Archive for September 25, 2015

Salford research analyses the impact of the Conservative Trade Union Bill

Proposals to introduce tougher regulations on industrial action ballots would make it extremely difficult for many trade unions to mount strikes as a means of challenging employers in national negotiations and government-initiated austerity measures, albeit with significant variations across sectors, unions and ballots, according to new preliminary research carried out by Professor Ralph Darlington, Professor of Employment Relations and Director of Postgraduate Research at Salford Business School.


Clever Classrooms report is Green Gown Awards finalist

Professor Peter Barrett’s work on Clever Classrooms in Sustainable Schools has been recognised by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) Green Gown Awards 2015.

Now in its 11th year, the Green Gown Awards initiative recognises the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK.


ESRC grant awarded to SoBE for Urban Transformation project

A project led by a School of the Built Environment academic has been awarded part of a £3m funding package from the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

The funding has been awarded to four studies, which aim to encourage better understanding of cities and the complex role they play in society.


Presidency for Health Sciences honorary Chair

Dr David Brettle from our School of Health Sciences, has recently been appointed President of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) at the organisation’s annual conference in Liverpool.

IPEM is a charity, learned society and professional body whose aims are to promote Medical Physics and Engineering for public, and ultimately, patient benefit.


Research has enhanced quality of life for arthritis patients

Research carried out by academic colleagues has helped to enhance quality of life for arthritis patients.

With one in five of the adult population in the UK living with arthritis, self-management education is a key support approach used by occupational therapists (OTs).

Professor Alison Hammond, from the School of Health Sciences, has worked on improving the tools available to OTs to deliver more effective self-management education.

This involved supporting patients in managing their pain and fatigue, improving their psychological resilience, helping them to remain in work and continue taking part in leisure activities.

There was also a focus on supporting OTs in delivering effective self-management services and improving the availability of self-management services for people with arthritis, through evidence-informed policy and strategy.

Programmes used by Alison to train more than 200 OTs are now being used in rheumatology departments across England, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Evaluations have shown that the training programme increases confidence in teaching, using cognitive-behavioural approaches.

Alison and colleagues have also developed and tested a brief work rehabilitation programme to support employed people with arthritis remaining in work;  are developing outcome measures for use in Rheumatology OT; and conducting trials of hand therapies in arthritis.

Between 0.5 and one per cent of the population suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which causes significant pain, debilitating fatigue, joint deformity and psychological distress.

RA affects people’s abilities to perform everyday activities and causes work disability, which can reduce financial status.

Alison was a member of the NICE Guideline Development Group, which defined national guidelines for  the management of rheumatoid arthritis in adults.

The guidelines include the recommendation that people with RA should have access to specialist rheumatology OT for assessment and periodic review for patients experiencing problems with everyday activities.

Funding to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in Uganda

Chair of Social Policy, Professor Louise Ackers’ health partnership project has been awarded £200,000 by the Department for International Development (DFID) to help improve healthcare in Uganda.

The grant follows a number of successful projects, which have helped to send healthcare experts to Uganda and establish biomedical engineering as a profession within the country.

One of Professor Ackers’ previous projects, the ‘Sustainable Volunteers Project’, funded by DFID and the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET), has helped send around 50 healthcare experts to Uganda to train medical staff.

One healthcare expert, Dr Robert Ssekitoleko, a Ugandan-born and British-trained biomedical engineer was able to travel to Uganda as part of the project and has played a key role in securing this £200,000 DFID grant. Currently, much of the technology that is used in Ugandan hospitals is obsolete or damaged and generally those employed to fix specialist medical equipment are handypeople or electricians.  Since 2013 Robert has trained Ugandan healthcare staff in how to properly repair vital medical equipment used in maternal and new-born health.

The ultimate aim of the project is to ensure Ugandan healthcare staff are equipped with the skills to take on the healthcare challenges facing the nation.

Following the grant announcement, Professor Louise Ackers said: “The initial aim of the work we are doing in Uganda was focussed on stopping mothers dying during childbirth.  That is why this grant is so important; it will help us save lives.

‘Partnership is central to everything we do. It’s great that this support allows us to continue to work in close collaboration with our partners at home and in Uganda.  We are now able to extend the reach of the project beyond maternal and new-born health to all clinical areas, positively impacting on more people’s lives.”

University of Salford helps to make Dyson appliances quieter

The University is helping Dyson’s pioneering engineers to ‘listen’ to products before they have even made them.

The Acoustics Research Group led by Prof Andy Moorhouse the Acoustics Research Group have focused their unique expertise on the next generation of quiet appliances being developed by the world-famous British company.

They recently won funding from the UK government agency Innovate UK to work with the technology firm headed by James Dyson, inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner.

