This year’s ENAC Research Day kicked off with an enthralling keynote speech on biomimicry and architecture given by Michael Pawlyn, Director of Exploration Architecture and a TEDx speaker. He discussed how architects and engineers can use nature as a source of inspiration for sustainable innovation. His talk was followed by presentations by three young talented researchers: Maya Abou Zeid, associate professor at the American University of Beirut, who described her work on new concepts of passenger mobility like taxi-sharing and taxis that can be hailed with an app; Nerea Amorós Elorduy, lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture (University College London), who presented her efforts to map refugee camps in East Africa, which have turned into de facto cities over the decades; and Jennifer Druhan, assistant professor of geology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, who explained biogeochemical processes in groundwater systems and the importance of using simulations to interrogate complex field data.
After lunch, participants were invited to take a stroll through the traditional ENAC Research Day Exhibition in SG hall, where around 30 booths were set up to present the activities of some ENAC labs. The researchers used demos and posters to describe – with great enthusiasm! – their cutting-edge research. Participants were also given the opportunity to test their knowledge in the Science Quiz and to take part in Serendipity Interactions, where small groups of ENAC researchers from different fields met to discuss potential new interdisciplinary projects.
Later in the afternoon, participants were treated to the two 120-second-long elevator pitches that won the 2018 Pitch Your Impact competition held by Innoseed ENAC. The winners were Davide Cucci, post-doc at the Geodetic Engineering Laboratory (TOPO), who brought home the jury award, and Melis Sütman, post-doc at the Laboratory of Soil Mechanics (LMS), who brought home the audience award. The event ended with the annual ENAC Doctoral Research Awards, awarded to Silvia Groaz, Laboratory of Architecture Theory and History 3 (LTH3), in architecture; Mehran Khaghani (TOPO), in environmental engineering; and Dimitrios Terzis (LMS), in civil engineering. Finally, participants had a chance to relax and unwind at the ENAC Happy Hour hosted by PhD students, where they enjoyed live jazz played by a music group of EPFL students.