circuit






Problem Solving with Industry

The European Study Groups with Industry programme is an innovative and collaborative way of tackling real problems faced in leading industries.

A study group is a week-long intensive problem-solving event that brings the wide ranging expertise of mathematical scientists together in a collaborative effort to solve real problems experienced by industrialists.

A Typical Week at a Study Group...

On the first morning, industry representatives present their problems. Often these involve complicated industrial processes that are not scientifically well understood. Some problems are more clear cut than others, for example, there may be a specific question such as How might we prevent this happening?, however this may not necessarily be the case. The academic/scientific participants then select the problem(s) they would like to work on.

During the first afternoon, subgroups of the scientific participants meet with each industrial representative and ask more detailed questions. Ideally, at the end of the day the team should have defined in broad terms the approximate goals for the week. Sometimes a successful outcome may simply be a properly formulated mathematical problem.

During the rest of the week, the group works on the problems and progresses towards a solution. Participants are free to choose which group(s) they would like to work with. Some people like to work intensively on one problem, others prefer to contribute to a number of problems. The industrial partner may or may not be able to attend all sessions, but should be easy to reach if more information is required.

On the last day, all groups present their results to the industry representatives and the other academics. A report describing the work of the group is written in the weeks following and given to the industrial partner.

Study Group Topics

Study group problems can come a wide range of areas. Common topics include

  • Fluid mechanics. Examples include: flow of oil in a porous media, spin coating, dry powder blending, coating deformations in galvanizing, initiating Guinness.
  • Chemistry. Examples include: reaction-diffusion problems, improving energy efficiency in wastewater treatment.
  • Electronics. Examples include: blowing of polysilicon fuses, the effect of mechanical loading on the frequency of an oscillator circuit, arc phenomena in low-voltage current limiting circuit breakers.
  • Engineering. Examples include: polymer laser welding, polishing lead crystal glass, solar reflector design, elastic scattering of composite materials, piped water cooling of concrete dams.
  • Transport. Examples include: travel time predictions using mobile devices, network design for urban light transport, estimating errors in aircraft position, chauffeur braking, shunting passenger trains.
  • Environment. Examples include: heavy metal pollution in rivers, transport and reaction processes in soil, green roof design, wind farm output.
  • Finance. Examples include: estimation of the distribution of wind farm power generation using forecast data; uplift quadratic programming in electricity price setting, estimating the volatility of property assets, incorporating estimation error into optimal portfolio allocation.
  • Optimisation. Examples include: shape optimization of pressurized air bearings, optimal control for multi-variable problems, optimising voice quality in conference calls, optimised elevator queueing, warehouse storage, scheduling in factories.
  • Biological and Medical. Examples include: laser welding of stents, modelling prosthetic knee joints, neuromuscular analysis, monomer flow in contact lens manufacture, global travel and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), leakage in microchannels on biochips, detection of metastases in human lungs from CT-Scans.

The problems submitted to study groups are extremely varied but they reflect the skills that are expected from a mathematical modeller. Problems are typically broken down into sub-tasks and interim models that are much easier to tackle.

MACSI Organised Study Groups

The 93rd European Study Group with Industry: 23rd June - 28th June 2013

The Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry - Ireland’s foremost applied mathematics group - hosted the 93rd European Study Group (problem-solving workshop) with Industry, 23rd-28th June. The Study Group was opened by the Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock T.D.

Problems were brought by six industry partners. (For more details please see http://www.macsi.ul.ie/esgi93/study_group93.php

The 87th European Study Group with Industry: 24th June - 29th June 2012

The Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry - Ireland’s foremost applied mathematics group - hosted the 87th European Study Group (problem-solving workshop) with Industry, 24th-29th June. The Study Group was opened by Martin Hynes, Chief Executive of the European Science Foundation.

Problems were brought by six industry partners. (For more details please see http://www.macsi.ul.ie/esgi87/study_group87.php

100 academics (from PhD students to full professors) from over 10 different countries attended, The participating industry partners were from several different sectors: electronics, ICT, Food and drink, manufacturing, the environment, and pharmaceutics.

Photo: (from left to right) visiting researchers (Nadia Smith, Mark Curtis), MACSI Director Stephen O'Brien, and MACSI Postdocs (Davide Cellai, Vincent Cregan) working on the Rusal Aughinish granular flow project during ESGI 87.

The 82nd European Study Group with Industry: 26th June - 1st July 2011

The 82nd European Study Group with Industry – a week-long intensive problem-solving challenge involving industry and academic collaboration organised by ‘Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry’ (MACSI) and hosted by the University of Limerick was formally opened by Dr Thibaut Lery, Science Officer at the European Science Foundation on Monday 27th June 2011.

Speaking at the opening Dr Lery said, "Mathematics is key to innovation, a catalyst for discoveries, a home for diversity and collaboration".

Over 90 participants from 10 different countries attended ESGI82. Problems were diverse and were largely representative of the type of industrial mathematics that usually appears in study groups across Europe. Technical reports are being prepared and will be published as proceedings soon. Further information can be found on the ESGI 82 website

From left to right: Prof Brian Fitzgerald, Vice-President Research (UL), Dr Martina O'Sullivan, Project Facilitator MACSI, Dr. Thibaut Lery, European Science Foundation and Dr. Rory Jordan, Science Foundation Ireland.

MACSI has organised three other study groups, ESGI62 in January 2008, ESGI70 in June 2009 and ESGI75 in June 2010.

The 75th European Study Group with Industry: 27th June - 2nd July 2010

The 75th European Study Group with Industry, organised by MACSI and hosted at the University of Limerick, Ireland, took place during 27th June - 2nd July 2010 and was opened by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe T.D.

Professor Stephen O'Brien, Director of MACSI said; "The European Study Groups with Industry is an innovative and collaborative programme that tackles real problems facing some of Ireland’s leading industries. It is vital that we work together to add value and support these industries while also demonstrating the importance of applied mathematical modelling to our knowledge economy."

Minister O'Keeffe said the event highlighted the fact that "the commercial and scientific worlds are increasingly intertwined and essentially two sides of the same coin. The MACSI Study Group is an intensive collaboration with the singular objective of solving dilemmas that are directly relevant to enterprise and the economy".

Over 90 participants from 13 different countries attended ESGI 75. A diverse range of problems were tackled with lots of success - technical reports are being prepared and will be published as proceedings soon. An article "Solutions to real-world problems" including details on our study group appeared in the Irish Times on Friday 27th August 2010. Further information can be found on the ESGI 75 website

Further information can be found on the ESGI 75 website

The 70th European Study Group with Industry

MACSI hosted the 70th European Study Group with Industry from 28th June - 3rd July 2009 at the University of Limerick. The Study Group was well attended, with people travelling from Ireland, the UK and Europe and even as far as America and Hong Kong.

Eight problems were presented to the group at the beginning of the week, covering a range of topics, details of which can be found on the ESGI 70 website.

MACSI would like to thank the Industrial partners, Analog Devices, Bord Gáis, Diageo, Erin Energy and Landtech Soils Ltd. for taking part in the study group and the Science Foundation Ireland for funding it.

MACSI is funded by the Science Foundation Ireland’s Mathematics Initiative to

  • carry out high quality research in industrial applied mathematics
  • raise the profile of mathematics as a science that is a vital tool in modern industry
  • support advanced training in mathematical modelling and scientific computation producing graduates with the skills needed for the Ireland of the future
  • support the teaching of applied mathematics at schools level via a programme of outreach activities.

The team consists of permanent staff across Irish universities and a group of research fellows and postgraduate students.