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SPRING 2014 :: ISSUE 22

Out of this World Staff and students from the Computer Systems Engineering course reveal how they built a balloon that travelled over 100,000 feet high, photographed the Earth and burst over Brunel.


‘Culture Clashes’

Hear the success stories of two crowd-funded creative projects

Read about the future of press regulation and government surveillance

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Latest news from


Brunel balloon project


Made in Brunel:


around the campus 6-7

IntraBrunel Update


Student and graduate news round-up


winter graduation 22-23

Only the Beginning

Behind the scenes: Development and Alumni


Staff news round-up


Research news round-up

Relations Office

Alumnus and staff getting a kickstart from Kickstarter

Volunteers Week and


The Gallery


10 12


18 22



Editors Joe Norman and Alex Buchanan

Communications Team

Reporters Mark Howard,

Gillian Trevethan, Helen Jacobus

01895 265588

Design Andrew Hill Photography Sally Trussler, Neil Graveney Print Brunel University Press

Express is available to read and download on our website:

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Extra printed copies are available from the Communications Team

Front cover image: View of the Earth’s surface taken from the Brunel Computer Systems Engineering balloon at 90, 593 feet. The photograph was taken using a Samsung Galaxy S II mobile phone, using software controlled by Devansh Arora. Please see pages 12-13 for the full story.

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Express magazine rising to new heights Welcome to issue #22 of Brunel’s community magazine Express. This is the first issue of 2014, as well as the first issue under the new editorial team of Joe Norman and Alex Buchanan. As the University enters a time of change, we hope to be able to continue to fully reflect and inform Brunel’s community. Like the student-created balloon whose images grace our front cover, we aim to lift Express to new heights, strengthen existing elements and introduce exciting new features. If you have any comments or feedback on Express magazine, please email the Communications Team at As always, news and notice submissions made to IntraBrunel will be considered for future editions of Express. We hope you enjoy reading issue #22. About us: Joe Norman is now full-time Communications Officer, having written content for Express and IntraBrunel over two years, first as a volunteer then as Assistant. As a PhD researcher, he also teaches English and Creative Writing for the School of Arts. Alex Buchanan, will be acting as Communications Manager while Rachel Turvey is on maternity leave. Alex was previously Information and New Media Officer at Brunel International, and before that completed both his Undergraduate and Master’s degrees at Brunel.

TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE UPDATE The University’s Transformational Change Programme (TxP) passed a significant milestone in December 2013 with the approval by the Council of the University for the move from the current School-based organisational structure to a new model based on 3 Academic Colleges and 3 Research Institutes. The changes, which will come into effect on 1 August 2014, will see the establishment of the College of Engineering Design and Physical Sciences, the College of Health and Life Sciences and the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences. Three Research Institutes will also be formed, focused on Energy Futures, Materials and Manufacturing, and Environment Health and Societies. Work continues to populate the new structures and to determine the optimum location for the Colleges and Institutes on the Uxbridge campus.

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IN BRIEF Congratulations to Brunel’s Professor Alison McConnell, Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, who, alongside alumni Professor Greg Whyte and Dr Hannah Critchlow, has been recognised by the Science Council in an elite list of the UK’s 100 leading practising scientists. Professor Whyte is known for raising the public profile of sport science through Comic Relief (he recently coached TV star Davina McCall on her Sport Relief event), whereas Dr Critchlow is known for her contributions to The Naked Scientists team.

Brunel ranked amongst the 25 most international universities in the world by THE Brunel has been ranked as joint 15th in a Times Higher Education (THE) list of the 25 most international universities in the world. The list was compiled using the ‘international outlook’ indicator which examines a university’s international student numbers, its percentages of international staff and the proportion of its research papers published with a co-author from at least one country. Brunel was ranked alongside Maastricht University in 15th place, both receiving an overall international outlook score of 89.1. The top ranking university in the list is École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, near Lake Geneva, which scored 98.2.‑university‑rankings/ 2013‑14/world-ranking/methodology

Prof Francesco Moscone, Brunel MBA Course Director

Brunel University is on the approved list of team training bases for the Rugby World Cup 2015. Director of Sport, Paul Dimmock said: “This fantastic news, coupled with our investment in rugby facilities this year, will provide a boost to the University’s Rugby Performance Programme, which aims to re-establish Brunel as one of the UK’s premier rugby universities.” Following a successful trial of extended weekday opening hours, the campus Costcutter store has increased its extended hours to weekends. The store will now be open from 8am to 11pm Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 7pm on Saturdays and 10am to 7pm on Sundays.

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CEO magazine ranks Brunel MBA among Global Top 20 The Brunel Business School (BBS) Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) has been ranked in the Global Top 20 MBA rankings for 2014 by the CEO Magazine’s International Graduate Forum. BBS ranked joint 20th alongside California State University, North America, and Deakin University, Australia. The MBA was also ranked in Tier One of the European Rankings for Winter 2013. These nominations form part of a recent flurry of awards for BBS, which was named Business School of the Year by Times Higher Education in November 2013. CEO Magazine explained that the International Graduate Forum’s (IGF) 2013 Winter MBA Rankings were compiled based upon key performance indicators of interest and value to potential students. International diversity, class sizes, student work experience, faculty to student ratios, and faculty qualifications – both academic and professional – were all considered. “With competition between business schools continuing to increase, it is important for schools to understand what students really want,” the magazine said. “Schools ranked highly by the IGF in CEO Magazine have been successful in this goal.”

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Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell gives inaugural Athena SWAN lecture on her ‘Life in Science’ On 30 January, the University welcomed “the voice of biology in the UK” Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell – Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University – to the Eastern Gateway Building to give an inaugural lecture about her ‘life in science’ and career in academia.

