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The Doctoral Loan - new for 2018!

The Doctoral Loan - new for 2018!

June 21, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Are you considering studying for a postgraduate research degree? The UK Government has recently introduced a new loan for doctoral researchers to help fund a PhD. Continue reading

Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

June 21, 2018 Sian Leatherland

On Friday 22 June, our Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, Professor Helen Drake, is a guest speaker at a media briefing in London.  Continue reading

New research collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

June 21, 2018 Ursula Davis

On the 2nd April, Araz Zirar and I (Ursula Davis, pictured below with Dr Choudhary and Professor Shankar, front row middle) had the opportunity to visit the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi. Our host was the newly appointed Honorary Visiting Professor in Decision Sciences, Professor Ravi Shankar, and what a wonderful and attentive host he was.

The main focus of our visit was to take part in a two-day workshop entitled “Decision Sciences for Sustainable Business”, where research was shared and discussed between ourselves and doctoral research students from IIT.

The Loughborough – IIT Delhi research group

The workshop showcased the range of research including food security, sustainable freight transportation, energy efficiency, big data analytics, Industry 4.0 and resilient supply chains being undertaken in the Department for Management Science at IIT, and it was a success with many relationships formed.

During our time at IIT we learned much about the Indian culture and especially the academic culture, where doctoral researchers are welcomed into something resembling a family.

We engaged in many discussions with scholars, from methodology to practical importance, and we were able to gain an understanding of the ongoing research and discuss a number of potential research directions.

IIT provided the perfect platform to share different intellectual insights and help develop potential research questions. As a result, we were able to develop a couple of research questions linked to our PhDs, which we take forward to sustain our collaboration.

Whilst the workshop was the focus, the real highlight was the cultural experience we had! After several days of research-orientated work, we had the pleasure of being taken on a tour of New Delhi. It is incredible how much culture resides in the capital, and even more incredible how much we managed to see in one day: Qutab Minar (an incredible 73m tower whose true purpose is shrouded in mystery), Lotus temple (the last temple of the Bahai in the world) and Humayun’s tomb (our favourite location and the inspiration for the Taj Mahal).

Humayun’s Tomb

As the sun was beaming down on us, we continued our day’s sightseeing with a visit to the Red Fort, an impressive structure built to protect the Mughal inhabitants, where local children treated us as minor celebrities asking for photographs.

Before visiting Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, we stopped for lunch in Karim’s which is said to be one of the best restaurants in the area. We visited a number of other locations including Jantar Mantar, the Railway museum and then the impressive Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, a truly impressive once residence turned Gurudwara, named after the eighth Sikh Guru. Exposure to the Sikh religion was incredible, for this is a site of holy pilgrimage, and there were countless people dipping into the water.

We finished the day at India Gate, an impressive war memorial commemorating the lives lost of Indian soldiers in the First World War. The horde of people congregating at the base of this structure was fascinating, highlighting just how important culture and history is in India.

After a long day shrouded in culture we were tired yet enthralled. Rightly so, as the following day we took the three-and-a-half hour journey to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. It is as you would expect, indescribable and unfathomably stunning. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive, and symmetrical, structures I have ever seen. The detailing of the white marble was beautiful, it is easy to see how this is a story of love, for years of devotion went into its construction.

Taj Mahal

Having basked in the beauty of the Taj Mahal we travelled to Agra Fort, another impressive red sandstone structure built to protect its inhabitants when Agra was once the capital of India. Standing on the balcony and looking out, you can see the Taj Mahal in the distance, and looking to the Emperor Jahangir’s seat you can see a large crack where it was rumoured a British canon was fired and the canon ball cracked the bench, bounding off and hitting the wall of the nearby structure.

We were truly lucky to have had the opportunity to visit such a welcoming group of people, to experience their culture, make lasting relationships and learn how PhD students survive in the heat!  We are extremely grateful to both Loughborough University and to IIT Delhi for facilitating this visit, as well as to the Loughborough University Doctoral College for providing funding to this international exchange programme, and we look forward to welcoming visiting IIT students in the future.

This Blog post was written by Ursula Davis, a doctoral student in the Management Science and Operations discipline group. Ursula can be reached on u.davis@lboro.ac.uk

Perception vs reality: Do we really understand holistic measures such as customer experience?

June 19, 2018 Ondine Barry

Over the years, academics and practitioners have been heavily debating the understanding of holistic measures such as customer experience. Whilst practitioners argue that academics complicate these measures; academics, on the other hand, think the industry is not handling such measures correctly.

Let’s take a second to understand this debate below: How many times in a day we hear the following statements in the tabloids or from a friend:

“This store has a better customer experience.”

or

 “What? That’s really bad and weird. Maybe the staff was having an off-day?”

or

I had an amazing experience there – I did not want to leave.”

The debate about whether these statements are true or not can go for hours, but the real question is: Do we really understand which experience we are talking about?

From an academic perspective, holistic measures such as customer experience are multi-dimensional in nature. This means that within a measure itself, there are several embedded dimensions and each act independently. To make accurate judgments, we need to understand the influence of each dimension and specify its effect on the holistic measure rather than treating it as one big ‘thing’.

In theory, customer experience consists of several dimensions that academics introduced over the years. These dimensions include cognitive, affective, social, emotional, physical and spiritual. Theoretically speaking, each dimension can have a different effect on customer experience measure. However, we find ourselves treating customer experience as one ‘thing’.

From an industry perspective, holistic measures such as customer experience merely represent some overall impression consumers formulate about a particular thing (for example: you can rate your experience on a scale of 1 – 5).

When we deal with holistic measures in this way, we are likely to make inaccurate judgments. Therefore, the issue with the lack of detail to the dimensions of holistic measures can be explained using this store example:

You need shoes for an event you have this weekend. You search for stores nearby and you find one with 4/5 stars by 30 reviewers – and you think great, let’s go. You walk into the store and it’s beautiful. It looks good and smells nice. The flow of the store is perfect. You touch the clothes and you think “wow, this is nice,” and then you see shoes and the price is perfect (They are meant for you!!).

You look around for a staff member and see them all huddled into a circle gossiping. So you wait. And wait. Ten minutes pass by and you finally call out to one of them, but the staff ignore you. So you follow one and ask for your shoe size. They say they’ll check in the back. They go to the back, but they never come back out.

If you manage to buy the shoes, you probably might be happy with your overall experience with the store. But what if you don’t? How would you describe your experience there?

Imagine after that experience, the store emails you to rate your overall customer experience out of 5-point scale. Let’s say you give 4 out 5. The marketing team analysing these results might not really understand why you deducted a point because they don’t know which dimension of the customer experience they underperformed in. As a result, the marketing team could make adjustments to fix the situation based on what they think is right rather than what the consumers really think.

However, if you were asked about your social experience and emotional experience and cognitive experience for example, you would probably be able to provide more accurate information about each dimension of the customer experience in the store. Consequently, due to the detailed information the store received, it can work on improving the weaker dimensions.

For that reason, it is important that we understand which dimension of the customer experiences we are looking into before reading customer reviews on social media.

One can therefore assume that the problem not only resides within the dimensionality of holistic measures but also with their definitions. In academia or industry, it is rare to find a ubiquitous definition of holistic measures such as customer experience. We normally tend to find variations in the definitions based on the perceptions of people defining them. For example, when we discuss customer experience, we realise that several definitions exist in the marketing and retailing discipline because each definition was developed based on different theories (service quality, consumer behavior, marketing and retail, etc.).

Now, I want you to think of this question: When measuring customer experience for a particular store, would you rather define customer experience in this store based on each activity within the store such as search experience (such as the availability of information or customer service), purchase experience (such as queuing and paying at the till), and consumption experience (such as post-purchase services), or just examine it as a general measure ‘customer experience’ that incorporates all activities as one entity?

Which method do you think would give us an accurate representation of the reality of experience you are getting at this store?

In my view as an academic and a practitioner, defining customer experience as a specific measure would allow us to draw more accurate theories in relation to this measure. As a result, we will be able to understand the variations between the definitions in the literature and select the definition and theory that best match the context we are dealing with.

In conclusion, it is important for people to understand the nature of holistic measures and what they include. The lack of attention to the dimensions of these measures or their definitions may lead to misinterpretation of reality, which could result in ineffective decision making.

The next time you get in a debate about your experience in a store with a friend, take a minute to understand which experience you are debating and what dimensions of this specific experience you are talking about.

This Blog post was written by Majd AbedRabbo, a doctoral research student in the Marketing and Retailing discipline group. Majd is a member of the Centre for Service Management and the Town Centres research interest group at the SBE, and he can be reached on m.abedrabbo@lboro.ac.uk

Temporary Removal of Workstations on Levels 1 & 2 from 25th June

June 19, 2018 Steven Lake

On Monday 25th June and Tuesday 26th June work begins on replacing the workstation desks on Levels 1 & 2. This will necessitate the temporary removal of all of the PC workstations from these floors, including the Catalogue and Short Stay PCs.

All of these machines will placed into storage in Group Study Rooms 1A and 2A, which will mean that these rooms will be unavailable for booking while this work is carried out.

Week beginning Monday 2nd July the old desks will be removed from Levels 1 & 2 for removal by University Facilities Management – this may involve some noise and disruption, and the lift may be unavailable to visitors while the desks are being moved.

The new furniture should be delivered during the following week – again, this will involve some noise and disruption. Once this is completed, IT Services will remove the PCs from storage and begin setting them up on the new desks.

Access to the shelving and other facilities on Levels 1 & 2 will remain unaffected, however there will be no PC workstations available to use on either floor while this work is completed. Workstations are still available on Levels 3 & 4, and staff are available to assist with catalogue searching at our Enquiry Desks.

We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

Part of Level 3 & Some Group Study Rooms Unavailable 19th-20th June

June 18, 2018 Steven Lake

An area of Level 3 near the Seminar Room and Group Study Rooms 3A & 3B will be unavailable to visitors tomorrow, Tuesday 19th, and Wednesday 20th June while the Library is hosting a training event.

We appreciate that term isn’t quite over yet, but Group Study Rooms are still available to book on Levels 1, 2 & 4 if you require one.

Make the most of your #LboroOpenDay

Make the most of your #LboroOpenDay

June 18, 2018 Liam

If you’re visiting us on an Open Day this year, you’ve got a rare opportunity to really explore what life at Loughborough is truly all about. Continue reading

Library Opening Times During Summer Vacation

June 18, 2018 Steven Lake

As term officially ends this Wednesday it’s an opportune time to remind people that from next Monday, 25th June, the Library will be switching to its vacation opening times schedule. This is:

  • Monday 9am-5.30pm
  • Tuesday 9am-5.30pm
  • Wednesday 9am-8pm
  • Thursday 9am-5.30pm
  • Friday 9am-5.30pm
  • Saturday CLOSED
  • Sunday CLOSED

Please note that, as usual, our only late(ish) evening opening is on Wednesday nights, and that we are closed entirely at weekends for the duration of the vacation. Also, please remember that last entry to the Library is ten minutes before closing time, in order to allow staff to clear the building.

The IT Services PC Clinic in the Library is open throughout the summer, but only during the hours 11am-3pm. Outside these times the IT Services Help Desk can be contacted 8.30am-5pm (week days only).

The Library Shop will be closed for the summer, but the Library Café will remain open, 9am-4pm daily.

As usual during the vacation we will be catching up with a few out-of-season maintenance jobs around the building; we will keep everyone posted here and on our usual social media channels of when & where these will be taking place to minimise any potential disruption to visitors.

Huge rise in number of middle-aged cannabis smokers seeking treatment

Huge rise in number of middle-aged cannabis smokers seeking treatment

June 14, 2018 Loughborough University

Fewer people are using cannabis, but record numbers are seeking help as a result of using the drug. In the last decade the number of people using cannabis in the UK fell from 3m to 2m. Continue reading

World Cup: 60 years on Pelé's 1958 debut still the greatest tournament ever

World Cup: 60 years on Pelé's 1958 debut still the greatest tournament ever

June 12, 2018 Loughborough University

Sixty years ago, before the legendary Pelé became a household name, the teenage Brazilian prodigy was preparing to take part in his first World Cup in Sweden. He was 17. The 1958 World Cup finals were only the sixth time the tournament had been held – and, unbelievable to think now, Brazil yet to lift the Jules Rimet trophy that they were to make their own.

Pelé was about to change all that. The Canarinho wonderkid, – Edson Arantes do Nascimento, to give him his full name – scored six goals during the tournament, including a hat-trick in the semi-final and two goals in the final against host nation Sweden. His storming performance, combined with the skill and flair of his team mates, was to set his country on the path to global footballing dominance.

But the 1958 finals are memorable for much more than their Brazilian milestones.

That year is still the only time England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all competed together on the world stage. And the finals were, and still are, a record-breaking tournament for goal scoring. The prolific French forward, Just Fontaine, was unstoppable, setting a tally of 13 goals in six games – a total which has not been broken to this day.

Off the field, in a remarkable contrast to modern football, a huge brawl involving Welsh players at a hotel on the outskirts of Stockholm remained unreported – unthinkable these days. In his 1998 book, When Pelé Broke Our Hearts: Wales and the 1958 World Cup, sports writer Mario Risoli described in graphic detail a fight that took place at the Copacabana Club at the Grand Hotel, in Saltsjöbaden, shortly after Wales’ exit from the competition. Nobody was arrested, and Risoli notes that “the selectors did manage to prevent the Copacabana Club fiasco leaking out”. What price such a successful cover-up today?

Golden age, for some

For these reasons – and for those of a certain vintage – the 1958 World Cup, held between June 8 and June 29, belongs to a golden age of international football.

In 1958, England’s finest hour, a single World Cup title, was still eight years away. In Sweden the side achieved results which will be a little more recognisable to today’s fans as they puffed their way through the group stages. The team drew all three group games, against Brazil, Austria and the Soviet Union and were eliminated in a play-off match by the latter. Meanwhile Scotland drew with Yugoslavia but lost to both Paraguay and France and were duly eliminated.

Wales’ manager, Jimmy Murphy, was also Matt Busby’s assistant at Manchester United – but had escaped the horror of the Munich air crash earlier that year because he had been on international duty at the time. With Busby seriously ill in hospital and many of his leading players dead, it was left to Murphy to try to pick up the pieces at Old Trafford while simultaneously guiding his Welsh team to the World Cup finals.

In a harbinger of Euro 2016, it was left to Wales and Northern Ireland to progress to the next stage. Northern Ireland had beaten Czechoslovakia, drawn with West Germany and lost to Argentina. In the quarter finals, they were beaten 0-4 by France for whom Fontaine scored twice. Northern Ireland’s star performers had been Peter McParland, who scored five goals in four games, and Manchester United’s goalkeeper Harry Gregg – a survivor of the Munich air crash – who was the only UK player [selected by journalists] in the team of the tournament.

French forward Just Fontaine won the Golden Boot in 1958 with 13 goals.

The Welsh team was made up of many of the country’s greatest ever players, including Ivor Allchurch, Terry Medwin, Cliff Jones, Jack Kelsey and the Charles brothers, Mel and John. Like England, Wales drew all their group games – against Hungary, Mexico and Sweden – but, unlike England, they won their play-off match with Hungary. In their quarter-final game, they were beaten by a single goal scored in the 73rd minute by Pelé.

One should not forget the contribution made by the hosts Sweden. They came into the competition with a very experienced group of players, several of whom had played for many years in Italy’s Serie A in an era when it was much less common for players to move between different countries’ football leagues. These included Gunnar Gren, who played in Italy from 1949 to 1956, Nils Liedholm (1949-61), Gunnar Nordahl (1949-58) and Kurt Hamrin (1956-1971).

So the team’s progress to the final was not entirely unexpected. Despite drawing with Wales, they advanced to the quarter finals with victories against both Mexico and Hungary. The next opponents were the Soviet Union whom they beat by two goals to one.

In a potentially very difficult semi-final match against World Cup holders West Germany, Sweden won 3-1 and so to June 29 when they met Brazil at Råsunda Stadium in Solna, on the northern outskirts of Stockholm.

Brazil triumphant

On the day, the Swedes were no match for their opponents. Brazil won 5-2 with goals from Vavá (2), Pelé (2) and future Brazilian team manager Mario Zagallo. Pelé was selected by the football writers in their team of the tournament along with team mates Garrincha, Didi and the full backs, Djalma and Nilton Santos (no relation). Orvar Bergmark, who played right back for Sweden in the final, later commented: “At that time, it would have been better to sit in the stand and enjoy all their skills instead of being exposed to them.”

17-year-old Pelé cries on the shoulder of goalkeeper Gilmar after Brazil won the 1958 World Cup.

Finally, with relatively well-founded fears that that racism will rear its ugly head during the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, it is worth remarking on the enthusiastic response given by the Swedish fans to the Brazilian players. Like Bergmark, they clearly appreciated the skills of their team’s opponents. Of course, social democracy was in its pomp in Sweden at that time and Swedes were eager to demonstrate their internationalism.

But whatever the explanation, is it just possible that a Russian crowd will behave in the same way as those fans at Råsunda towards a victorious team with a large percentage of black players such as Brazil, once again, France – or even England? One can but hope.


