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Collaboration, innovation and sustainability: creating Durham's Energy Systems Management programme

Collaboration, innovation and sustainability

By Dr Joanna Berry, November 2021

Dr Joanna Berry talks about working with Boeing and developing an exciting new interdisciplinary degree with the Engineering Department and the Business School.

The last two years have emphasised the challenges facing global aviation - rebuilding after the Covid-19 pandemic is coupled with the need to accelerate the decarbonisation of aviation, in order to ensure a safe and sustainable future for the sector and wider society. Creating sustainable solutions requires new and innovative answers, with collaboration at the heart of the process.

The Business School has always prided itself on working collaboratively and we have worked with Boeing over the last decade. We represented this collaboration when we attended the Boeing Innovation Forum at Glasgow Airport in early October. This was an opportunity to show Boeing's other industry partners how we have worked together to build innovative thinking across the organisation to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing aviation landscape.

Glasgow was gearing up for COP26. Security guards were everywhere and the 350+ delegates were carefully screened - particularly important when Scotland's First Minister and Sir Martin Donnelly, President of Boeing Europe, were in the same room!

My colleague, Masters student Dylan McCleaft, and I were inundated with visitors as we discussed the tailored management development programme the School has run for Boeing over the last three years, the executive MBA and DBA, and student projects and internships contributing to the eco-Demonstrator parked outside on the tarmac.

Our academics collaborate with Boeing in early-stage innovation thinking across a range of business ideas, resulting in product and business developments including disruption management, digital NOTAMS, fuel management, and gate turnaround management.

Our Durham Energy Institute (DEI) colleagues deliver leadership and solutions for energy decarbonisation and the transition to net-zero that is so critical to the COP26 agenda. Interdisciplinary research exploring solutions to make offshore wind more affordable and a reliable source of energy, exploiting geothermal energy from redundant mine workings and driving forward the UK hydrogen revolution are just some ways that they are moving this forward. Working closely with the DEI, and through intense collaboration between the Engineering Department and the Business School, Dr Grant Ingram and I have created the new Master of Energy Systems Management (MESM), which is looking forward to its first cohort in September 2022.

This full-time programme, for the first time, brings together these two critical disciplines in a specially designed, customised and innovative new programme. It has been specifically created to inspire and inform a new generation of students, through collaboration across both the University and our international industry partners. Our students will emerge from the programme uniquely capable of translating between the two worlds of business and of engineering practice, informed by the latest in theoretical excellence, to take their place in global companies increasingly under pressure to find creative, innovative ways to go further than simply reaching net-zero.

The Strategic Business and Engineering Project, which completes the programme, is an opportunity for each student to undertake an industry-focused, academically supervised practical piece of work of their own design. Each project will be rigorously vetted and overseen by a University supervisor and monitored by an industry partner, and will ultimately equip each student with a superb, live case study for their portfolio as well as being of practical assistance to the client company.

COP26 may come and go, but the climate change agenda and UN Strategic Development Goals remain critically important to all political and practical agenda. Grant and I are proud to be contributing to this ongoing work through the MESM programme and welcome any questions and enquiries about it.

More information on how to contact Dr Joanna Berry.

More about the innovative new Master of Energy Systems Management.