Winner: Dr Yousif Muhamedsalih – University of Huddersfield
Project: Economic Tyre Turning (ETT) on GB railways – Wheel wear and rail damage prediction
Yousif initially joined the University of Huddersfield to study for an MSc in Control Systems and Instrumentation, graduating in November 2009 and continuing his studies at the University with a PhD in control systems. Currently working as a research fellow within University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research, Yousif has an interest in understanding different types of maintenance regimes and how the industry could develop a maintenance strategy.
The panel awarded him with this year’s prize based on his work on research into Economic Tyre Turning (ETT) on GB Railways. This research provides valuable and strong evidence to support the case that train operators should be allowed to implement ETT policies and will provide the opportunity to exploit the cost savings associated with ETT without a significant detrimental effect on the infrastructure over which they operate.
“Winning this award not only supports the development of my profile as a rail researcher, it also motivates me to take my research up to the next level…the uniqueness of this award is the significant positive impact it can have on the winners’ career, helping them to develop and build an effective network of contacts in the rail industry“
Winner: Sam Bemment – Loughborough University
Project: REPOINT (Redundantly Engineered Points for enhanced Capacity and Reliability of Railway Track Switching).
Samuel graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and chose to join the rail industry, now working as a Research Associate within the Control Systems Research Group at the University. Judges were unanimous in their decision to award him with the 2015 prize for his outstanding submission.
“I had followed the competition the previous year, and indeed had talked to David Connolly (2014 winner) – both about entering, and the significant positive publicity which resulted from his win. I subsequently mentioned my desire to enter to Roger Dixon – my boss – and was pleasantly surprised when he presented me a completed application form to cast my eye over a few weeks later, centred around my work upon the REPOINT project.
The application process was smooth and easy, and I was later notified of my win over the phone, including a long chat about all the other things I was working on! I believe what happens between the form submission and the phone call is the really important part, for all candidates. Many industry figures – very senior, very experienced, very well respected – received details of all the cutting edge work going on across [the] rail research [community]; they learn who is innovating and delivering, where the knowledge and expertise lies, and crucially, who to watch in the near future. They get exposure to the calibre of individuals we have working in this field, and what they are working on. For early-career researchers, this kind of exposure at such a high level is absolutely invaluable. It was a real pleasure being given a stage at the RRUKA Annual Conference to accept the award and give a short presentation on my work, providing further exposure at the highest level.
Since then, REPOINT has received 7-figure industry support for a programme which involves the design, construction and test (with live traffic) of a full-size REPOINT switch installation. The positive publicity surrounding my win was invaluable when pursuing this funding, which was vital for moving REPOINT to the next stage. From a career perspective, having the award on my CV is great, and the win has led to new contacts being made around the globe.”
Winner: Dr David Connolly – Heriot Watt University
Project: Prediction and reduction of ground-borne vibrations on railway lines
Dr Connolly was the first winner of the Best Young Researcher Award. Here’s what he had to say reflecting on his win some months later:
“I found out about the competition at various RRUKA events, all of which I found very interesting. Therefore, I was keen to apply as I could see it provided an excellent opportunity to expose my research to industry.
In the six months since winning the prize, I have made new contacts through people who only found out about my research through news of my win. I have also become involved in both national and international research.
I would fully recommend young rail researchers to apply as the award looks great on your CV, is an excellent way to convey evidence of a ‘track record’ in research funding applications, and gets you more involved with RRUKA. The application process allows you to take a step back from your research career and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses – a skill every successful rail researcher should have”.