27Jul/16
Open University hosts its first SEPnet Careers Information Fair

Open University hosts its first SEPnet Careers Information Fair

Open University hosts its first SEPnet Careers Information Fair for Physics Undergraduates and PhD Students

At the end of June, The Open University hosted a Careers Information Fair for Physics students. Seema Shoor, responsible for employer engagement, organised the fair to enable undergraduates and postgraduate researchers to meet a range of employers face to face (a rare and valuable opportunity for distance learners) to identify potential career options. Key employers of physics graduates attended including Network Rail, Airbus, E2v, IoP, STFC, Home Office, Leonardo (formerly Selex ES) and QinetiQ.

Over 50 students attended and the feedback from employers and students alike was very positive.  Students valued the informal atmosphere: one commented ‘I found it very useful to speak with potential employers and didn’t find the experience too daunting’ (undergraduate student).   Employers commented on students’ enthusiasm and the quality of the conversations with one stating,  ‘I feel that the majority of the students were very willing and open to engage in conversation over their studies and where they wish to progress after their completion of their course. A few of them had read up on the company prior to the event and so they had an idea of who we were and what we could offer them’. (large corporate).

 

14Jul/16
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GRADnet Entrepreneurship Challenge – Winners announced

Our dynamic modern world presents interesting and exciting opportunities for those who want to get involved and add value to the economy and society. Entrepreneurship is a key and Research Councils encourage PhD students to have a better understanding of its role in value creation and the role of innovation in fostering it. Earlier this year, GRADnet launched its Entrepreneurship in Action Challenge tailored for Physics PGRs in SEPnet to get involved. Elaine Hickmott of EH-Enterprises developed the programme especially for GRADnet.

As  part of the Challenge, SEPnet institutions were invited to form teams of PGR researchers to compete to be the most entrepreneurial physics department in SEPnet. Teams were formed from Kent, Portsmouth, QMUL, Southampton, Surrey, and  Sussex.

In the six months since the teams formed they have undertaken an exciting, and sometimes gruelling, journey to develop their ideas into marketable proposals. Unfortunately along the way, some teams dropped out due to research commitments. However they gained valuable experience from the intensive training provided.

The teams from across the network gathered on 13 July to present their business ideas to a panel industry judges.  Neil Phillipson of Outsideology, Simon Bland of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Phil Edwards of Weald Technology were all impressed by the quality, credibility and potential of the ideas being showcased.  They commented that it was impressive to see physics PhD students applying their skills to challenges and scenarios outside of their normal environment.  They agreed that the creative thinking and entrepreneurial mindset demonstrated by the teams would be an asset to any industry or organisation.

The teams were from Portsmouth (Daniel Goddard and Ben Mawdsley, who sent a video of their project), Southampton (Azaria Coupe, Anthony Preston, Andrew Lawson, and Marc Scott), and two teams from Surrey (Ralitsa Ilieva and Gemma Chapman; Bob Simmons and Louise Dummot).

 

Winning Team from Southampton. Azaria Coupe was unable to be present.

Winning Team from Southampton. Azaria Coupe was unable to be present.

The winning team came from the University of Southampton and they are looking forward to spending their cash prize.  The achievements of all the teams were celebrated at the follow-on networking event which brought together the students and local entrepreneurial businesses.

All the teams thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, having learnt a lot about innovation, business and themselves.

 


08Jul/16
2016 Summer School

SEPnet Physics PGRs invade Herstmonceux Castle

“Where might my Physics Take me?” – GRADnet 2016 Summer School – Herstmonceux

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The Observatory Science Centre, formerly the Royal Greenwich Observatory

During the week of 4th July 2016, nearly 50 SEPnet Physics PGRs from around the region attended the GRADnet 2106 Summer School. This was the fifth of our series of residential schools in the GRADnet programme and it was held in the historic setting of Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex.  The castle is of 15th Century origin and is located by the former Royal Greenwich Observatory, now a public Science Centre.