The Salford team are using a technique called auralisation – the simulation of sounds – making it possible to ‘hear’ what noise sources will sounds like in varying conditions. The developed ‘hybrid virtual acoustic prototype’ will first be applied to Dyson’s range of desktop fans.

Hugh Hopper, Project Manager at Dyson said: “The direct and obvious benefit of working towards ‘zero prototyping’ is that it will reduce the cost and time associated with building and testing the physical prototypes. The use of the tools developed in this project will also allow a better understanding of the acoustic behaviour of our products, so that we can quickly identify issues and simulate possible solutions.’

“The idea is to work out acoustic properties of components and their characteristics and put them together virtually by a process involving measurement and modelling. For Dyson, there are literally thousands of combinations of components, all of which have different implications for the acoustics of a manufactured product.

The University is funded to the tune of £130k for the project from Innovate UK and the Research Councils UK.

Industry award for acoustics engineers

Throwing noisy barbells around in gyms may be good for your health – but spare a thought for the neighbours!

Noise and nuisance caused by the proliferation of gyms in apartment blocks is causing a backlash with neighbours complaining of vibrating floors and walls, noise from loud music and the crashing of weights.

In the US, clashes have already reached the courts with gyms facing enforcement orders and even eviction.

Now engineers at the University of Salford in partnership with Hoare Lea Acoustics have developed a better way to predict the decibel count in and around gyms before the equipment moves in.

And the project has received professional acclaim as one of six UK winners in the national Acoustics and Noise Consultants Awards 2015.

The university’s Dr Andrew Elliott, a vibro-acoustics researcher, and associates at Hoare Lea worked on a project for the budget fitness firm The Gym Group, which has 60 gyms and 350,000 customers in the UK.

The new method predicts sound and vibration with modelling techniques without the need to measure actual installations in situ. The technique can be used in many other fields of application and demonstrates a significant advance in analysis methods for building noise.

Judges said the consultancy experience with academic research was a “winning combination”, which was a clever way of dealing with difficult structures. “This work represents acoustic consultancy at its best,” they said.

Consultant Martin McNulty of Hoare Lea is himself a University of Salford alumnus, graduating in 2005 with a MSc in Acoustics.

Robotics researchers star at MediaCityUK Industry event

ROBOTICS engineers from the University of Salford were prominent players at a major industry day at MediaCityUK on Friday, September 4.

Led by Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani, Dr Steve Davis and Dr Adham Atyabi the team showcased cutting edge research in ‘soft robotics’ industrial automated systems and robotics for healthcare and assisted living.

Their work featured on the BBC, Sky News and Granada and Professor Meziani – a key player in regional research and development – was interviewed by the broadcasters.

Salford University is part of the Northern Robotics Network – which launched at the event at Salford’s MediaCityUk campus on Friday, September 4. The Network brings together research institute and universities and high tech businesses in the region and grew out of the GAMMA project to revolutionise manufacturing processes in the aerospace industry.

8 great technologies

Professor Nefti-Meziani said: “Prime Minister David Cameron described robotics as one of the eight great technologies of the future and one, we believe, will emerge as a powerhouse for the North.

“To fulfil this potential, we need a forum in which to work together and that is what we hope to achieve with the Northern Robotics Network.”

The University has been at the forefront of Robotics since 1987 when it was chosen as the site of the United Kingdom’s National Advanced Robotics Research Centre and has led projects for DEFRA and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Friday’s event, opened by DVC (for Research Professor Nigel Mellors and entitled Powering Productivity included speakers and exhibitors from Siemens, Rolls Royce, ABB, Festo, the National Nuclear Laboratory and more than 30 SMEs.


Academic appointed to chair Breast Cancer Care partnership

Congratulations to Dr Julie Wray, who has been appointed Chair of Service User Research Partnership (SURP) with support charity Breast Cancer Care.SURP – a group of eight people who have each had a direct experience of breast cancer – ensures that Breast Cancer Care’s research agenda is driven by the needs and experiences of people affected by the disease.

Julie, Senior Lecturer from the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences, has been committed to driving the research agenda to ensure that the needs of breast cancer survivors after treatment are explored to improve life after cancer.

She has been involved in a project that aims to develop an intervention that will improve the emotional, social and practical wellbeing of women from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds after they complete hospital-based treatment for primary breast cancer.

The group, now chaired by Julie, works closely with Breast Cancer Care’s Research and Evaluation team and Research Committee to ensure that the patient experience is at the core of planning, design, delivery and dissemination of the charity’s research activity.

Julie said: “The work and services that Breast Cancer Care undertakes for those affected by breast cancer is amazing, but there is always more to do.

“In this role, I hope to be able to work with SURP to make a difference to the kind of research that is undertaken but more importantly that good research is used to improve and shape the lives of those affected by breast cancer.

“I am proud to be yet another voice of the thousands of voices that volunteer for breast cancer care.”

For more information on SURP, please visit