King's College London Old Committee Room

5 Find A Better Way projects present to demining community

Teams from five Find A Better Way-funded landmine detection research programmes across the UK gathered in London last week for a chance to present their projects to the wider demining community.

Scientists from The University of Manchester, the University of Bristol, the University of Bath, King’s College London, and University College London spent an afternoon in the historic Old Committee Room at King’s while five experts from different demining organizations..

The experts all had many years of understanding of the landmine problem from their direct experience in the field, and their feedback to the researchers was generally found to be invaluable.

“It’s crucial that any demining technology Find A Better Way funds is designed with the demining community in mind,” explained Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath. “When our founder Sir Bobby Chalrton started Find A Better Way he wanted to improve the tools of deminers in the field. It’s no good coming up with a design that works in the laboratory but is completely impractical in the field.”

Learning how to explain their technology to non-scientists, whether deminers or members of the public at large, is skill that does not always come naturally to the typical engineer, however. Before being let loose in the Old Committee Room the Find A Better Way teams had a morning of learning presentation skills from KCA’s Anthony Richards and Gaetan Lee. Anthony and Guyton are experts and advising science museums around the UK, and know the challenges of presenting complicated, technical ideas in a way the wider public will enjoy and appreciate.

“This was our second session with the Find A Better Way teams,” explained Anthony. “We saw huge improvement today. They are getting really good at learning to engage with their audience and keeping their language simple and accessible.”

These sessions were paid for by an Ingenius Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering, and were organized by Dr Kris De Meyer and Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara, both from the Department of Informatics at King’s College London.

Amin Amiri from University College London, who building a linear moving platform and a  radar to detect realistic landmine models, was enthusiastic about his day at King’s.

“The training from Anthony and Gaetan was really helpful for making us think about how to make our work more accessible for non-engineers – something that can be a bigger challenge than you might think.

“Getting the chance to speak to experts from the demining community was also invaluable. It was slightly intimidating because they had a huge depth of knowledge to draw from and weren’t shy about asking challenging questions. But they gave really fantastic, well-informed feedback. It was a great day all around.”

Find A Better Way would like to thank all the participants for their help making the day a success, especially our representatives from the demining community who gave up their time to meet with our researchers.