27Jul/18

Enhancing physics graduate employability – a SEPnet WRIPA workshop shows how skills can be embedded

A recent joint SEPnet workshop with White Rose Industrial Physics Academy (WRIPA), hosted by University of Nottingham, shared good practice with physics departments using examples of active learning projects and modules which have been shown to be effective in engaging students and developing their conceptual understanding, resilience, confidence and motivation.

65 physics academics and employability managers from across the UK attended this one-day workshop to discuss the enablers and barriers to curriculum development, opportunities for physics departments with respect to the Industrial Strategy and to share best practice on embedding employability within degree programmes.

Representatives from physics departments at Sheffield, Cardiff and Salford provided case studies of successful real-world projects that engage students. Advance HE reinforced the message that traditional physics degree courses are no longer fit for purpose. Innovative approaches to teaching and learning which embed employability skills and simulate real-world working with employer input are vital.

The event was chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham and supported by the Institute of Physics.

For more information contact employerengagement@sepnet.ac.uk

13Jul/18

Where do physics PhD graduates go?

Data collected on 95 SEPnet PhDs graduating in 2016 and 2017 shows that more are entering business and technology careers with many taking on roles as data analysts (35% of PhD graduates in non-academic roles compared with 22% who graduated in 2014-5).

46% of PhD graduates took up non-academic roles in line with research which shows 47% of PhD science graduates find their first job outside academia.

With only 3.5% of science PhD graduates remaining in permanent academic roles, it is important that they have opportunities to meet potential employers from a range of different sectors and industries and develop their employability skills.

For more information about placements, industry mentoring and employer events, and to view our infograph, visit http://www.sepnet.ac.uk/sepnet-graduate-network/gradnet-employer-engagement/

 

09Jul/18

A PGR’s perspective of the GRADnet Summer School: Where might my physics take me?

Elizabeth Swann, postgraduate researcher at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth,  gives her views on why she attended the GRADnet Summer School 2-5 July 2018 at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex.

“I went to the GRADnet summer school because I was unsure as to what I wanted to do after I graduated from my PhD. I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in academia or leave research and was worried that if I left academia I wouldn’t find a job that was interesting or suited towards the way I like to work.

Attending the Summer School changed that for me. Meeting many physics PhD graduates now working for different companies such as NVIDIA, Deloitte and Kindred Group opened my eyes to the opportunities available for a PhD students leaving academia.

What I enjoyed most was the honest stories of the employers who didn’t use the sessions as opportunities to promote their companies, but to recount their own experiences of moving from a PhD into a more traditional workplace environment, and to give advice on how best to make that transition.

We also had a workshops on ethics, consultancy challenges, how best to write an academic or non-academic CV, and a plethora of careers information. I feel now that whatever I choose to do after I graduate I am much more aware of my options, and if I decided to leave academia I would know how best to market my skills to a non-academic employer.

I would highly recommend this summer school to any physics PhD student, particularly if they are unsure as to what they want to do after they graduate and even if they are sure they want to stay in academia, as knowing all the options available to you can never be a bad thing!”

Next year’s summer school will be held 1-4 July 2019 at the National Physical Laboratory. Registration will be open in October 2018.

09Jul/18

GRADnet celebrates at Herstmonceux Castle on 3 July 2018!

To mark five years of HEFCE funding GRADnet celebrated with a  fabulous evening drinks reception in the castle courtyard followed by dinner hosted by Prof Adam Tickell, Vice Chancellor University of Sussex in the ballroom. Over 80 guests attended including postgraduate researchers, Vice Chancellors, physics Heads of Department, representatives from research councils, employers and SEPnet staff.

Sir William Wakeham thanked Dr James West, Executive Director, SEPnet, for his commitment and drive to SEPnet over the last eight years and wished him well on his forthcoming retirement.

