The Fiona Watson Memorial Fund – Newsletter 12

The Fiona Watson Memorial fund sends a final year student from the University to take up an internship with the UN or an internship with a similar international organisation.
The winning student is an ambassador for their country and benefits personally and professionally from their experience of working in such an organisation with humanitarian interests.

MMThe 2015 recipient was Marianna McLauchlan: “Perhaps the most valuable and cherished outcome from my experience are the many relationships I now have with people of all ages, from many disciplines and from all over the world. I am incredibly thankful for the kindness and generosity of spirit shown to me by my UN colleagues and the many, many ‘New Yorkers’ I have met throughout my time here.”

You can find out more about the fund by clicking the image below.

watson image


For more information on how to give to the fund, please visit
Fiona Watson Donations

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Annual Fund Telethon 2016 kicks off!

Annual Fund 2016 CallerIts 9am on a Saturday morning, the University is quiet, and the solitary figure of the Heriot-Watt cow grazes on the lawn, oblivious to the fact he is the imminent centerpiece of a team photo. The Development offices are full of callers packs, presentation slides and 300 Kinder Eggs, which can only mean one thing; it’s time for the Heriot-Watt Telethon once more.

Our student callers arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, insisting that not one of them is nursing a hangover this Saturday morning! The ice-breaker is to introduce themselves and share an interesting fact. The result of which is the discovery that amongst our 2016 calling team we have multi-linguists, musicians, sport-stars, a chef and an extra from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

Training begins and soon enough the callers are experts in the Annual Fund and how it benefits the University. Three areas of need are supported by the income that they raise:

  • Access Bursaries offer life-changing financial support for students from low-income, or challenging backgrounds, who would otherwise be unable to study at the University; opening the doors to education
  • Scholarships attract talented students from across the globe to Heriot-Watt; inspiring future ground-breaking research and experts in their field
  • Small Project Grants provide funding to our societies, clubs and individual students to support deeper engagement with their subject or enhance the student experience.

Many of the student callers have directly benefited as a recipient of the Fund or indirectly through the enhancement of student services including Nightline, an out-of-hours counselling service provided by the Union.

Our training weekend was a great success and we are ready and raring to go for this year’s telethon, with an ambitious target in celebration of our 50th Anniversary. Our efforts are encouraged by the University’s pledge to match every donation, including Gift Aid, meaning that a gift of £50 to the Fund will result in £125 available to transform lives, at no extra cost to the donor.

Calling began on Sunday 24th January and we hope that graduates enjoy speaking to current students between now and 28th February. Every time a gift comes in, the student who spoke with the graduate receives a celebratory Kinder Egg. If all 300 currently housed in the Development offices are given out, we will have surpassed our target for this year and the generous support of our alumni will have secured funds that will transform the lives of countless students.

For more information on the Annual Fund or to get to know our callers, visit:


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Speak now or forever hold your peace

Tom Scott
BSC (Hons) sport and Exercise Science, 2005
Scottish Director, Communication Consultants

Tom 2011If there is one thing that puts the fear into people more than anything else, it has to be public speaking, whether it is at a wedding or a business meeting. The feeling of hundreds of eyes on you, and they are all going to laugh when (not if) you make your first mistake. And that means you can never show your face in public again and may as well become a hermit. It can be enough to turn the bravest amongst us into quivering wrecks.

Sport and Exercise Science graduate Tom Scott, however, disagrees, and is a chap who knows a thing about public speaking. Being a two-time winner of the UK National Speech Contest and founder of the Edinburgh Speakers Club, he relishes the opportunity to stand in front of an audience.

“Public speaking doesn’t have to be a terrifying thing to do. In fact, the audience are probably more terrified than you are – they are desperate for you not to fail and make them feel uncomfortable.”

Tom comes from a family of speakers. When he was only 4 years old, his grandfather put on a public speaking event for him and his brother in the local Post Office. “I was terrified then, but after I spoke for thirty seconds any fear I had was gone”. A sure sign that the sooner you start, the easier it becomes.

