Winning the Ken Dale Travel Bursary - #WeAreCIBSE

The Ken Dale Travel Bursary offers awards of up to £4,000 to CIBSE members who wish to spend 3-4 weeks researching a topic of their choice whilst travelling the world. This once in a lifetime opportunity is aimed at members in the developmental stages of their career and offers a unique chance to give back to the industry through research. Applications are now open for the 2020 awards until Friday 10 April. 

To start our #WeAreCIBSE blog series, celebrating the people, networks and organisations that make CIBSE great. We spoke to our 2019 winner, Raphael Amajuoyi to find out what he has gained from the experience. 

Raphael is an Energy and Sustainability Development Consultant at Hurley Palmer Flatt, and was also awarded CIBSE Graduate of the Year in 2017

What first attracted you to apply for the Ken Dale Travel Bursary?

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the experience of doing my Master’s research dissertation. I never thought I would say this, considering the numerous hours spent in Loughborough University’s library in the summer of 2015. At the time, the research focused on energy demand in commercial offices and when I thought about doing something similar, possibly going back to university for a PhD, I heard about the Ken Dale Travel Bursary.

I first heard about the Ken Dale Bursary in 2018, only after the deadline, but did make a promise with myself that I would get involved the following year once I had built a strong case study for my choice of research.

Why did you choose your research topic and the countries that you travelled to?

I spent a considerable amount of time wondering why some of my female co-workers would spend most of the working day wrapped in shawls and jackets whilst I and other male co-workers were perfectly fine in our shirts. After spending some time in conversations trying to understand the rationale behind what I deemed as “excessive clothing”, it dawned on me that maybe the office could potentially be more conducive for one group of people over others and thought it would be worth exploring other offices to see if a similar pattern occurred. 

The selection of the cities – London, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro and Doha – was based on key differences that I thought would bring increased value to the research findings. How would differences in weather and climatic conditions from Temperate and Mediterranean in London and San Francisco, differ to tropical savannah and arid climates in Rio de Janeiro and Doha? Cultural influences also played a part in my city selections such that – how would the thermal comfort of a female worker in typical western office attire in London differ to a female worker wearing a traditional abaya in a Doha office? 

What was the highlight of your trip?

The research was definitely the main reason for visiting these cities – however, I took some time out to visit tourist attractions in each city. Visiting the disused Alcatraz prison in San Francisco, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and the traditional souks in Doha were memorable highlights from my trip. 

What was the most interesting finding that came out of your research?

Human perception and the subjectivity of “thermal comfort”. The research involved over 190 participants, across several case study offices in the cities I visited and it was very interesting to explore the varying elements that were key in determining whether a space is considered “comfortable” – interaction with outdoors through openable windows; how much daylight was coming into the space; ability to ‘hot desk’ - all proved key in assessing whether office workers believed their office provided a thermally conducive environment to work in.

How has the experience been of benefit to your career?  

The Ken Dale Travel Bursary has been a great experience all around. It has given me the opportunity to explore a research topic, provide detailed analysis of my case studies and report findings to an unlimited audience through CIBSE. I have taken away key skills that will go on to further assist with developing my career – analytical thinking, networking, presenting. All very much needed in the ever-changing world we live in. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying this year?

Definitely go for it! 

I had the privilege of winning the CIBSE ‘Graduate of the Year Award’ in 2017 and was given the opportunity to visit Chicago to attend the ASHRAE Winter Conference in January 2018. I thought no professional experience would ever match that for me – this has blown that through the roof. Where else will you be given the opportunity to visit amazing cities of your choice, undertake research you are interested in and take away amazing experiences all at the same time?

Feeling inspired? Find out more and submit your application for the Ken Dale Travel Bursary 2020 before the 10 April deadline. 


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