More evidence-based articles about football and the World Cup:

Alan Bairner, Professor of Sport and Social Theory, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Header image: Brazil, the 1958 World Cup winners: Vicente Feola (coach), Djalma Santos, Zito, Bellini, Nilton Santos, Orlando, Gylmar, Garrincha, Didi, Pelé, Vava, Zagallo.
fotbollsweden.se

Disaster risk reduction is child’s play

June 12, 2018 Andria Iacovou

Recent disasters all around the world have highlighted the importance of incorporating disaster risk reduction (DRR) considerations into design, construction and operation of the built environment; however many built environment professionals (e.g. architects, civil engineers, planners) have not received the training required for dealing with DRR. We thus decided to incorporate DRR into the UG programmes delivered at the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, and with the support from the Teaching Innovation Award, we introduced a ‘Disaster Risk Reduction is Child’s Play’ project, aimed to create a range of interactive models using LEGO and other modular toys that demonstrate a range of important resilient DRR features that are uniquely designed to cope with floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other hazards and threats, and encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration among future built environment professionals.

Throughout the academic year we ran a series of workshops introducing students to disaster risk reduction, with a hands-on session during which the students tested seismic performance of different structures using K’Nex; discussing urbanisation and its role in creating vulnerabilities that turn natural hazards into disasters, with a hands-on session during which students were asked to plan a city using an outlined base map of a city and 3D printed cubes that represented various city elements and densities; and creating ideas for a small post-disaster shelter using the LEGO Designer software.

Once students felt comfortable with the ideas behind disaster risk reduction, a competition was launched. Two student teams worked to build disaster resilient models that were then presented at an evening event and were local practitioners and members of academic and CAP staff.

Whilst the main aim of the competition was to consider disaster risk reduction measures, it also encouraged students from different programmes (architecture and civil engineering) to work together and to realise that in order to build resilience, collaboration is the key.Author: Ksenia Chmutina

Design School Degree Show 2018

June 12, 2018 Steven Lake

The Loughborough Design School will be holding its annual Finalists Degree Show this weekend in the School’s exhibition space.

The event is an opportunity to see at close hand the final year project work from the School’s students graduating this summer.

The show starts this Thursday, 14th June and runs until Monday 18th June – entrance is free. For further details and opening times, visit the link below:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/design-school/study/undergraduate/degree-show/

Inspiring Success workshop series

Inspiring Success workshop series

June 11, 2018 Sian Leatherland

We’re launching our employability workshops as part of our Inspiring Success programme this month. Our Inspiring Success initiative is designed to provide employability support and funding for unemployed or underemployed graduates from the East London Growth Boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
Continue reading

Finalists - Advice from IT Services

June 11, 2018 Steven Lake

Students are no longer provided with an Alumni account when they graduate, so all the data from existing accounts will be lost when it expires. 

On completion or termination of your studies, your IT user account will enter a 30-day expiry period. Unfortunately, IT Services are unable to specify the exact date this will happen, as it varies from school to school, as well as if you are doing resits.

During the 30-day expiry period, you still have access to email, Office 365, Learn, Athens, your documents area (U drive), and the Student Self Service Portal. Please visit IT Services web page for Finalists and take the following steps to ensure you are ready for your account to expire:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/it/student/leaving/

If you are returning to the University for further study or as a member of staff, you can find information for you under the FAQ section on this page.

Not Taking Your Novels Home with You? BookCross Them Instead!

June 8, 2018 Steven Lake

If you’re packing up to go home soon and find you haven’t got room in your bag for any novels or fiction you’ve picked up for a little light reading, don’t sling them – give them to us and we’ll find them a good home via BookCrossing.

BookCrossing is the leisure reading phenomenon with the aim of encouraging us all to read more for pleasure. Designed as a ‘read me then release’ me scheme, the way it works is that you take any book you fancy, then, once you’ve finished reading it, pass it on for someone else to enjoy. To add to the fun, every book has been given its own ID number, so you can track its journey via the website.

However, to keep the scheme rolling we need more books to keep the baskets topped up! So, if you have any leisure reading books you’re happy to donate to the scheme, we’d really like to have them. Ideally we’d like good quality novels and biographies, autobiographies or memoirs. Please bring them to one of the Library desks, mentioning that they’re for the BookCrossing scheme, and we’ll do the rest!

AI is acquiring a sense of smell that can detect illnesses in human breath

AI is acquiring a sense of smell that can detect illnesses in human breath

June 8, 2018 Thomas Stovell

Artificial intelligence (AI) is best known for its ability to see (as in driverless cars) and listen (as in Alexa and other home assistants). From now on, it may also smell. My colleagues and I are developing an AI system that can smell human breath and learn how to identify a range of illness-revealing substances that we might breathe out.

The sense of smell is used by animals and even plants to identify hundreds of different substances that float in the air. But compared to that of other animals, the human sense of smell is far less developed and certainly not used to carry out daily activities. For this reason, humans aren’t particularly aware of the richness of information that can be transmitted through the air, and can be perceived by a highly sensitive olfactory system. AI may be about to change that.

For a few decades, laboratories around the world have been able to use machines to detect very small amounts of substances in the air. Those machines, called gas-chromatography mass-spectrometers or GC-MS, can analyse the air to discover thousands of different molecules known as volatile organic compounds.

In the GC-MS machine, each compound in a sample of air is first separated and then smashed up into fragments, creating a distinctive fingerprint from which compounds can be recognised. The image below is a visualisation of a small part of the data from an analysis of a breath sample.

3D view of a portion of a breath sample data from a GC-MS instrument.

Each peak represents a fragment of a molecule. The particular patterns of such peaks reveal the presence of distinct substances. Often even the smallest peak can be crucial. Among the several hundred compounds present in the human breath, a few of them might reveal the presence of various cancers, even at early stages. Laboratories around the world are therefore experimenting with GC-MS as a non-invasive diagnostic tool to identify many illnesses, painlessly and in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, the process can be very time consuming. Large amounts of data need to be manually inspected and analysed by experts. The sheer amount of compounds and the complexity of the data mean that even experts take a long time to analyse a single sample. Humans are also prone to error, can miss a compound or mistake one compound for another.

How artificial intelligence can help

As part of Loughborough University’s data science team, my colleagues and I are adapting the latest artificial intelligence technology to perceive and learn a different type of data: the chemical compounds in breath samples. Mathematical models inspired by the brain, called deep learning networks, were specifically engineered to “read” the traces left by odours.

A team of doctors, nurses, radiographers and medical physicists at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre collected breath samples from participants undergoing cancer treatment. The samples were then analysed by two teams of chemists and computer scientists.

Once a number of compounds were identified manually by the chemists, fast computers were given the data to train deep learning networks. The computation was accelerated by special devices, called GPUs, that can process multiple different pieces of information at the same time. The deep learning networks learned more and more from each breath sample until they could recognise specific patterns that revealed specific compounds in the breath.

Simple representation of the process: from compounds in the air or breath samples to the visualisation of the detected substances.

In this first study, the focus was on recognising a group of chemicals, called aldehydes, that are often associated with fragrances but also human stress conditions and illnesses.

Computers equipped with this technology only take minutes to autonomously analyse a breath sample that previously took hours by a human expert. Effectively, AI is making the whole process cheaper – but above all it is making it more reliable. Even more interestingly, this intelligent software acquires knowledge and improves over time as it analyses more samples. As a result, the method is not restricted to any particular substance. Using this technique, deep learning systems can be trained to detect small amounts of volatile compounds with potentially wide applications in medicine, forensics, environmental analysis and others.

If an AI system can detect markers of disease, then it becomes possible to also diagnose whether we are ill or not. This has a great potential, but it could also prove controversial. We simply suggest that AI could be used as a tool to detect substances in the air. It doesn’t necessarily have to diagnose or make a decision. The final conclusions and decisions are left to us.

Andrea Soltoggio, Lecturer, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Header image: James Gathany

Guest Lecture: Ethics and Technology

Guest Lecture: Ethics and Technology

June 8, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Join our Institute for Design Innovation for a guest lecture by Prof. Peter-Paul Verbeek: ‘Ethics and Technology’ on Monday 11 June (11am-12pm). Continue reading

World Cup glory is Xi Jinping's dream for China

World Cup glory is Xi Jinping's dream for China

June 7, 2018 Loughborough University

Not for the first time, the 2018 World Cup Finals will take place without the Chinese national team. In fact, China’s World Cup record is abysmal (and I say this as a Scottish football fan). Continue reading

Database Trials - Adam Matthew Resources

June 7, 2018 Steven Lake

This month the Library is trialing four databases from the Adam Matthew stable.

Gender: Identity and Social Change

Essential primary sources documenting the changing representations and lived experiences of gender roles and relations from the nineteenth century to the present. This expansive collection offers sources for the study of women’s suffrage, the feminist movement, the men’s movement, employment, education, the body, the family, and government and politics.

To begin searching go to www.genderidentityandsocialchange.amdigital.co.uk – access is via IP address and the trial runs to 4th July 2018.

Literary Manuscripts Berg

The Berg Collection is recognised as one of the finest literary research collections in the world, and the Victorian holdings are the undisputed jewel in its crown.  A broad range of authors from across the nineteenth century make this an essential research tool for all scholars and students researching Victorian literature.  Most of these unique manuscripts are unavailable in any medium elsewhere. They are supplemented by some rare printed materials, including early editions annotated by the authors. Each author collection is included in its entirety, allowing users to browse and search the manuscripts as they would in the Berg Reading Room.

To begin searching go to www.literarymanuscriptsberg.amdigital.co.uk– access is via IP address and the trial runs to 27th June 2018.

London Low Life

London Low Life is a full-text searchable resource, containing colour digital images of rare books, ephemera, maps and other materials relating to 18th, 19th and early 20th century London. It is designed for both teaching and study, from undergraduate to research students and beyond.

In addition to the digital documents, London Low Life contains a wealth of secondary resources, including a chronology, interactive maps, essays, online galleries and links to other useful websites.

To begin searching go to www.londonlowlife.amdigital.co.uk – access is via IP address and the trial runs to 27th June 2018.

Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture: The History of Tourism

This resource presents a multi-national journey through well-known, little-known and far-flung destinations unlocked for the average traveller between 1850 and the 1980s. Guidebooks and brochures, periodicals, travel agency correspondence, photographs and personal travel journals provide unique insight into the expansion, accessibility and affordability of tourism for the masses and the evolution of some of the most successful travel agencies in the world.

To begin searching go to www.masstourism.amdigital.co.uk– access is via IP address and the trial runs to 27th June 2018.

Please note that PDF download options are not available from these databases during these trials.

We welcome feedback – good or bad – on this trial, please contact Steve Corn (s.c.corn@lboro.ac.uk) with your comments.

Update to Wireless Drivers on Windows Services

June 6, 2018 Mike Collett

Further to my previous posting. This update will become mandatory on 21st June.

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?

Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information.

Moving folder redirection to OneDrive settings in W10 group policy hierarchy

June 6, 2018 Mike Collett

Folder redirection to OneDrive is currently applied to both Staff and Labs in the Windows 10 group policy hierarchy. The decision has been taken not to use this technology in the labs next academic year. The application of folder direction to OneDrive to labs may be slowing down login to labs test machines. At any rate this group policy setting is not required for labs so should be removed.

On Friday 5th June between 8 and 9:30 the Folder Direction setting will be added to staff service group policies and then removed from common staff and labs policies.

The operation should be seamless from a user point of view and not disrupt folder redirection on the staff service.

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?

Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information.

Printer Credit Refunds for Finalists

June 6, 2018 Steven Lake

It’s the time of year when Finalists, dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s before they leave, start enquiring about how to get their surplus printer credit refunded. Easy!

Refunds can be obtained by visiting the Creative & Print Services Office based in the Herbert Manzoni Building, which is open Monday-Friday 8.30am-5pm, where they will refund the balance of your account back on to your debit or credit card.

Please be aware that only Finalists can receive a refund – and that once you have received your refund, your University print account will be closed permanently – you won’t be able to log in & print on campus thereafter. Something to bear in mind if you need to print off a few copies of your CV!

Reminder to All Finalists - Check Your Library Account Before You Go

June 5, 2018 Steven Lake

If you’re a Finalist or you are nearing the completion of your course of study, we’d like to remind you that you should return all library material on loan to you, and clear any outstanding fines, as soon as possible after your last examination. You should also present your student card to be cleared at the Library, even if you have no material on loan.

The Library is required to notify departments of any students who have NOT returned books and paid any fines by the time their Board of Examiners meets. Any outstanding debts will be passed to Finance and could result in debt recovery action.

You may check your borrower record on any catalogue terminal in the Library or by accessing your Library record online through Library Catalogue Plus. Please do not leave it until the last minute, in case there is any query. Please also ensure your department knows where to contact you if necessary.

If you have any queries about your Library record or this process, please contact our friendly User Services Manager Matt directly via email: M.S.Cunningham@lboro.ac.uk.

You can also ring (01509) 222360 if you are not able to visit the Library and staff will be happy to check your account for you.

Life, 500 days after graduating

Life, 500 days after graduating

June 5, 2018 Liam

Over the past five years, I’ve gone from sixth form, to Loughborough University, to starting my career. The journey has tested and grown me, and along the way, I have felt nearly every emotion. Continue reading

Portuguese Football Federation workshop on Marketing  Analytics

Portuguese Football Federation workshop on Marketing Analytics

June 4, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Last weekend, Professor James Skinner, our Director of the Institute for Sport Business, delivered a Marketing Analytics for Football workshop as part of the Portuguese Football Federation’s Marketing Executive Course.  Continue reading

ReVIEW Lecture Capture Unavailable - Saturday 9th June, 8pm - 11pm

June 4, 2018 Steven Lake

On Saturday 9th June, the ReVIEW system will be unavailable between 8pm and 11pm due to essential system maintenance by the University’s system supplier. During this time students will be unable to watch any captured sessions, so please plan accordingly. The University is not able to change the time or date of this maintenance period.

Arts Degree Show 2018

June 1, 2018 Steven Lake

The annual Arts Degree Show, which showcases the work of the University’s graduating Fine Art, Graphic Communication and Illustration, and Textiles students, including an exhibition by our completing Foundation Art and Design students, will commence on 9th June.

The show is testament to the creativity, imagination, determination and technical skills of Loughborough’s art students. Expect to view an inspiring and thought-provoking array of work, including paintings and illustrations, textile design, fashion garments, sculpture, photographs, installations, short films and animations, portfolios of graphic design work and app designs.

The Arts Degree Show is held in the Edward Barnsley Building and runs from 9th – 16th June, 10am -5pm. It forms part of the University’s Arts Festival, which runs from 6th to 15th June. For further information visit the show’s website here: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/aed/degree-show-18/

Advanced Notice of BoB Service Downtime 11th -13th June

May 31, 2018 Steven Lake

Television fans take note – the popular Box of Broadcasts (BoB) Service will be unavailable between 11th – 13th June 2018.

Owing to a necessary relocation of their servers, BoB will be switched off on the morning of 11th June 2018 and will be completely unavailable for 3 days. Forward scheduling on the EPG will be available up to 11th June and then will restart once the move is complete. Programmes broadcast during the down-period will be available retrospectively for most channels.

Chelsea FC Academy Visit

Chelsea FC Academy Visit

May 31, 2018 Sian Leatherland

This week’s blog post is from our Student Ambassador, Leonidas, who shares an insight into his site visit to Chelsea FC’s academy as part of the his Sport Business and Innovation MSc. Continue reading

How Brexit will affect each ingredient of the full English breakfast

How Brexit will affect each ingredient of the full English breakfast

May 31, 2018 Loughborough University

The typical full English breakfast might include sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomato, baked beans, hash browns and toast. Here’s how Brexit could affect the UK’s most important meal of the day.

Eggs

Let’s start with the good news. The British egg industry can produce enough for the country to be entirely self-sufficient in eggs. In light of the recent scare concerning contaminated eggs imported from Dutch farms, it is unnecessary (other than for cost reasons) for UK supermarkets to use cheaper, foreign-sourced eggs for processed products. So if you fancy eggs for breakfast, Brexit is unlikely to have any effect on this staple.

Bread

Bread is made from wheat and about 85% of the wheat used by UK flour millers is home grown. The majority of the flour produced in the UK is also used there. Only about 1% of UK flour sales are based on imports of flour, whereas about 2% is exported. Canadian wheat is imported due to its excellent characteristics which work well blended with UK wheats.

British fields of gold. Andrew Gustar/flickr, CC BY-ND

Depending on the quality of the UK crop, wheat may also be imported from France and Germany. So unless you are after a croissant which requires the softer French wheat, your breakfast toast should not be affected by Brexit.

Sausages and bacon

Now for the less good news. Britain’s breakfast sausages and bacon are dependent on the availability and cost of pork. British farmers currently produce only 40% of the pork eaten in the UK. The other 60% comes from EU countries such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. European producers are able to provide pork more cheaply than British farmers who have additional costs related to higher animal welfare standards – 40% of the British pig herd is bred outdoors.