A C Grayling offers “humanistic wisdom” in first Public Lecture of the series On 17 February, renowned philosopher Professor A C Grayling spoke about ‘The Future of Secularism and Religion’ in the Eastern Gateway Building. Professor Dany Nobus, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Development and External Relations, introduced Grayling’s The Good Book (2011) a “secular source of humanistic wisdom”.

of religious activity in recent years may in fact be a “turning up of the volume” of religious voices who feel threatened by the pressures of an increasingly secular society.

Professor Grayling defined four crucial terms relating to the lecture – secularism, humanism, atheism and religion – explaining that atheism relates to views regarding metaphysical questions; secularism to the role of religious views in public life; and humanism to nonreligious understandings of ethics, describing it as “an attitude not a teaching”.

Audience questions addressed the ongoing situations in Syria and Egypt, how the values of humanism can be effectively acquired in a secular society, and the ways in which the term has altered over time.

Describing religion as the most difficult to explain, he argued that religions should be treated in a similar manner to “selfinterest groups” such as trades unions. Professor Grayling predicted that the trend of a “steady decline in religious beliefs that begun during the Enlightenment era” would continue, arguing that a seeming “resurgence”

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Professor Grayling argued it is the responsibility of philosophers to “bring philosophy to the people”, although in one respect “everybody is a philosopher already” whether they consider themselves to be or not. To watch the full lecture and the Question and Answer session, please visit the public lecture web page.

Introducing the first Athena SWAN lecture since the University gained its bronze Athena SWAN award, Professor Rothwell mentioned the importance of choosing “a good mentor”, whom she found in her PhD supervisor, the late Mike Stock, and outlined her early research that identified mechanisms of energy balance regulation, obesity and cachexia. Following her Doctorate, she accepted a Royal Society of Research Fellowship, relocating to Manchester in 1987 where she “realised I had to carve out my own niche”, something that she believes women often struggle to do independently. Professor Rothwell was appointed a chair in Physiology in 1994, then a prestigious Medical Research Council Research Chair in 1998. “Research is good training to be a VC,” said Professor Rothwell, “because things don’t always go according to plan. Both jobs are about solving problems and finding solutions.” She challenged the stereotype that science is a “lonely” subject, emphasising its highly social nature and the importance of collaboration. Audience questions concerned the speaker’s views on the effective implementation of University crèches; the future of her career; advice on maintaining an effective work/life balance; and why girls studying science are in a minority in state schools.

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IntraBrunel Update Previous issues of Express have featured earlier developments to the new IntraBrunel (IB) platform. Alex Osmond, currently helping with project management duties, discusses the latest updates: “We’re upgrading because the IB system is easier to use, and by making the transition to one single platform for internal web content, we’re providing staff and students with a consistent experience. IB supports the creation of team – and department-based sites, offering opportunities for individuals to manage, access and share their files, wherever they are, using their ‘MySite’. I work closely with the Project Team and Project Advisory Board alongside Brunel’s various service departments to help shift from the old systems to the new one.”

What’s new? The IntraBrunel home page.

You can now use the ‘accessibility options’ menu (top left) to adjust your homepage’s colour settings, ensuring that the page is easy to read. We’re committed to making the new system as accessible and user-friendly as possible. Hover over the ‘IntraBrunel’ logo at the top-left of every screen to access these options. Pages/Customising-your-homepage.aspx

You can also add the Computer Centre’s service status as a widget to your homepage. This way, you’ll be kept upto-date with your favourite University systems! Anyone can ask a question or comment about the homepage, or the IntraBrunel project as a whole, on the new project newsfeed. Visit the Help site at

So what comes next? We are close to launching: The new Estates site The new Library pages The GILO site Sites for Council and various Sub-committees Plus we are busy planning for the College IntraBrunel sites

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New sites BEEC/Education Office:  ttps:// h beec/Pages/default.aspx




We have created brand new IntraBrunel pages for both BEEC and the Education Office. These sites, featuring news feeds, blogs, events information (among other things), highlight some of the new, improved capabilities that the IntraBrunel system offers. These two well-designed, easy-to-navigate sites – which you can fully search – not only represent exciting developments at Brunel; they also exemplify the tools and design principles that provide users with a consistent and accessible experience.

The Counselling site is clearly organised, efficiently directing users to the pages they’re most likely to need. The ‘Bibliotherapy’ pages highlight the ability in IntraBrunel to list and categorise resources.



IT Support : cc/Pages/default.aspx

Similarly, the Disability and Dyslexia pages offer an easy-to-use, clear browsing experience – supported by a range of resources.

Sales and Wants:  ttps:// h


This new set of pages encompass a wide range of resources and information about IT Support at Brunel, including the Computer Centre’s services. A key feature of this site is the ‘Knowledgebase’ – a collection of categorised, easy-to-use support resources. Several new sites will include a Knowledgebase: get in touch if you think your team would benefit.

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The Sales and Wants noticeboard is a free service for students and staff at Brunel, managed by the Communications Team – advertise items for sale, holiday lets, local rooms and flats, offer freebies, and more.

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History undergraduate has “incredible adventure” at Winter Olympics Joshua Connolly, a History BA student at Brunel, volunteered at the 2014 Winter Olympics, held in Sochi, Russia, from 7-23 February. Building upon his experience as a Ceremonies Games Maker for the London 2012 Olympic Games where he helped coordinate

the volunteer effort, Joshua provided games-time support to the Winter Games’ media and provided information to visitors.

To allow international volunteers, the Sochi Committee provided accommodation and catering to all of the 25,000 volunteers signed up for the event, as well as assistance in obtaining visas and advice on travelling, while the costs of travel and acquiring a visa had to be met by the volunteers themselves. “My time in Sochi was nothing short of an incredible adventure,” Joshua stated. “The chance to meet and work alongside the best of the world’s media, to witness the incredible ability of Olympic and Paralympic athletes is nothing short of inspirational.” Joshua found out about the volunteering opportunities at Sochi through Brunel Volunteers which he describes as a “great resource in finding opportunities. Volunteering isn’t just about contributing; it’s the chance to be part of something bigger.”