The purpose of the GRADnet residential schools is to give Physics Postgraduate Researchers in the SEPnet region the opportunity to experience opportunities and challenges outside of academia. They give them the chance to interact with employers from leading organisations through interactive workshops, presentations and poster sessions. They explore how the skills developed by Physics PGRs can be applied to solve problems encountered in the commercial world.

The programme consisted of the “Consultancy Challenge”, a competition where students take on the role of consultants to propose solutions to problems encountered by companies. Amec Foster Wheeler, Chomko & Rosier, Observatory Science Centre, and InSync Technology presented the students with a set of problems they need help solving, and the students formed teams to propose solutions. The posters with their solutions from the teams are here.

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Dr Becky Parker

There were modules on Public Engagement, led by Rowena Fletcher-Wood of Things We Don’t Know, followed  by a “Pub Quiz” to push the problem solving skills to the limit and think about how to communicate science in new ways. The next day Dr Becky Parker, Director of the Institute for Research in Schools, gave a stimulating talk on how Physics researchers could work with schools to engage them in their research, to inspire school students to become involved in cutting edge research.

 

Workshops from Airbus, NPL, CAST, AkzoNobel, the Met Office, and MR Solutions gave insights into challenges faced in the commercial world and how Physics skills can be applied to address them.

Dr Julian Potter of JW Thompson

Dr Julian Potter of JW Thompson

Key topics covered by other speakers included Intellectual Property by Julian Potter of JW Thompson, and Ethics in Research by Paul Stephenson of the University of Surrey, explored via case studies of ethical issues researchers are likely to encounter.

All in all, a packed programme that our students thoroughly enjoyed and valued.

Prizes for Posters and the Consultancy Challenge

Research Posters:

  • 1st:  Sarah Bentley, University of Reading
  • 2nd:  Lotfi Achiri, University of Surrey
  • Joint 3rd:  Andrew Lawson, University of Southampton and Tomas Navickas, University of Sussex
Sarah Bentley, Winner

Sarah Bentley, Winner

Lotfi Achiri, Runner Up

Lotfi Achiri, Runner Up

Andrew Lawson and Tomas Navickas, joint 3rd

Andrew Lawson and Tomas Navickas, joint 3rd

Consultancy Challenges:

Amec Foster Wheeler:

Team Green 1

  • Gemma Chapman, University of Surrey
  • Michael Everson, University of Kent
  • Heather McAslan, University of Sussex
  • Shaun Read, University of Hertfordshire
Chomko & Rosier:

Team Blue 2:

  • Chris Hayes, University of Hertfordshire
  • Tom Vaughan, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Oliver Winston, University of Sussex
  • Tingting Zhang, Queen Mary University of London
InSync Technology:

Team Red 1:

  • Andrea Fortini, University of Surrey
  • Anthony Preston, University of Southampton
  • Gabriel Secheli, University of Surrey
Observatory Science Centre:

Team Yellow 1:

  • Jesus Rubio-Jimenez, University of Sussex
  • Sarah Bentley, University of Reading
  • Ryan Perera, University of Surrey
People’s Choice:

Team Red 3:

  • Tugba Buyukbese, University of Sussex
  • Ryan Cheale, University of Hertfordshire
  • James Kneller, Queen Mary University of London
  • Tom Peach, University of Surrey 

 

 

Photographs of the week are available below:

 

01Jul/16
Soton QLM

Southampton Quantum Light and Matter Summer School

For GRADnet Postgraduate Research Students

Southampton Quantum Light and matter PGR students are holding a Summer School in Winchester on August 30 – September 1st. In the interests of encouraging greater collaboration within SEPnet we have agreed to fund upto 10 PGRs from other SEPnet partners to participate, including their reasonable travel cost. If the numbers are oversubscribed we will work with the organisers to ensure a reasonable distribution across the SEPnet members and sub-disciplines, otherwise places will be filled  first come first served. The deadline for registration has been extended to Friday August 5th 2016.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Mark Fox, The University of Sheffield
  • Professor Marika Taylor, University of Southampton
  • Professor Ifan Hughes,  Durham University
  • Professor Shinichi Saito, University of Southampton

Visit www.qlmsummerschool.co.uk to register

16Jun/16
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Connecting Industry and Researchers at Surrey

Connecting Industry and Researchers  – what a PhD graduate learned from our recent GRADnet networking event at Surrey.