This little piggy is not going to the British market. shutterstock.com

So a hard Brexit would probably lead to a rise in the cost of sausages and bacon, until such a time as the British pork industry recovers sufficiently to supply enough happy pigs.

Hash browns

Although the UK still ranks number 11 in the world among potato producing countries, the harvested area has shrunk by half since 1960 and demand exceeds supply. Mediterranean countries are often the largest source of fresh potato imports to the UK. These usually include new potatoes from both EU and non-EU countries (such as Israel), as well as potatoes from the near continent (principally Holland, Belgium and France).

Frozen, processed potatoes account for the largest proportion of UK imports. Average prices are lower for imported frozen products than those domestically produced with the majority of frozen potato imports coming from the Netherlands and Belgium. This means that if your hash browns come in frozen form, Brexit could make them more expensive.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a relatively new crop in the UK and the industry itself is young, dominated by a single species of mushroom. Mushrooms which can be grown in the UK have seen massive drops in production due to the industry being dominated by a few big companies. The production area of mushrooms has decreased since 2007 from 126 to 86 hectares.

One company based in Ireland dominates production and mushroom growers in Ireland rely on the UK for 80% of sales. Other countries that export mushrooms to the UK are Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands. Recently, G’s Growers Ltd, an independent Producer Organisation, has made a major investment in a new mushroom growing facility in Cambridgeshire in response to demand for UK-grown mushrooms.

But, to complicate matters, the mushroom industry in the UK employs predominantly Eastern European pickers. This indicates that Brexit will have a double-edged effect on mushrooms, with increased prices and shortages due to the availability of labour.


Read more:
Who picked British fruit and veg before migrant workers?


Tomatoes

And now for some really bad news. Tomatoes grow where it is hot, and require a long growing season. To combat its climate, the British tomato industry has more than 200 hectares of glasshouses. Despite this, British tomato production amounts to only about a fifth of the total volume of tomatoes sold in the country each year.

About 400,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes are imported from EU countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy and Belgium, and non-EU countries such as Morocco and Israel. The UK is nowhere near tomato self-sufficiency, and a hard Brexit would definitely mean more expensive tomatoes.

Baked beans

Beans – haricot, navy or phaseolus vulgaris – cannot be grown in Britain. They are all imported – mostly from North America, although scientists are mapping DNA in an attempt to create a strain that will survive in the UK. Breakfast favourite baked beans require haricot beans. People in the UK consume about 2,000 tonnes of baked beans every year. But baked beans aren’t just beans. They also contain a spice mixture, tomato sauce, starch, sugar and vinegar. So although Brexit may not have a direct impact on imports from North America, the fact that baked beans contain tomatoes could influence their price.

So, if you can reduce your breakfast to just eggs and toast, you might not even notice Brexit. But if you want that full English medley, Brexit may not be your cup of tea.

Hana Trollman, PhD Researcher, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Header image: shutterstock.com

Loughborough University leaps back into UK top five

Loughborough University leaps back into UK top five

May 29, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Loughborough University has been ranked 4th in the 2019 Guardian University Guide, rising two places from last year! Continue reading

Additional Study Space During the Bank Holiday

May 25, 2018 Steven Lake

As this Bank Holiday weekend is traditionally one of the busiest times of the Academic calendar (not least in the Library!), University Facilities Management are opening up some extra study spaces over the weekend.

These are:

  • Saturday 26th May 8.00am – 6.00pm: All of James France – CC rooms and Exhibition area, all of West Park Teaching Hub
  • Sunday 27th May 8.00am – 6.00pm: All of James France – CC rooms and Exhibition area, all of West Park Teaching Hub
  • Monday 28th May 8.00am – 6.00pm: All of James France – CC rooms and Exhibition area, all of West Park Teaching Hub

These are addition to the D-Rooms in James France and the YY-Rooms in John Cooper.

The Library will still be open 24-7 over the weekend, albeit with a skeleton service on Bank Holiday Monday. Unfortunately the PC Clinic will be closed on Monday.

“40 days to go, what are you doing after uni?”

“40 days to go, what are you doing after uni?”

May 25, 2018 Jameel Shariff

As I’m writing this blog, I’ve just realised that my final ever half-term holiday as a student is over and I’m becoming more and more nostalgic every time I write!

Continue reading

Recreational Summer Sport on Campus

May 25, 2018 Steven Lake

If you prefer a more active participation in sport than from the comfort of an armchair – or simply want to try something new – then why not try out Loughborough Sports new Summer Sport Programme which kicks off next week and runs for the summer.

You can try your hand at:

  • Basketball
  • Badminton
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis
  • Football
  • Cricket

All the sessions are free to attend for students and staff alike – just turn up and play!

A Walk in the Park: The Ornithologist

May 24, 2018 Kerry Featherstone

One of the fascinating things about this residency is discovery how different people see – or read – the landscape of Bradgate Park.  A couple of weeks ago I went for a walk with Sue Graham, one of the Park’s volunteers, and a wildlife expert.  Over the course of nearly two hours, she showed me evidence of badger activity, ant’s nests that are a few centuries old, and oak trees that are even older.

What fascinated me most, however, was her ability to hear, and identify bird song.  Throughout our walk, she would point at a wall, tree or hedge and name the birds that were singing there.  Immediately after we set off from the Deer Barn, she started telling me about the willow warblers that can be heard in the trees around the reservoir.  These are summer residents in the UK, and had just arrived from sub-Saharan Africa; they are some of the earliest returners among our migratory birds.  Their high-pitched tweeting was impossible for me to pick out, but Sue’s ears located them before her binoculars did.  Sue’s enthusiasm spills out into her descriptions: she referred to the sunlight on the reservoir as ‘dancing diamonds’ and talked about the planting of acorns as ‘the rebirth of the wild-wood’.

As we moved towards the Memorial Wood, a new sound greeted us: long, haunting notes piped across the open ground.  I recognised it from childhood holidays in Yorkshire: it was the call of a curlew. Sue turned with excitement: the curlew has never been heard at Bradgate Park before.  An amazing coincidence for my visit, which had Sue taking notes and making phone-calls.  I think there’s a poem in there somewhere….

As we crossed the range of terrain that Bradgate Park has to offer, Sue pointed out likely spots for Little Owls, which are diurnal (they come out in the daytime).  Gaps and ledges in the dry stone walls around plantations are the places to look.  We stopped to watch the lazy circling of a buzzard in the sky above Dale Spinney.  Down by the Lin, we heard a goldcrest – also called a firecrest because of the yellow-orange strip on the head.  Despite the high-status name, this is the UK’s  smallest bird – I would never have seen it if Sue hadn’t heard it first, and located its perch.

It’s amazing how Sue’s knowledge allowed her to read the landscape in a way that is completely beyond me.  As someone who uses words to describe and communicate,  I was amazed by Sue’s responses to sounds – and how she was able to interpret them.  The volunteers at Bradgate Park know the place in different ways from the rest of us!  And of course as I returned her binoculars, she shyly handed me some poems.  At Bradgate Park, anyone can be a poet.  All that’s left is for me to do is to find my remote-controlled curlew…

Follow the Fruit Routes this June

May 24, 2018 Steven Lake

How far will Italy’s populism spread? - Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

May 23, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Dr Nicola Chelotti, Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Governance, recently participated in a programme discussing how Italy’s two populist parties are forming a coalition.  Continue reading

5 things to do in London this Bank Holiday weekend!

5 things to do in London this Bank Holiday weekend!

May 23, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Looking for some inspiration for things to do this upcoming long weekend? Here’s our top picks for what’s happening in London this Bank Holiday! Continue reading

Borrowing Books During the Summer

May 23, 2018 Steven Lake

As summer hurtles by many of you may be casting your minds towards borrowing books over the vacation – and many of you may need to bring some of those books back before you leave!

As it stands at the moment, all Long Loan books for Undergraduates, Finalists, Postgrads (including CDS registered) are being issued until Wednesday 20th June – the very last day of term.

From Monday 11th June all Long Loan and Week Loan books will be issued over the summer vacation to either Wednesday 3rd October or Friday 5th October 2018 depending on your status.

All Long Loan and Week loan books borrowed by Finalists will only issue until Wednesday 20th June – we will be issuing reminders to Finalists about clearing their accounts nearer the time.

All External user and Alumni loans remain on a rolling 4-week or one week loan.

High Demand loans, as always, remain the same.

Leisure Reading books will also issue until the 20th June, up until 11th June when they will also issue over the summer vacation.

Please remember that all books are subject to recall over the vacation, so keep an eye on your emails unless you want a nasty surprise when you come back!

Would You Like £10 Printer Credit? Your Library Needs You!

May 22, 2018 Steven Lake

The Library is having its annual Customer Service Excellence accreditation visit on Friday 25th May. Our assessor would really like to talk with our students to see what they think of our service – everything you say in the meeting will be anonymous. If anyone is free between 1pm – 2pm and would like to take part it would be much appreciated – we will even give £10 of print credits for your time.

Please contact Matt Cunningham on M.S.Cunningham@lboro.ac.uk or just ask at the Enquiry Desk to register your place.

New Library Tile on myLboro App

May 21, 2018 Steven Lake

Want to check your borrowing on the go? Users can now check their Library account on the new Library tile on the my.Lboro app. Further details and download link here: https://bit.ly/2IVZu1J

Noise Alert Text Service

May 21, 2018 Steven Lake

Today we launch our new Noise Alert Text Service in the Library. If you’re experiencing too much noise disruption in your study area, text the number on one of the posters displayed across Levels 1 & 2 and on all the study tables in the Silent Study Area, and a member of staff will be sent to investigate ASAP.

When sending an alert, please give us your floor location and either study desk number or approximate seating location.

Please note this service is to alert us about noise disruption – if you have any other enquiries, please visit one of our Enquiry Desks.

24-7 Opening and Extra Library Support during Exam Period

May 19, 2018 Steven Lake

Charlie says… it’s that time again! Yes, the exam season is looming, and as usual, the Library will be doing everything we can to help everyone through – plus a little extra!

  • 24-7 Opening. The Library will be open non-stop from 8.30am on Monday 21st May and will remain so until 2am on Wednesday 20th June. This is an increase of three extra 24-7 days from last year!
  • Extra Study Space in Seminar Room 1. Additional study tables will be placed inside our largest seminar room on Level 3 and this will be open for students to use from 21st May through until Friday 8th June. No need to book, just go and grab a seat!
  • Library On Tour – James France. Library staff will be available in the James France Study Room D002 from 10am-3pm from Tuesday 29th May to Friday 8th June to provide assistance for users requiring additional staffed study space.
  • Desk Clearing. Busy library means fewer spaces, and sometimes people aren’t always considerate about how much space they take up! As usual we’ll be patrolling the floors and removing any items left unattended for more than 30 minutes to free up space.
  • Noise Alert Text Service. From Monday 21st May we will be launching a new noise alert system where people can text a mobile number to let us know if anyone is being noisy or disruptive. Further details to follow soon!
  • Library Café Later Opening. The Library Café will be extending its regular opening hours from 8.30am to 10pm for three weeks beginning Monday 21st May – so you’ve got lots more time to grab a break (just make sure you’re back in 30 minutes!)

Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook feeds for further service updates and announcements, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need any kind of assistance or support – we’re here to help.

Best of luck!

Virtual Reality in STEM Teaching - End of project update

May 18, 2018 Andria Iacovou

A year down the line with our Teaching Innovation Award and we are very proud of how far we have come. What was once a ‘pie in the sky’ idea to create our own Loughborough STEM subject specific virtual reality application has come true and its going even further as we have been awarded a follow up TIA to extend it with different disciplines and onto a module.

The project was to test the concept of using virtual reality in lab teaching, primarily as a pre-lab exercise. We created an application based on the Chemistry experiment ‘Absorption Spectrophotometry’ that was based on the students completing 3 rooms in virtual reality.

The student first enters the ‘Familiarisation room’ where they put on their lab coat, get used to the environment and carry out short tasks like identifying apparatus.

They then enter the room that is most like a lab the ‘Experiment room’ and carry out the experiment using objects in a similar way that they would in the lab but with instructions and graphs on the walls around them for context.

Finally, the students, once getting the correct answer in their experiment, enter the ‘Advanced Molecular room’ where they can look at magnified versions of the atom structures, turn them around and examine their centre of symmetry.

Interwoven into all of this are 360° pictures of our very own STEMLab so the students have a connection to the labs they learn in.

Our student developer Nik Demosthenous was fantastic, he helped bring the academic content to life we are very grateful to him and think it’s great to be able to tap into the talent we have in our student body within these sorts of projects.

So, did we prove the concept was worthwhile? We think so!

We carried out two lots of student tests, with a total of 20 Chemistry student testers who completed surveys before and after using the VR to compare results.

We will be presenting our findings at this year’s Learning and Teaching conference, but the main headline is 80% of the students want more virtual reality and all reported that they felt the VR had improved their learning.

Author: Samantha Chester

Check In, Check Out Email Notifications

May 18, 2018 Steven Lake

New system, new features! We’ve recently rolled out a different – to say nothing of sustainable! – method of informing users of their daily check out – check in activity.

From now on, users will receive an email overnight that summarises all the books that they have borrowed and/or returned during the day. Not only will this help users to keep a record of their borrowing (and hopeful resolve a lot more of the queries we get at the desk!), but it will also help the environment, as it means users no longer have to print out receipts for transactions at the machines. We did a ballpark estimate that this facility would save us at least 150,000 feet of paper receipt roll every year!

Printed receipts are still available for those who want them, and a receipt will always be printed for any financial transactions done at the self issue machines.

Work and Play in the UK

Work and Play in the UK

May 18, 2018 davina

Create Copies of your Work!

A brief segue on the importance of backing up your work using multiple methods. This is actually not my original blog post which was lost over the weekend due to an issue with my Cloud storage. Continue reading

Reunion Day

Reunion Day

May 18, 2018 vicky

As promised I’m back filling you in with another Q&A from my reunion day at school over Easter. Continue reading

Participating in Sports at Loughborough

Participating in Sports at Loughborough

May 18, 2018 simona

Loughborough is a very sporty university with amazing sporting facilities (but don’t worry if you don’t play sports, I know many people that don’t like sports at all, but still enjoy their time here, because there are many other things you can do!). Continue reading

How to keep motivated throughout the year

How to keep motivated throughout the year

May 18, 2018 alice

We’re now coming to the end of the university year and with that comes deadlines and exams. I know how hard some people can find it to keep motivated throughout the year, especially when the sun is out to distract us and it’s so close to the holidays! Continue reading

Update to Wireless Drivers on Windows Services

May 18, 2018 Mike Collett

As part of the ongoing Wireless Refresh project, we are updating wireless drivers on the Windows Services (Windows 7 and 10)  to the latest versions available.

The update takes less than 5 minutes. It can be postponed if the timing is inconvenient to the user.

The rollout schedule is as follows:-

  • Professional Services – Tue 22nd May
  • Schools A-M – Fri 25th May
  • All Windows Service –  Thu 31st May

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?

Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information.

Institute for Sport Business - Over the Top: The Future of Sport Broadcasting Business Models

Institute for Sport Business - Over the Top: The Future of Sport Broadcasting Business Models

May 17, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Our Institute for Sport Business academics, Professor James Skinner and Professor Aaron Smith explore the changing sport broadcasting landscape in a two-part series for Global Sports Jobs. Continue reading

Economic insights into the upcoming Royal Wedding

May 17, 2018 Ondine Barry

This Blog post, written by Dr Jon Seaton, can be read in full on The Conversation’s blog site.

“The cost Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials on May 19 2018 has been estimated at £32m by one wedding planning company. The cost to the public, however, will be far less than his brother William’s marriage to Catherine in 2011, largely because this brought with it a bank holiday.

“Still, £32m is a lot to spend on a party. It can be justified, however, if the benefits outweigh the costs. For this to happen with the latest royal wedding – or any mega event that’s being staged – the most important thing is that the money involved has a long-term positive impact.”

To read the full post, please visit The Conversation.

Dr Jon Seaton is a Reader in Business Economics and a member of the Economics Discipline group at the SBE. Jon can be reached on J.S.Seaton@lboro.ac.uk

What Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding can teach us about the economics of partying

What Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding can teach us about the economics of partying

May 17, 2018 Loughborough University

The cost Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials on May 19 2018 has been estimated at £32m by one wedding planning company. The cost to the public, however, will be far less than his brother William’s marriage to Catherine in 2011, largely because this brought with it a bank holiday.

Still, £32m is a lot to spend on a party. It can be justified, however, if the benefits outweigh the costs. For this to happen with the latest royal wedding – or any mega event that’s being staged – the most important thing is that the money involved has a long-term positive impact.

Then there’s the social dimension to any party. Building better relationships with your family, friends, colleagues or neighbours is an important part of any event. So this shouldn’t be discounted.

One of the big arguments for events is “what goes around comes around”. This sums up what economists call the “multiplier effect”. Take a simple example. The same company that estimates the wedding will cost £32m accounts for £26,000 being spent on sausage rolls, which will be given to the 2,640 members of the public that are attending. This will boost the profits and pay packets of the sausage roll company that’s providing them. And this, in turn, will likely be poured back into the wider economy. Over a year, this £26,000 could add extra benefits totalling much more than the original outlay.