“Spellbinding” novelisation of Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’ published by alumna Dark Aemilia, the third novel by former Brunel Creative Writing PhD student Sally O’Reilly, will be published around the world in 2014 by Myriad Editions publishing. Rights have also been sold in Italy, Turkey and the US, where the novel will be published by Picador in June.

Described as a “spellbinding novel of witchcraft, poetry and passion,” Sally’s work of historical fiction formed the basis of her PhD research. It narrates the life of real-world poet Aemilia Lanyer, known to many as the ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets. In her research for the novel, Sally visited relevant locations in London, and consulted historical documents and contemporary accounts, as well as works by Shakespeare, Jonson and Marlowe. She even invented a hybrid form of speech for her character: “a twenty-first century pastiche of Jacobean speech”. Despite portraying Aemilia as a ‘modern’ woman in the sense that she refuses to accept social inequality, Sally’s research revealed that her character’s real-life counterpart had “consulted a famous astrologer about conjuring spirits”. This crucial discovery led Sally to portray Aemilia as someone who

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believes “absolutely in the occult”, therefore challenging conventional representations of Early Modern people as rational and materialistic in their world-views. Sally says the task of a historical fiction writer is: “to be absolutely accurate about everything that can be known, absolutely audacious about everything that cannot be known, and to tell a good story.” Her next novel focuses on the playwright Aphra Behn. Sally will be appearing in the First Fictions festival, University of Sussex at West Dene College, West Sussex, on 11-12 April.


@sallyoreilly how2beawriter.

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then arrange to meet on campus and complete the transaction. “Textbooks can be expensive,” explains Archit, “and often in short supply.” For international students, he argues, the storage of “cumbersome” books and their transportation back home can be “quite a burden”. Students and alumni from Brunel’s games design course have created an innovative new iOS game, in collaboration with virtual studio Octopus 8, recently listed as one of Develop-Online’s ‘Top 100 Most exciting Game Start-ups’. The core team of Dan Hughes (BA Games Design and Music), Gustav Andreasson (BA Games Design and Creative Writing), Katja Hammond (BA Games Design and Creative Writing) and Andrew ‘Sandy’ King (MA Digital Games Theory and Design). Brunel Business School student Archit Gupta has developed a website called BookBazaar, which enables students to sell and buy used textbooks. Students can register for BookBazaar for free, using the portal to search for a book and see the listed sellers and the prices. The buyer and seller can

on their thesis and its significance in three minutes or less. On 19 February, the University and the Union of Brunel Students (UBS) signed a pledge of support for the Time to Change charity that helps people with mental health problems. Speeches were given by Deputy Head of Counselling Peter Eldrid, UBS President Martin Zaranyika, and Vice Principal (Education and International) Professor Andrew George. Sue Baker, Director of Time for Change, stated that: “With one in four people experiencing mental illness it’s time for us all to start creating more mentally healthy workplaces and learning environments. You can still make your pledge: Search #T2CBrunel Facebook and Twitter. on

Giovanni Cossali, a researcher in Mechanical Engineering, won Brunel’s first 3 Minute Thesis (3MT©) competition for her presentation ‘A novel device to eliminate Legionella, Pseudomonas and other pathogens’, run by the Graduate School. The competition challenged researchers to give a presentation

Brunel wins three gold medals at indoor athletics championships Brunel University’s athletics team won three gold medals and one silver at the British Universities Colleges and Sport (BUCS) Indoor Athletics Championships at the EIS Sheffield. Sprinter André Wright, a 21-yearold mathematics student, won gold and achieved the Championship Best Performance (21.18 sec), also taking the bronze medal for the 60 metres achieved in 6.81 seconds. In her first championship race, Sport Sciences student Shanice Harrison, 19, began as a reserve for the 200 metres but was called in at short notice, achieving 24.58 sec, a personal best. Melissa Courtney, 19, won the 1500 metres in 4:20.73 min. Before she stepped up to the start

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line, two of her team mates had won gold medals in their races. Melissa, who is studying Sport Sciences, is a previous winner of the UK School Games 2009. Women’s captain and GB heptathlete, Jo Rowland, secured a silver medal in the shot putt (13.19 metres and personal best) at the meeting. Recently, Jo, 23, who is studying for a Master’s degree in Sport Psychology, helped her university athletics team to overall victory at the annual Inter-Varsity Challenge in Birmingham.

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Alumnus and staff getting a kickstart from Creative Writing lecturer is far from idle 8 Minutes Idle, a film adaptation of Creative Writing senior lecturer Matt Thorne’s award-winning second novel that was released in February 2014, was partly funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign.

What is Kickstarter? Kickstarter is a popular crowdsourcing platform. Focusing on creative projects, Kickstarter allows individuals to create a project with its own funding goal and deadline, and to encourage donors to contribute towards the project’s success. Significant impetus to promote the projects is placed upon creators by Kickstarter’s ‘allor-nothing’ policy – the pledge must be fully met in order for the creators to receive any of the money. To date, 5.5 million people have backed a Kickstarter project, with a 44% success rate.