On the 9th of June 2016, GRADnet held the fifth in a series of “Meet the Employers” events in which Physics and Astronomy Postgraduates and Researchers meet with regional and national employers.

The recent Surrey event was a great occasion to hear about a wide array of opportunities in physics-related industries – from medical diagnostics to satellite systems – and to get invaluable advice from employers.  There are many R&D roles in industry where a company needs problems solved eg product design, creating innovative methods of quality testing etc. Companies need people who can develop analysis techniques to make sense of data and physics postgraduates can offer these skills.

Employers don’t necessarily expect you to have the expertise required for a specific job role. They need people able to research new techniques, to be curious and flexible and to learn fast – familiar territory for postgraduate researchers who have to cope with fast-paced, unpredictable situations during their PhD. Employers want good problem-solvers.  They want to know what challenges you have overcome during your PhD and what you have gained – both technical knowledge and skills.  Perseverance and resilience are highly valued.

Student and employer exchanging contact information at Industry event.

Student and employer exchanging contact information.

In applied physics, the word ‘engineer’ is often used in a job description but physicists should not be discouraged from applying – it is likely you already have the skills required!  It is really important to find out what are you passionate about because enthusiasm and passion will shine through any role you choose.  Talking to experts from the field can help you to identify ‘what makes you tick’.

The event was a great success and we’re now planning the next one at the University of Hertfordshire on October 19th.

06Jun/16
SCIAMA

SEPnet Initiatives in Computing: Workshop on Big Data and Numerical Modelling and Simulation

SEPnet is pleased to announce a major workshop on Big Data and Numerical Modelling and Simulation

 

What SEPnet workshops for academic researchers from SEPnet institutions
When 21st and 22nd September 2016
Where Cosener’s House, Abingdon, OX14 3JD
Who Academic researchers from SEPnet institutions with interest in:

·       Big data in all areas of physics;

·       Numerical modelling and simulation in condensed matter.

Cost Accommodation and travel costs will be met by SEPnet.
Registration e-mail to gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk by 31st July 2016.

The aim of these parallel workshops is to explore opportunities for collaboration and the winning of research funding in computational science across SEPnet. The two workshops will take the form of joint plenary talks and break-out sessions with particular focus on:

  • Big Data in all areas of physics;
  • Numerical Modelling and Simulation for condensed matter science

Big Data: The forthcoming Alan Turing Institute (ATI) will be a focus for data intensive science in the southeast of England. Within SEPnet, several scientists have been working on university-wide initiatives in Big Data with some local resources committed for these endeavours. This workshop will bring together interested scientists from across SEPnet with a view to sharing ideas and exploring synergies and opportunities, especially in the astronomy and particle physics communities. It will cover academic research in the area of data intensive science, including developing links with the ATI and possible future funding routes through research councils and / or partnerships with business.

Numerical modelling: Strong pockets of expertise in numerical modelling and simulation for condensed matter science across a broad spectrum of length and timescales are embedded right across the SEPnet partners. However, to date little attempt has been made to draw these together. The workshop seeks to showcase activity; to explore some of the big challenges of modelling and simulation and to discuss opportunities for new routes to collaborative research funding especially with business.

Training opportunities: Both Big Data and Numerical modelling and simulation in condensed matter offer great possibilities for new training and innovation opportunities. At the workshop we will investigate how GRADnet could provide a vehicle for common doctoral training across the network, possibly leading to further funding from the research councils and collaborative funding directly with SME companies.

Speakers: Tony Hey, Chief Data Scientist, STFC; George Graham, Business development manager, Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre; John Bancroft, Director, NPL North of England have agreed to speak at the meetings. There will also be opportunities for participants to make presentations.

Registration: Registration is open. To confirm a place, please send an e-mail to Cristobel Soares-Smith (gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk) by 31st July 2016. In the event of over-subscription, preference will be given to delegates that (i) register early while (ii) maintaining representation from a diversity of interest groups and institutions.