Multiplication not diversion

So the big spend on the royal wedding will create additional spending, just like the Olympics and any other mega event. It’s growing the economy, right?

Maybe. That depends on how the money and resources are being spent on the wedding and on the state of the wider economy.

If all the resources in the economy are already working at capacity, the extra £26,000 just contributes to inflation, as the buoyant demand grows prices, not output. In fact, output of other important things may be slowed as production switches to more sausage rolls rather than, say, medical treatment.

Take another example of costs: the policemen and security staff needed to cover the royal wedding. They have to be diverted from somewhere. So instead of there being a multiplier effect, we see more of a diversion of resources from one place to another. For spending to have a real multiplier effect it should be invested in something productive.

Let’s say the royals feel guilty about their excessive sausage roll expenditure plans and instead decide to keep the £26,000 in the bank. Following the multiplier idea, this could have a negative effect on the economy because of the revenue it would have produced for the sausage roll seller.

But let’s say the bank lent this money out to generate new investment in robots that were much more productive in making sausage rolls – the economy would gain in higher productivity as a result. This is known as the paradox of thrift. Saving is bad for the economy in the short run, but great for growing the economy in the long run.

A sausage roll worth waiting for. shutterstock.com

The lesson here is that we all get sausage rolls much more cheaply, but we have to wait and suffer a little bit first. Saving becomes investment, which becomes productivity increases, which becomes economic growth, which becomes economic well-being. So party economics says, save up now and have a better party later.

The UK benefited greatly from the 2012 London Olympics because the substantial infrastructure was not only created for the games, but brought significant investment and long-term employment to an otherwise disused part of the city.

Good party economics balances the amount consumed and the amount invested. If you under-invest then roads get pot holes, cars break down, deliveries fail, hospitals don’t get built and productivity declines. Saving, investing, creating new markets, creating new infrastructure, education, health and developing new skills is the message here.

Markle’s dress is expected to set future fashion trends and the evidence suggests Prince William’s wedding brought a tourism bump. So opening new markets might be the answer here – copycat wedding dresses and various wedding-branded collectables will bring some returns.

Who knows, the great British sausage roll might become the new global foody item of 2018. But one thing is certain, only by creating and not diverting can parties be economical.

Jonathan Seaton, Reader in Business Economics, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Header image: Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com

Updating Windows 10 Images

May 17, 2018 Gary Hale

Windows 10 In-Place Upgrades and Re-imaging Task Sequences will be updated during the Task Sequence at risk period. It is therefore recommended that you do not image or in-place upgrade any machines at this time.

The Microsoft May 2018 Operating Software Updates will be added to the W10 images. This is to ensure that images are secure at the time of installing Windows 10 either via the IPU or reimaging process.

We will inform you when the work has been completed.

TIMESCALE – 17/05/18 – 08:00am-12:30pm

Loughborough University Arts Festival 6th-15th June

May 17, 2018 Steven Lake

The University is marking the end of another successful academic year with a brand new Arts Festival on campus this June.

Organised by LU Arts, Loughborough University’s arts programme, the festival will bring together local artists and leading creatives, academics from the School of Arts, English and Drama, students and alumni.

The festival – which is to run from 6th-16th June – is a mixture of both daytime and early evening events, which include student showcases, alumni presentations, discussions and theatre performances.

The line-up features talks with talented individuals such as writer and poet Kate Rhodes, portraitist Alastair Adams and illustrator and alumna Katy Halford, creator of Moz the Monster (from the 2017 John Lewis Christmas advert).

In addition, there will also be a discussion with renowned food writer William Sitwell (a regular on BBC’s Masterchef), and a Skype call with installation and performance artists Tania Bruguera.

Many of the events are free to attend. For the full programme and to book tickets visit the Loughborough Arts Festival website.

Experience Loughborough University London LIVE!

Experience Loughborough University London LIVE!

May 16, 2018 Sian Leatherland

We will be broadcasting live from Loughborough University London on Thursday 17th of May 2018 on our Loughborough University Yizhibo channel from 13:00PM UK time, 8PM Beijing time (英国拉夫堡大学). Continue reading

Wing's student experience - how to secure internships

Wing's student experience - how to secure internships

May 16, 2018 Sian Leatherland

This week’s blog post is from Wing, who is one of our Inspiring Success Scholars. Wing shares his Loughborough University London experience, along with tips to make the most of networking and internship opportunities. Continue reading

The Sun and the exams

The Sun and the exams

May 16, 2018 Timi

As the weather gets warmer and as days roll by the exam season seems to be approaching and closing in on us all. Do not let the spirit of the exams possess you, rather possess it by getting ready. Continue reading

Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2018

Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2018

May 15, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Have you completed PTES yet? Loughborough University London students are invited to take part in this national survey to feedback to us about your postgraduate student experience. Continue reading

How Not to Use A Milling Machine (March 2/2)

How Not to Use A Milling Machine (March 2/2)

May 15, 2018 Liam

Hello and welcome to the second half of my March blog! Last time we flew through space (metaphorically), got chilly with the fountain and became accessory to murder, great(!). This time, we’re going on an adventure into the world of human testing, butterfly catching Lacrosse, and the life of a mechanical engineer…

Mechanical Engi-meme-ing

You may wonder if I have time to do my degree at all with all this gallivanting around campus (pretty sure my course mates wonder the same thing), but I can assure you I’m still studying and doing the whole student thing. I appreciate it’s not the freshest of memes, but this is perhaps the best way I can convey the workload of a final year engineer to you:

 

Take last weekend, when I needed to do a lot of CAD (Computer Aided Design) for my final year Total Product Design group project; we’re trying to make a hot flow rig that can handle exhaust gas at over 400°C for our industry partner. Coffee in one hand, laptop in the other; I set about my impending date with 3am. After smashing out 106 models / drawings in the last 48 hours, I am now cross-eyed a pro at NX, and our project can finally be manufactured!

Speaking of manufacturing, the left gif below is what machining should look like, on the right is what ours actually looked like… (Note: this is really bad, don’t do this, the technicians will shout at you).

Nonetheless, progress!

Human Lab Rat

Next up, last week I got the chance (just kidding, I was voluntold to do it) to help my friend Mel by being a victim test subject in her medical trial investigating the accuracy of wearable heart rate monitors and pedometers, based in NCSEM. I’m particularly interested in the accuracy of the calorific estimates, because according to my FitBit I’m burning over 4,000 calories on some days, and I really want to use that as an excuse to chug an entire tub of Ben & Jerrys without feeling guilty… Having done a few medical trials like this now, I would thoroughly recommend volunteering for a few because the results are really interesting and the people running them really need volunteers so they don’t fail their degree!

Nothin’ But Net

Last Wednesday the Lacrosse Men’s 2nd team had our second game against Birmingham M1’s, our first game in over a month and our penultimate game of the BUCS season. The game was always going to be tough (Bham are top of the league), but considering we lost to them 13-1 at the start of the season, to come away four months later with an 8-3 loss shows just how far this team has come – we gave everything out on the pitch and left in high spirits – we’re happy with that result. To top it off, in the last five seconds of the game I managed to score, my first ever goal in two seasons of BUCS lacrosse! I was buzzing for the rest of the day; I might have to go and score again in next week’s match…

Hello, May I Take your Order?

I somehow never thought I would work in a call centre, but my plummeting bank balance (anyone interested in a student budgeting blog?) decided otherwise. However as call centres go (I presume, I have experience one 1 so far), this was a pretty fun deal. Over the last two weeks I have spent my evenings calling prospective Loughborough engineering students and answering any questions they may have about Loughborough, from campus life to their course, the LSU, or even the best bar in the union (Victory Bar aka Telford Corner, obviously). There are plenty of answer machines, but the candidates who they pick up are pretty engaged and in one case I was on the phone for 40 minutes, trying to answer questions as fast as I was asked them.

It was really exciting to get to talk to some future Loughborough students, wondering what they’ll get up to in their three, four, or five years here, and I wish all of them the best of luck in their A-levels. If you would like to take part in conversion calling next year (do it, its super fun), you’ll need to sign up as an Ambassador next year, keep an eye out here.

(please excuse the lacrosse attire, I’d come straight from our Birmingham game!)

So you’re finally up to date, and hopefully not too nauseous from the speed at which we went through everything. There’s going to be plenty to talk about in next month’s blog (including a possible country #29 as well as #28!), so you may want to invest in a five-point harness for that rollercoaster. See you then!

If being active is good for your health, why do men in physically active jobs die prematurely?

If being active is good for your health, why do men in physically active jobs die prematurely?

May 15, 2018 Loughborough University

Men who have physically active occupations are 18% more likely to die prematurely, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The results of this study may surprise many people, given that the health benefits of regular physical activity are well established.

In the 1950s, a Scottish epidemiologist called Jerry Morris conducted a study of London transport employees. He showed that bus conductors had fewer cases of coronary heart disease and they developed the condition at a later age compared with bus drivers. He concluded that “the greater physical activity of ‘conducting’ (on these double-decker vehicles) is a cause of the lower incidence and mortality in the conductors”. The neat aspect of this work was that all the men lived in broadly similar social circumstances with access to the same health and welfare services.

This is in stark contrast to findings in present day studies. In these studies people with physically active jobs (manual jobs) are likely to come from lower socioeconomic classes, whereas the people in largely sedentary jobs are from professional and managerial occupations. Unlike the London transport study, these studies aren’t comparing like with like.

Social class

So might social class, then, explain why physically active men – and it is just men – are more likely to die prematurely?

If so, the paradox can be explained by the factors that are generally associated with lower social circumstances. For example, unhealthy lifestyles, including poor diets, smoking, excess alcohol consumption and less “leisure-time physical activity” have been shown to greatly account for the social gradient in health. Lower socioeconomic classes also tend to have less control over their work, which, coupled to high demands, can result in job strain known to be a potent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Better than being the driver. Wikimedia Commons

Some of the 17 studies included in the new meta-analysis took things like diet, alcohol consumption and leisure-time physical activity into account when analysing the data. But it is well known that people don’t always accurately recall how much they ate, drank or exercised. And research suggests that these reporting biases tend to be greater in the lower socioeconomic classes.

Also, we need to consider what it really means to be physically active at work. Is it equivalent to 30 minutes of running, playing rugby or squash – types of vigorous activities that raise heart rate considerably and are thought to provide optimal health benefits? In some so-called physically active occupations, such as cleaning, the intensity of activity undertaken isn’t actually enough to improve fitness.

It is also worth noting that the higher risk of premature death in those with physically active jobs appear to be stronger in people with low fitness levels. Various studies suggest people from lower socioeconomic classes are less active in their leisure time. So if their activity at work isn’t intense enough, it may not offset the ill effects of being largely inactive during leisure time.

Physical activity – unlikely killer

So what do the latest results tell us? Most people would be more convinced if these results came from an experimental trial. It would be difficult, though, to set up a long-term experimental trial in a workplace and track people for early deaths. Although observational studies, like this latest one, are valuable, they can’t tell us anything about cause and effect.

Disentangling the effects of social circumstances and a physically active occupation are almost impossible without precise measurement of all possible confounding factors. It is very unlikely that physical activity at work, itself, is causing early deaths. It is far more likely to be the result of social circumstances and related factors such as smoking, poor diet, and job strain that come with the job.

Mark Hamer, Chair in Exercise as Medicine, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Header image: Bannafarsai_Stock/Shutterstock.com

Karligash Glass: Tablets can enhance the lecture capture staff-student experience

May 11, 2018 Karligash Glass

A cross-departmental and schools team from the School of Science and School of Business and Economics received a Teaching Innovation Award (TIA) to investigate how the use of lecture capture can be improved.

Lecture capture is very useful to students to review information or to catch up on a session that they may have missed.  However, it is not without its problems.

  • Lecture capture does not record all in-class activities.
  • The current system requires a lecturer at the front of the class and limits interaction with students as it is not easy to move around (highlighting anything on the screen must be done from the lectern).
  • The visualiser allows for handwritten notes to be displayed and recorded during a session.  However, lecture capture also records the hand of the writer, causing lecturers to feel self-conscious as every imperfection on their hand is recorded.  Left-handed staff having the additional problem that their hand obscures the text while writing.
  • Some lecturers still write on the board, e.g., finance, statistics, etc. None of these actions are recorded using lecture capture.

The TIA award allows two Surface Pro tablets to be purchased each with a wireless display adapter that will attempt to remedy the afore-mentioned problems.

  • Writing on the visualiser can be replaced by writing on the tablet.  Only the writing will be recorded removing concerns about obscuring text and their hands being on display.
  • If the tablet is used as a white-board, the wireless display adapter will allow for the information to be displayed and recorded.
  • The display adapter will allow information on student’s tablets or phones to be displayed on the main screen.
  • A mobile stand that can be raised will allow staff to improve their posture as they don’t have to bend forward to write on the visualiser.

This project should enhance the in-class experience for the students, but we also aim for the technology to benefit staff.

  • Staff can become more creative in their teaching and interact with students as they will be more mobile.
  • It will be easier to record in-class activities.
  • Improve staff posture as computers on lecterns are too low and staff often need to stand in an uncomfortable position to use the mouse.
  • Making staff more at ease with lecture capture as hand movements are not recorded.
  • A lecturer that writes during a lesson will now be able to record the notes/calculation on lecture capture as well as on the electronic device used.

The team consisting of Anje Conradie, Sandie Dann, Karligash Glass, Sarah Turner and Sian Williams are very excited about the project as it will benefit both staff and students in the long run.

Karligash Glass

This Blog post was written by Dr Karligash Glass, Senior Lecturer in Economics and member of the Economics discipline group. Karligash can be reach on K.Glass@lboro.ac.uk

Launching new collaborative research on Digital Entrepreneurship at Loughborough University

May 9, 2018 Rahul Kumar

Digital technologies are increasingly being used for social innovation and entrepreneurship in which the focus is on solving pressing societal problems of our time. Reducing carbon footprint, increasing equity in the delivery of quality education and healthcare services and increasing gender equity are some of the challenges that are being tackled at scale by digital entrepreneurs from around the world.

We believe that digital entrepreneurship could be the new source of solutions for a more sustainable society. At the School of Business and Economics (SBE), we have an active research subset within the International Business, Strategy and Innovation discipline group that explores how digital entrepreneurship can help tackle ‘wicked’ problems in business and society.

As part of a small interdepartmental pilot of promoting digital entrepreneurship at Loughborough University, academic and research staff and students at the SBE and Department of Computer Science have joined hands in developing a template of faculty-facilitated, sustainability inspired and student-led digital entrepreneurship. The project is seed funded by the SBE chapter of UKPRME.

The project was launched earlier this year on 13 March at an event in which students of both SBE and Computer Science participated. Using United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a search canvass, the students came up with specific ideas for scalable enterprises towards 17 goals for a sustainable society: Affordable and Clean Energy, No Poverty, Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education, Reduced Inequality are some of the goals which guided the students’ search for start-up ideas.

As they say, simple inventions can contribute tremendously to the society, and the youth has to take up this initiative of making a sustainable future. Thanks to the media, today’s generation know a lot about the happenings of this untenable world. They are more aware about the society and environment, so why not to utilize their knowledge and awareness into something that can benefit society?

Dr Rahul Kumar, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and a co-organizer for the project, was of the view that we can design entrepreneurial opportunities as part of several courses that simulate real-world problem solving.

Many students in the SBE were already working on business-related problems in strategy, marketing, finance and logistics, whereas students in Computer Science were focused on apps development. Together they had a complete skill-set for envisioning and starting up digital ventures.

Dr Manfred Kufleitner, Lecturer in Computer Science and also co-organizer of this event, was equally enthusiastic about the prospects. In his view this provided an opportunity to increase students’ engagement and interests in classroom learning. His presentation on “post card matrix game,” which was meant to help the business students to appreciate distinctive expertise that computer science students would bring to the start-up team, was very well received.

Kathryn Walsh leading a discussion on digital entrepreneurship

Dr Kathryn Walsh, Director of Enterprise Office at Loughborough University, spoke about the support available within the Schools and the University (such as The Start-up Lab, The Hub, Science and Enterprise Park) to help students build successful projects.

The students came up with several ideas for mobile applications that can potentially be developed as new products and services, including ideas for gamifying recycling, promoting hygiene among pregnant women in rural areas and promoting new platforms for geo-limited retailing to avoid long-distance transportation (and to reduce carbon footprint of online purchases).  All of these with a simple app!

Students will work on their ideas and will compete for a prize to be announced at the end of this pilot.  Needless to say- we will keep you posted about it!

This Blog post was written by Nikshubha Sharma, MBA student at Loughborough University. You can contact either Dr Rahul Kumar or Dr Manfred Kufleitner if you would like to discuss this event or digital entrepreneurship in more detail. 

Changes to Windows 10 Task Sequences Friday 11th May 2019

May 9, 2018 Mike Collett

Windows 10 In-Place Upgrades and Re-imaging Task Sequences will be updated during the Task Sequence at risk period. It is therefore recommended that you do not image or in-place upgrade any machines at this time.