Directed by Mark Simon Hewis, the film focuses on twenty-something Dan, played by Tom Hughes, who gets kicked out of his home by his mother and moves into his office in a Call Centre. It has been described as “a contemporary comedy with a subversive yet uplifting message”. When writing the novel, Matt drew upon his own experiences “working in a call centre – my first job after university.” Initially working during the day, Matt switched to the night shift because it gave him more time to write. As he spent so much time in the office, Matt explains, “I began to think, “well, I might as well move in!” As Matt began considering what this would actually be like, he developed the character Dan, “who lives in his office all the time” and considered “the weird things that might happen to you if that was the life you led.” According to Matt, the title refers to a term used by call centre workers, where “eight minutes idle was the maximum amount of time you could go without answering a call before you’d get in trouble.” As Matt explains, the making of 8 Minutes Idle was funded by a scheme called iFeatures: “a Bristol-based programme which had money for three films. 550 people applied and there was a process where the entries were whittled down first to twelve projects, then to six, then finally to three that were given the green light.” The Kickstarter campaign needed to raise £20,000 and raised £21,577 in 25 days with 287 different people backing it. Matt describes the Kickstarter process as “completely positive”, stating that he was “really touched that so many people wanted to support us. One benefit of crowd-funding is that it gives you a direct connection with people who might be interested in the film.”

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Brunel alumnus uses Kickstarter to fund rainbow inspired pencil design Industrial Design alumnus Duncan Shotton raised almost £50,000 using Kickstarter to fund his idea of developing a range of pencils made from recycled paper. The Rainbow effect comes when the pencils are sharpened, creating beauty out of otherwise discarded pencil shavings. Duncan currently runs his own small design studio in Tokyo, where he says the emphasis on ‘cuteness’ in many of his designs is a major selling point in Japan, far more so than in to western markets. Other successful products developed by his studio include his popular Real Boy drawing pins inspired by Pinocchio. Duncan said he initially chose Kickstarter to fund his project because his pencil design “demanded a high minimum order quantity”. Duncan’s project was featured on the Kickstarter site as a ‘staff pick’, and appeared in “a couple of big design blogs” that “kicked off a huge wave of backers”. To those hoping to fund their own projects via this route, he recommends carefully reading the guidelines provided, and considering extra factors, such as project approval time, the Kickstarter profit cut, and payment transfer times, when initially planning the project. Duncan’s forthcoming projects for 2014 include “his second pop-up shop in Tokyo” and the launch of a cable-tidy. @_dshott

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Rainbow Pencil – STATISTICS


£12,000 Final Amount:

£49,429 Time:

30 days Backers: 2,846 different sources

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High Ambitions

On 16 February the results of seven months of planning and hundreds of hours of hard work by students and staff of Brunel’s Computer Systems Engineering (CSE) course led to a field in Tormarton, on the outskirts of Bath.

The plan, originally conceived by Course Director Dr Konstantinos Banitsas, was to launch a balloon that would reach the edge of space, capturing images, video footage and meteorological data before safely returning to Earth. His dream became the final year project for two of his top CSE students, Devansh Arora and

Nicholas Rees, who volunteered for the task of designing and building the hardware and software for the project. The strength of the Computer Systems Engineering course is its focus on the combination of software and hardware, and the project provided the perfect mix of the two disciplines. Nick was responsible for hardware, designing a controller to read meteorological data and feed them to a mobile phone. He also added telemetry to allow the balloon to be tracked even when over 100,000 feet in the air. Dev was in charge of the software running on the mobile phone (a Samsung Galaxy S II – an older model that had been successfully used in similar experiments). He developed a program that controlled the phone camera and recorded hi-res stills and video, stored the meteorological data and continuously transmitted GPS coordinates via regular SMS texts. Initially planned to be launched at Brunel, the project was moved to near Bristol due to unfavourable winds that would have seen the balloon land in the sea. Following approval from the Civil Aviation Authority, the payload (weighing less than one kilo) was checked and attached to the balloon, which was inflated from a massive 84 kilogram helium container. After a few pictures the balloon was ceremonially released, with the team aware there was a good chance they would never see it again. Then as Dr Banitsas put it ‘The chase was on’. The team set off down the M4 in hot pursuit of the balloon, using an adapted television aerial to track its progress. At one point they lost tracking telemetry causing some consternation in the vehicle.

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The balloon eventually burst almost directly over Brunel itself (due to somewhat overzealous filling this was earlier than predicted, and resulted in it missing the original landing site). A parachute deployed, gradually due to the thin atmosphere, and 45 minutes later the payload started broadcasting its coordinates again through text messages. The chase ended in a back garden in east London, with the (un)lucky resident startled by a bunch of people with Brunel IDs knocking on his door and frantically trying to explain that a burst balloon, parachute and payload was in his back garden. Being a researcher himself, he was happy to help. The recovered payload was unscratched and still working, six hours after initial release. Recovered video showed the balloon’s ascent to 100,600 feet. Images captured the curvature of the earth, the sky changing from blue to black and even airliners travelling over 60,000 feet below. Speaking afterwards, Dr Banitsas said: “It was an amazing experience, knowing that we had sent something up and got it back safely. This was a fantastic undergraduate project and hopefully something that will inspire future student to reach for the stars. As far as we can tell, we are one of only a handful of UK Universities that have ever attempted such an endeavour! Out of hundreds of things that could have gone wrong, only a few did and we managed to overcome them, which, after all, is what Engineering is all about: problem solving!” There are already plans for a more ambitious follow up mission next year, so keep watching the skies…

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Only the Beginning Express previews Made in Brunel 2014 and discovers why it marks not the end of a journey but Only the Beginning.

The Made in Brunel (MiB) team – student engineers, designers and innovators – are busy preparing this year’s Graduate Exhibition, running from 12 – 15 June. Only the Beginning is the eighth annual MiB show, the fourth held at the Bargehouse on London’s Southbank. Established in 2006, MiB is a series of Industry evenings, events and workshops that develop strong links between students and professionals, creating a gateway for graduates into the workplace. Over four days, students will present and discuss their work in a variety of formats including a series of Pecha Kucha talks from renowned speakers in Design, Engineering and Digital Media. In previous years this has included speakers such as the founders of Joseph Joseph and Dame Ellen MacArthur. The experience of being taught by professionals and working with clients is invaluable, and this year the focus is on how the students’ learning experiences at Brunel have prepared them for their future.

