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Raising the quality bar in nuclear construction

nuclear construction
Dr Paul Hampton: ‘It’s vital that students can feel confident to seek out research’

Paul Hampton from the University of Wolverhampton tells Nicky Roger about his work to improve nuclear quality control management.

What are you working on at present?

I work on a broad range of research and knowledge exchange activities, but my current focus relates to digital, land remediation, fire safety and nuclear quality control management. These are four of our eight research and knowledge exchange themes, and close collaboration with industry and the sector is maintained.

Through utilisation of digital measurement software packages and modern scanning, drone technology and digital measurement techniques, the research ensures greater accuracy of measurement and 3D modelling and greater financial certainty.

Evidence suggests that between 10-25% greater accuracy can be gained via digital scanning. 

We have just signed a partnership with Nomitech. This will advance research into cost estimating, product development and ensure precise cost forecasting and environmental assessment for optimal project outcomes.

The next piece of research is to solve the national housing challenge. Working with regional and national industry partners, the National Brownfield Institute (NBI) team and I are evaluating the feasibility to unlock brownfield land within a reduced timeline. If successful, this will make a huge contribution.

In respect of the nuclear sector, I am proud to have researched, developed and delivered almost a decade of specialist courses relating to quality control management. This has advanced understanding of quality control processes, systems and increased ‘right first time’ quality control targets.

CV: Dr Paul Hampton

University of Wolverhampton

Jan 2022-present Head of school, Architecture and Built Environment
Jan 2016-present Head of built environment, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Jan 2008-present Senior lecturer and business development manager
1986-2008 Principal surveyor, Birmingham City Architects Department

Education

2011-16 Middlesex University, PhD in Architecture and the Built Environment

The research has advanced knowledge of nuclear delivery and the course secured a national award.

Working with the amazing Hinkley Point team, this will ensure best practices and knowledge advancement are transferred forward on to the Sizewell C project and practices are transferable into the UK nuclear roadmap.

Planning, programming and delivering a nuclear plant is a massive undertaking, and the opportunity to advance quality control management is stimulating and rewarding.

In fire safety I work with industry and manufacturers to develop new innovative responsive products.

One of the devices will aid faster response egress times for care home staff and occupants and increase evaluation times for phased or full evacuation. By integrating receiver devices into personal clothing, the devices are always at hand.

I am also working with a sprinkler firm, and a group of fire engineers, to better monitor smoke control via computer fluid modelling.

What is new about the research and knowledge exchange, compared to past work on this topic?

The research looks to advance opportunities to work alongside industry and commerce and solve some of the key issues that prohibit advancement of innovative business.

Working with business partners in the UK and Hong Kong, it provides confidence in digital measurement, and increases cost estimating by approximately 20%, giving clients advanced financial intelligence.

The specialist nuclear delivery courses secured a national award

In the nuclear sector I am also working with the team on advanced techniques in specialist reactor quality designs. This is in the early stages but will advance quality in design, monitoring and delivery.

The research will also allow retrospective evaluation into past reactor failure. There are numerous lessons to be learnt. The development of ‘virtual reactor modelling’ will significantly increase knowledge and advance development of safety in design, construction and operation.

How important is it to bring industry experience into the lecture theatre?

Having transferred across from industry to academia, I feel the ideal solution is to secure a balance of research-led and industry-led curriculum development. Any opportunity to cite real project experiences and refer to case studies of good and bad practices is both informative and impactful.

Importantly, it’s vital that students can feel confident to seek out research and knowledge located in research. Through reference to real-life industry case studies, this encourages a greater depth and breadth of knowledge and application of knowledge.

How wide is the gap between academic research and industrial application?

Various stakeholders have differing opinions on this matter. My personal view is that the gap is narrowing. To succeed, it requires dedication and a commitment from both sides to expand their engagement and work closely on projects such as knowledge partnership/knowledge transfer engagement.

As an example, I have been actively promoting attendance of industry practitioners to a global conference, Construction in the 21st Century (CITC).

This conference was historically a meeting of academic minds and sharing of best practice. With the introduction of industry and commerce, this has driven forward knowledge exchange and research collaborations.

If you’re interested in academic membership visit www.ciob.org/membership/become-a-member/educator.

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