Tom then went on to join a speakers club in Denny, near Falkirk, and continued throughout school and university until eventually winning his first National Speaking contest in 2008, and again in 2011. “I felt under a lot of pressure the first time, but it was more a fear of looking like an utter failure in front of my father and uncle, both of whom are accomplished speakers. However once I got going, I found myself enjoying the dialogue and rapport I have developed with my audience and that’s a big key… it doesn’t need to be frightening, it can be enjoyable.”Tom win

Not long after his 2008 win, Tom set up the Edinburgh Speakers Club. It is currently flourishing with a young and active membership, meeting fortnightly at the English Speaking Union on Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh. “It’s a safe space to practice in among friends. We do prepared and impromptu speaking and constructive evaluation all as a way to build confidence.”

For anyone looking to improve their public speaking – perhaps they have a Best Man wedding speech coming up, or a presentation at work – Tom has 3 basic tips to get you on the right road.

  1. Rehearse your speech. You can’t fake it, and if you try, you’ll be found out. Speaking to an audience is a privilege, and taking the time to prepare what you want to say is the biggest compliment you can pay to your audience for their time and attention. Trust your own expertise on the subject. You don’t have to memorise your speech word-for-word, but have a thought-line that runs through it where you know what you need to say, even if you don’t know the exact words. An audience responds to enthusiasm, sincerity and vitality so keep it lively and keep it going.
  2. A speaker has one instrument – their voice. Most use only 5-10% of what their voice is capable of doing. Think about using pitch, vibrato, volume, all ways you can avoid being a dreaded boring monotone and keep people engaged and enthusiastic with your words and actions.
  3. Finally, remember that public speaking isn’t black magic. Like everything else, it’s a learned skill and the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Watch recordings of established orators like Nelson Mandela and Christopher Hitchens, the way they could tap into their emotions and engage the listener; some speakers who try this tap into their anger, but at the expense of their message and it disengages the audience. A speaker who is showing great promise at the moment is the SNP’s Mhairi Black. She’s a raw talent, but creates a sense of urgency with her reasoned argument combined with her passionate and sincere oratorical style. Wonderful to listen to and learn from.

Tom is the Scottish Director of Communication Consultants, and you can connect with him on LinkedIn. You can follow Tom @speakerUK.

The first meeting of 2016 of the Edinburgh Speakers Club is Wednesday 20 January, and then fortnightly after that. New members who would like to improve their public speaking skills are warmly invited to attend any meeting. You can follow and contact the club @edinburghspeak

Posted in #HWUgrads, Alumni Awards, Alumni Awards & Recognition, Alumni News, Graduate Profile, Heriot-Watt Sport | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Heriot-Watt to Car Theft – Life at Rockstar North

Lauren Truesdale
MEng, Software Engineering (2012)

For many, working in games design is a dream come true – but a dream realised only after years of study and hard work.

Lauren outside Rockstar North

We spoke to Lauren Truesdale, a camera programmer with Rockstar Games, the award-winning company most famous for producing Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.

“I’d always been interested in programming throughout high school, and after looking at a few Computer Science courses in Scotland I decided to study at Heriot-Watt. The campus was beautiful, the lecturers were so enthusiastic and friendly, and the course felt very hands on and practical – I knew I would find a home here.

Living on campus in my first year really helped ease into moving away from home, and however tough it got, the baby bunnies and swans never failed to put me at ease! Heriot-Watt really does have beautiful grounds, walking through those areas around my old halls would always show me something new throughout the seasons. I was definitely guilty of starting most days with a bacon roll and vanilla latte from Liberty’s in the Union! That was a pretty great place for meeting friends before class.

The course itself was excellent. You would be eased into new material and then challenged on it. Every class I took was very practical, we were taught the theory behind something and then shown how it was applied in real working situations – this experience was invaluable.

