SET for Britain

Posted on Tuesday 25th March 2014

By Rebecca Sindall

PhD student in Civil Engineering


I have been to London many times as a tourist but today was different. Normally, I would stand on the banks of the River Thames and take photos of the Houses of Parliament across the river. Today I stood on the terrace of the House of Commons looking out over the river from the other side. I was one of 60 early-career researchers in Engineering selected to present a poster of my work at SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) for Britain, an event aimed at bringing together the worlds of politics and science and engineering.

My research, into how mixing can optimize renewable energy as biogas production from the anaerobic digestion of waste-water treatment by-products, was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament and be judged against dozens of other engineers’ research in the only national competition of its kind.

I believe that it is important for scientists and engineers to be able to communicate their work to politicians and members of the public effectively so that everyone can understand the valuable effects that science and engineering have on all aspects of life. This event was a brilliant way to do it.

Throughout the course of the afternoon, I was given the opportunity to discuss the advantages of optimising anaerobic digestion as a waste-to-energy process with MPs, as well as researchers from a wide range of engineering backgrounds. Whilst a number of MPs took an interest in my research, those from more rural constituencies in particular were very interested in the application of anaerobic digestion of farm waste.

This was a great opportunity for me to discuss my research with current policy-makers, find out more about the diverse and innovative research of other engineering researchers and catch a glimpse of life in the House of Commons.