EXHUME at Advanced Engineering Show – a researcher’s view

After many years attending the Advanced Engineering Show as a visitor, last week I swapped my visitor pass for an exhibitor version and experienced the show from the other side of the display stands…

EXHUME project at Advanced Engineering Show November 2015There was a tinge of nervous excitement as the EXHUME team awaited the first wave of attendees. This was the first experience for me – and no doubt some of my colleagues – in an engagement activity of this type. We were optimistic, however and confident that we could deliver our message to engineering professionals, particularly as we had some excellent freebies on offer (a scientist can never have enough notebooks and pens!)

After a slow start, we were soon bombarded by visitors of all types, from undergraduate students to business analysts to company CEOs. Some had pre-planned to visit us, already aware of our work and looking for an update, or just to say hello and catch up. Some were drawn in by the prospect of a free pen – that was fine by me – that was the idea! Some were drawn in by curiosity, the words ‘composites’ and ‘recycling’ scarcely appearing together. This was arguably the most notable success of the day, the spreading of awareness in the field. I now have a thick stack of business cards for follow-up contact, most of whom want to explore alternatives to landfill for their waste and would like our help. It is gratifying to see industry value our work and want to contribute.

After many ebbs and flows in the foot traffic, quick questions, detailed discussions and snatched coffee breaks, we were low on merchandise but rich in new contacts, and I’m retrospectively relieved that I scribbled out the crux of each conversation on the back of each business card. The show is just the beginning, and now we must capitalise on it. Engaging industry is essential to the success not just of EXHUME, but in solving the composite waste problem. If our follow up work helps divert some industrial waste from landfill, then I think I can say that we succeeded. Until then…

Dr Jack Howarth, 10 November 2015