The course covered a lot of ground. For example, it gave me the ability to pick up new things quickly, and exposed me to how computer science can apply across a variety of sectors. I went into video games, but some of my friends went into mobile app development, other are in security or financial software – we all took the same course, and can apply our skills across a broad spectrum.

I used to review games some years ago, and this is a great way to get your foot in the gaming industry door. I still find myself reviewing games in my head as I play them. I loved the art direction and writing in Gearbox’s “Borderlands” series, it’s become iconic for them. I’m having a lot of fun with Blizzard’s “Heroes of the Storm”, it’s an incredibly polished game and a joy to play. And though I was playing it as a student, the atmosphere in “Fallout 3” is still really something to me. Thinking about the future, I’m super excited about “Fallout 4”, “Guitar Hero Live” and “Star Wars Battlefront” – there’s a lot of excitement on the horizon!


Lauren’s name is featured in the credits of Grand Theft Auto Five

After graduating, I started work at a games company called Frontier Developments in Cambridge. I got to live in a new city, meet a whole bunch of new friends and apply my skills straight from the get go. There was still a lot to learn, but I was armed with the ability to pick new things up and apply them quickly. After a year I moved back to Edinburgh to work for Rockstar North, and have my name on the next-gen version of one of the biggest selling games of all time – that’s a pretty big highlight for sure!

Towards the start of any career, there is a challenge in adjusting to a new way of working. University prepares you in a way, but every graduate must remember that you don’t leave already knowing how to do everything – you leave knowing how to learn. You pass your exams, you walk on stage and receive your diploma, then you walk into work and you’re surrounded by passionate and brilliant people and you have to learn from the beginning all over again. But it’s a challenge you can rise to, and excel at, and in the end if you wake up every morning looking forward to going, you’ve won.

Working in the games industry has been a dream, I get to be creative and apply my technical skill. I hope to continue on that journey working on exciting titles in the future, and it’s important to learn what factors contribute to making a successful game. Above everything of course it has to be fun and engaging, but this must be supported with a solid technical backing, a good narrative and immersing environment. I personally work with cameras, so I’m a bit biased when I say a good gameplay camera can really make a difference!


Lauren’s Desk. Just another day in the life of a Rockstar…North employee

The games industry really fascinates me, it’s incredibly varied in its structure – one person has the tools available to them to make a game and put it on Steam, or it can take a multi-studio effort of 1000 people several years. I believe games have come a long way since its small beginnings, and that now more than ever, it has the power to tell incredible stories to a global audience.

You need to be passionate about gaming to work in the industry. You need to play games and start making games – learn C++, learn how shaders work, learn how physics is simulated, learn how characters are animated. Games are incredibly complex systems, and there’s a piece of that puzzle that will fascinate you like nothing else – find it, master it, and show them that your passion is your greatest strength, because it drives you to learn more.”

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Macken Bryggeri – The Black Arts of Brewing

Andres 03Dr Andrés Furukawa has brewed all over the world. Born and raised in Mexico City, he began his career there in the “black arts of brewing” in 1999 as a brewer assistant at Santa Fe Beer Factory, before moving on as Fermentation supervisor at Cervecería Modelo.

“In 2002, I moved to Berlin, Germany, staying there until 2006. During this period I conducted my Brewmaster studies at the Versuchs- und Lehranstalt für Brauerei (VLB), Technical University Berlin, as well as a traineeship at Warsteiner Brauerei, and working as Brewmaster at Lemke Brauerei, where I learned most of the German practical brewing methods and developed a wide spectrum of beer styles, i.e. German, Scottish, English and Belgian beers.”

