The Panasonic Trust Fellowships
Victoria Hickman – MPhil Engineering for Sustainable Development, University of Cambridge
Thanks to the Panasonic Trust I was able to pursue the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development at Cambridge University. I was thrilled to be accepted to study the Masters programme, receiving the fellowship made this opportunity a reality. Any postgraduate research student will understand the difficulties of raising financial support, particularly for research covering sustainability, despite its importance the topic often missed out on funding because of its interdisciplinary nature. Panasonic and The Royal Academy of Engineering acknowledge the significance of research in sustainability and their fellowship has been a valuable contribution.
The course allowed me to choose modules on the topics which interested me and culminated in a major research dissertation on a topic of my choice. I investigated the implementation of building technologies in Ladakh, India, focusing on a case study of the Druk White Lotus School, designed by UK based Arup engineers. The study enabled me to consider the contribution of international engineering consultancy to the sustainable development of the school and community, and highlighted some of the challenges in implementation.
After completing the MPhil I realized that I wanted to study Sustainable International Development and applied to stay on at the Research Centre for a PhD. I am now investigating the sustainability of slum upgrading approaches through stakeholder perception, looking at water and sanitation infrastructure interventions in Kenya and India. I am currently in Nairobi conducting fieldwork in the informal settlement,
Kibera, whilst simultaneously undertaking an internship with UN-HABITAT, the Human Settlements Programme.
If it were not for the fellowship I would not have had the opportunity to do the Master’s course which has led me to do the work I am conducting today. I am confident my research will be a valuable contribution to our knowledge of sustainable international development and the practical applications of infrastructure engineering and housing policy for the alleviation of poverty & progress towards the Millennium Development goals.