Sir William also thanked Prof Peter McDonald, GRADnet Director for his contribution to SEPnet from its inception to SEPnet phase 3 over the last ten years. Prof Averil MacDonald, Diversity and Impact Director was also thanked for her contribution over the past five years during SEPnet phase 2.

Prof Sean Ryan, University of Hertfordshire was welcomed as the new Executive Director, SEPnet in phase 3.

09Jul/18

Another Successful Summer School at Herstmonceux Castle!!

The fifth GRADnet Summer took place on 2-5 July 2018 at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex. As in previous years the school comprised a broad menu of workshops and challenges led by different employers designed to offer students an insight into opportunities beyond their PhD.  A consultancy challenge took place on the last day and students worked in teams to create solutions using the skills they have learnt in their PhD.

AN EMPLOYER-LED PROGRAMME:  AkzoNobel; AWE; Centronic; Deloitte; IOP; Kindred Group; NVIDIA; Observatory Science Centre; QinetiQ; Royal Surrey County Hospital and WP Thompson.

SPEAKERS: Ian Chapman, Institute of Physics, Dr Rowena Fletcher-Wood, Things we don’t know, Prof Seb Oliver, University of Sussex, Sarah Spencer, University of Sussex and Dr Beccie Whittaker, Oasis Academy, South Bank.

Thank you to Kay Pearson, Employability and Professional Skills Adviser, University of Surrey for sourcing three excellent consultancy challenges and Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator for making this such a successful event!

WHAT THE STUDENTS SAID:

  • My PhD can lead to an enjoyable non-academic career.
  • My reasons for attending were because I wanted an idea about what to do after my degree. I was hoping to get connections with employers. Furthermore, I wanted to meet friends from previous events again. Even though I come from a chemistry background doesn’t mean I can’t do a “hard core” physics job. My different background might even be useful to provide a fresh view.
  • The consultancy challenge was a very good experience! Despite having no background in nuclear physics or maybe because it was something completely differently I enjoyed the intensive research.
  • The most valuable thing to me that I take away from the summer school is that there are more opportunities out there than I thought and I learnt to keep an open mind.

WINNERS OF THE CONSULTANCY CHALLENGE: 

AgFE: Team 3:  Ilya Antonov, RHUL, Michael Hubbard, Surrey, Ying Liu, QMUL and Charlie Nation, Sussex.

Centronic: Team 1:  Matthew Russell, Southampton, Sean Lawlor, RHUL, Malin Schulz, Surrey and Clark Baker, QMUL.

Observatory Science Centre: Team 1:  Harry Fox, The OU, Azizah Hosein, Sussex, Vassilia Spathis, Kent and Elizabeth Swann, Portsmouth.

People’s Choice:  Centronic Team 3: Michele de Leo, Surrey, Kareem Farrag, Southampton, Callum Grove, Surrey, Örs Istok, Surrey.

Congratulations!

05Jul/18

SEPnet celebrates #LGBTSTEMDay

SEPnet is proud to celebrate #LGBTSTEMDay as it continues to showcase and celebrate diversity in physics. 

Together with LGBT STEM SEPnet is launching a set of Case Studies showcasing researchers, professional services staff, students past and present from across the SEPnet partners.

These profiles show the range of experiences for LGBT+ folk in physics. Have an explore and see if your experiences are similar to theirs.

You can download them all as a pdf files here.

SEPnet will continue to support their LGBT+ researchers as part of their new embedded approach to diversity across all the SEPnet programmes.

The Outreach & Public Engagement team, together with the University of Sussex, will be running a science stall at Preston Park during Brighton Pride, building on the success in 2016. There will be plenty of opportunity to try out some hands-on physics and talk to some of our amazing LGBT+ folk from across SEPnet about their research.

Dr Dominic Galliano, Director of Outreach & Public Engagement for SEPnet will also be helping organise 2019’s LGBT STEMinar, which is taking place in London. He says: “It is important to work in both directions, not only to showcase the experiences of the LGBT+ community in STEM, but to take STEM to LGBT+ spaces across the region”.