It was at this point that under the advice of his Brewmaster study mentor, Prof. Dr. Karl Wackerbauer, he applied to the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling  (ICBD) to study for a PhD. “My main driver to conduct my PhD in brewing at Heriot-Watt was the reputation of the ICBD in the United Kingdom and overseas, but mainly to learn the Scottish brewing methods and philosophies, including whisky distilling. After my experience at the ICBD, I definitely gained broader perspective in technical brewing and beer quality.

andres mashingI conducted my PhD in Brewing from September 2006 to December 2009. My experience in Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh at Heriot-Watt has had a significant impact on my life and psyche beyond the PhD study itself. I did not only gain technical knowledge during my PhD study, but also great culture on varied subjects, which the Scottish society encompasses, and overall life teachings by amazing and genuine persons with out-of-the box mentality and perspectives towards life.

I did not get involved with any particular Heriot-Watt social clubs or the likes. I must confess I was just too nerdy trying to attain my PhD degree as per the official programme of 3 years, giving the best outcome I could deliver. The nerd achieved the goal!”

Andrés’ determination to put his stamp on the brewing industry continued after he graduated, which is when he started to pull plans together for what would become his own brewery, Macken Bryggeri.

cmon billy

“After obtaining my PhD degree, I moved to my parents in-law in Slovenia to do some farming, and to start developing Macken Bryggeri’s. I was soon hired as Brewing Technologist for the technology company Pursuit Dynamics (PDX) in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. In this company I had the opportunity to co-author a patent of a mashing system with the use of steam injection.

Throughout my spare time I continued developing the branding of Macken Bryggeri and some recipes, as well as arranging all legal paperwork to register the business in Sweden. In November 2013, I officially moved to Sweden and was fully dedicated to materialize Macken Bryggeri. Now we have 7 different beers released in the Swedish market! However, there is still a long journey to go through.”

slussen photo
Andrés’ choice to move to Sweden was quite an easy one. “Swedish craft brewing market is one of the fastest growing beer markets in Europe and probably worldwide. An ordinary Swede has certainly a broader craft beer knowledge than any other European due to the alcohol monopoly “Systembolaget” owned by the Swedish estate offers a craft beer catalogue of more than 1000 beers from all over the world.”

One of the challenges facing any new brewery is creating something unique, but which also meets the high standards customers have come to expect.  “To make a top quality beer, you need top quality-brewing ingredients, i.e. water, barley malt, adjuncts and hops, as well as the best brewing yeast, instinctive brewer skills, devotion, imagination, creativity and rejection of conformity…and FUN, of course! No room for bitter brewers with their bitter beers!

cmon billy flyerMy favourite beer brands will always be the classic ones, as they know their craft very well after mastering their beer recipes for centuries or decades.”

Andrés’ top priority for Macken Bryggeri is to establish it in the Stockholm craft beer market, before eventually growing throughout Sweden. “We are currently working on having more exposure in the market. We cannot really complain about our achievements in one year of business and recognition, but as any business there is much to do ahead!”

I do have two pieces of advice for future graduates and everybody:

Firstly: do not to follow my footsteps and anyone’s steps, but your own! The most exciting thing in life is learning and creating through your very own personal story. Break away from all conventions that do not lead to your creative success and self-realization.

Secondly: refuse to conform! Like William Blake once wrote in his masterpiece “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” (1790): “If the fool would persist in its folly he would become wise”. So enjoy the ride!”

You can follow the brewery on Facebook by clicking here and visit Macken Bryggeri’s website here.

At the moment the only way to purchase online Macken Bryggeri beers is through a purchase format called “Privatimport” from the alcohol monopoly Systembolaget:

Posted in #HWUgrads, Alumni News, Heriot-Watt University, ICBD, International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Life Sciences | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Computer Science Reunion: Class of 1975

Heriot-Watt was recently visited by a group of Computer Science alumni who had graduated from this university in 1975. 40 years later they came back to reunite and tour the campus of their alma mater as it is today.

097Choosing to study Computer Science was an unusual step for the time. For those students who did, it meant a curiosity about a relatively unknown field. The terminology and the actual coding was indeed a ‘foreign’ language. In the words of alumnus Erik Pike:“…[this] degree needed confidence, not many people have this degree, take opportunities, [and be] optimistic.”