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Visions magazine One way in which the Team have highlighted the fact that MiB showcases students’ work all year round, and not just in the run up to the summer exhibition, is through the new MiB Visions magazine – produced for the first time this year. Printed like a traditional newspaper, the magazine uses high quality images to preview the work being carried out this year, as well as information about the wide range of placement experience and skills acquired by the Team. In February, members of the Team cycled and walked to design companies around London, introducing their work and distributing 1,000 copies of Visions. One of these students, Solveiga Pakštaite, stated that, “It was refreshing to see these powerful gamechanging designers not shooing us inexperienced students away, but instead welcoming us in and listening to what we had to say”. View Visions online: docs/madeinbrunel_visions

24 Hour Design Challenge From 6pm on Tuesday 18 February to 6pm Wednesday 19 February the Made in Brunel team undertook its most ambitious project to date. 150 design and engineering students created 24 unique concepts for 8 briefs, set by world-renowned companies such as Rolls-Royce, Lego and SeymourPowell. Over 4,000 viewers watched the event on a worldwide live stream supported by core77, one of the most subscribed international design blogs.

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The James Dyson Foundation helps final year students at five UK universities achieve their engineering potential. A bursary of £600 each has been awarded to six Made in Brunel students for projects that embody “ingenuity, creativity and practicality” and are based on “thoroughly investigated human needs”.

“3D printers build objects through Fused Filament Fabrication: melted plastic filament is fed through a nozzle, which deposits layers of plastic, creating the object. I’m looking at turning household waste into filament for 3D printers, making this technology viable for schools and businesses, and more environmentally friendly.” MATT BUCKLAND “Bikes are essential for children in The Gambia, West Africa, to reach other towns and schools, however, those they wear extremely quickly in the harsh environment of Africa. The project’s aim is to design a bicycle frame, from locally sourced components, that is hardwearing and cheap to manufacture.” ROB BYE “My project is about developing a cycling shoe that can be switched from cycling mode with a stiff sole to walking mode with a flexible one automatically. This will revolutionise the use of the cycling shoe to improve both practicality and safety.” JACK GOVER

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“I’m working on a power assisted trolley for sufferers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) that enables them to regain their mobility and improve their health related quality of life by carrying supplementary oxygen, in an aesthetically appropriate and less conspicuous manner.” TAALIB MINHAS “Originally I wanted to make food expiry information more accessible for blind and partially-sighted people, but my concept is useful for a wider market: a label that reacts to the food, giving an updated,

ALUMNUS IN ENGINEERING HALL OF FAME Sam Etherington, a recent graduate from BA Industrial Design & Technology, has become the youngest person inducted into the Semta Engineering Hall of Fame, placing him alongside Isambard Kingdom Brunel himself. Sam’s project, a wave power generator, which harnesses energy from waves coming from any direction, is now a full-scale prototype. Semta Chief Operating Officer, Ann Watson, paid tribute to Sam’s extraordinary achievement: “The best days of great British engineering are ahead of us – Sam will become an iconic figure for the next generation that are set to achieve extraordinary things.”

true ‘use by’ date, rather than a static estimate.” SOLVEIGA PAKSTAITE “A group of older people told me that mobility aids are “depressing” and “just many shades of grey”. I’m developing a walking aid for Older People, designed to be functional as well as aesthetically acceptable.” RORY SOUTHWORTH

Don’t miss Made in Brunel When: 12-15 June 2014 Where: The Bargehouse, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH Attend: Open daily, admission free Stay up-to-date: 


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Brunel lecturer’s novel published by Science Museum and nominated for award

Express welcomes some new faces and says goodbye to some of our colleagues who left Brunel in November, December 2013 and January 2014.

Shackleton’s Man Goes South, the latest novel by Brunel Creative Writing visiting lecturer Tony White, and the first to be published by the Science Museum in London, has been nominated for a British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) award. eBook dispenser where users can hear audio extracts, view a facsimile of Simpson’s story, and even email themselves the full novel for free.

Welcome to… Dr Monika Bennett Study Skills Tutor Disability and Dyslexia Service • Dr Punamdip Kaur Bhullar Postdoctoral Research Fellow • Paul Glassey Head of Media Services • Max Locker‑Marsh Administrative Team Leader, Disability and Dyslexia Service • Rowena Macrae-Gibson Head of Library Academic Services • Paul Washington Miller Reader, Education • Joseph Norman Communications Officer • Nadine Scantlebury Placement Officer • Colin Young Distribution Centre Supervisor Dr Paul Miller joins us as a Reader in Education, from his post as Professor of Educational Leadership & Management at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). As a Member of the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management (CCEAM), Dr Miller will join 15 of the UK’s leading specialists in educational leadership and the British Council to meet head teachers from Azerbaijan’s Education ministry to develop educational leadership and management as a theoretical field in the country.

Farewell to… Dr Sharon Baurley Reader and Head of Design, Design • Anuj Sood Research Manager Brunel Business School • Melissa Parker Senior Lecturer (research excellence), Anthropology • Dr Sheng Qin Senior Lecturer, Electronic and Computer Engineering • Robert Waite Placement Officer • Professor Stelarc X Chair in Performance Art o.6 fte, Drama

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Tony explains that “Shackleton’s Man Goes South was an attempt to explore the contemporary implications both of Simpson’s story and also of the myths that grew up around that heroic age of Antarctic exploration, and bring these things together in a novel exploring ways of thinking about a future that is impacted by climate change.” For Tony it is a “great thrill” to be nominated for a BSFA award, as he “loves the openness to ideas that science fiction can have.” Described as “a bold novel-cummanifesto, a prophecy, satire and warning” and a “gripping polar allegory for the era of global warming,” Tony’s novel was inspired by an early tale of climate change, written by George Clarke Simpson during Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic in 1911. Forming part of a display charting the literary and scientific inspiration behind the project, Shackleton’s Man Goes South is being distributed by the Museum using an innovative touchscreen

The Shackleton’s Man Goes South display runs until 24 April 2014, a limited edition paperback is available exclusively from the Science Museum shop, and the novel is available to download for free direct from the Science Museum website: onlinestuff/atmphshmgs.aspx View Tony’s blog for more information about his work and regular updates on his public appearances: p ieceofpaperpress.

