Centre for Hydrology and Coldwater Laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan.

Site Visits

Tuesday 18th June was spent visiting the different locations that each team was to focus on for the Challenge. The sites ranged from various coastal locations, where rising sea levels are the key consideration, to slightly further in land, where protection of the railway line and other urban infrastructure needs to be enhanced in light of increasing incidences of heavy rainfall, and hence the risk of land-based flooding. Although it was raining for most of the tour, this was offset by the very cheerful approach from Dave and his colleagues, and the wealth of experience and information on offer.

Inspecting harbour defences in Torbay.
Harbour defences being enhanced in Torbay.

Poster Session

There was lots of discussion during a busy poster session, with Cohorts 2, and 3 joining us for the day. Prizes were awarded for the best poster presentation in each cohort, and these were: Cohort 2: Joe Shuttleworth (Cardiff); Cohort 3: Lina Stein (Bristol); Cohort 4: Debbie Shackleton (Exeter) & Cohort 5: Vivien Maertens (Bath).

Poster judging and discussions.

Photo by Steven Haywood.

Team Challenge

For this year’s “Challenge”, different teams of students were asked to propose a flood defence solutions for a particular location in the Torbay region. The teams were tasked with quantifying the challenge over the next 50 years in terms of likely risk, carrying out an evaluation of the various approaches an options that might be suitable for that location, and then making a final proposal justified in terms of risk management and economic viability. The winning team was Debbie Shackleton (Exeter), Catherine Leech (Cardiff), Ari Cooper-Davis (Exeter) and David Birt (Bath). The winners were presented with the Trophy by Professor David Butler, Director of the WISE CDT. David Birt now holds the notable distinction of being the only WISE CDT student to be in a winning Challenge team on two occasions!

Team Challenge Winners - 2019

Other Prize winners included James Rand (Bath) who won the student nominated prize for "Most Supportive Student" during the Postgraduate School, and Juliana Marcal (Bath) who won the "Best Performing Student" during the Postgraduate School.

Juliana Marcal (Bath) receiving her Prize from Professor David Butler, WISE CDT Director, at the Summer School Dinner.

Final thoughts

The majority of the WISE CDT students attended the Summer School 2019. Photo by Steven Haywood.

We had a great week away in Devon, and I would particularly like to thank Debbie Ford (Exeter) her hard work and support in the background, colleagues at Exeter (David Butler, Raziyeh Farmani, Albert Chen, Slobodan Djordjevic), Dave Stewart and Raziyeh Farmani (Exeter) for working up the team challenge, and our invited speakers, and site visit hosts at Torbay Council, for making the week such an excellent success.

Dr Tom Arnot, Co-Director EPSRC WISE CDT.

Posted in: Other, Water Security Alliance, WIRC @ Bath, WISE CDT


  • (we won't publish this)

Write a response