In 1975 the Heriot-Watt campus was located in downtown Edinburgh on Chambers  Street and Grassmarket. The campus was at the centre of everything and going to University meant being in the heart of the city. For most of the alumni who came to the 40th year reunion, this was their first time at the University’s present rural location. It gave them a new perspective on the growth of Heriot- Watt since their student days.

Forty years ago they had each come for their own particular reason. It had been recommended to them personally; it was close to home; it offered courses unavailable elsewhere; but all came knowing the well-respected reputation of Heriot-Watt. Through all the changes and growth, the University’s highly regarded reputation has been maintained and even enhanced.094

Heriot-Watt continues to be known as ‘one of the best’ as it provides students with a solid chance for good employment, career advancement and degrees which open doors to future prospects. To quote another alumnus, Ronnie Cartner “[It] paved the foundation for a future career, taught discipline, logical thinking to solve problems and communicate with companies and their people.”

For the forty year reunion group Heriot-Watt still conjures up memories of comradery, friendships, meeting fellow students from all over the world from all walks of life and all this in the context of living amidst the backdrop of a fully Scottish culture. Olaf Steff-Pederson says, “Mingle,[get] to know other students, get to know Edinburgh, get into the city. [It’s]a fantastic city.”

096When asked to pass on advice to those looking how to get the most of their time at Heriot-Watt this is what others in the Alumni group had to say:

Margaret Gordon, “Go for it and enjoy it, keep focused.”

Robert Brown, “Give it your best.”
Ronnie Cartner, “Go to University, enjoy, work hard, best time of your life. An opportunity not to be missed.”

Joe Zawinski, “Got to do something you enjoy be happy with it. If you’re not happy, do something else.”

Jim Galloway, “Work hard, play hard [but] don’t get stressed, avoid stress.”

University is a part of your life that helps shape your future. It may be after you graduate and you go on to do something else in life that you come to realize it. But Heriot-Watt will remain a part of you.

Article written by Darien Ross, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences.

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David Nussbaum – CEO of WWF UK

David5David Nussbaum (Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting, 1982) is the Chief Executive of WWF UK, and Chair of the UK Chapter of the anti-corruption movement, Transparency International, two international non-governmental organisations (NGO).

We speak to David more in depth in the latest issue of our digital alumni magazine, In Conversation, which will be available at the end of September. To ensure the latest issue arrives in your inbox, keep your email address up to date by clicking here. Exclusive to our blog readers, we asked David the following question.

Whats the most positive trend or development in creating a more sustainable world in recent years? And the most worrying?

“The encouraging trend is the increasing public recognition of the seriousness of the issues in the environment. Twenty years ago if you talked to people about their holidays, nobody would have thought about their carbon footprint. Now, when you talk to people, they might say with a slight embarrassment that they flew and they know it was bad for their carbon footprint. But people are now conscious of their carbon footprint as an idea and have a sense of responsibility.

Business can be a huge driver of change for the better

Another positive trend is that there is an increasing proportion of businesses seeing sustainability as an opportunity to increase their attractiveness to their customers. This is important because business can be a huge driver of change for the better on a big scale. Think about companies involved in timber and forest products, seafood, etc all now getting FSC or MSC certification. This is really encouraging.

People's Climate Rally in New York City, Sept. 21, 2014

People’s Climate Rally in New York City, Sept. 21, 2014

Thinking about worrying trends takes me back to when I was in Africa over ten years ago, in a remote rural Kenyan village.

One of the locals in the village had rigged up a satellite dish connected to a TV set powered by a lorry battery. He was allowing the people in the village to come and watch TV for a small payment. Here’s the issue though: what were they watching? Reruns of Dallas. So here we have people living a simple low level of consumption life, having aspirations to live like people in Texas.