In-Place Upgrade

  1. Add up to date wireless drivers to migration driver package
  2. Add DisplayLink graphics software to migation driver package

Imaging

  1. Add up to date wireless drivers package to all laptops
  2. Add DisplayLink graphics driver package to all laptops
  3. Updated Nvidia Graphics Drivers to latest version for Nvidia cards (Brings then into line with Labs 2018 Task Sequence)
  4. Created new driver package for HP EliteBook 8570p with updated Graphics Driver
  5. Edited ModelVar Script to handle rogue NUCs

We will inform you when the work has been completed.

TIMESCALE

11/05/19– 08:00am-09:30am

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?

Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information.

 

 

Jon Seaton: Sainbury's and ASDA - What can the Avengers teach us about retail competition?

May 8, 2018 Ondine Barry

Anyone who has watched the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe instalment of Avengers: Infinity War will have some understanding of the impact great power has on those around you. For Thanos, accumulating the six infinity stones might be the best way to dominate the Universe, but for the UK retail sector with great power comes great responsibility and the regulatory framework – our ‘Avengers’: the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – are grinding into action for the purpose of protecting the consumer from rash promises and overbearing dominance of the £200bn a year retail grocery market potentially the outcome of a Sainsbury/ASDA merger.

The so-called Porter approach to market competition identifies the ‘infinity stones’ for the firm. To gain ultimate power of the market a firm must collect these infinity stones by evolving either by natural organic growth or merger/takeover of other firms. They need to gain control of their competition, the buyer/consumer, the suppliers, the threat of new entrants and alternative products.

The Food Retailers: Examples from Tesco and Morrisons
This is exactly what has been happening in the UK grocery market – Tesco has evolved rapidly by powerful marketing, growth of large format stores and quite frankly knowing what the UK consumer wants. Recently they captured a supplier ‘infinity stone’ in the form of wholesale giant Booker for £4billion, thus joining together the largest retailer with the largest wholesaler. This means dominance of their supplier costs to some extent and much more control of distribution.

Many of the retailers like Morrisons, Ocado, Waitrose and others have tried to capture the buyer infinity stone – gaining greater access and control over the consumer, whether this is the online format, loyalty cards, brand identity or, more importantly nowadays, the small format stores championed by cheeky upstarts Lidl and Aldi. Indeed, Morrisons cleverly snapped up a food-selling deal with Amazon in 2016.

Diversification – the infinity stone of alternative products and markets like clothing, financial services etc – within the sector has been a dominant feature of their growth. Superstores/Hypermarkets can be retail heaven for many, hell for others just wanting a simple short trip for packet of biscuits perhaps! The £1.2bn takeover of Argos by Sainsbury’s was remarkable and positions Sainsbury well in the non-food sector.

Power Play: Lidl and Aldi
New entrants like Amazon, Lidl and Aldi challenge the power for the Big 4 (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Morrisons). This key infinity stone does not seem to be in the Big 4’s grasp. For example if we plot the market share for five years of the Big 4 relative to that of the challengers, from Kantar Worldpanel data) we find continuous decline in the trend market share.

The blips indicate the Christmas boom the Big 4 experience (see http://www.lboro.ac.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2018/january/supermarket-giants-continue-to-lose-their-grip-on-/). This blip tells us a lot – it indicates that the large format stores (essentially department stores) are popular when either the weather is bad or consumers want to get in the big shop including many diverse products.

Sainbury’s Merger with ASDA: Bucking the Trend?
For the most part, the trend is for consumers to shop more frequently in smaller quantities – and that is better done in Lidl and Aldi which are positioned often close to work or home. Burning fuel, finding parking places and vying for trolley space in big format stores is something the UK consumer is shunning. The merger of Sainsbury’s and ASDA will not resolve this problem unless substantial savings in distribution, managerial, labour and supplier costs can be found.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Morrisons’ relative market share in decline for five years, making mergers seem inevitable.

In the end we have to ask: Who benefits from the increasing thirst for power, diversification and concentration of the market suggested by potential merger mania?

Well, we have heard Sainsbury’s bosses allude to some potential benefits (a drop of 10% in prices). This might be true considering the merger between Morrisons and Safeway in 2004 was also accompanied by price cuts across the sector. See Chakraborty, Dobson, Seaton, Waterson (2014), Market consolidation and pricing developments in grocery retailing: a case study.

Increasing diversification and mergers can actually help the managers and directors securing their positions (and of course their pay rises!)

A final test could be identifying what the financial markets make of it all. The first four charts below indicate the share prices over a month for the Big 4 (though I’ve used US Walmart as ASDA UK is not quoted) – and they all look great. The increasing returns mean that owners/shareholders believe these firms are increasing in their value and potential for greater profitability.

But, and this is a big but, if we look at the five year stock market prices (again, like the relative market share graph above) we see a decline from 2013/14, especially for Sainsbury’s squeezed between Tesco/ASDA and Waitrose/Ocado stagnant more or less from the end of 2014 onwards.

Picking up a little, perhaps from macro GDP growth, Walmart has a very different positive profile, but even Walmart in the US has suffered a blip downwards since Jan 2018. 2016 seems a particular lull for Morrisons, Tesco, Walmart – so perhaps things may look a little brighter.

Without giving away any spoilers, for all superheroes and supervillains in the struggle for the infinity stones some live, some die, but the story goes on.

This Blog post was written by Dr Jon Seaton, Reader in Business Economics and member of the Economics discipline group. Jon can be reached on J.S.Seaton@lboro.ac.uk

 

Charts from Google Finance, for the Big 4 share prices, for one month.

Morrisons – 1 month

Tesco – 1 month

Sainsbury’s – 1 month

Walmart – 1 month

Charts from Google Finance, for the Big 4 share prices, for 5 years.

Morrisons – 5 years

Tesco – 5 years

Sainsburys – 5 years

Walmart – 5 years

Loughborough University London Coffee morning

Loughborough University London Coffee morning

May 4, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Come along to our coffee morning on 16th June to receive a tour of our stunning campus and hear from current students and staff about the postgraduate opportunities available at Loughborough University London. Continue reading

Moving around has big health benefits – and now we know how big

Moving around has big health benefits – and now we know how big

May 3, 2018 Loughborough University

Pretty much everyone knows that taking exercise helps people stay in good health. It staves off chronic ailments like type 2 diabetes and heart disease and – maybe – helps us live longer.

Until recently, however, the prevailing view among both policy people and researchers was that you only got benefits from moderate to vigorous exercise – the kind that gets you at least slightly out of breath, such as brisk walking, doing sport or going to the gym. Health authorities and the media focused their public health messages accordingly.

But while many people are still not doing as much strenuous exercise as they should, another creeping trend has been taking place. The modern way of living has almost removed the need to move: from Netflix to searching for air tickets to holding virtual meetings, so much of what we do now is at the touch of a button.

There has been a dramatic drop in how much we move around our houses and workplaces. Much of the time we used to spend on the move is now spent sitting, as this chart shows:

Adapted from Ng et al (2012). Time use and physical activity: a shift away from movement across the globe.

While we have very good evidence about how vigorous exercise affects our health, little is known about this disappearing background of daily light activity. This is what we wanted to find out in the study we have just published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The results may make a big difference to how we view exercise in future.

What we found

We wanted to understand how daily light physical activity affects people’s metabolic health and their risk of premature death. We carried out a meta-analysis, searching through all the research published to date and averaging out the combined results.

We looked at both laboratory studies of groups of around ten to 40 participants, which show what happens immediately to our bodies when we interrupt long periods of sitting; and long-term studies of thousands of people, which provide insight into the effects of light exercise over several years.

We found that doing twice as much light activity cuts your risk of premature death by almost 30%. This was even after accounting for levels of moderate to vigorous activity and other factors such as smoking.

This means that if you increase the amount you move around each day from one hour to two hours, for example, you cut your risk by 30%. But if you currently do three hours and you raise it to six hours, you cut your risk by the same amount. It’s a law of diminishing returns: if you do little to start with, you get a big benefit because your initial risk is so high.

We also found that moving around positively affects the way the human body regulates blood sugar and insulin in the short term. This matters because our bodies only function adequately when blood sugar levels remain constant. If the blood sugar or insulin become too high, it can lead to serious health complications.

Walk of life. Umamuna

When a person interrupts sitting with a few minutes of light activity such as slow walking, we found it reduced blood sugar and insulin levels by about 20% to 25% on average. People with type 2 diabetes enjoy even greater benefits, suggesting this might be a good way for them to control their blood sugar.

It is worth noting some limitations to our study. This is a relatively new research area, so we were aggregating only a modest amount of evidence.

The longer term studies that we incorporated mostly relied on people reporting how much light activity they were doing. People often find it difficult to accurately recollect the time they spend being active.

There is also the possibility that people who are more ill in the first place do less activity: in other words, they’re moving less because they are ill, and the illness rather than the lack of exercise might be the reason they died prematurely. If so, it would be skewing our numbers.

This possibility means we cannot definitively say that light physical activity reduces the risk of premature death. The short-term lab studies do suggest our conclusion is right, but we don’t know if these effects are longlasting. This crucial part of the puzzle still needs resolved.

What now

There is still no doubt that moderate to vigorous activity is more potent: you would perhaps need to do about four minutes of light activity to get the same benefit as one minute of more strenuous activity.

But our study, which is the first meta-analysis in this area, is great news for people who find it hard to add exercise into their weekly routine, as it gives them more options.

We can start thinking about how to help very inactive and sedentary people incorporate more light activity into their daily routine as a stepping stone towards a more active lifestyle. It also raises possibilities for people who are physically unable to do strenuous exercise.

Any which way. C Jones

The next question is how much light exercise we should ideally do. Our study could not answer this because there are not enough research findings yet. The precise amount is likely to depend on how we spend the rest of our day – including how much exercise we take, and how much we sit and sleep.

For now, the message is, “Move more at any intensity – the more the better.” Eminent health authorities in the likes of the US have already started giving this advice, which is very encouraging. While we researchers build up a more detailed picture, readers would be well advised to get vertical.

Sebastien Chastin, Reader, Behaviour Dynamics, Glasgow Caledonian University; Emmanuel Stamatakis, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, University of Sydney; Mark Hamer, Chair in Exercise as Medicine, Loughborough University, and Philippa Dall, Senior Research Fellow, Glasgow Caledonian University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Header image: Stand and deliver. One line man

Library Open Over the Bank Holiday Weekend

May 3, 2018 Steven Lake

It will be business almost as usual for the Library during the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend. The Library will be open as normal on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday as well. We won’t be quite as fully staffed as usual on the Monday (Librarians are renowned snooker fans!) but all of the Enquiry Desks will be open.

And if you’re looking for a bite to eat, you’ll also be pleased to know that the Library Café will be open as usual as well – 8.30am to 6pm on Monday, too.

Whether you’re staying in or going out (and don’t forget the Freefest down at the Union on Monday!) we hope you all enjoy a nice long weekend.

Synaptic drivers on Toshiba laptops on Windows Services

May 3, 2018 Mike Collett

In order to complete the update of the Synaptic Touchpad drivers on the Windows Services (Windows 7 and 10), we need to upgrade the drivers on a couple of models of Toshiba laptop. The machines affected are the Satellite Pro A50-C and the Tecra A50-C.

This update will be rolled out on Tuesday 8th May.

This update removes a potential security vulnerability.

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?

 Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information

Russia: how Western condemnation lets Putin off the hook

Russia: how Western condemnation lets Putin off the hook

May 3, 2018 Loughborough University

As Russians settle in for another six years under Vladimir Putin, they are waiting to find out how willing their government is to tackle the country’s pressing economic problems. This is hugely important for Russia, but also for the world. If the Russian economy improved, the Kremlin would be able to build its legitimacy on something other than nationalistic posturing and belligerent foreign policy, turning it away from what looks like a dangerous collision course with the West.

So far, the Putin government doesn’t seem keen to take the risk of announcing a bold economic programme. But in purely political terms, perhaps it doesn’t have to. The opprobrium and sanction of Western rivals provides ample material with which Putin can prop up his legitimacy.

The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal provided the UK with a badly needed diplomatic triumph as it confidently declared that Russian government involvement was highly likely. And soon, the European Council, other European leaders and US President Donald Trump all lined up behind Britain’s diagnosis. Then came the latest chemical massacre in Syria, which immediately drew international condemnation of the Assad regime, and by the same token of Russia, its foremost backer. A Russian veto once again blocked the UN Security Council from censuring Assad, but drew the ire of other permanent members, especially the US.

Now, much of the flack Russia takes for its foreign policy and its alliances with governments like Assad’s may or may not be justified. But the West completely misses the effect it has on the dynamics of Russian domestic politics – and how international criticism is shaping the strategic direction of Putin’s fourth term.

Western observers often think of Russia as a one-party state headed by an undisputed and all-powerful dictator. But in reality, it’s something very different. Despite limited democratic competition and electoral choice, Putin still depends on some form of legitimacy and popular support. And given that Russia is a relationship-based society through and through, even he depends on a network of formal relationships that impose certain informal rules – the so-called Sistema. The direction of policies is determined not by who’s in government, but by whichever informal group close to the Kremlin can get Putin’s ear.

This “invisible” political competition is what the West overlooks. And it’s particularly relevant when it comes to the economy. After years of economic stagnation and decreasing real wages, the Russian population is losing patience. To preserve its legitimacy, the government has two options: fix the ailing economy and provide increasing living standards and perspectives to its citizens, or ask the population for sacrifices by portraying the country as being in the midst of an epic clash of civilisations in which the president defends Christianity against both the Muslim world and the hostile and depraved West.

The invisible competition between Russia’s various informal influencers will determine which route the Putin government will go down in the next six years. Clues as to how that competition is unfolding aren’t always easy to come by – but not long ago, at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, I myself got a very telling glimpse.

The beauty contest

Held at the institute this spring, the Stolypin Forum was organised by presidential candidate Boris Titov to promote his economic strategy. Titov is Putin’s Business Ombudsman, a role for which the Spectator magazine dubbed him the “anti-corruption tsar”. The forum brought together a wide range of reformists (Titov among them), opposition figures, religious leaders, and people close to Putin’s governing coalition to discuss an economic growth strategy for Russia.

The event can be seen as a continuation of what the Financial Times has dubbed a beauty contest among three different economic advisors: Putin’s prime minster, Dimitry Medvedev, former finance minister Aleksei Kudrin, and Business Ombudsman Boris Titov, all of whom have developed their own reform strategies.

Medvedev’s strategy was considered the least ambitious and hence the most politically feasible, but all indications are that he has since fallen out of Putin’s favour, which reduces the chance that his strategy will be implemented. Kudrin’s reform programme is reminiscent of the US-led liberalisation policies of the Yeltsin era; he first presented it in January 2017 at the Gaidar Forum – a gathering named after the neoliberal reformer responsible for the radical “Shock Therapy” reforms of the early 1990s. Titov’s proposal, meanwhile, is an ambitious and comprehensive catalogue of reforms spanning everything from monetary policy to the judiciary to education and skills. The long-term goal is to break Russia’s reliance on the export of raw materials and turn it into an exporter of high-value-added products.

But while the Stolypin Forum was meant to stay focused on economic issues, the Skripal Row and the Western reaction visibly dragged it off course.

Several discussions were hijacked by more extreme panellists, who deployed aggressive nationalistic rhetoric and conjured an image of the West as a dangerous enemy, hellbent on bringing Russia to its knees. Many clearly invoked the extreme nationalist school of thought known as Eurasianism, a tendency that has greatly influenced certain sections of the Russian elite since the fall of the Soviet Union.

In this nationalistic climate, liberal reformers are struggling to make their voices heard. Defending economically and socially liberal views is associated with the same ideas that were – according to some – deliberately deployed to bring Russia to its knees in the 1990s. From there, it’s only a small step to considering would-be economic modernisers “un-Russian” and even traitors.

The chillier Russia’s diplomatic relations with the West get, the more likely it becomes that militarists and Eurasianists will beat out economic reformers in the race to influence Putin’s thinking. As a result, he may well choose to safeguard his legitimacy by sticking to the “collision course” option rather than by tackling complex economic issues.

Given the scale of Russia’s ventures abroad and the millions of people they affect, the stakes in this invisible competition are uncommonly high. That means the West must avoid fuelling the more extreme elements in Russia’s domestic political competition at the expense of reformers. The British diplomatic reaction to the Skripal affair may have looked like an easy victory for a weak government in search of positive press, but the confrontational approach it entailed may turn out to be good news for Russia’s warmongers.

Gerhard Schnyder, Reader in International Management, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Advance HE Mental Well-being Training: Embedding Mental Well-being in the Curriculum

May 2, 2018 Matt Hope

In the following post Dr Sarah Turner (Director of the CAP Taught Course Programme) reflects on the recent Advance HE workshop on ‘Embedding Mental Well-being in the Curriculum’. 

With many key headlines surrounding Mental Health of students, this workshop was a good reminder to stand back and consider how we can support students (and staff) within our programme design.

