Monday, 20 April 2015

Week in Review 13th April

Boy - it has to be said that these week in review posts come around quickly! And of course, they take up time that might be spent blogging on loftier matters - though they are at least quick to write!

It's been a slightly shortened week, as my wife was ill, necessitating almost a whole day spread across the week to help out with childcare. A few meetings with undergraduates (who are now at the prototyping stage - always good fun), a mock-viva or a PhD student (whose viva is this week - I have another mock-viva today for a student whose viva is next week - they're coming thick and fast at the moment) but mostly, the week was given over to four things:

1) A day at JCM seating's roadshow when it came to Wakefield - it was good to get a chance to chat about upcoming research proposals, to see their seating in action and to meet the therapists who actually use it in practice. Good stuff. Contact with real problems and problem owners is always leaves me with a head buzzing with ideas.

2) FATKAT - with the data processing algorithms as ready as they can be, I've moved on to designing housing, redesigning the manpulandums (manipulanda? What is the plural there?), and putting together a cost proposal to build a second version, so that we can have a version ("FATKAT 1.0") to keep in the Faculty of Biological Sciences or running experiments while the original ("FATKAT dev", as I call it) returns to Engineering for continued development.

3) Grip modelling - Mark Mon-Williams and I now have a working mathematical model for our hypotheses about  finger co-ordination in reach-to-grasp actions. The next step is to actually link it to empirical data, so I've been testing LabVIEW's curve-fitting capabilities. I'm pleased to say they're up to the job, but Mark and I have agreed to forego any further work on that area until I've actually submitted my Fellowship bid to EPSRC.

4) Fellowship - now getting dangerously close to completion, but as those familiar with the Pareto Principle will know, the last 20% of the work can take 80% of the time! This week saw me drafting my Pathways to Impact, meeting with Mark Mon-Williams to finalise the links with Born in Bradford, removing the high-risk marker tracking elements (that felt like a step too far - with grip force modelling, and data management, and lab studies, and software, and user interfaces and usability... it felt like adding extra technical challenge (even if it's one we've already gone some way to solving) just detracted from the skills development aspects of the Fellowship. I also had a very productive meeting with David Keeling (an ex-colleague, who feels more like a colleague since he's still deeply involved with a lot of our work) of Key Solutions (a company he founded with Justin Gallagher - who you may recognise as a co-author on the K005/MyPAM/hCAAR projects) to discuss asset and data management once the proposed "big data" version of FATKAT is out in the BiB project as part of my pathways to impact. It may seem strange to outsource that sort of development, but Key Solutions have a lot of experience in that area, and we are already seeking NIHR funding to develop the asset management system for MyPAM. Also, the challenge isn't an academic one - I'm not proposing a brave new frontier in asset management systems, and I don't need to learn how to build them myself: I need one so that I can translate my research into practice in schools, or in projects such as BiB. An ongoing link with Key Solutions would be a good foundation or the future. Let's hope EPSRC agree, eh?

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