We’re creating huge aspirations for our kind of lifestyle

We’ve now got phones, tablets, TVs, computers, cinema screens and more, all showing people around the world a North American or European lifestyle, and they’re thinking yeah, I’d like to live like that please. We’re creating huge aspirations for our kind of lifestyle and if we don’t find ways of adjusting this lifestyle so that it doesn’t involve so much consumption, we have a big challenge. example, where are we going to find all the water that we consume? Not just in drinking, but the water that goes into the products that we eat, wear, the packaging, stuff in our home. It can take thousands of litres to make a kilogram of beef, because the cow may have been fed plants on grain grown in irrigated fields, and processed in factories that used huge quantities of water.

There is a big pressure on the planet as this widespread aspiration for unsustainable living standards grows. Aspiration is fine – it’s the sustainability of the aspiration that we have to solve.”

To read more from David in our next digital alumni magazine, In Conversation, make sure your details are up to date with us by clicking here, and we will send you the issue directly at the end of September.

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Sue Roaf – The Millenium Project

1st solar roof in UK built by Sue Roaf 1995Sue Roaf , Professor of Architectural Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, champions better building design to help tackle climate change.

Sue works with policy-makers, researchers, engineers, scientists and architects to ensure we are better prepared for a post-fossil-fuel age.

As part of our interview for the Autumn 2015 alumni magazine “In Conversation” which focuses on the issue of sustainability, we asked Sue a few questions from the Millenium Project’s 15 Global Challenges for Humanity, which provide a framework to assess the global and local prospects for humanity.

How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?

We could achieve this goal by running our buildings as much as possible on natural ventilation and solar energy, both free and abundant resources available to everyone around the world.2. 1 to 1 million party Oxford Ecohouse

How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?

Again, solar energy is the key. It’s possible to run our buildings, cities and societies on solar power. We also need to take ownership of energy away from the big companies whose vested interests are a barrier to new approaches. Putting home-owners in control of their own generation as well as consumption would dramatically reduce fossil fuel energy use and carbon emissions.

2.How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?

We already have the tools we need, the question is how do we remove the barriers to using them? What’s required is the political will to enforce implementation of the many scientific and technological breakthroughs already achieved, so we move away from reliance on fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy and energy storage wholeheartedly.

Sue talks more about the future of renewable energy in our upcoming digital alumni magazine, In Conversation, which will be released at the end of September.

To make sure a copy of the interactive magazine lands in your inbox, keep your email address up to date with us by clicking here.

Posted in Built Environment, heriot-watt, Heriot-Watt University, Infrastructure and Society, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Professor Murray Roberts – The Millenium Project

JMRobertsProfessor Murray Roberts is a marine biologist at Heriot-Watt who studies the biology and ecology of deep-sea or cold-water corals. His current research goals can be summarised as ‘working to advance understanding of the biology and ecology of cold-water corals and provide the information needed for their long-term management and conservation’.

Murray leads the Coral Ecosystems Lab, is the Director of the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology, and co-ordinates the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology. You can find out more at his website

As part of our interview for the Autumn 2015 alumni magazine “In Conversation” which focuses on the issue of sustainability, we asked Murray a couple of questions from the Millenium Project’s 15 Global Challenges for Humanity, which provide a framework to assess the global and local prospects for humanity.

How can decision making be enhanced by integrating improved global foresight during unprecedented accelerating change?

Global monitoring and sharing information is really important. What we need to achieve is a global picture of the changes taking place. We’re seeing orgaIMG_5576nisations moving to facilitate this, for example NERC – the Natural Environment Research Council – recently introduced Catalyst and Innovation funding that aims to integrate knowledge from the oil and gas industry and enable new partnerships and collaborations between researchers and the industry.

Heriot-Watt’s partner in the Lyell Centre, the British Geological Survey (BGS) has a unique range of datasets including maps of seabed geology and habitats. Our NERC Catalyst and Innovation projects combine BGS data with industry marine ecosystems and cutting-edge ocean models from the National Oceanography Centre to produce new environmental decision-support tools. We find interdisciplinary collaboration is key to enhancing decision making.