Dr Colin Riley aims to delight children with Centrally Heated Knickers Centrally Heated Knickers, a music and poetry show developed by Brunel Senior Music Lecturer Dr Colin Riley and jazz saxophonist Tim Whitehead, alongside former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, was performed at the IMAX theatre in the Science Museum, London. The show, loosely-based on Rosen’s book of poems of the same name, was aimed at seven to 11-year-olds, and is all about the “weird and wonderful world of science.” Dr Riley stated that, “as an experimental musician working in education, I was attracted to the idea of bringing Centrally Heated to the stage, and incorporating songs and flights of musical imagination with young people to help engage them in experiencing science in an enjoyable way.”

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Clare Williams appointed Dean of Research Professor Clare Williams, the current Deputy Head (Research) of the School of Social Sciences, has been appointed Dean of Research. Clare’s background is in medical sociology, with a particular interest in the social, ethical and clinical implications of innovative medical technologies. In her new role Clare will work closely with the Vice-Principal Research, Geoff Rodgers, supporting and implementing the University’s strategies in a range of areas including research information and data management; research ethics and integrity; research leave; open access and BURA. Commenting on her new role, Professor Rodgers said “I am delighted at Clare’s appointment. As we take forward our research agenda through the transformational change process, her support and leadership will be critical to ensuring our research is increasingly high quality, discoverable and engaged with the needs of wider society.” On 27 February, Professor Williams gave her inaugural lecture ‘Born This Way? Selective reproduction and new medical technologies’ in the Eastern Gateway Building, in which she discussed questions about religion, culture, law in relation to new reproductive technologies.

Brunel Professor advises Ed Miliband on how to create people powered public services Professor Peter Beresford, Director of the Centre For Citizen Participation, School of Health Sciences and Social Care, was invited to a round table discussion with Labour leader Ed Miliband to discuss public, patient and user involvement in public services. This was ahead of Miliband’s appearance on The Hugo Young Lecture at the Guardian. Champion of user involvement in health and social care, Professor Beresford has led research in this field over the last two decades. As detailed in Brunel’s latest REF submission, his research has been key to refining how Government ensures people are at the heart of the social care they receive through the Personalisation agenda. More recently, Professor Beresford has been critical of how

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the Government has implemented this new approach, particularly how it is currently determined who should qualify for social care support and how much support should be provided. This is something Professor Beresford explored at the Fundamental Reform of Social Care Law event with the Government’s Voice for Older People, Dame Joan Bakewell DBE, on 28 February. Professor Beresford said “Ed did seem to pick up on what we discussed, I was able to refer to research done at Brunel as well as my own experience as a long term mental health service user and as Chair of a national user led and disabled people’s organisation Shaping Our Lives.“

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Dr Karageorghis reveals science behind Spotify Ultimate Workout Playlist Drawing upon his long-running research programme into the psychological effects of music and an analysis of 6.7 million workout playlists conducted by market research team of the popular digital music service Spotify, Costas Karageorghis, Deputy Head (research) of the School of Sport and Education, has compiled the Ultimate Fitness Workout Playlist.

Women in Engineering Brunel’s Women in Engineering programme aims to help female graduates to attain their full potential in the engineering profession. The programme consists of financial help, personal professional development training, visits to industry and a mentoring scheme, which will provide opportunities for contact between students and senior women and men in the sector they have chosen to develop their careers. This programme aims to help women promote themselves as engineers, have a better understanding of the career paths and opportunities available, and develop a network of key contacts to help them succeed in their profession. For the academic year starting in September 2014, the Women in Engineering programme at Brunel University has forty scholarships for Home/EU applicants, covering both the MSc course fees of £7,750 and a living allowance of £15,000. Initial enquiries should be made to Mrs Petra Gratton, Programme Manager: omeninEngineering W +44 (0)1895 265814

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Dr Karageorghis crafted the playlist by considering the global popularity of contemporary tracks, along with their psychoacoustic properties (referring to the scientific study of the perception of sound), rhythmical qualities, tempo or beats per minute (bpm), and lyrical content. “My research group examined the effects of music on physical activity,” explains Dr Karageorghis, “using experimental techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), respiratory analysis and heart rate variability, as well a broad range of qualitative approaches such as observations, surveys and interviews. “A well-selected playlist,” he continues, “can modulate how you feel even at relatively high exercise intensities where there is a ceiling for music-tempo preference of approximately 140 bpm.” Dr Karageorghis describes a “sweet spot” for music in the exercise context associated with a tempo range of 120-140 bpm with “good psycho-biological and information processingrelated reasons for the efficacy of this narrow range.”

Dr Claire Donovan launches project evaluating social impact of EU research January marked the launch of IMPACT-EV, a four-year project to develop a permanent system of selection, monitoring, evaluation, and comparison of the impact and outcomes of European social sciences and humanities research. Led by Dr Claire Donovan from the Health Economics Research Group (HERG), the UK IMPACT-EV project team will apply state of the art quantitative and qualitative evaluation techniques. Project results will directly define the European Commission’s approach to evaluating the social impacts of the €50 billion investment in the 7th Framework Programme (2007-13) and the €80 billion investment in Horizon 2020 (2014-20). The research is funded by a €2.3 million grant under the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme. Dr Donovan is Co-investigator in a consortium spanning eight European countries. The EU has invested an enormous amount into social sciences and humanities research, and it needs a rigorous evaluation system to justify this and select the most promising areas to fund in the future. As Dr Donovan explains, “Evaluation has traditionally focused on the scientific impact of research publications, rather than the impact this science has on society. “The impact of the natural sciences has been highlighted while side-lining the impact in the social sciences and humanities.