If you are LGBT+ and working in the physical sciences, SEPnet strongly encourages you to join the IOP / RSC / RAS LGBT+ network to stay up to date with the latest news, opportunities from across the country.

15Jun/18

SEPnet Industry Survey 2018 – employers keen to engage with university physics departments

56 representatives of SMEs, large corporates, NGOs and research institutions from a range of sectors completed our recent survey to find out how SEPnet can better support business needs and address skills shortages through greater collaboration with universities.

Key findings:
• 59% have had contact with a university physics department on matters of knowledge exchange in the last 5 years – the majority of these interactions eg KTPs, commissioning research etc have been successful
• There are still issues around responding to SMEs more quickly, the costs involved in collaborating on projects and understanding around IP
• Seeking graduates with specific skills was by far the most important reason for businesses wishing to engage with universities
• The most important skills and attributes which employers would like to see developed in physics graduates are: commercial awareness; programming; communication; practical and technical skills
• Many employers would be willing to participate in an industry panel to input into the physics curriculum
• 60% have employed physics PhD graduates and value their relevant expertise, mathematical skills and problem solving ability
• In addition, employers of physics PhD look for the ability to apply theories to real-world problems, flexibility, an enquiring mind, persistence and enthusiasm.

To read the short survey, click here: SEPnet Industry Survey 2018

13Jun/18

SEPnet announces Executive Director to lead its next phase

SEPnet announces Executive Director to lead its next phase

Ten years after SEPnet was launched with HEFCE funding in 2008 to sustain Physics in the South East region, SEPnet is about to enter its third phase funded by its nine member (The Universities of Hertfordshire, Kent, Portsmouth, Southampton, Surrey, Sussex; The Open University; Queen Mary University of London; and Royal Holloway University of London).

The purpose of SEPnet Phase 3, agreed by the members, is to assure the viability of Physics in the South East by continuing to facilitate regional collaborations to address common challenges in areas such as Outreach and Public Engagement, employer engagement, graduate training, and research. Its vision is “Working together to deliver excellence in physics”.

To lead SEPnet into this next phase, we are pleased to announce that Professor Sean Ryan of the University of Hertfordshire has agreed to become Executive Director of the network, effective 1st August 2018. Sean succeeds Dr James West who became Executive Director in February 2010 and who will be retiring on July 31st.

Sean is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire and held the post of Dean of School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics from 2006-2015, during which time he negotiated the University’s membership of SEPnet for the start of Phase II.

James West (left), Sean Ryan (right)

SEPnet would like to thank James West for his leadership of the network for the past eight years and for securing the funding for the next phase, and welcome Sean Ryan as its next leader.

James West: “SEPnet has been an enjoyable challenge and we have shown that collaboration works to secure the future for physics in the region and for our members. I’m pleased that a senior Physics academic of Sean’s standing has been appointed and I’m confident under Sean’s leadership, the next phase can build on the foundations of the past 10 years to bring new opportunities to address the challenges of the future.”

 

04Jun/18

SEPnet looking for Case Studies for LGBTSTEM Day

Here at SEPnet we continue to celebrate and embrace diversity across physics. We also want to continue to support initiatives the aim to raise awareness, such as the upcoming LGBTSTEM Day on Thursday 5 July. This day will help raise awareness of LGBT+ people in STEM subjects.

SEPnet has partnered with LGBTSTEM to showcase LGBT+ people working across all our physics departments through a series of case studies that will be featured on both the SEPnet and LGBTSTEM website. We are looking for LGBT+ people who want to share their stories through a very short questionnaire. If you are interested in adding your story, please complete the questionnaire and return to d.galliano@qmul.ac.uk, together with a photograph of yourself looking your very best, either in the lab or out and about!

Deadline for questionnaires is 17:00 on Friday 29 June. The case studies will launch on LGBTSTEM Day. On the day, feel free to join the celebrations across the UK & Ireland and join the conversation on Twitter with #LGBTSTEMDay.