EPSRC PhD Studentship in: Machine Learning to Create Knowledge from Transients in Water Distribution Systems

Posted: 10.07.2019

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The University of Sheffield in collaboration with Anglian Water and the Water Infrastructure and Resilience EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training


Closing Date for Applications: Monday 5th August 2019

Start Date: 1st October 2019 (contract duration 4 years)

Expected Interview Date: Monday 19th August


This fully funded PhD studentship provides an unrivalled opportunity to make significant improvements to the understanding and management of our vital water distribution systems. The focus of the project will be on developing machine learning tools to interpret and create actionable information from measurements of hydraulic transients. The research will give water network engineers better knowledge about their systems and ultimately help ensure the sustainable operation of crucial water supply systems.


Hydraulic transients are known to exist in water distribution systems (WDS) and have the potential to cause significant failures. Transients also contain huge amounts of information; about the event that caused them and the network through which they travel. Unique among UK water utilities Anglian Water have made the commitment to install multiple high-speed pressure sensors in all of their networks. This provides the unprecedented opportunity to understand both the impact that hydraulic transients have on the water network and also how to interpret transient signals to gain information about the system condition and performance.

The PhD will take an open ended approach to determine the level of useful network operation and management information can be extracted from the wholesale deployment of high speed pressure sensors in distribution systems. It will build on existing tools, to determine the optimal approach to deploying high-speed pressure loggers in WDS to collect the greatest quantity of the most useful data as possible. The project will then explore approaches to interrogate transients measured in the network to infer important system properties, for instance, network abnormalities, areas of the network likely to fail soon and the presence and location of leaks.


The PhD will benefit from being part of WIRe (Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience). Students will benefit from a bespoke training scheme delivered by authorities from academia and industry and access to world leading experimental and computational facilities. Resources are available for international collaboration and conference attendance. WIRe is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive community, and offer a range of family friendly, inclusive employment policies. For further information on the CDT WIRe scheme visit the web site at:


The project will be supervised by Dr Richard Collins, Professor Joby Boxall and Professor Stephen Beck in collaboration with partners from Anglian Water. The normal place of work is expected to be the University of Sheffield, with periods at Anglian Water offices and field sites, with travel and subsistence costs provided.


Eligibility Criteria

Normal EPSRC funding eligibility applies to this award, so students must have a relevant connection with the UK (usually established by residence).


Selection Criteria

The selection criteria for the position are a good first degree in relevant science or engineering discipline and enthusiasm and passion for the topic area.


How to apply

Interested candidates should email a covering letter and their Curriculum
Vitae to Lindsay Hopcroft (
For information and informal enquiries please contact:
Dr Richard Collins:


Full details can be found here


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