About the Exhibition

This exhibition presents the work of current EngD students on the Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualization course. Each student introduces their work in progress towards their individual research goals, which represent a cross section of multi-stranded concerns, ranging from computer vision and real-time rendering to simulation and design optimization. The problems addressed by the students often overlap fields of expertise such as computer science, architecture, engineering and complex systems science. By exhibiting the work in the same space together it is hoped that a dialogue between disciplines will emerge that is engaging and relevant and whose interventions straddle both the physical and the virtual realms.

[Anthony Steed - EngD VEIV Director, Computer Science]  

At one level, the technologies of virtual environments, imaging and visualisation are nothing but tools to aid understanding. Within the EngD centre, students are educated to exploit these tools within a broad range of engineering disciplines. With the EngD VEIV we help students develop both core research skills, and a broad sensitivity to the role of research in engineering development processes. Thus, whilst the students' research is equal in complexity and depth to that undertaken on a traditional PhD, because EngD students work closely with a sponsoring company and because there is specific training, they are more aware of the value and role of research to modern companies and modern society.

To create this awareness, the EngD, unlike other doctorates, has a training component, that forces students to work outside of their native discipline; be this computer science students being challenged to work to design briefs, or architecture students working on collaborative software development projects. We also provide opportunities, through the UCL collaboration with the London Business School, to have EngD students see their research evaluated and challenged in a broader business context.

The role of computer science in the EngD is to train toolsmiths with the capability to show new solutions and new opportunities for the use of imagery. A flavour of the potential impact can be seen from the breadth of EngD projects, which range from high performance character animation for the games industry to real-time vision for vehicle steering.

Overall, the aim of the EngD programme is to allow students to do excellent collaborative, inter-disciplinary research. The industrial collaboration allows students and their academic supervisors access to resources, facilities and support within industry that would otherwise be unavailable and it allows the companies access to world-class research groups in academia.

[Alan Penn - EngD VEIV Deputy Director, Bartlett]  

An EngD is a gold plated PhD with knobs on (or perhaps with the rough edges knocked off). Because an EngD is problem driven and relates directly to a sponsoring organisation's business, it is a doctorate in which you cannot get away with narrowing your focus to exclude the facts that don't fit neatly within a given world view. An EngD tackles real problems in all their messiness and complexity, and searches for practical solutions. In doing this it is bound to make fundamental scientific discoveries, but always those which have a positive impact.

The range of EngD projects within UCL's VEIV Centre is phenomenal due to the Centre being collaborative between the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Engineering and the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies in the Faculty of the Built Environment. The collaboration is not a marriage of convenience, but a result of many years of joint research activity. Perhaps surprisingly, advanced computing and architectural design share much in common and are increasingly becoming integrated both practically and theoretically. Each field comprises dynamic and complex systems of which people and organisations form an integral part.

Architecture has had centuries in which to develop methods of designing for complex, multi-factorial and dynamic human systems. It does this through by fostering advanced communities of practice through a unique educational system. Today it would not be able to do manage without the use of advanced computing, visualisation, optimisation and computer aided manufacturing; similarly, the leading edge of computing research deals with human and organisational factors, as well as the rapidly disappearing boundary between computation, communication, the built environment and human users. The theoretical insights into human and social systems and their relationship to the design of the environment that come from architecture now play an important role in the development of our understanding of new generations of virtual environments and pervasive computing. The EngD programme, sitting on the edge between these two disciplines as well as between the world of business and the world of theoretical and experimental research, takes advantage of a unique perspective to pursue highly original research.