Here are some points to digest and consider over the coming months about how we encourage positive learning opportunities that also create a supportive learning environment to promote positive mental health:

  • Teachers are the frontline for students – what could/should we be doing about this? How do we cover this in our tutor roles?
  • Post-graduate / Undergraduates / Foundation students – useful for staff to know the weeks where there are known ‘dips’ in student/staff well-being e.g. period of assessment, after Christmas. Encouraging sharing of well-being as a mode to ‘check-in’ with students.
  • World Health Organisation definition (2014) helpful to consider:
  • It’s everywhere but often invisible so perhaps the challenge is making it more explicit?
  • A5 diagnostic chart for each member of staff (on their wall/desk) so they know who to contact if something arises with a student in a tutorial?
  • 5 ways to embed well-being in a curriculum (by New Economic Foundation NEF):
    • Connect – connecting with students, personal 1:1, making friends in seminars, connections through learning in the classroom
    • Be active –  moving around e.g. walks together
    • Take notice – encourage people to be aware of their environment in Teaching and learning
    • Give – peer support / peer learning / how students give back to the Uni and how they can be citizens
    • Keep learning – foster independence, self-direction amongst students e.g. week 5 is health and well-being week – come along and colour the Uni colour map or come for a massage

Further Resources from the workshop are available below:

 

Loughborough named University of the Year at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018

April 27, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Last week, Loughborough was named University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018, as well as taking the top spot in the University Facilities and Giving Back categories. Continue reading

Remembering Isao Takahata, the Japanese animator who made us see the world as children

Remembering Isao Takahata, the Japanese animator who made us see the world as children

April 25, 2018 Loughborough University

The recent death of Studio Ghibli’s co-founder, producer and director Isao Takahata has prompted a proper recognition of his work, liberating it from the shadow of his more celebrated partner, the Pixar-championed Hayao Miyazaki who unlike Takahata, also designed and animated.

Isao Takahata, who died on April 5, was a co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Japan’s famous animation studio. EPA, CC BY-SA

But for animation scholars, critics and fans, Takahata’s films always had the same resonance, and foregrounded their own style and preoccupations. Takahata, unsung in many respects, defines the Ghibli style as much as Miyazaki; his grasp of the beauty of the mundane and his impressionistic apprehension of memory and feeling, is as memorable as Miyazaki’s epiphanies in flight.

Toei story

Both began their careers at the Toei Studio, Takahata directing the commercially unsuccessful Horusu, Prince of the Sun or The Little Norse Prince (1968), on which Miyazaki served as an animator. The pair then achieved success on the Takahata-directed and Miyazaki-designed Panda Kopanda films (1972/1973), as well as TV work, and the literary adaptations produced by Nippon Animation, including Heidi, A Girl of the Alps (1974).

Takahata directed features Chie the Brat (1981) and Gõshu the Cellist (1982), before joining Miyazaki to produce Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), along with long-time collaborators, composer Joe Hisaishi and producer Suzuki Toshio, with whom they went on to form Studio Ghibli.

The studio’s manifesto was to focus on the artist auteur and produce high quality animation, a significant risk in the highly commercial Japanese market of the time. Within three years, Studio Ghibli had produced what have become two acknowledged masterpieces, Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies (1988), the latter the product of Takahata’s personal convictions as an anti-war activist.

An adaptation of a short story by Akiyuki Nosaka, the film is informed by Takahata’s own wartime memories in Okayama as he tells the tale of an orphaned brother and sister, Seita and Setsuko, as they try to survive after the allied fire-bombing of Kõbe, Japan, in World War II.

Hiyao Miyazaki, Takahata’s partner in animation at Studio Ghibli. EPA, CC BY-SA

Again, for those invested in animation as a form, it comes as no surprise that an animated film can deliver narratives of significant import and emotional affect. Though like Miyazaki, Takahata’s films feature children and childhood, and depict the childlike in such sensitive ways, they are never childish nor made only for a children’s audience. Rather they speak to the commonality of experience for adults and children, and use the emphases on everyday gesture that animation so powerfully amplifies – the cutting of fruit, a baby pursuing frogs, picking a flower, placing a comforting hand on a shoulder – to communicate universal themes and connections.

Japanese legend

I had the good fortune to meet Takahata at Ghibli, and, though he did not draw himself, he noted that drawing always suggests the hand that creates the image, and as such, the human feeling that resides within it, and might be shared. He argued, too, that drawing always reminded him of the resourcefulness, energy and vulnerability of the child, which he tried to show in his films.

Inspired initially by his studies of French literature in the 1950s, and particularly the poetry of Jacques Prévert, Takahata was enthused by an animated adaptation of Prévert’s Le Roi et l’Oiseau (1952) – The King and the Mockingbird – made by director Paul Grimault. Grimault’s lyrical style and colour palette were influential on Takahata’s more realistic cartoon aesthetic, but as his oeuvre developed, a sometimes more comic-strip approach, such as in My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999), or a calligraphic style, like The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013), emerged in telling a particular story.

This calibration of form and subject enabled Takahata to adopt different tones and outlooks on what were essentially potentially tragic themes – suffering and death in Fireflies; pastoral utopia and urban drudgery in Only Yesterday (1991); environmental transformation in Pom Poko (1994); and dysfunctional families in the Yamadas.

Crucially, Takahata drew upon the distinctive language of expression available in animation, often using metamorphoses and visual metaphors to move seamlessly between comic vignettes and serious observations, often prompting heart-wrenching, bittersweet endings.

Takahata observed that he didn’t believe audiences watched live action films carefully, but that animation forced them to do so, because it produced reality more solidly than it actually is. This is surely never more affecting than in Setsuko’s demise in Fireflies and the poignancy of her question, “Why do fireflies have to die so soon?”

Takahata once perceived himself to be a failure because he had not made a film like Frederic Back’s The Man Who Planted Trees (1986), with its vivid commitment to human endeavour and the power of nature. But his own legacy refutes this self doubt, offering stories of human aspiration, good humour, love and the belief in life, in the face of the world’s challenges.

Takahata’s masterpiece, Grave of The Fireflies, the story of two children surviving after the end of WWII. Studio Ghibli

The ConversationAs we wipe away our tears when watching Fireflies, we might hear the voice of Takahata himself, in the guise of a smiling man, who speaks to the children and says, “Beautiful day, in spite of it all …”

Paul Wells, Director of the Animation Academy, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Commonwealth Youth Forum

Commonwealth Youth Forum

April 24, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Last week, our MSc Diplomacy, Statecraft and Foreign Policy student, Paul Ntulila, attended the biennial Commonwealth Youth Forum. Read more about Paul’s experience of the event. Continue reading

11 reasons why joining the #LboroFamily could be for you

11 reasons why joining the #LboroFamily could be for you

April 24, 2018 Liam

Wondering if Loughborough might be the right fit for your future studies? See if our 11 reasons below can’t sway you… Continue reading

The importance of doing nothing / Teaching kids rocket science!

The importance of doing nothing / Teaching kids rocket science!

April 24, 2018 charlie

Hello and welcome to my April blog! It’s the Easter holidays right now; I’m writing this blog with a beer in my hand and a sea breeze in my hair, somewhere on the Balkan coastline (it’s a hard life), having spent the last two weeks travelling in the sun (read: avoiding my coursework…) Continue reading

Visiting 4 Countries and Even More

Visiting 4 Countries and Even More

April 24, 2018 simona

The second term went by so fast and the Easter break is already almost over as well. Many international students use this break to travel around. Continue reading

My Journey through SAD

My Journey through SAD

April 24, 2018 maria

I come from a country that is warm all year round, with our December being our hottest month and July being the month we throw our jumpers on. Even during cold times, jumpers are off by lunch because it is just too hot… very different to life I found myself in when I came to university in the UK.

The SAD storm

Just as I started to feel that I had grounded myself in university life, grey skies became my every day and the cold its companion. With it came sadness like I had never experienced. Mornings became hard to wake up to and days felt slow. Most times away from my room, I would have to fight the tingling sensation of tears building up. The worst part of the experience was not knowing why I had lost my happiness. Then December came around and I got to go home to warm and sunny weather. Within 2 weeks I was back to my optimistic self.

Shrugging it off, I told myself that it must have been homesickness I was struggling with. So I didn’t expect a second round of the sad bug. It was only by my third winter did I start to see a pattern. I was reliant on the sun!! I needed what the sun provided, and I had gone roughly 2 years not understanding that. With more research, I soon found that my symptoms all matched the “winter blues” or “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD).

Fighting SAD

There were many things I started to do once I was almost certain what I was going through. Keep in mind though I have never had a formal diagnosis. Based on what I believe I was experiencing I …

  • …took trips to places where the sun was bright and bold. This meant going home in December for me. It’s amazing how 3 weeks of sun recharges your batteries and can last you through the rest of the grey skies to come when you’re back.  Sometimes home was too far away, so I’d run away to places like Greece or Spain.
  • …tried to have a positive mindset. Having positive internal dialogue really makes all the difference in situations. And always remember, the sunny days are COMING, and they are worth it. They really accentuate how beautiful this country is.
  • …looked for help. Talking to family about what I was feeling really helped take a weight of sadness off my chest during particularly hard days. But sometimes, for some, it can be hard to open up to those closest to you and you would prefer to seek more professional help. Loughborough University has many services to assist you in mentally and emotionally hard times. I have never felt optionless here, and I will list a few options below.
    • There is a student-led association called “Heads Up!” and they promote positive mental health care through different events, workshops and campaigns.
    • There is also a counselling service where you will be able to go talk to a professionally trained individual about your feelings and concerns. For this service, you even have the option of meeting someone face-to-face or on a secure online platform.
    • If you hold a faith or you are spiritual and would prefer to find comfort in your faith, there is also the Centre for Faith and Spirituality

Closing remarks

If you follow my blog posts so far you must be thinking “what is her obsession with the weather!!”. To most, the weather is a little conversation filler, to me it is everything. I wait in anticipation for sunny days and I am very aware of my mood, making sure I say kinder things to myself when I feel low. For those sharing my journey through SAD, the worst is over, and the sun is making its entrance into providing continuously sunny days.

Why Educate Yourself?

Why Educate Yourself?

April 24, 2018 davina

Becoming a Student and Teacher

Welcome to my most recent, and most provocative, blog entry to date! I am going to explore the topic of education and how it may be valued. I hope you are inspired to think about how precious it is to be able to “learn” in an institution like Loughborough University and begin to see that anyone and everyone can learn. While many of us have been lucky enough to be students our whole life, each one of us also has the potential to be a teacher of others… and I am not talking about just in a classroom!

The Power of Education

Education is usually the first institution to come under attack when oppressive and tyrannical regimes come to power within a region. This is for good reason, as no matter the form that education may take, its purpose is to enable the individual to ask questions and spark their curiosity to try to find the answer(s) and/or solution(s) without resorting to being told what to think/do by those in power. In a “Big Brother” regime that controls its citizens lives under the pretext of protecting them, those who question why things are the way they are and offer solutions for how to improve the system are dangerous to those who want to maintain the status quo that made them powerful. This is the root of sayings like “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

Choosing Your Pen Wisely

In light of the fact that not so long ago the majority of the world was illiterate, this modern day and age of instantaneous access to information via the internet and the widespread knowledge of the written word are magical. However, with the opportunity for anyone and everyone to become informed via the relatively free flood of information, the question of whether some types of knowledge or education are more valuable than others becomes critical to evaluating different learning opportunities.

For those of you not familiar with the book, 1984 is a classic dystopian novel written in 1949 about a future where the totalitarian ruling system is characterized as a “Big Brother” to the citizens. The author, George Orwell, was an English novelist who was an avid supporter of “democratic socialism”. (As a side note, he is also attributed with coining the term “Thought Police”.) A particularly apt quote of his from this novel captures the challenge and opportunity for the metamorphosis of modern learning systems: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” The challenge for choosing the best education for any given individual is the same as the opportunity in that the more people are able to share their thoughts with larger audiences via digital media and within a free society, the greater the potential that their words will sway others to help or harm according to the intent of the originating thought.  As G.K Chesterton (also an English writer) said: “Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”

The Value of Self-Education

While discussing what constitutes “value” is beyond the scope of this current blog, it is my belief that the most valuable type of learning does not take place in a classroom or even at home. While higher education and applied learning are very important for further developing and refining one’s critical and analytical thinking skills – in addition to building societal awareness and the ability to socialize with diverse others – and many people pick up valuable insights from their family and friends, the most important education is of the self about the self. Until one is educated about oneself – including likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses – any attempt to learn from or teach others is constrained. The chances of an individual achieving her/his full potential, whether as an electrician or as a politician, is inhibited by the fact that s/he may not be pursuing an external education that is aligned with who s/he is inside.

The Best Protection

In a world increasingly focused on external and material satisfaction, I argue that the satisfaction of knowing who you are and what you need to learn to get where and what you want/need is a basic foundation for achieving success and happiness. Once you figure yourself out, in essence becoming the sole expert on you, it becomes easier to hone your specialized set of skills and share your expertise with others. This knowledge, often hard-earned, also protects you from being misled and misinformed by a myriad of world-views that may be divorced from facts and truth.

But I’m bad at sports, will I fit in!?!?

But I’m bad at sports, will I fit in!?!?

April 24, 2018 anastasia

This month I got rid of the Lboro imposter syndrome and I ran (rather, crawled) a half-marathon. But don’t worry, it’s not quite a requirement to graduate!

Loughborough sport

A large part of March in my student ambassador job was spent talking to lovely prospective students all worried about the same thing, whether they will ‘fit in’ if they don’t like sports. So, let me start with a famous phrase – you don’t need to do sports to go to Loughborough…. Yes, you REALLY don’t have to do sports. It’s true, there are too many other activities to get involved with that don’t require a bead of sweat!

However, don’t blame me if you inevitably get pulled into a friendly dodgeball or beach volleyball game (yes, we have a free Beach Park), which is the perfect alternative to studying for your June exams! I speak from experience 🙂

Before university, I was reasonably active and even skated on the Czech national synchronised ice skating team as a junior, which seemed to be a sufficient achievement! Yet Loughborough turned out to be a completely different animal.

The collective level of sports is unparalleled, from the high-end facilities and research to the engagement with the general student body. The number of elite athletes that the university produces can be seen on the Loughborough Sport website, and you will definitely end up meeting many a successful sportsperson during your time here – it’s in the water we proverbially walk on*.

Yet my biggest admiration for Loughborough comes from the opportunities that Loughborough provides for those who aren’t as focused on the shiny medals. At the start of the year, there is a wonderful AU sports bazaar, where you can find out about starting a sport as a beginner or continuing one you pursue already. In my second year, I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team, which was an incredible addition to my university experience and an entirely different blog post…!

Would you just like to get fit? Make use of your massive student discount at the two campus gyms, which include unlimited access to fitness classes and the Olympic-size swimming pool!

Interested in trying new sports? Check out the free MyLifestyle classes. They are absolutely amazing, as they are student-led and you will often get taught by a future world champ, or as in the case of the Kickboxing class I went to, my friend the four-time national university heavyweight champion.

Finally, there is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED to get involved in sports AT ALL. You will be kept blissfully busy with all of the societies that the Students Union runs, volunteering and other activities we have on campus. DON’T WORRY, those eight Student Experience awards don’t come from nowhere!

Prague Marathon

Now finally about this running deal, I mentioned. This New Year’s Day (January 1st, 2018) I decided that I’d had enough of liking others’ proud Instagram photos of sporting achievements and signed up to the Prague half-marathon. Yes, that 21km run that actual marathoners do for practice. In the Loughborough bubble you hear about people running marathons and Ironman races on a daily basis, how hard could it be?

Apparently pretty hard, said my body, as it tried to remember how long a 5K was after a year or so of no running… Thankfully, soon after it managed to pull itself together and proceeded to complain about training for another 3 months under the guidance of my incredibly sporty friends, multiple astonishingly awesome members of staff and the internet. I would sing praise to myself for the many early morning runs, but honestly, there weren’t any. In fact, there weren’t many runs at all, which I dully regret…… Ha! You wish! There were lots and lots of runs and I even think I’ve been tricked into almost enjoying it now!

It paid off in the end and I endured the 21km last week in Prague, where my family lives. It was a surreal experience, with thousands of spectators and 12,000 runners filling the streets and cheering on. I would definitely recommend the couch-to-21km journey to anybody, as I’ve hobbled away a significantly stronger person than before.

As for running in Loughborough, there is a weekly running club associated with Loughborough Sport, a fantastic Triathlon AU club, which many of my friends are part of, many charity runs to get involved with and a Map-My-Run community to help you discover new routes and picturesque areas.

*“Lufbra walk on water!” is a chant every fresher has learns within 3 minutes of being on campus and recites every day at sunrise.

Honourable mentions of other ways to get active in Loughborough:

  • CVA: there are many opportunities to get involved as a referee, coach or volunteer if you’re not able to play yourself.
  • Hall sports and society one-day events, such as dodgeball and volleyball.
  • MyLifestyle events, such as FitFest and similar.
  • Think outside the box with Loughborough Societies – belly dance, pole fitness or even gardening will get your heart pumping 🙂
An Easter in France

An Easter in France

April 24, 2018 alice

Hi everyone,

This month I thought I’d write about what I did over the Easter Holidays and how we celebrate it with my family in France. I haven’t seen my French family for almost a year so it was a great opportunity to get to spend some time with them whilst celebrating an event such as Easter.

