Abstract guidance for the Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET)

Examples of previous abstracts to inspire you to take part in the 2019 UWE Bristol Student Conference – the deadline for submissions is midnight on Friday 25 January 2019.

What to include

An abstract is a short summary of the work you wish to present, and should be a maximum of 250 words. Many of you will be submitting your abstracts when your work is incomplete.

As this is a multi-disciplinary conference, you should aim to write your abstract so it’s accessible for a broad audience. You should:

  • make a clear statement of the overall project aim or purpose
  • highlight your research approach and methods
  • state your findings (or anticipated findings at this point)
  • highlight possible conclusions and implications of your research/enquiry/evidence-based practice or service improvement.

Example abstracts from previous years

The examples below demonstrate how students in the past have presented their work, at various stages of completion, in their abstracts.

Testing for equal variances in a statistical no man’s land

Annalise Thompson: Engineering Design and Mathematics

There are a number of well-established statistical tests which can be used to examine whether the variance of two independent samples is equal. There are also well-established tests for equality of variances in paired samples. However, not all data falls neatly into the category of independent samples or dependent and, in this instance, the data is known to some as being ‘partially overlapping’.

There is no agreed method for comparing the variance of data for partially overlapping samples. This project aims to introduce new tests for assessing equality of variances when the data is partially overlapping.

This research will use simulations to test whether new partially-overlapping samples t-tests are better at determining whether variances are equal compared with well-established tests for equality of variances. It is expected that the partially overlapping samples T-tests will be better at determining whether or not variances are equal as they have been specifically designed for the case of partially overlapping data.

The research further considers four variations of the partially overlapping test statistics, each of which draws on existing tests in its formulation. Should these tests perform as expected, they will provide a more powerful method for comparing variances than any of those which have been previously suggested and provide a test that can be used with confidence.

Designing a flexible matrix composite morphing skin for plane wings

Rafael Heeb: Engineering, Design and Mathematics

During take-off and landing aircraft require high lift devices, such as leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps, in order to generate extra lift. These devices generate significant amounts of turbulence (drag), produced by the gaps between the main wing and the high lift devices.

Morphing wings can actively or passively change their shape so that aerodynamic performance is optimised during the required flight mission. Early forms of this concept were adopted in the first motor powered flight by the Wright brothers. A significant amount of research has gone into finding ways to design such wings. However, one area that has seen comparatively little research is the skin that goes over the wing. A requirement is that there are no discontinuities of the skin in order to reduce turbulence.

Morphing skins have to undergo large in-plane deformation when they are actuated, whilst withstanding out-of plane aerodynamic forces. The skin that is being developed in this research is made from two components. An underlying part, made from a corrugated structure developed by ETH Zürich, will take the main aerodynamic loading.

The second part is the top layer skin, which is made from a flexible matrix composite. This must be designed such that the deformation from aerodynamic loading is very minimal, whilst keeping the actuation force as small as possible. This is achieved by altering the carbon fibre orientation within the skin. Wind tunnel and static tests are used to gather data on whether the skin can be actuated with less force.

Intensive agriculture and water quality: The Komati River, Swaziland

Deborah Smith: Geography and Environmental Management

This research investigates the impacts of commercial scale sugarcane plantations on the water quality of the Komati River, Swaziland. The growth of irrigated sugarcane in a monoculture can cause a reduction in soil quality, increasing the need to apply fertilisers which can pollute nearby water sources. Remote sensing was used to establish a sampling frame, to map and quantify intensities of land use along the river, and to identify safe access points.

A sampling point upstream of the Maguga Dam, where agricultural practices were low or non-existent, established a water quality control. Water samples were collected downstream of the dam where the land use of farming either side of the river became more intensive, the last sample being taken at Mananga Bridge before the river enters South Africa. Water was tested for the macronutrients of nitrate, phosphate, and potassium, which are the main fertilisers applied on the sugarcane plantations. Levels of nutrients in the water were measured using a Palintest photometer. Statistical analysis showed phosphate and nitrate levels increased in a downstream direction along with land intensity. Potassium levels indicated no clear trend. A research extension indicated that the use of reed beds could be used to reduce high nitrate levels in the water, reducing pollution levels.

