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University of Essex celebrates four decades of links with BT

  • Date

    Fri 28 May 21

Professor Hani Hagras and Dr Anasol Peña-Rios spoke at event

For 40 years the University of Essex has enjoyed an incredibly strong relationship with global telecommunications company BT.

To mark four decades of partnership and collaboration, the University and BT organised a special online event for Essex graduates with links to BT and Openreach.

Head of the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, Professor Anthony Vickers, said: “I was very happy to host the Essex, BT and Openreach alumni event and to reconnect with past students now working at BT.

"This event was initiated after our research on LinkedIn showed the strength of our links with BT with over 100 Essex alumni working for the company and it was great to see many of them at the event.”

The event was attended by graduates from 1973 through to 2021 plus current students, academics, BT staff and guests. They had a chance to share memories in break-out rooms and also heard from Professor Hani Hagras, pictured right, who has led award-winning projects with BT. Essex graduate Dr Anasol Pena Rios, pictured left, who is now a senior researcher at BT's research labs and visiting Fellow at the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering also gave an insight into her work.

Professor Vickers said: “My personal association with BT stretches back to 1984 through joint optoelectronics research, but the relationship between Essex and BT is much longer, stretching back to the beginning of the 1970s. “Today we have a large number of collaborative projects and BT continues to recruit computer science and electronic engineering students from Essex.

“Our current coordinator, Professor Stuart Walker, who previously worked at Adastral Park himself, oversees and establishes new and exciting projects each year. “I am sure we will continue to make great strides together in the field of telecommunications and related disciplines, not least of which is the security of those telecommunications systems to provide a safe and secure service for our communities."

The partnership between the University of Essex and BT In 1971 BT established its internationally renowned research centre at Martlesham Heath near Ipswich, now named Adastral Park.

The University of Essex, which had only opened its doors seven years earlier, developed its research strengths in communications technology and related disciplines to attract BT’s attention. Soon Essex academics were being welcomed into cutting-edge collaborative research projects and students being recruited into careers at the forefront of technology.

International joint research projects continue with several collaborative postgraduate student projects currently in place and award-winning partnerships. Essex graduate Tim Whitley is also now managing Director of Research and Innovation at Adastral Park and Visiting Professor at Essex.

Plans for the Essex/BT alumni network

As Essex-BT Liaison Officer, Professor Walker from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering is strengthening links and seeking new opportunities for collaboration with BT across our campuses.

He works closely with BT's Head of Academic and Research Partnerships, Carol Fletcher. BT and Essex share an exciting vision of a data-driven and hyper-connected future. A new LinkedIn group for BT/Essex alumni has also been launched and there are plans to organise future events to bring this community together again.