03Jun/16
Modelling Workshop

Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2016 – 4-15 July

We are pleased to announce the seventh summer programme, ‘Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2016’, which will take place in London on 4-15 July 2016.  Further details can be found on our website.

The programme has been organised by the Hubbard Theory Consortium and sponsored by SEPnet and by ICAM.

This summer’s programme will have a special emphasis on physics at the interfaces between correlated materials and on topological order in real materials.  The programme will include international keynote speakers for each week in addition to presentations by participants.  Please register here if you would like to attend or to give a presentation.  We would particularly encourage PhD students and postdocs to present their ongoing work.  We also have some limited financial support available for students from ICAM nodes across the globe.

Please feel free to forward this announcement to anyone you believe may be interested.

Kind regards
Giovanni Sordi

on behalf of the Hubbard Theory Consortium:

Piers Coleman
Matthias Eschrig
Sam Carr
Jorge Quintanilla
Andrew Green
Keith Refson
Frank Kruger
Andrew Ho
Anna Posazhennikova
Derek Lee
Claudio Castelnovo
Paul McClarty
Toby Perring
Giovanni Sordi

02Jun/16
s630_infocus-logo

Innovate UK launches the infocus Awards for Women In Innovation

Innovate UK launches the infocus Awards for Women In Innovation 

Innovate UK has up to £200,000 and a package of tailored support to award to businesswomen who have exciting ideas and the potential to become leaders in innovation and deliver significant economic growth. This is the first women only Innovate UK competition and is part of a new ‘infocus’ initiative to encourage diversity in innovation. Each of the 12 finalists in the competition will receive a package of support tailored to their needs, and the four winners will each receive £50,000 to support their innovation project or activities.

The competition opened on 1 June 2016 and the deadline for registration is noon on 24 August 2016. The awards are open to any woman in the UK working in business innovation in any of Innovate UK’s four sectors. Applicants can be a company owner, employee or sole trader in any size of business and must be legally and contractually able to use the grant funding on offer. A briefing for potential applicants will be held by Innovate UK on 20 June 2016. Find out more about this competition and apply

01Jun/16
Herstmonceux Castle

Register by Friday 3rd June: GRADnet Summer School: Where might my physics take me? 4-7 July 2016

This year’s GRADnet Summer School will focus on where your physics might take you.

Date:  4-7 July 2016,  09:30-17:00

Venue and Accommodation: Herstmonceux Castle, Herstmonceux, Wartling Road Entrance, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 1RN.  For directions see here.

Register here.  (logon to the VRE first) Registration deadline Friday, 3 June.  All accommodation, meals and reasonable travel expenses are covered by SEPnet.

The summer school will provide you with an exciting opportunity to interact with employers from leading companies through interactive workshops, presentations and poster sessions.   By the end of this summer school you will have expanded your skills and have the ability to apply them more broadly.  You will also develop your analytical, problem-solving skills, and your ability to present persuasively to a diverse audience.  These are skills that will help you succeed in your doctoral research and your viva, as well as in interviews and future employment.

Participating companies include:

  • Airbus Defence and Space
  • Amec Foster Wheeler
  • Centre for Applied Science and Technology, Home Office
  • InSync Technology
  • Knowledge Transfer Network
  • Met Office
  • MR Solutions
  • NPL
  • Observatory Science Centre
  • WP Thompson.

The GRADnet Summer School is open to all Physics postgraduate research students across the nine partner institutions of SEPnet.  Approximately 5 places per institution are available but priority will be given to final year students in the event it is over subscribed.

This workshop contributes 8 hours towards physics skills training and 4 hours towards professional skills training.

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One of the employer led workshops at the 2015 Winter School

16May/16
Brennan Hacket of the University of Surrey

SEPnet’s Sir William Wakeham’s review on STEM employment is published

Professor Sir William Wakeham, SEPnet’s Independent Chair, has produced an independent review of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degree provision and graduate employability.

This independent review looks at the employment situation among STEM graduates and the role of accreditation of courses.

The review focuses on the skills requirements of employers, how STEM graduates’ skills and knowledge relate to labour market demand, and how existing accreditation systems support this.

The report is available here.