Globe Trotting Ibrahim Returns after CIBSE Ken Dale Bursary Trip

Net Zero Apprentice, Ibrahim Qadir, has returned from his travels as part of the CIBSE Ken Dale Travel Bursary where he visited Sweden, The United Arab Emirates and Indonesia, travelling 23,000 km to undertake research in the application of artificial intelligence.

Ibrahim was awarded the Ken Dale Travel Bursary from CIBSE in 2023 after delivering a presentation on his research proposal to investigate the different approaches to artificial intelligence and machine learning in the building services industry.

Now he’s back from his travels, we sat down with Ibrahim to find out more about his trip, what he learned and how he thinks it can be applied to his work.

What was the initiative, what made you want to apply and how did you put yourself forward?

The initiative is the CIBSE Ken Dale Bursary award, an annual competition that involves a selection process including shortlisting of candidates followed by interviews. My chosen research topic delves into the evolving role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in building services engineering. The primary motivation behind my application was a keen interest in exploring and contributing to the sustainable evolution of an industry that significantly impacts us all.

I was driven by the desire to understand how I could actively participate in and influence this monumental shift towards sustainability, leveraging it for the betterment of our planet and future generations. This bursary represented a unique opportunity to contribute to meaningful change and give back to the community by pushing the boundaries of conventional practices in the field.

What countries did you visit and how far did you travel?

I visited Copenhagen in Sweden, Dubai in Abu Dhabi and Jakarta in Indonesia, which came in at approximately 23,000 km.

What do you think you got out of the experience?

I have already learnt so much about our industry and what problems we have, as well as the factors that contribute to a solution. I have had the chance to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life, each with their own story and perspective. I am currently completing my report that will detail what I have learned from my research, this will then be disseminated with the hopes of inspiring change.

What were the highlights of the trip?

I would have to be visiting the museum of the future in Dubai.

What challenges did you face?

The most challenging aspect was establishing contacts in various locations as a newcomer. However, once you manage to connect with one, they often serve as a gateway to others.

Did you meet any industry specialists while you were there and what did you learn?

I did get to meet industry specialists and learn about leveraging automation for routine tasks and exploring how technology can be employed to reduce time and enhance efficiency would indeed be beneficial.

What projects did you learn about?

I gained valuable insights into the digital health (DH) sector in Scandinavia and was impressed by the region's tech startups that are already utilising artificial intelligence (AI). The region's openness to experimenting with new technologies stood out to me. I also discovered the technological advancements being employed in the Middle East and the significant investments made globally in solar plants for both electrical and thermal energy production.

The Museum of the Future in Dubai caught my attention by showcasing the potential of emerging technologies across various fields, from healthcare to agriculture, building materials, and engineering. This initiative underscores the region's ambition to lead in these transformative sectors.

In Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, I learned more about the technologies in use and appreciated how the city itself was designed with sustainable practices in mind, from its architectural design and engineering systems to its operations. Its role as the host of COP28 was particularly enlightening, showcasing the ability to accommodate 85,000 people in the most sustainable manner possible.

My visit to a university in Jakarta was equally inspiring, where I saw firsthand the integration of AI into its building infrastructure. This university has received multiple awards for its sustainable design and the innovative use of natural processes to minimize its carbon footprint.

How is AI implemented in different countries/climates of the building services sector?

There are numerous applications of AI across our industry, ranging from energy management and modelling to optimizing thermal comfort in buildings, managing district heating and cooling networks, predictive maintenance, and building automation. Ultimately, it's about leveraging data to optimize processes, making them more efficient and faster. This enables us to concentrate on more critical tasks.

How do you plan to use your experiences and new knowledge going forwards?

I aim to finalise my research findings and present recommendations and insights that will inspire and educate, as well as explore ways to implement these into our own work to continue the futureproofing of our systems. I intend to build upon what I have learned to further my development.