The potential impact of Brexit on hotel investment in the UK

Estelle Murer: Architecture and the Built Environment

In 2015, UK hotel investment was booming and surpassed pre-financial crisis levels. However, when Prime Minister David Cameron announced the EU referendum in February 2016, investment paused and only a few hotel transactions were completed before 23 June. The vote result emerged and a few months later the weak pound had helped increase overseas visitor numbers to the UK, along with increased British ‘staycations’ due to their reduced purchasing power abroad. As a result, hotel bookings experienced steady growth, but investors remained reluctant to invest. The hotel investment market stagnated for a time and finally gained some momentum in the fourth quartile of 2016.

The uncertainty caused by Brexit is still impacting UK hotel investment volumes. Some investors are looking for opportunities elsewhere in Europe, while others are continuing to invest, hoping for a positive outcome for the industry post-Brexit. New players have also entered the market, looking for opportunistic deals.

The aim of this research is to identify what type of properties are set to benefit from the impact Brexit has on hotel trading performance, based on their location, operating structure, tenure, size, source market and star rating. While there is much speculation in the industry about the impact of Brexit, there has been little academic analysis.

Furthermore, property-related firms have produced some research but it often reflects the opinion/vision of a single type of stakeholder and can be biased by the strategic need to paint a positive picture of the industry. This research aims to provide industry stakeholders with an impartial 360 vision of the UK hotel market in the context of Brexit, which should help them to plan for and deliver a positive future.

Earn my steps: Walk further and get rewarded for it

Teodora Muresan, Sintija Linuza, Kelly Copas and Theng Yen Chen: Computer Science and Creative Technologies

Earn My Steps is a user experience (UX) research project investigating transport choices of students and staff at UWE Bristol and designing a system to encourage people to choose a more sustainable option. The design brief was to meet the objectives of increasing physical activity and/or reducing unnecessary car trips.

In the beginning, we established students’ motivations for choosing to use certain modes of transport. Using qualitative research methods, we carried out user interviews and user observation, and we analysed resultant data using thematic analysis. As a result, we directed our focus towards walking as an alternative transport method to taking the bus. We found that a majority of students can walk but need motivation in order to do so. See our blog.  

We also found that UWE Bristol is encouraging students to walk to university and are offering promotions. Taking inspiration from FitBit, our idea is to have an app that tracks the amount of steps taken and calories burnt daily by the user to earn discounts for healthy goods sold on campus. Based on a reward system, it will help students save money, and will ultimately encourage walking as a sustainable mode of transport. The app would only be available for UWE Bristol staff and students and so they would need to log in using their UWE Bristol email address and password.

The process of transferring our paper prototype into digital form started by searching online for design inspiration through looking at similar apps already available. We also looked at the different kinds of fonts, illustrations, and colours used in fitness apps. Consequently, we have now produced a digital interactive prototype using InVision software demonstrating our anticipations for the app.

Bristol Bike: developing a mobile app to encourage regular exercise

Adam Charvat, Francis Desmind, Filip Zukowski, Ethan Venencia and Alexander Good: Computer Science and Creative Technologies

‘Bristol Bike’ is a mobile application proposal, combining cycling with GPS-based technological possibilities and gaming elements, which aims to encourage regular activity. It is aimed not only at promoting cycling, but also reducing emissions, educating users about cycling safety and maintenance techniques, encouraging more people to use their bikes as a preferred transport method, and bringing a completely new perspective to cycling by adding our unique gaming techniques. Such elements include levels, experience points, daily or weekly challenges, badges and competitions.

This proposal to Bristol City Council would allow us to endorse our app and spread awareness throughout Bristol for what our city has to offer, from its landmarks, sights, points of interest and local businesses, using fun and progressive gamified elements that encourage our users to visit these various locations, receiving points and redeemable incentives in doing so.

Despite vast improvements in cycling infrastructure in many cities across the UK, the majority of citizens still don't cycle to work, to school or to the shops, etc. and cycling is very much a marginal form of transport. Our research draws attention to the fact that in 2015, 15% of the population cycle at least once per month (ONS). This figure is considerably lower than we expected and we thought about solutions to raise this percentage. Our team looked at current initiatives put in place to promote cycling. We studied various cycling apps and schemes focusing on their strengths and how we could go about improving them with a new gamified approach.

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