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CCMR Seminar Series:


‘Culture Clashes’ In the first of the Centre for Culture, Media and Regulation (CCMR) seminar series ‘Culture Clashes’, Brunel Professors Will Self and Julian Petley joined Max Mosley and Jane Winter – both alleged victims of Press phone hacking – to discuss press regulation in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry. A substantial audience listened as Jane Winter, Director of the British Irish Rights Watch group, outlined her views on the problems of the current system, and made a firm plea for effective press self-regulation. Max Mosley, former president of the Formula One governing body, spoke about financial barriers that prevent individuals accessing justice: “Giving evidence to Leveson, I said that only 1% of people could afford to sue. How can you live under the rule of law if most of the population cannot afford to sue?” Professor Self argued that, despite the notion of a Free Press that we take for granted, the Press has never been completely free, and reminded the audience about issues of corruption in the police force and amongst politicians also relevant to the Inquiry, calling this combination a ‘pyramid of corruption’. Audience members challenged certain aspects of this pyramid, as well as commenting on the differences between statutory regulation and statutory arbitration.

The second seminar in the series, ‘The State versus the Media’, brought together investigative journalist Duncan Campbell and former Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) associate Michael Smith, for a discussion about the ramifications of global news events such as the revelations made by whistle-blower Edward Snowdon and the WikiLeaks website. Duncan outlined a history of the “dramatically increased scale of government surveillance” post-9/11, which he argued is “beyond the wildest dreams of anyone concerned with privacy and human rights.” “Surveillance is theft,” he concluded; “security is privacy.” Michael, author of several books on former-code-breaking centre Bletchley Park (B.P.), explained links between B.P. and current situations involving the National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ. He described Snowdon himself as “naive”, and his work as “useful for the British public,” if “damaging to security facilities.” Audience members asked about the levels of surveillance over banks, and the arguable relative lack of public outcry in the UK to increased surveillance compared to other nations. The seminar concluded with a debate on the role of ‘D-Notices’ that prohibit news editors from publishing material deemed a threat to National Security.

For more information about CCMR, please view their Brunel profile:

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Brunel’s Professor Ian Rivers recently completed The Uniform Bullying Definition Project for the US government to agree a consistent, country-wide definition of bullying that Individual states can opt to use in national surveillance surveys, including the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System and the Health Behaviors in School-age Children survey. Professor Rivers’ involvement in this important work will continue as the panel will meet regularly to refine this definition. In South Wales, mathematical modelling convinced managers that some of the UK’s poorest ambulance response times could be tackled effectively by speeding up hospital turnaround rather than increasing ambulance numbers. Mike Farrar, former Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, and Lord Norman Warner, former Health Minister for NHS reform, have both backed the use of computer modelling and simulations throughout the health service to develop new strategies, and avoid bed closures or service level changes. A report by the Cumberland Initiative, ‘Emergency Simulation – How modelling is resuscitating NHS Urgent & Unscheduled Care’, puts forward the case for computer modelling as a safe and inexpensive way of test driving innovative approaches. Millions of British young people are growing up in urban multi-faith communities but their views and opinions have been largely ignored, argues a new book, Youth On Religion by Brunel’s Nicola Madge, Peter J Hemming and Kevin Stenson, reporting on research led by Professor Madge. which examined the meaning of religion in young people’s lives, and the implications for social cohesion. Over 10,000 young people between the ages of 12 – 18 took part and included those from Muslim, Christian, Sikh, no-faith and other backgrounds.

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Volunteers Week Brunel Volunteering Week, in collaboration with One World Week and National Student Volunteering Week offered a week of one – off volunteering opportunities both on and off campus for staff and students. These opportunities included: Age UK’s Irish Social Club, repainting the churchyard at St John’s Church, becoming pen pals with the residents of Bridge House, allotment work with Green Corridor, running a Brunel American Football workshop at Uxbridge College, working with Creative Development Group to assist those with learning difficulties with their CVs and more.

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Winter Graduation Brunel’s first Winter Graduation Ceremonies were held on 19 December 2013, in Central Hall, Westminster. The prestigious venue in the heart of London, opposite the Houses of Parliament, provided an inspiring backdrop for the event. The two ceremonies hosted graduates from across the schools and departments; the event was primarily for postgraduate students.

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Behind the Scenes at…

Development and Alumni Relations Office From opening theatre companies in Dubai to appearing in BBC science programmes, Brunel graduates achieve success world-wide. Keeping up-to-date with the activities of alumni, and helping to establish and maintain links between them, is just one of the Development and Alumni Relations Office’s responsibilities, as Express discovers Behind the Scenes… The Development and Alumni Relations Office, consisting of seven people led by Director Clive Gee, is based on the first floor of the Wilfred Brown building. The alumni database, maintained by Hilary Whale and Lee Collins, holds entries on over 100,000 former Brunel students, dating back to the University’s founding in 1966 and beyond as the alumni family also includes graduates from Brunel’s predecessor institutions, such as Acton Technical College, Shoreditch, Maria Grey and Borough Road Colleges and the West London Institute of HE. Keeping the database up-to-date is important not just for legal reasons, but to ensure that, whenever someone in the University wishes to contact an alumnus – for example to invite them to an event – the individual’s details are accurate and they can be appropriately contacted.

