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Technological advances are often unpredictable; how societies use them even more so. An advance in technology often leads to a rise in demand, which in an increasingly well-connected world is unsustainable. A further complication is that the impacts of an advance in technology often only become clear years afterwards, by which time it is too late to reverse or deflect them.
Some new technologies disrupt, and even those that do not often require complicated, systems-level transitions that are difficult to achieve quickly. The lecture will illustrate these points with examples from energy and resource / waste management. It will then critically assess two ongoing efforts to achieve transformational change in transport: railway electrification and decarbonising our cities. Systemic failings that have hindered success will be identified.
Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the Department of Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering, University of Southampton
Professor Powie’s main technical areas of expertise are in geotechnical aspects of transport infrastructure and sustainable waste and resource management. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in recognition of his work in these areas.
William’s work on geotechnical aspects of transport infrastructure encompasses groundwater control, in-ground construction to reduce environmental impacts in urban and other sensitive areas, understanding and mitigating vegetation and climate change effects, and fundamental soil behaviour.
He is Convenor-elect of UKCRIC, the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities; and leads the Infrastructure Centre of Excellence within the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) and a prestigious EPSRC Programme Grant (Track to the Future), aimed at improving the longevity and robustness of railway track, and reducing costs and maintenance needs.
Professor of Geotechnical Engineering
Chris Rogers spent three years in the civil engineering industry before returning to academia to research pipeline soil-structure interaction. He lectured at Nottingham and Loughborough Universities before taking up his current position at the University of Birmingham in 1998.
His research portfolio is dominated by two primary, necessarily interrelated, themes of infrastructure engineering and urban sustainability, resilience and liveability. Building on prior research into trenchless technology, buried pipes, soil stabilization and road foundations, since 2004 he has led the multi-university EPSRC Mapping the Underworld (MTU) research initiative.
He chairs the ICE’s Innovation & Research Panel and Futures Group, and is a member of the Lead Expert Group of the UK Government Foresight Future of Cities project.