How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?

Ethical considerations in my area can relate to a range of issues, but an important one is how we protect sensitive marine species and habitats by making sure our research does no unnecessary harm. Some corals are currently protected under legislation but others are not, equally some areas are protected and others are not: the High Seas, for example, are beyond jurisdiction of any one nation state and are managed for the ‘common heritage of mankind’ through the United Nations.

Corals on platformThe UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognises that the threat to species and ecosystems has never been as great as it is today. It aims to increase “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources”. We recently worked with the CBD to produce an updated synthesis on the impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems. It’s important that we all adhere to its aims and for us one of its implications relates to how we gather samples: we work to be minimally invasive and will use the best available remote technology to achieve this. Strong partnerships with engineers are vital here.”

Murray talks more about the important research he undertakes in ocean acidification in our upcoming digital alumni magazine, In Conversation, which will be released at the end of September.

To make sure a copy of the interactive magazine lands in your inbox, keep your email address up to date with us by clicking here.

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Epistemy – creators of oilfield risk-assessment software Raven

Heriot-Watt spin-out company, Epistemy – creators of oilfield risk-assessment software Raven – is evidence of how crucial research can be developed into a successful business.

Developed from the PhD research of Dr Dan Arnold, it was co-founded with fellow Heriot-Watt graduate, Jack Talbot, and Professor Mike Christie from the University’s Institute of Petroleum Engineering.

“My Father has worked for himself all his life, so I guess entrepreneurship is in my blood!” says Dan, a geology graduate who started his career working in the desert for Schlumberger.

Dan Arnold

Dan Arnold

Dan’s route to Heriot-Watt began when he came to study for an MSc in Reservoir Evaluation & Management. After graduation, Dan worked for a vibrant start-up company in Aberdeen, and enjoyed the freedom a small company can give.

Dan’s itch to undertake a PhD, however, needed to be scratched. He returned to Heriot-Watt to undertake a PhD in Petroleum Engineering, supervised by Prof. Mike Christie. “It was during this time in 2006 that we realised there was commercial potential in my studies. So, after I graduated, Mike and I began to build a company together around the research, along with another Heriot-Watt graduate, Jack Talbot, whose computer programming expertise has proven invaluable in the development of Raven.

Raven logoThe three of us each have our own unique skillsets, which has allowed us to develop our product to such high standards. We received funding from Scottish Enterprise which allowed us to focus on creating an industry-ready product, and since our first sale have continued to develop and refine our software.”

The current version of the software provides the oil industry with a means of finding the optimal development options for their fields based on an accurately assessment of the risks involved, something that is more critical than ever given the current low oil price.
Epistemy won a Special Award at the inaugural Alba Innovation Challenge Awards in 2010, and came runner up in the Research Council UK business plan competition in 2010 which further enhanced both their reputation and ability to continue developing Raven. Dan was also named a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellow, in recognition of his work and achievement as a young entrepreneur.

HWU start-ups at the Alba Awards. Dan Arnold of Epistemy and Nicholas Psaila of Optoscribe.

HWU start-ups at the Alba Awards. Dan Arnold of Epistemy and Nicholas Psaila of Optoscribe.

“The company is growing, and we aim to find our niche in the market and become world-leaders in oil and gas. We’re looking at other areas for the future, including groundwater modelling and carbon capture storage. We are maintaining our links with Heriot-Watt University by providing our software for their teaching and research efforts as well as maintaining research links.”

Dan is meanwhile giving back to the University, as he teaches on the same MA course that he once studied in.

“It’s a strange experience, but I’m getting to teach the module that initially interested me in reservoir modelling. I hope I can inspire students the same way I was ten years ago.”

Click here to visit Epistemy’s webpage.

Posted in Alumni Awards & Recognition, Engineering & Physical Sciences, Institute of Petroleum Engineering | 1 Comment