Friday, 29 July 2016

Expert Report Writing: Sewage Treatment Plant Engineering

I've had my head down all week writing an expert witness report, trying to rank the possible causes of problems with tertiary treatment filters at a number of wastewater treatment works. It's going out shortly.

It's a complex issue, and becomes more complex still when you start to try and consider what went wrong, when it went wrong, and who made it go wrong.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Process Plant Design : Teaching, Training and Teacher Training

Process Plant Design Pokemon

I have a few teaching related things going on at the moment. I was made a Visiting Professor last week by Chester University, with a view to my helping them with their design teaching next term.

I was also in Aston University this week training their staff in design teaching, as well as a couple of virtual guests who snuck in (see pic)

I'm firming up dates for three deliveries of my "Missing Piece of Design " event in London, Edinburgh and Cambridge next autumn, and I'm preparing a course on practical  process plant design for early career engineers based on my first two books to be delivered next January, probably near Manchester.

Back to doing engineering next week, rather than teaching it...

Friday, 15 July 2016

Process Plant Design, Process Plant Design Teaching and Training, and Process Plant Design Teaching Training

Today I'm preparing my materials for a training course I'm giving at Aston University next week, training their staff in teaching process plant design, based on the award-winning approach I developed at Nottingham University along with my colleagues there.

I'm also putting the final touches on an advisory expert witness report on issues with a process plant design in the German speaking world which I am submitting today, and continuing to work on a second advisory report on plant design problems closer to home.

I'm speaking to a long-time collaborator shortly about the development of a new training course based upon my first book which we are planning in giving in January next year.

Nice to be busy...

Friday, 8 July 2016

Wastewater Treatment Plant Problems: Using Science and Statistics to Resolve Competing Theories

I got a new microscope this week to assist with microbiological analysis of wastewater treatment plant problems. Those of you who are trained in microbiology / microscopy will know what the above picture I took with it yesterday shows. I invite the rest of you to guess. I got some interesting answers on my facebook page.

The other thing I have been doing this week (other than writing of course) is statistics, specifically the non-parametric statistics which need to be used when dealing with data which does not meet the tests required to allow the use of the statistics which most STEM types are familiar with.

I regularly see reports by people who should know better using standard (parametric) statistics where they are not valid. Clearly they do not understand that statistics are heuristics. The validity of "standard" statistical methods (like confidence intervals, or even arithmetical mean averages) are based on a number of things being assumed to be true.

Most notably, they assume a "normal distribution", and "continuous variables". So it really doesn't mean anything to say that people have 2.4 children, it isn't just a joke. 40% of a child is of no use to anyone.

This is explained in a discussion of how teacher's happy sheets are misused here, along with a joke:

Three statisticians go hunting. They spot a deer. The first statistician shoots; the shot passes a yard to the left of the deer. The second shoots; the shot passes a yard to the right of the deer. The third one yells, “we got it!” 

Anyway, I had a number of theories to consider this week, and for once I had plenty of data. Some of the data was however comprised of ordinal variables, which is why I had to use non-parametric statistics to investigate the strength and the significance of the correlation between potential cause and effect.

Even when I had tested for both of these (often confused) properties, I had not proved causation. This is again a thing which people who really should know better get confused about. I was however able to say something. Anyone I didn't lose on the way here knows what.