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Written 15th March 2022

Introducing the HTS+ Innovation and Research Team, Part Two

Since its inception, our HTS+ programme has been an integral part of our design process. A self-funded research initiative, the programme allows our practice to test and develop new structural techniques and technologies to deliver better sustainable practice.

Over the last six years, our team has grown from one full time research engineer to a team of five, strengthening the technical capability across the practice and delivering a number of industry-leading research projects.

We sat down with our HTS+ team: Ella, Jack, Laura, Vinish and Susan, to explore their specialism within the team and to take a closer look at their ongoing innovation projects and research topics. ⁣⁣

In the second of our two-part miniseries, we meet Susan and Vinish.


Susan Mantle 

What is your role within the innovation and research team?

I’m Technical Director at HTS, so alongside running a project team working on design projects in the usual way I also head the HTS+ research team.

What area of the industry are you most passionate about?

My passion is good, sustainable, low carbon design and reuse of buildings/structures/structural elements. The climate emergency should be driving all of us to do better in this respect. I have two small children and I want them and their generation to inherit a world with the same beauty and opportunities that we did, which means we need to urgently improve the way we design and develop buildings.

How did you start working within in a technically focused role?

I became Technical Director at HTS in 2013 with the aspiration of tying together the various elements of design and analysis and pushing us to be at the forefront of these. Since then the research part of this has grown and become HTS+. I find the research side of my role enormously inspiring and satisfying as I see it driving us at HTS to be better and more sustainable engineers.

HTS+ has evolved and grown a lot over the last few years. How has the team grown over the last 2-3 years and what role does the team now play within the practice?

In addition to myself we now have 2.5 full time research engineers and Vinish who is a full-time coder and web developer writing tools for us to use and enhance what we do. So, the opportunities we have to research topics that interest us at HTS is really great.

HTS+ is still practice wide, in that we draw on the knowledge of the whole practice and people from other teams into some of our research projects and vice-versa, but we now additionally have a team of full time research engineers. This has allowed us to dramatically increase the scope of what we do and the speed with which we can follow up ideas and get them into practise. Ironically by creating a focused team within HTS it has also enabled us to much better permeate through the practise – we form a central linking point for engineers at HTS looking for answers or with ideas of things we can do better and we have a strong focus on communicating what we’re doing both internally within HTS and externally to the construction industry more widely. We are very driven by sustainability as a team (and a company generally) and find it runs through almost everything we do – some projects start out as being specifically about reducing carbon or increasing circularity, but even when they start elsewhere we find projects coming back to the topic as we drive to design better and use less material.

So we have engineers across HTS working with us on research topics, and we also act as a hub for people to come to us with ideas or questions. Our aim as a team is to drive forward what we do at HTS as engineers and make sure we’re constantly getting better and are the best engineers we can be as a practise.

Vinish Bhan

What is your role within the innovation and research team?

My role is to develop an internal website which helps will help for project and resource management in the organisation. Also, creating plugins which will help in automating the tasks within the technician team.

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on the building two new features on the HTS internal website which are the employee resourcing and project quality assurance system.

What is your specialism within the team?

My specialism within the team is programming. I am passionate about building versatile, scalable and interactive websites within any industry.

How do you think coding can help to improve the efficiency of engineering?

Coding will help in project management and resourcing management. It can also help in project quality assurance. It’s also helpful in automating various kind of engineering tasks reducing the completing time by signification amount.