Clive provides a personal contact for everyone interested in working on Made in Brunel (see pages 14-15) – an important annual showcase for design, engineering and innovation, that brings current students, alumni, industry and the public together. Some of the University’s funding for key projects comes from charitable donations, often made by alumni. It is therefore the job if Development Officers, Janie Grover and Leanne Moseley, to add to and co-ordinate Brunel’s relationships with an everincreasing list of over 2,000 donors. Every summer, the Office runs a telephone campaign that employs students to contact graduates who have advanced in their careers, as well as individuals who have previously indicated their interest in making potential donations. The campaign is managed by Alison

Russell, who works closely with the Development Officers Janie Grover and Leanne Moseley to ensure that opportunities identified during the campaign are followed up. These opportunities can be more than just financial as the team play a key role in developing relationships with organisations and companies who can offer placements, experience and mentoring support to the University. The Office focuses on the University’s key asset, students themselves, when fundraising, putting the money raised towards providing scholarships and bursaries. In 2013, the campaign’s 36 students raised £97,000 to support the Brunel community, especially by adding to the Brunel Scholarship Fund that enables bright and determined students to attend University who might not have been able otherwise. Donation money was recently used to fund opportunities such as the Urban Scholars programme and research into ovarian cancer, as well as to establish hardship funds offered by the University and UBS in partnership. s s s

The Office builds and maintains the alumni network in various ways. As well as producing Brunel Link Magazine, providing annual updates on the achievements of alumni, the

Office organises events that bring alumni together. Last year’s Creative Writing networking event, introduced former and current students, who gleaned advice from seasoned writers such as poet Benjamin Zephaniah.


A total of


total constituents

70, 000

active database entries


has been raised by

the Alumni Telephone Campaign (2011-2013)

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Percentage increase in number of donors in each of the last three years: 2010-11:

11.4% ; 2011-12: 5.2% ; 2012-13: 15.9%

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Hilary Whale – Alumni Database and Website Manager “I update and maintain the alumni database, and project-manage the redevelopment of the alumni website. I line-manage Lee Collins, the Database Assistant – we’re everything to do with data and maintaining relationships with our alumni. I manipulate and import new graduates’ data or feedback into the database, extract data for purposes like our annual telephone campaign or for Link, and process donations. I begin an average day dealing with requests to join our alumni Linkedin groups; process new signups to the website; and sometimes I send transcript requests to the appropriate Schools and departments. The most satisfying aspects are seeing the progress of the website and successfully completing the annual student cohort’s data, which can be fiddly. Sometimes it’s challenging to prioritise when everything’s coming in at once. I play squash, badminton and racquetball, and enjoy walking my pet whippet in Windsor Great Park!”

Leanne Moseley – Development Officer (Trusts and Foundations) “I focus on securing philanthropic funding from foundations, trusts and charities, trying to secure money for the University student support, infrastructure, and research. I source, identify and apply for grant opportunities, liaising with colleagues across the University – I wear a lot of different hats! We build potential fundraising opportunities and tailor our support depending on colleagues’ needs. Anyone seeking philanthropic income should contact us, as we can help to research opportunities and assist with the form filling. If you’re submitting an application, even if you do not require help, please let us know. Finding that match between the need and the source of funding is satisfying but can be difficult. Previously, I worked in project management as well as fundraising, so I really enjoy developing projects, securing funding and seeing them being delivered successfully. Travelling is my passion: my next trip is to Hong Kong and Indonesia.”

Victoria Noden – Alumni Officer “We want students to feel an affinity with us once they’ve left, so my role is to build mutually beneficial relationships with our ex-students, and keep them involved in the University after graduation. I organise alumni events such as the Creative Writing Networking Evening we held in November, and I produce the annual alumni magazine Brunel Link and a quarterly eNewsletter. I operate the Alumni Office social media Channels, and the general University LinkedIn channel. We have about 50,000 people on LinkedIn – mostly alumni, some staff. It’s very satisfying to help someone out, and receive positive feedback. Any communication with alumni needs to go through our Office – for data protection purposes primarily – but this doesn’t always happen. It’s important that people aren’t contacted if they do not wish to be and we are the only office to record these preferences. Sport, mainly running, fills my spare time – it’s a good way of de-stressing.”

Alison Russell – Development Office Manager “I’ve worked in this role for six years, taking over the telephone campaign two years ago. Day-to-day I deal with received donations, liaise with donors, send thank-you cards, manage budgets, and handle telephone queries. I produce Advancing Brunel, an annual publication that keeps donors up-to-date with where their money goes. Today I’m processing cheques through the database, and responding to their senders. We’re holding a donor event on 3 April, so I’m sending RSVPs, travel information, arranging hospitality, etc. I research potential donors and prospects interested in becoming involved. Donors are diverse – aged 28 to 80! I help at Graduation and Made in Brunel – it’s very satisfying meeting students this way. The telephone campaign is very rewarding, especially working alongside students who call potential donors.


I have a puppy named Mylo who we’re training. I also enjoy cooking, reading and interior design.”

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1 Brunel Authors Series

Warsan Shire, London’s Young Poet Laureate and African Poetry Prize winner for 2013, captivates her audience with her poetry in a Library-hosted event.

2 High Hopes:

Students release 100 balloons to launch the ‘Expect Respect’ campaign focused on respecting and celebrating individual differences.

3 One World Week

One World Week is a celebration of Brunel’s community through parades, performances, cultural exhibitions and workshops, debates and discussions, sport and activities.

4 VinyLive

These Brunel musicians star in an exciting new night of live music in the old Hayes vinyl factory on 25 March, performing everything from experimental electronic music using sewing machines to acoustic classical and jazz.






See your photos here! Want to see your images published in Express? Submit your best pictures of anything Brunel and you could see them in the Express gallery. Email your high resolution photos (ideally 1MB+) to or submit them on Brunel’s Flickr or Facebook pages. 5538 0314

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Express Issue 22 - Spring 2014  

The Staff and Student Community Magazine for Brunel University. Front cover image taken from photos captured by Computer Systems Engineering...

Express Issue 22 - Spring 2014  

The Staff and Student Community Magazine for Brunel University. Front cover image taken from photos captured by Computer Systems Engineering...