Une crêperie

Firstly, when I arrived we went to a restaurant called ‘Une crêperie’ where they serve crèpes and galettes. Galettes are essentially savoury crèpes made with buckwheat flour and served with ham, cheese, and other toppings such as mushrooms or potatoes. I would definitely recommend these, they are some of France’s finest food and they’re the one thing I always return to England with.

Spa day

So in France, the main celebration is on Easter Sunday which is the day when families get together and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. To start things off, the girls in my family had a spa morning. As with everyone around this time of year, we start to get a little tired and it starts to show so there’s nothing better then transforming your bathroom into a high-end salon. My mum, aunt and grandma were all with me and we made our own face masks, painted our nails and gave massages to put us in a relaxed mood!

Traditions

After this was the dressing up. In France (especially in my family,) for family gatherings it’s very important to wear your nicest clothes and make an effort, in fact here it’s something that people like to do as often as possible.

Whilst my grandma was in the kitchen cooking what would be a delicious Easter meal, the apéritifs were made. This is essentially a few nibbles (in France often pate with little toasts is served as well as a type of salami called saucisson) and everyone has a drink to wish everyone well and celebrate the occasion (usually with champagne.) This is a great time to catch up with family members and prepare yourself for the upcoming meal.

My grandmother cooked chicken, with apricots, mushrooms and a kurcuma sauce. The table was set with small chocolate bunnies and candles, creating a lovely cosy environment.

Nostalgia

For most French people, after eating, it’s nap time. A well-deserved relax was taken before heading off to the beach to visit my great-grandmother (she’s 97 years old!) We spent the afternoon looking through old photos and reminiscing about the past, which put all us in a positive mood, which was especially needed because it had been raining the entire week.

The most important part of any celebration is to be with your loved ones, old and young all coming together. Spending Easter with my family in France was wonderful. We only get to see each other once or twice a year so getting together is definitely a moment to cherish, we played games, ate delicious food and got to catch up after not being together for so long.

I hope everyone had an amazing Easter and whether you celebrate it or not, it’s a great chance to come together, eat some chocolate and have some fun.

Reunion Day questions

Reunion Day questions

April 23, 2018 vicky

As I’m writing this it’s the Easter break and I’m back down in London catching up with family and friends. Yesterday I had a school reunion day, everyone from my school year went back to school to visit our teachers, collect our A-Level certificates, and to catch up with each other; finding out where people ‘ended up’, who’s still in contact with who and how everyone’s finding life beyond the school walls. As well as seeing my school year, I also saw the year below and was able to catch up with them and have a few déjà vu moments as they told me what they were going through in this busy time as year 13 students. And it gave me the idea to maybe write my blog today on the main things the year 13s asked me and my friends while we were there and our advice/answers to their never-ending questions.

Planning ahead

The main question, other than ‘how are you?’, that everyone asked was ‘what are you doing now?’. And you may be thinking well you know what I’m doing as I am writing this blog as a Loughborough University student. However, this question really stuck in my mind throughout the day… As EVERYONE was asking it, and near enough EVERYONE had different answers. Between my friendship group, we have all ended up doing so many different things from a barrister’s clerk internship, to being an au pair in Paris, all the way to going to university all over the country. So, as my friends and I were sitting in the same spot we would every day last year during our lunchtime and free periods, it made me think, none of us knew for certain how drastically our lives would change in a year’s time, and what our answer to that question would be on this reunion day. That’s why the question stuck. And that’s why I decided to write this blog to you year 13s today to make you think, what would you like your answer to be to that question in a year’s time from now. Among all the stress and apprehension, you may be feeling right now, take some time to think about what you really want to get out from sixth form because I can tell you that having a rough idea of that answer will help give you some motivation to excel in your exams/coursework. Also, it’s a good thing to realise and understand that everyone will most probably end up doing very different things, things that are suited to their personalities and interests, things which may be very different to what you had in mind, and that is absolutely and positively normal and fine! Don’t stress about what everyone else is planning on doing, it’s your time to be selfish here and focus on your very own answer to that question and then get excited to find out everyone else’s answers in a year’s time!

University experience

Another question that was frequently asked to those who ended up at university was ‘how are you finding university?’. Now, obviously, I could only answer that question regarding Loughborough (something you will see my answer through my various blogs). But again, one thing I noticed surrounding this question was that everyone’s answers were very different. Don’t get me wrong, most people were saying about how much they enjoy their university, and how different it is to sixth form, but some told stories of how they dropped out within a month as it wasn’t for them, how they originally didn’t like it but grew to love it, or how they transferred from their original course to a different one. There were also answers which pretty much stated ‘it’s alright, nothing amazing’, literally, which is far from the stereotype surrounding university of it being ‘the best years of your life’. So, from this, I think you can see that everyone’s experiences and opinions of their university vary dramatically, and I think this is very much down to everyone’s very different personalities and preferences. And the advice I would take from this is that you shouldn’t have any expectations for university, go in to it open-minded, because you may be the person who comes back and can say they love everything about their university, but you may also be the person who says they hated university and have chosen something else to do instead; all of which are perfectly okay answers and are not anything to be ashamed of, as it’s down to personal experience.

There were so many more questions that I was asked when I went back for the reunion day, but right now I need to get back to doing some coursework (Easter break doesn’t quite mean no uni work, unfortunately). So, I’ll continue the saga of reunion day questions in my next blog!

Oh and one last thing, happy Easter!!!

Demystifying the REF - Limited Edition Workshop!

April 23, 2018 Steven Lake

Come and find out how to demystify research quality – Everything you always wanted to know about REF / impact … but were afraid to ask!

‘Demystifying the REF: What is research quality and impact?’ is organised by Professor Liz Stokoe and runs on 10th May between10am-3pm. It includes a Q&A session, and some preparation is necessary before the workshop starts.

ALL @lborouniversity and @lborolondon Doctoral Researchers are welcome. You can book via Learn: https://bit.ly/2qCV9bg

Digital Tools for Learning

April 20, 2018 Steven Lake

If you’re on campus next week, why not visit our ‘Digital Tools for Learning’ stands in the Library, James France and the Student’s Union between 12-2pm. Come and tell us what your favourite digital tool is and give us feedback about your experience with Learn – don’t forget to grab a freebie from us too! Below are the details of the dates and locations for the Digital Tools for Learning stands:

  • Monday 23rd – Library
  • Tuesday 24th – Students Union
  • Wednesday 25th – Library
  • Thursday 26th – James France
  • Friday 27th – Library

If you can’t make it to any of the stands, you can still contribute by answering a simple question here about your favourite online resources.

That’s not all! The library is hosting a workshop on ‘Learn Smart with Lynda, Digital Tools and Apps’ on the 27th April from 12-1pm. Click here to book now.   This session will introduce you to a range of web tools and apps which will help you with your studies:

  • Learn about the free online video tutorials available from Lynda.com
  • Discover a variety of apps which will help with all sorts of tasks from communicating and collaborating to problem solving and analysis

Learn Smart with Lynda, Digital Tools and Apps

April 20, 2018 Steven Lake

Have you met Lynda yet? Why not acquaint yourself at our introductory session next week.

Lynda.com is a learning platform which has over 5000 video tutorials used to develop creative, software, technology and business skills for learning and teaching. Available to all students and staff, Loughborough University has purchased a subscription from Lynda.com to enhance your digital skills and personal development. Normally costing £250 for an individual annual subscription, you can use Lynda.com for free right now.

This session will introduce you to a range of web tools and apps which will help you with your studies.

  • Learn about the free online video tutorials available from Lynda.com
  • Discover a variety of apps which will help with all sorts of tasks from communicating and collaborating to problem solving and analysis

The session will be taking place next Friday, 27th April, in Library Seminar Room 1, between 12-1pm. To book your place, log in to Learn module LBA001.

Hunger Games

April 19, 2018 Timi

Do you find yourself always broke? Always hungry yet too lazy to put in the work? Endless boxes of Papa Simon’s Pizza piling up in your kitchen? Are you a non-catered student longing for someone to cook for you always? Constantly buying ready-made meals from the purple onion? Find yourself eating the same thing and not eating sometimes because the thought of cooking makes you weaker than doing the actual cooking. Then this my friend is the post for you. By giving you tips on how to survive. My next post would be actual meals you can make that are both nutritious and delicious.

As a first-year student living in a non-catered accommodation cooking is expected from you because no one else is going to feed you.

So how can I help you?

There are 3 important tips to make the process of cooking less dreadful and ensure you don’t starve one day.

Tip 1: Always make more than enough

When cooking, think of various situations that may prevent you from cooking next time, don’t be shy to add more rice, more pasta, more chicken and more of whatever you’re making. Who knows when next you’ll be able to cook. That essay isn’t going to finish itself, that party isn’t going to wait for you and that personal trainer isn’t going to wait for you to finish cooking before you make the appointment. If you’re thinking of making 2 portions Forget that make 5. Go big or go home. Just think of it, after a long day of doing nothing or coming back from the gym you don’t want to start thinking about what to cook you already have food. If that isn’t a WIN situation then I don’t know what is.

Tip 2: Always have plastic containers and ziplock bags on hand

After making a large amount of food the next thing is having a place to store it. Truth be told its easier to store cooked meals than ingredients and food items especially with the limited spaces we are allocated. Therefore, plastic containers are important you can store that food for next day and it wouldn’t hurt to store it in a microwavable container so when you pull it out from the fridge it doesn’t require much handling. The next post will make more sense of why the Ziplock bags are necessary till then just trust me and go and buy some.

Tip 3: Never cook alone or without a form of entertainment

Surely you don’t want to burn the kitchen to the ground, but you don’t want to faint from boredom while cooking alone. It’s very important to have flatmates or friends around, you don’t even have to talk to them their presence will motivate you to want to cook quickly and not embarrass yourself in the process. It’s a necessary evil but an efficient one at the same time. In the situation, no one is around, whip out your speakers and have a little dancing session or play a movie in the background trying to eagerly go back to enjoy it will motivate you to work/cook faster.

 “Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favour.”
― Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games

Chelsea Smart Stadia Hackathon

Chelsea Smart Stadia Hackathon

April 19, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Two of our Sport Business and Leadership MSc students recently participated in the Smart Stadia Hackathon hosted by Chelsea Football Club. Charlie share’s his experience of the event in this week’s blog post.  Continue reading

Can we alleviate fuel poverty through non-traditional energy services?

April 18, 2018 Andrew Burlinson

Can non-traditional energy services and transactions provide a fair and flexible route towards alleviating fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions? Distinguished speakers, spanning several sectors of the energy system, joined the EnTraNTS and FlexiNET Team to deliver a conference addressing that very question.

Entrants and Flexinet Conference – Fairness and Flexibility : Towards an Equitable Energy Future (group photo – left)

Entrants and Flexinet Conference – Fairness and Flexibility : Towards an Equitable Energy Future (group photo – right)

Contributions in the relevant literature and divisions of the industry, as highlighted by Dr Andrew Burlinson, argue that sustainability and affordability goals could be achieved if final energy services (e.g., heat, refrigeration and light), rather than units of energy, were to be delivered to consumers.

Energy service providers (ESPs) would therefore be responsible for the secondary conversion equipment, which in turn could incentivise the deployment of energy efficiency measures on their customers’ behalf. Lessons can be learnt from similar pricing strategies deployed by district heating schemes and rental agreements which subsume energy bills in the rental price, particularly around transparency.

The EnTraNTS project documented an array of non-traditional energy services which are likely to shift consumer preferences towards a diverse range of energy-related services (e.g., installation of renewables/storage, virtual power platforms, demand-side response, smart home and E-mobility solutions).

Some innovative partnerships/business models are indeed moving the energy system towards a fairer future (e.g., Experian/Big Issue Invests’ Rental Exchange Initiative). Dr Burlinson then concluded by defining three overarching themes under which these non-traditional services can be organised – fairness, flexibility and functionality – and potential barriers going forward.

Next up was Peter Sermol, the co-founder of North Star Solar who addressed the issue from the finance perspective. He indicated that at North Star, they hold the stance that renewables could be financed by debt and not equity since, over the lifespan of a project, they found that this approach improves the viability of the project.

North Star offer a solar-storage-LED-smart thermostat package at zero upfront cost to customers or landlords. Their Pay-As-You-Save repayment mechanism – a much improved version of the Green Deal whereby debt is secured on the electricity meter – provides several benefits, including the fact that they do not have to perform credit checks on the residents, thus somewhat alleviating the financial barriers that fuel poor residents and their landlords face.

Still within the theme of fairness, Emma Bridge, CEO of Community Energy England, explored the role that community energy projects play in terms of delivering services to the community. Such projects have proven that collective action can attract significant amounts of investment and seed funding. To date, investment has primarily focused on renewable power generation and, to a lesser extent, energy efficiency measures, bringing about reductions in carbon emissions and improving social and community outreach among many other benefits.

In order for community energy projects to be successful they must harness linkages with local authorities and regional development agencies, as well as develop networks with other community initiatives and regional low carbon hubs. The concept of community energy could be summed up by the final thought:

“Putting people at the heart of energy” – Emma Bridge (CEO, CEE)

Emma clearly argued that, even though the future of the energy sector is uncertain, households and communities should be placed at the centre of the transition.

Dr Paul Rowley outlined methodological approaches that can be utilised in order to explore the complexities surrounding heat decarbonisation in the domestic sector. Further, Dr Rowley introduced two technological innovations, ‘smart cogeneration’ and ‘hybrid heating’ as potential candidates that can assist specific household typologies in reducing and time shifting energy consumption. Taking the latter innovation as an example, households can draw upon the most efficient source of hybrid heat generation during the winter (e.g., a gas boiler) and summer (e.g., an air source heat pump) assuming the property is well insulated.

Energy policy dominated the panel discussion that followed. The three major components of energy policy are security of supply, reduction in carbon emission and affordability. However the affordability component has too often been overlooked. The regressive nature of the social-environmental component of energy bills was flagged as a concern, as perhaps it could have been funded more equitably via general taxation. It was nevertheless considered that, while new and innovative business models and technology are needed, if the problem of fuel poverty and vulnerability is to be properly addressed there is also a major need for innovation in policy.

The second half of the conference focused on flexibility and on how innovative, non-traditional technologies can solve the problem of residential heat decarbonisation in a flexible and affordable manner. According to official statistics, approximately 30% of the energy consumed in the UK is used for domestic heating. Therefore going forward, the future of the energy system needs to incorporate low carbon options for heating. Additionally, taking the fuel poor into consideration, these options also need to be low-cost.

Kenny Cameron, the VP of Business Development of VCharge, offered details of their solution to this problem. VCharge aims to address fuel poverty by optimising the use of storage heaters with smart technology (Dynamo) among those living in social housing. In turn their initial pilots have led to reductions in energy bills and/or a clear improvement in the warmth and comfort of the home provided by their heating, as well as cutting carbon emissions.

Dr Lewis Cameron (Project SCENe, University of Nottingham) gave insights into a pioneering community energy scheme, founded on a ‘subsidy free’ commercial model that stacks several streams of benefits that emerge from integrating local renewable generation, storage (the largest in Europe to date), smart technology, demand-side-management and grid services. The future viability of the scheme comes down to their pragmatic approach to consumer choice, risk, supply licences and community participation/ownership.

Similar to VCharge and NSS, Project SCENe’s mixture between renewable generation, storage and optimisation could bring about financial and environmental benefits for a range of stakeholders, residents and landlords included, while preserving competition in the energy retail market, since there are no lock-in effects to a specific energy supplier.

Either side of these two presentations, delegates were organised into groups and were given the task of creating their own business models aimed at delivering innovative solutions to decarbonise residential heating, ideally incorporating fairness and/or flexibility. After the models were conceptualised, Rob Adams (Project Manager, Catapult) introduced Energy System Catapult’s ‘Let’s Beta Fuel Poverty’ free online scoring tool so that the groups could evaluate their business model’s practicality, according to several parameters that are conducive to tackling fuel poverty.

The conference closed with a walking tour of the Kings Yard Energy Centre located in Queen Elizabeth Olympic park – hosted by Ben Watts (Technical Development Director, ENGIE). The scheme generates most of its energy using a biomass boiler which burns locally and sustainably sourced woodchips. The rest is sourced from large combined cooling, heat and power gas-fired boilers. The scheme is technically low-carbon since the CO2 released is offset by replacing and growing trees. At present, over 3000 homes are heated (cooled) in the East Village with a further 7000 planned to join the district heating scheme in the next five years.

During the conference several key solutions arose around the realisation of fairness in the energy market. These included novel financing models and technology packages (currently targeted at social housing) and community energy projects, both of which aim to support the most vulnerable. Going forward, a variety of innovative policies and energy-related services could work to ensure that communities engage with energy, a clear and present barrier to the development of low-carbon energy systems.

Moreover, as the energy system becomes increasingly low carbon, there is an urgent need to ensure that fuel poor and vulnerable consumers benefit from this transition while being protected from the emergence of costly solutions within a rapidly evolving energy future.

