BACKGROUND NOTE This letter was sent By Dr Turner as an email attachment.
It did not include the standard University hard copy letter heading.
The compensation offer, made on page 2 is highlighted in lime green..
Copies’ of the offer were sent to the following email addresses
Bill Courtney <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Cate, Peter (PJ) <PCATE@dow.com>;
Mr Peter Cate
Mr Bill Courtney
19th June 2003
Dear Bill and Peter,
Re: PEDSALi project and proposals
Thank you for your recent correspondence expressing your serious concerns over a number of issues concerning this project. As you are aware, from the correspondence and our subsequent conversations, it has been suggested that I should become involved as an independent person in an attempt to assist and resolve the difficulties. You should understand that the decision to accept this role has not been taken lightly. Nor has it been easy for me to understand some of the issues involved. However, what is clear is that management of the project has been deficient and that this has had a negative impact on progress. I also find that several other factors have aggravated the situation and that these have led to some ill-feeling on both sides and to a breakdown in communications. At this stage, there would be little sense in dwelling on the past although we must understand the underlying problems and remove any barriers between the project partners if we are to find a suitable way forward.
My detailed suggestions for the meeting which has been arranged for Friday 27th June 2003 are as follows.
During the first part of this meeting, I will attempt to summarise my observations and invite brief comments. I propose that we concentrate thereafter on proposals for improving the manner in which the project is managed and agree on a scheme to ensure that future progress is monitored more effectively. The second part of the meeting should be devoted to a technical review of what has been achieved so far in the University project and a detailed discussion of the programme of work for the remainder of the period. From the outset, you should be in no doubt that the School of Engineering is fully committed to resolving the difficulties which have arisen and to reaching a successful conclusion.
1. Overall management of the project
I have accepted the role of Project Coordinator for those aspects of the work being undertaken by the School. My principal function will be to chair the internal project review meetings and be present at the management meetings, perhaps acting as a non-technical chairman of these management meetings if you feel that this could be helpful. I see my job as essentially similar to that of a referee, ensuring ‘fair play’ between the different parties, issuing ‘yellow and red cards’ should these be appropriate, and keeping the project on course to a successful outcome. Clearly, we must also agree on some appeal procedures to avoid any recurrence of present difficulties.
2. Technical input by the School of Engineering
Dr Tunde Oyadiji and Professor Jan Wright will share technical responsibility for the University part of the work and will supervise the Research Assistant.
Following the resignation of Dr Zhu, it is proposed that Mr Georgiadis should be offered the position of Research Assistant on the PEDSALi project and that an existing postgraduate be invited to take up employment on the remaining period for the CRASH SALi project, with support from Mr Georgiadis and the rest of the University team (including Mr Courtney in his Honorary Fellow’s role).
Please note that we have been advised that it is now official University policy to offer employment to existing employees, rather than advertising externally. Apart from the obvious fact that Mr Georgiades has the necessary experience for the PEDSALi project and could otherwise become unemployed at the end of October 2003, he would in any case be free to apply for the job and would probably be selected as the best applicant. This transfer would also eliminate further delays to the PEDSALi project which would inevitably occur if an external appointment were to be made.
The University will provide the manpower to take the place of Mr Georgiadis on the CRASH SALi project (due to finish in October 2003) without any additional cost to Cheshire Innovation and will do everything in its power to minimise the delay.
3. Communication and meetings
The intention is that I should be available as a point of contact for the external partners to use should the need arise. However, as we overcome our current difficulties, I believe that we should expect to see the development of greater trust between all partners and the more professional approach which is essential for effective collaboration. This linking role may therefore become redundant.
The unusual position of Mr Courtney, not only as the owner of the SALi technology and an industrial partner, but also as Honorary Fellow within the School, deserves special consideration and needs to be discussed at the meeting (or elsewhere). In this role, he is (and should be) directly involved in the internal progress meetings. It is obvious to me that my colleagues value his commitment to the development of SALi and appreciate his willingness to make a contribution within the School.
We propose that the management meetings should be held more frequently than hitherto, certainly until the end of the year when the position can be reviewed. An interval of two months is suggested, with the internal progress meetings being held every month. Each partner will be invited to attend both series and the minutes of each meeting will be circulated.
Between meetings, I anticipate that my colleagues will make a point of keeping me informed of progress. It is also agreed that each of the principal players should use Microsoft Project as a basic tool to assess the progress on PEDSALi so that any difficulties or deviations from the programme can be identified at the earliest.
One further issue that has apparently caused difficulty has been the desire of the University partner to publish the research results and the reluctance of the industrial partners to accept this. My discussions have shown that the failure to publish was one of the factors which influenced Dr Zhu’s decision to withdraw. However, it is now apparent that all the available resources and research effort should be focused, at least in the short term, on issues of importance to the industrial partners.
The difficulty with this position is that EPSRC expects publication within the project time period. My suggestion, therefore, is that a paper written earlier (and now at the draft stage) should be brought to completion and submitted for the forthcoming SAE World Congress 2004 – thereby meeting one of the requirements of EPSRC and the Foresight Vehicle programme. Dr Oyadiji is confident that he will be able to convince you that the quality of the research data is adequate for publication when he makes his technical presentation at the meeting on 27th June.
Apart from this one paper, no other attempt should be made to publish in the short term. We can discuss this proposal and aim to review the situation towards the end of the year. In the meantime, we hope that EPSRC can be sympathetic to the revised publication timescales when assessing the project.
These proposals are made with the aim of improving the communication links between the partners, providing a better means of monitoring progress, and ensuring that the revised project timescales are met. It will be essential for the new project management structure to be accepted by all the partners if we are to succeed.
I have been impressed by the willingness of all parties to recognise and discuss the difficulties which have arisen. Moreover, there appears to be broad agreement that ascribing blame between the various parties would not be particularly helpful at this stage in the proceedings. I also detect a strong belief that PEDSALi is socially and commercially important and must be brought to a successful conclusion. You may be sure that the School of Engineering is fully committed to this objective.
I hope that this letter will provide a suitable basis for meaningful discussion, followed by real progress, and look forward to receiving your comments in due course.
Subject to these comments, it would be my intention to send this letter to all the parties involved in the project, prior to the meeting on 27th June. Perhaps we could discuss an agenda for the meeting when you have had time to digest this letter?
Dr J T Turner
Reader in Engineering
Head – Fluid Mechanics Research Group