Our experience at the VREF CoE Workshop in Nairobi

During 14 – 16 December 2010 some of our members were part of the VREF CoE Workshop held in Nairobi, Kenia. We were represented by Juan Carlos Muñoz (PUC), Rosário Macário (IST-Lisbon), Daniela Facchini (EMBARQ), Onesimo Flores (PhD student MIT) and Sebastian Raveau (PhD student PUC). The first day of the meeting was completely devoted to understand more about Nairobi from some Kenya researchers, politicians and practitioners as well as from researchers from the University of Columbia that have been working there. In the second day two talks were arranged for each CoE. We presented the Observatory efforts and the research developed by Onesimo within the LS3 project: «From vision to promise to delivery». On the third day, PhD students from the eight Centres had a meeting were they shared the research they were doing. In parallel, senior researchers had a meeting where VREF gave them several interesting news.
Some of the participants shared with us their thoughts after this meeting:

Daniela Facchini: “The VREF 2010 Center of Excellence workshop in Nairobi helped to better understand Nairobi´s challenges on planning public transportation and allowed experience exchange and knowledge sharing among members of the 8 CoE. Events like this are very important to settle personal contacts and strengthen collaboration within the network.

Onésimo Flores: “Attending the VREF Workshop in Nairobi was a good opportunity to present and get valuable feedback on some of our initial work with LS3. It was also a chance to learn more about what VREF actually is, and to hear how other phd students across the world have profited from their affiliation with a CoE. I returned home with good suggestions to improve our work, and with important contacts from people conducting somewhat similar research. One point to note is how relevant is BRT for all the VREF Centers, a sheer demonstration of how this topic is indeed one that cuts across latitudes and cultures.

It was also useful to meet other members of our CoE, such as Daniela Facchini from Embarq, Rosário Macário from IST and my student colleague Sebastian Raveau from U. Católica. My sense is that all phd students affiliated with our CoE would profit much from such an «immersion», even if it happened in a less formal (and expensive) setting. The experience of the Omega Center (London) in dealing with multi-university, multi-location student collaboration may provide a useful «template». The possibilities for synergies and future collaborations are evident.

Sebastian Raveau: “As a PhD student, attending the VREF CoE Workshop in Nairobi was a great opportunity to get to know the members of the different Centers of Excellence worldwide, to find out more about their researches and to make contacts with other PhD students. It’s always great to get valuable feedback for our work, especially from such a broad and diverse audience, and generate instances for mutual collaboration. Also, as we are a recently established Center of Excellence formed by five different institutions across the world, the VREF CoE Workshop was an opportunity to get together with our fellow researchers. These opportunities are few, especially for the PhD students, so we have to seize these occasions to work and share experiences.
We brought a couple of pictures from our trip. The first one was taken at the main dinner at the National Museum of Nairobi where participants to the meeting attend. The second one was taken at breakfast, you can see (left to right) Onesimo, Rosario, Daniela, Juan Carlos and Sebastian:

Finally, you can check the two presentations made by Juan Carlos Muñoz and Onésimo Flores during the workshop.
BRT Observatory – For more info or comments on this presentation, contact Juan Carlos Muñoz (jcm@ing.puc.cl).


Implementing BRT-From Vision to Reality – For more info or comments on this presentation, contact Onésimo Flores (onesimo@mit.edu).


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