On 22-25 June 2021, students and staff from the Water-WISER CDT gathered at Cranfield University for our first in-person event since the pandemic began.
The ‘Challenge Event’ normally focuses on activities designed to give students skills in problem-solving, team working and networking, in a variety of outdoor settings. The annual event brings together the full cohort of students from each university – Leeds, Loughborough, Cranfield.
For this event the challenge was to develop a session for the international WEDC Conference where the Water-WISER CDT has been invited to promote its work. However, it soon became apparent that the main value of the event was simply to allow CDT researchers to interact as human beings after more than a year stuck online. Students who had been struggling to make progress while remote working received a big boost to their confidence, and all reported on the value of being able to meet CDT academics from each university informally over meals and while moving around the campus to go on tours.
The team visited the site of ancient Flitwick Mill (receiving an impromptu open-air lecture from the miller); and investigated the catchment of the ‘mighty’ Flit, including the beautiful Flitwick Moor SSSI. CDT researchers were also given a tour of the Cranfield Pilot Hall and water treatment facilities, including viewing the current experimental work of the CDT researchers who are based at Cranfield. Delegates also enjoyed a DIY barbecue at a local Girl Guides venue (a hut in the woods), and a typical English picnic (cloudy, drizzly, somewhat bracing).
The event was by no means easy to organise, so thanks go to the Senior Management team at Cranfield for accommodating the group, and to the Health & Safety teams at each University who helped advise on COVID-19 safety.