This Blog post was written by Shandelle Steadman, a doctoral research student at the SBE, and Dr Andrew Burlinson, a Research Associate in the Economics discipline group. Andrew can be reached via A.C.Burlinson@lboro.ac.uk or Twitter @acburlinson, and Shandelle can be reached via LinkedIn.

 

Top tips for quick & easy printing

Top tips for quick & easy printing

April 16, 2018 Liam

May is just around the corner and it’s always a busy time for the staff in Creative & Print Services. Every year we print and bind hundreds of pieces of coursework for students. I’m Roz, one of the Print and Post team. Here’s my advice for getting your work printed as quickly and smoothly as possible! Continue reading

World-leading cyber innovation centre to be developed at Here East

World-leading cyber innovation centre to be developed at Here East

April 13, 2018 Sian Leatherland

A new cyber innovation and technology centre will be developed inside Here East, creating 2,000 UK jobs in cyber security. Continue reading

10 things you might not know about postgraduate study at Loughborough University London

10 things you might not know about postgraduate study at Loughborough University London

April 12, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Making the decision to embark on a master’s programme can be daunting. You may be apprehensive about how you will fund your studies and would like to find out more about the opportunities available. In this week’s blog post, we take a look at what you might not already know about postgraduate study at Loughborough University London.  Continue reading

Synaptic drivers on HP laptops on Windows Services

April 12, 2018 Mike Collett

We now intend to complete the update of the Synaptic Touchpad drivers on the Windows Services (Windows 7 and 10). Owing a technical issue this update as withdrawn on 20th February. Since then it has not been possible to resume the update due to sickness, industrial action and annual leave.

This update removes a potential security vulnerability.

The rollout is as follows:-

  • Monday 16th April – Windows 10 laptops & all HP Spectre XT laptops
  • Wednesday 18th April – Windows 7 machines (except HP Spectre XT laptops)

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?

 Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information.

Claudia Parsons Memorial Lecture 2018

April 12, 2018 Steven Lake

The University is holding its annual Gender Equality Claudia Parsons Memorial Lecture on Wednesday 18th April at 1.30pm, West park teaching hub. It will be followed by a Research Showcase celebrating Loughborough’s gender research.

Dr Jess Wade will deliver the lecture who will share stories from “Hidden No More”, a US State Department exchange program where she joined 48 women from 48 countries to review international policies that champion women in science. As Jess also loves new materials, her lecture will also explore her work making flexible devices in the Centre for Plastic Electronics and the contributions made by women throughout history.

Details for the lecture can be found here:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/news-events/events/claudia-parsons-memorial-lecture-2018.html

The lecture will be followed by a research showcase comprising lightening talks on gender delivered by a mix of Loughborough’s researchers from across campus.

Database Trial - Archives of Sexuality & Gender

April 11, 2018 Steven Lake

Our latest trial comes courtesy of the Gale Group, and will likely be of great interest to humanities, media and politics students.

With material drawn from hundreds of institutions and organizations, including both major international activist organizations and local, grassroots groups, the documents in the Archives of Sexuality & Gender: LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940 present important aspects of LGBTQ life in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. The archive illuminates the experiences not just of the LGBTQ community as a whole, but of individuals of different races, ethnicities, ages, religions, political orientations, and geographical locations that constitute this community. Historical records of political and social organizations founded by LGBTQ individuals are featured, as well as publications by and for lesbians and gays, and extensive coverage of governmental responses to the AIDS crisis.

The archive also contains personal correspondence and interviews with numerous LGBTQ individuals, among others. The archive includes gay and lesbian newspapers from more than 35 countries, reports, policy statements, and other documents related to gay rights and health, including the worldwide impact of AIDS, materials tracing LGBTQ activism in Britain from 1950 through 1980, and more.

To begin searching go to:

http://infotrac.galegroup.com/itweb/loughuni?db=AHSI

Access is via IP address and the trial is available until 9th May 2018

We welcome feedback – good or bad – on this trial, please contact Steve Corn ( s.c.corn@lboro.ac.uk ) with your comments.

Loughborough alumni writes "The World's Fittest Book"

April 11, 2018 Liam

 

The World’s Fittest Book started at Loughborough University. More specifically it began at midnight July 25th 2006 in a quiet corner of the Pilkington library (on the West Park of the campus) when I should have been researching a topic for my final year dissertation, but instead got distracted by studies of sports science and books on sociology.

Fast forward 12 years and I’m grateful for those distractions since those midnight musings have since been written down and printed in a book which is set to become “every fitness enthusiast’s bible”. Dubbed the body’s complete user guide, it’s a best-seller (on pre-orders alone) and upon launch on May 10th will be available in over 50 countries. But what’s set become a global phenomenon is really just the sum and substance of 4 things found among the green fields of Loughborough University…

  • The course I studied
  • The friends I made
  • The sports I played
  • The food I ate

But before I talk about how these each impacted the book, let me start this blog series by detailing what happened at midnight July 25th 2006….

Flicking through pages of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Plato whilst surviving on a diet of protein bars and pre-workouts I realized something. Those older books found in the corners of the library collecting cobwebs emphasized principles of enduring success.

This is why they’d been there so long. In contrast the shiny, ‘photoshopped’ books from current authors were fixated on immediate results. They tended to become replaced as quickly as they’d arrived and were far less enduring. So, what was my caffeine-fuelled epiphany? In short, “Don’t judge a book by its cover; judge it by its shelf life.”

I quickly wrote down the above quote in big bold letters.

Then ― with my senses now alive and wired on caffeine ― I began looking through pages and pages of books and magazines. Until eventually — somewhere between Socrates and Sports Illustrated — I noticed something. Most commercial fitness magazines share a common, “literary formula.”

Firstly, there’s a, “False Declarative” or “Interrogative of False Intention.” This is a term I coined to describe bold statements or questions that almost promise results. This is then usually coupled with a superlative adjective or adverb. Typically promising you’ll be “bigger”, “leaner” and/or “stronger.” What’s left is a collection of headlines like: “Build Muscle in Five Easy Steps!” “Want To Lose Fat Fast?” and “Want Rock Solid Abs Fast?”

Sound familiar? I called them “Fitness Fairy Tales” and the industry is riddled with them. I’m not the only one to think so either. The sports science genius Dr. Mel Siff said it best when he said, “The public usually feels far more comfortable with cerebrally undemanding mantras and “fast food” solutions than with far more accurate, complex methods. This is a major reason why many fitness figures write as they do and market their catchphrases simplistically as they do – society has been processed by mass media to behave like that and they usually do not want to be forced to think too deeply or to have their convenient current beliefs questioned, because that entails a serious threat to their psychological safety.”

In summary, Fitness Fairytales sound great, but most over promise and under deliver. Bullet pointing short, snappy instructions for us to unquestionably obey, each one fails to teach us even the most basic rules of food and fitness. Basically, thorough and in-depth education like in ‘days of old’ are all but forgotten.

Which is why in that moment I put pen to paper and The World’s Fittest Book was written. Based on the work of Brazilian educational theorist Paulo Freire and his concept of, “Conscientization”, it promotes a critical way of thinking that teaches us to achieve an in-depth understanding of a subject so we can take action against the limiting elements. By embracing this philosophy ― and refusing to dictate anyone’s dietary or training habits ― what’s left is a “tool” that creates an army of experts, not followers. All because in reality, no one knows your body better than you do if you’re in tune with it.  You are your very best personal trainer. You are your very nutritionist.

Packed with workouts the author tried and tested in the pursuit of multiple world records, critics are claiming The World’s Fittest Book is more than a book, it’s the greatest training tool ever written! Designed for anyone who wants to make permanent and lasting changes to their food and fitness, it’s the first book to combine the teachings, tips and tricks of Olympic and World Champions into one, easy to follow resource. Pre-Order your copy now: http://amzn.to/2E3bYCP to ensure you receive it on May 10th 2018.

About the author:

Ross is a decorated expert in the fitness industry. For over 10 years he’s been involved in every area of sport, fitness, and nutrition imaginable. He started as an international athlete playing water polo for Great Britain but later moved into the academics of sport and graduated from the world-renowned Loughborough University School of Sport and Exercise Science.

Career's Evening talk recap: Association of Business Psychology

April 10, 2018 Ondine Barry

On 7 March 2018, an Association for Business Psychology (ABP) Career’s Evening took place at Loughborough University. The aim of the event was to expose students (both undergrad and postgraduate) to the world of work as a Business Psychologist.

 

The evening kicked off with speaker and student registration, followed by a welcoming and introduction, speeches from six different speakers, a Q&A session and finally a networking session with refreshments. The diversity in the six speakers was quite outstanding, with a panel of three males and three females. This diversity was not only apparent in the physical, but also how each of the speakers followed such different career paths.

The speakers took us on a journey of their careers and shared personal stories about lessons learnt along the way. From individuals who work in the public sector, to those working in the private sector, to those who are self-employed and others who are not – it was an absolute treat to hear how a Business Psychologist can work in such different areas and make a positive impact.

The underlying theme of the evening from each speaker was that in life, you need to maintain a “never stop learning” mindset, and that you should not be afraid to take on new challenges. In the Q&A session, the panel provided advice on being a chartered Psychologist and what that means depending on your work context.

A key feature of the event which proved to be highly beneficial to all students was the chance to network with the guest speakers as well as our peers. To some, networking can be quite daunting, but it was made clear in each speech just how important networking is to the career development of a Business Psychologist.

Through making solid connections based on mutual trust and respect, you can open yourself up to exciting opportunities which you may not have had before. It was emphasized to us that these relationships are fair; if you draw upon a peer for help or guidance on a project, you should make sure to do the same when the time comes for them!

Each speaker told us how they have built up their own network of connections and it would seem that each story is very similar: in line with the “never stop learning” mindset it would also seem that a Business Psychologist should never stop networking!

Through attending conferences, seminars and talks, the panel are continuously meeting new people and thus establishing connections. The ABP talk, for example, was the perfect place to start for us students. The panel were all extremely friendly and encouraged us to interact with them to find out more about their careers and get inspired. In the career of a business psychologist, experience is so important.

Through listening to each speech, it was clear that there is no set career path to becoming a Business Psychologist. In being given the opportunity to network, students were able to inquire about potential work experience available and express their interest in aiding in any projects.

Attending the ABP careers event was definitely worthwhile! Whilst the amount of information might have seemed a lot at first to process, it’s certainly furthered my passion to develop a career as a Business Psychologist. There are some key take-away points from the evening which I’d recommend anyone to make note of:

  • The importance of networking and establishing connections
  • Utilize LinkedIn to your advantage
  • Constantly evaluate and add to your knowledge of the field
  • Take advantage of any potential work experience which comes your way

This Blog post was written by Business Psychology Masters students Eve Norris and Manai Aphane. If you would like to get in touch with them, please email the Programme Director, Dr Iain Coyne, on I.J.Coyne@lboro.ac.uk

Representing Loughborough at STEM for Britain 2018

Representing Loughborough at STEM for Britain 2018

April 9, 2018 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Matthew Healey – Department of Chemistry, Loughborough University.

The UK has a strong Science Technology Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) heritage. It is home to four of the top ten universities in the world, it has the most Nobel Laureates outside the USA, and it is second only to Germany when it comes to participation in EU research projects. Therefore, nurturing research and innovation in UK universities (such as Loughborough), specialist institutions, and innovation incubators is critical in terms of protecting our high value manufacturing economy. Rarely do we see ‘Made in the UK’ on a pair of socks, but we are well-known for our advances in research, design and manufacturing (trains and jet engines are just two of many examples that immediately spring to mind).

It was announced that the UK Government plans to increase its Research & Development (R&D) budget by £4.7bn by 2021 (the biggest increase in public R&D investment since 1979). A commitment has also been made to increase R&D spending by 2.4% by 2027. Therefore, as a researcher in STEM, I’m acutely aware of the importance of communicating my research to the people that hold the purse strings and who develop policy that can profoundly affect society. So, when I saw the opportunity in November 2017 to present my research to such influential people I jumped at the chance!…

You may be wondering what this event was – well – it was ‘STEM for Britain’; a major scientific competition and exhibition in Parliament that was originally set up in 1997 by the late Dr Eric Wharton. The aim of ‘STEM for Britain’ is to support, encourage and promote those who are in the early stages of their STEM research careers. Essentially, it’s an event that provides an excellent forum for researchers to discuss their work with both Houses of Parliament whilst also fostering engagement with the R&D community.

Selection to present at ‘STEM for Britain’ was tough! According to the call of interest, each year there are around 500 entrants with only 35% being selected to present! Undeterred, I wrote my abstract for a non-specialist audience and explained why my research is considered ‘ground-breaking’. Then, I waited… After what seemed like a life-time, I received an email to say I was accepted! My initial reaction was absolute delight and then the excitement and nerves set in –  I had seven weeks to prepare!

In March, the day of the event arrived and, so did I, at Portcullis House. After waiting outside with numerous others to pass through the tight security (it was akin to that in an airport!), I was finally let in and directed to the event space. The large wood panelled room was full of people and some of the best posters I’ve seen! Eventually I found my allocated display board, pinned up my poster and eagerly awaited viewers. Although the event was held in the Houses of Parliament, the atmosphere felt relaxed with a real buzz in the air. Having taken in the ambience and the excellent catering, I started to talk to the presenters around me and I was amazed how varied the research was; from energy generation to applied mathematics. There was vast representation of UK research from many of the UK’s universities and at that moment I felt the absolute honour to be there representing Loughborough at this prestigious event.

With judging over it was time to relax and take in more of the atmosphere, and meet some MPs from over the UK. Nicky Morgan (the local MP for Loughborough and prior Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities) was the first to stop by, followed a little later by my home MP Nigel Mills; both of whom were very receptive, and engaged with my research, asking some very probing questions.

It was such a privilege to have what seemed meaningful conversation with policy makers. From a personal perspective, it often appears that MPs base their decisions regarding research funding allocations on the facts and figure that they are given. Therefore, ‘STEM for Britain’ provided numerous early stage researchers with that once in a lifetime experience to take share their work in the home of the UK Government, some of which is funded by Government initiatives.

On reflection, although I didn’t win the competition, I will always be able to say I was selected from many hundreds of other researchers throughout the UK to present at this unique event. I also took away some invaluable feedback on my work and several new contact details!

Overall, as an early stage researcher, I would recommend anyone in the same position as me to communicate your research as widely as possible but especially with those that can action change , after all, as the common quote goes “research is worthless if you can’t share it!”

Winter to Spring

April 9, 2018 Kerry Featherstone

Last week’s workshop at Bradgate Park was very enjoyable: a full house despite the rainy weather.  We wrote poems loosely (very loosely) based on sonnet forms.

In the time since the last workshop, I visited the Record Office at Wigston (https://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/history-and-heritage/visit-the-record-office/about-the-record-office).  If you’re interested in local history, family history and related subjects then it’s a treasure trove, and the staff are really helpful.  Whilst looking for records relating to Bradgate Park, I found catalogue of a sale of land and buildings at the Park and in the surrounding areas, from the 1920s.

Having selected some phrases and typed them up, I challenged the poets to include phrases from the catalogue in their poems; some were easier than others to make use of!  “Amidst fine woodland scenery” and “timber-capped ridges overlooking views” are fairly straightforward.  Less obvious are “attainted and convicted of treason” or “no person shall advance”!

I enjoyed listening to examples from everyone’s writing despite running over time – these workshops fly past (amidst fine woodland scenery).  The next workshop is at 10.30 on Tuesday, June 19th – You can book  a place by calling 0116 236 2713 extension 25 between 11 and 3.30 any day, or  by visiting the Visitor Centre.

In the end, it’s all about poetry, and I’m very grateful to Brian Owens for this contribution from the Spring workshop.  It opens with the brilliant close-up image of “tiny razored teeth” of new nettles, and ends with Spring emerging despite “Winter’s final spiteful fling”; a phrase that sounds great as well as being effective description.  Thanks to Brian; look forward to more contributions as the year goes on.

 

Winter to Spring.

The tiny razored teeth of emerging stinging nettles rasp

through the flattened chewed grasses

Close besides the fibromyalgia contorted limbs of cankered

rotting oaks

The stretching copper tipped spears of lengthening sedges

search for the muted overcast Spring light

Scattered amongst the sodden, dimpled deer-trampled

cushions of torn and ridged ground

The wistful warming west wet winds brush the faces of

walkers and huddled ramblers

Past drenched ditches half filled with cold Winter’s lashing

rains and Siberian snows

Winter’s final spiteful fling rails against the tumbled fences

and the inevitable coming dance of joyful Spring.

 

Brian Owens

Inspirational deaf student is made Snowdon Trust ambassador

April 6, 2018 Sian Leatherland

Our MSc Diplomacy, Statecraft and Foreign Policy student, Paul Ntulila, has been made an ambassador of the Snowdon Trust. Continue reading

Learning engineering through practice

Learning engineering through practice

April 6, 2018 anastasia

Exciting industrial trips, cool laboratories and fun projects are all highly valuable to engineering education – a little bit about these at Loughborough in this post! Continue reading