Seventh SEPnet Student Expo – a Great Success!

SEPnet’s 7th Annual Students’ Expo recently took place at the Royal Academy of Engineering. Over 150 students, academics and employers came together to celebrate the achievements of 84 students who successfully carried out industry and research summer placements on a diverse range of topics from production engineering of a prototype electric motorcycle to mapping of UK innovation clusters.

Professor Martin Earwicker talking on his "Career in four miles"

Professor Martin Earwicker talking on his “Career in four miles”

Former students gave inspiring talks about the benefits of their experiences and their current roles.  Professor Martin Earwicker spoke about his varied and successful career as vice chancellor of London South Bank University, Director of the Science Museum and first chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

Students gave 1-minute presentations and displayed posters about their projects.  Prizes donated by the IOP were awarded for the 6 best posters.

We will soon put out a call for next year’s summer placements.  If you are interested in offering a summer placement to a physics student, email employerengagement@sepmet.ac.uk

Six student posters were selected as winners:

Brennan Hacket of the University of Surrey

Brennan Hacket of the University of Surrey

Ashley Morahan of the University of Southampton

Ashley Morahan of the University of Southampton

Natasha Westland of Queen Mary University of London

Natasha Westland of Queen Mary University of London

Mark Grundy of the University of Sussex

Mark Grundy of the University of Sussex

David Elcock of the University of Southampton

David Elcock of the University of Southampton

Anna Laws of the University of Hertfordshire

Anna Laws of the University of Southampton

You can see some of our photos here.


Numerical Modelling and Simulations Workshop 13-15 December 2015

Date:  13-15 December 2015 (arrival at 17:00 on Sunday evening)

Venue and Accommodation:  Old Thorns Manor Hotel, Longmoor Rd, Griggs Green, Liphook, Hampshire GU30 7PE. For directions see here.

To register see link here, deadline Friday, 27 November 2015 

This interactive two-day residential workshop is designed for PhD students who would benefit from an introduction to Monte Carlo, molecular dynamics, and first-principles quantum mechanical simulation.  These fundamental and widely-used simulation techniques could support theoretical, computational or experimental PhD projects. The sessions comprise lectures on principles followed by an opportunity for hands-on practice, supplemented by plenary presentations by practitioners.

For full programme see here.


SEPnet Collaborative PhDs

Research Projects for Ambitious SMEs at an affordable budget

Access quality PhD students for research you define in:

  • Numerical Modelling


  • Detectors

at £8K per year*

Work with industry focussed academics

* excluding VAT. Typically a PhD would cost you £30K per year excluding VA


  • Help define, and benefit directly from, research that underpins a technology problem you have
  • Collaborate to tackle research that is pre-competitive
  • Directly access  PhD research and students  at an affordable price

 How it works

  • Collaborative research projects consisting of a small group of SMEs, quality academics and a dedicated PhD student will be formed
  • Each PhD project will be defined and guided by the SME group and academics
  • Collaborating with 3 other SMEs reduces costs to around £8K pa for a 3-year programme
  • PhDs to start in October 2016
  • Project definition and consortia will be formed in Q4 2015 and Q1 2016

Register your interest here: http://sepnetphd.instapage.com/

GRADnet Summer School

Students at a GRADnet Summer School

“As a sponsor we were able to influence the direction of research, understand the analytical and experimental capabilities of the University and assist the Research Engineer in aligning their efforts to both a practical and very demanding application. It has, without doubt, given our company a competitive edge.”


Professor Steve Burnage, Chief Design Engineer, Lockheed Martin

Speed Networking

Connecting Industry and Researchers in Physics

A South East Physics Network (SEPnet) Event

Wednesday 27 January 2016 – 17.00-20.00, University of Kent

SEPnet’s Graduate Network (GRADnet) is organising its 4th networking evening to facilitate greater collaboration and links between industry and physics postgraduate research students (PGRs) and researchers. We anticipate approximately 60 employers, physics PhD students and academics attending this event.

 Who should attend

  • SEPnet PGR students who want to meet small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and employers from physics-related industries to find out about career opportunities, make contacts and explore research and business ideas
  • SEPnet partner researchers who want to build links with industry to explore how their research can create impact
  • SMEs, businesses and employers in physics-related industries.

During the evening:

  • Hear from panellists including: Maya Dillon, Community Manager, Pivigo Academy;  Iain Duncan, Founder, Mousetrap Innovation; Phil Edwards, Managing Director, Weald Technology; Anke Lohmann, KTN Head of Photonics & Quantum Technologies and others talk about the benefits of knowledge exchange and what physics postgraduates and postdocs can offer industry
  • Participate in a speed networking session;
  • Build ongoing relationships between industry and researchers through placements, mentoring or research collaboration;
  • Refreshments will be provided.

How to register:

This event is free to attend.  Places are limited so please book early by clicking on the following link: http://bit.ly/1id46BC. (PGR students are requested to attend a networking workshop at 16.00).

For enquiries, contact gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk



GRADnet Winter School hosted by Culham Centre for Fusion Energy - February 2015

GRADnet Winter School: Building your Leadership Potential

GRADnet Winter School: Building your Leadership Potential

8-10 February 2016

Discovery Park, Innovation House, Ramsgate Road, Sandwich CT13 9FF

For GRADnet postgraduate researchers

Please see attached document outlining an exciting new core activity for the GRADnet Winter School.  Register here.  Registration deadline Tuesday, 5 January 2016.

