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Research Staff Profile - Matthew Waters

matt_waters_sqsmall.jpg  Matthew Waters
Research Fellow, School of Engineering.

Note: Matthew no longer works within the University

Current Research
Current research is as a part of a TSB-funded project on continuous tablet manufacture for the pharmaceutical industry. Everything in the pharmaceutical industry has traditionally been made in batches; that is the way the whole industry is set up and regulated. Unfortunately it is also quite an inefficient method of tablet manufacture. My role is to conduct research on the design of a novel integrated & flexible pharmaceutical process for manufacturing tablets and to design the ‘factory of the future’. This has involved an investigation and extensive simulation of how a continuous pharma factory would operate in order to assess how a change in manufacturing paradigm from batch to continuous affects the day-to-day operations of traditional solid oral dose facilities. The project consortium includes GSK, GEA Pharma Systems, Siemens and the University of Newcastle.

Life before Warwick
Before coming to Warwick to do an EngD I completed a masters in physics at Nottingham Uni.

Best things about working at Warwick
Being surrounded by smart people means you can have a lot of interesting conversations throughout a typical day. The campus is beautiful, the facilities are great. It is very easy to arrange a friendly game of football to break up a day after being hunched over a computer for so long!.

Worst thing about working for Warwick or If you could change one thing at Warwick, what would it be?
It can be a lonely life working as a researcher. Perseverance in the face of adversity and disappointment is absolutely vital because nothing ever goes exactly to plan. Working as part of a consortium also has its own set of constraints – it can take project partners (particularly industrial partners) a long time to share data and insights. Although I cycle to work every day, I feel that charging staff so much for parking (particularly during close-term) is blatant profiteering. Food on campus is very expensive too.

What would you dream job be?
To head a research group that writes code analysis and transformation tools for industry, and to run a consultancy company to renew and revitalise enterprise code.

Research interest
Legacy code renewal. Legacy code is by definition successful code – it has stood the test of time. It can be overly complicated, inefficient or risky to change, but too important and useful to throw away or ignore. Many businesses experience problems with big legacy systems: they become bloated over time as extra functionality is built in and so become less ‘knowable’, the original architects retire or move on, or the original platform becomes obsolete. I’m interested in the way that businesses deal with their problem code and providing automated tools to modify and update it.

What have been useful training/ development to date
Without doubt the most valuable training for me was when I did a 9 month internship in Austin, Texas, at a specialist software tool builder. Over there I built compilers and various kinds of analysis tools; I really cut my teeth as a programmer there.
I’ve also enjoyed participating in the ‘Enterprising Academic’ scheme as well as the University’s own Business Engagement Mentoring Program.

Other roles (eg. peer review journals)
A great deal of my time is spent working as part of the Spon End Building Preservation Trust, a local group dedicated to the renovation of historic buildings. I have been a trustee of SEBPT since 2005 and in 2008 became Chairman. The most recent project undertaken by the trust was the restoration of Black Swan Terrace, a row of Benedictine built timber framed workshops and dwellings built 560 years ago. This unique and complex project has required £2.2 million of funding, predominantly obtained through the successful application of grants from various funding bodies including the Heritage Lottery, the Architectural Heritage Fund, the National Trust and Coventry Council.
Matthew Waters cont’d...

The building works now complete, this project has evolved into a multi-faceted community development initiative. The Trust currently maintains a property portfolio of twelve offices, a community learning centre, two shops, three dwellings and the Weaver’s cottage, an historic building used for school trips and public open days. The Trust’s main focus now is to maintain the buildings, generate publicity for the Weaver’s cottage as an educational resource and an example of Coventry’s heritage and to search for potential new projects. My role as chairman involves account and budget management, leading meetings of the trustees, screening and interviewing potential employees, liaising with a group of around 15 volunteer reenactors, gardeners and tour guides who help facilitate the running of the premises, to publicise the Trust’s activities to the media via press releases and to assist in the production of newsletters and pamphlets for the ‘Friends of the Trust’, an interest group of approximately 150 people who have contributed financially to the project.

Next bid/grant
Ensuring the safety of industrial code: Automated MC/DC testing for Ladder Logic.

Latest academic writing publication (journal/book etc)
Clone Detection for Programmable Logic Controllers, Software Metrics for Ladder Logic.

Looking for?

Major achievement to date
I’ve built several ladder logic analysis tools which achieved some commercial success; the first customer was NASA who used it to evaluate the code used to control the shuttle launch pad. I was also awarded the Warwick Advantage Gold Award for my work with SEBPT.

Three top tips / learning
• Don’t give up when things don’t go your way.
• Talk to anyone who is interested about your work – you’ll be surprised what good ideas and insights a fresh perspective can bring.
• Work smart and work hard!