Newnham PhD student selected for panel advising Government on UK infrastructure

The outstanding work of Newnham PhD student and Chartered Civil Engineer Sakthy Selvakumaran has been recognised again, when she was selected to become a member of the National Infrastructure Commission’s new Young Professionals Panel (YPP).

The National Infrastructure Commission is the independent body tasked with advising Government on the UK’s long-term infrastructure. The YPP brings together architects, engineers, designers and energy specialists from across the country, to help shape the UK’s infrastructure, and give a strong voice to the infrastructure sector’s future leaders.

Sakthy graduated with an engineering degree from Cambridge in 2010, and went on to work on developing solutions and technologies to change the way infrastructure is designed, constructed and maintained. In 2015, she returned to start a PhD.

She shared her expertise on why bridges collapse – and how to predict and prevent this – in her TEDx talk at the inaugural Newnham TEDx Conference.

National Physical Laboratory and Laing O’Rourke are now sponsoring her to do an Industrial Case PhD at the Department of Engineering, researching the risk and resilience of infrastructure through remote measurement and monitoring of assets using radar satellites.

Sakthy said, “Joining the Newnham community for my PhD has given me new opportunities I couldn’t have imagined. There are a great number of talks and training courses which support a many types of academic, career and personal development, and I always meet the most interesting people.

One particular highlight was a travel scholarship from US Alumna to spend the summer in the USA. Not only was I hosted by some of the extended Newnham family, they used their links and contacts to help me meet some pretty interesting and influential people! This has been incredibly valuable not just for my academic research, but also in helping making my research relevant and useful for real life and industry.

I could not ask for a more warm, supportive and encouraging community – from other students to staff and senior members to the Principal, everyone is welcoming and approachable.”