Core Activity – Columbia’s Final Mission

You will analyse the case of the Columbia Space Shuttle mission from launch to its fatal conclusion using materials supplied by NASA under the guidance of a consultant.  As the mission unfolds, you will work in teams, each team taking the role of one of the key NASA managers or engineers.  A team experiences only those events and has access only to information that that person had at the time of the mission.  This adds a rich dimension to the case experience as participants recognise how perceptions of the same event can vary.  With a combination of team working and plenary discussion, key principles and applications of leadership, management and communication unfold as the workshop progresses.

 Places are limited so register now!

Basic RGB

‘I Wish I Had Known Earlier’ – GRADnet Student-led Online Learning Proposal Call October 2015

Once again GRADnet is offering a scheme in which its postgraduate researchers can create online learning modules to share their knowledge and experience with peers in earlier years.  We invite GRADnet PGRs to participate in this. Successful proposals will receive a £1,000 bursary for each online module they create. Details of previously created modules are available in the Summer edition of GRADnews and also on the VRE, log on to http://www.open.ac.uk/students/research/SEPnet/training/student-led-on-line-learning%20modules

Proposals can be to support the development of either technical skills (for example, theoretical methods and tools, or practical physics know-how and skills) or more transferable/genetic skills (for example, Managing your Time, or Presenting at Conferences).  Although we have provided these examples, we expect that you will have a much better idea from your own experience of exactly what you wished you had known when you had started or what you had difficulty getting to grips with. These modules are designed to help those coming behind you avoid the same problems.

You are asked to submit a proposal for an online module, see attached guidelines and form. The proposal should identify the topic, provide an outline of what a module needs to cover and what learning it is intended to deliver. If selected, you will receive mentoring in Autumn 2015 to help you develop a high quality virtual learning package in one of several possible formats (video, website, text etc). This is another skill to add to your portfolio.  Collaborative modules between groups of students are particularly welcomed. This is an excellent opportunity to develop your teaching skills and experience for your CV.

Before you submit your proposal, there will be a chance to discuss your ideas and see what previous students have done over the videoconference facility on Tuesday, 20 October 2015 at 14:00, Virtual Room SEPnet 6.  If you wish to participate in this session please email gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk by midday on Friday, 16 October 2015.

I wish I had known application form and guidance 2015 Final

An example from last year’s high quality proposals can be found here.

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GRADnet Virtual Research Environment (VRE) – Logins and Access to Training Opportunities

With the start of the new academic year upon us and the GRADnet training programme being launched for the coming year, we must ensure that all PGR students in SEPnet have ensured they have logins for the GRADnet Virtual Research Environment and that these logins are functioning. Your login (also called an OUCU) is of the form AB12345 where AB is normally your two initials.

It is vital that all students are able to login to the VRE and regularly check it for information and enrolment on GRADnet offerings. We have implemented a system for enrolling on GRADnet offerings via the VRE and for most offerings enrolment will only be possible via the VRE. Eventbrite or other registration sites will only be used in exceptional circumstances.

This same system on the VRE allows you to find and search for courses, workshops, residential schools etc that you may be interested in attending or required to attend. It is important that you are able to access it and to ensure you are able to use it. These can be found under the Training tab when logged onto the VRE and the GRADnet Training Catalogue entry on that page.

The VRE is accessible via www.sepnet.ac.uk/vre . It can also be found via the SEPnet website (www.sepnet.ac.uk) under the “Study” menu: Study -> SEPnet Graduate Network -> GRADnet’s Virtual Research Environment.


  • New Students (or unregistered current students): you will need to register and can do so on www.sepnet.ac.uk/vre At busy times this process may take up to 5 days, if you have not received account details within 5 days please contact your local GRADnet administration contact.
  • If you have an existing account but have forgotten the password you can reset your password by calling the helpdesk on 01908 654321 and ask for your “visitor SAMS password” to be reset. You will need to know your username (OUCU) and may be asked to confirm your date of birth. If you are unable to call the helpdesk then you can email vre-webmaster@open.ac.uk but please note that it can take longer to reset your password by email.
  • If you have forgotten your username (OUCU) then please contact the GRADnet administrator at your university. Before doing so please check historical emails and other sources that may include your OUCU.
  • Expired access: in some instances it is possible that access has expired (depending on when the account was created and last accessed). If you are using your username and password and unable to log in or not seeing what you expect then you should email vre-webmaster@open.ac.uk  to investigate. This process will always take longer to investigate than a password reset so if there is any chance that you are using the wrong password then you should take the password reset option first.
  • Non-SEPnet accounts: some students have created accounts from the main OU website. If this is the case then you won’t have a username made up of your initials followed by some numbers. Depending on the information that you provide it can take a while to get to investigate these so it would be important to include this in any communication so that you can be instructed to register using the SEPnet VRE registration.


Having validated that your account works and that you can sign in, please ensure that you keep your account information with you so that it does not become necessary to reset the passwords because of infrequent use. Web-browsers often enable the automatic storage of passwords and account details and help make logging in much easier but you may find this gets lost in some circumstances.

As we anticipate that the new cohort of students joining this term will be registering for the VRE when they have been to the GRADnet Roadshows, you may find that it takes longer to reset your accounts if you wait until this period, so we would urge you to act now.