Monthly Archives: July 2019

26Jul/19

WRIPA & SEPnet Joint Workshop – Physics-Industry Collaboration: Aligning Student Skills with Local Economic Needs – 25 July, IOP London

50 academics, employers and career professionals came together to share good practice on embedding employability skills in physics courses at WRIPA & SEPnet’s 2nd annual workshop chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham.

Brooke Storer-Church of Office for Students highlighted the mis-match between the supply and demand for skills in the UK. IOP’s new degree accreditation criteria will focus less on core content and more on skills development. This offers physics departments greater flexibility in the design of physics courses and can help to bridge the skills gap.

Students need to develop self-management and independent thinking to ‘flex’ into different careers. Placements offer opportunities to build skills but many students fear failing so may not have the confidence to apply. As an alternative, embedded bite-sized work experience can build confidence and resilience while assessed real-world industrial projects can engage students and develop entrepreneurship.

Mobility can be an issue with 45% of graduates choosing to stay in the region after graduation. More therefore needs to be done to build links with local employers to develop graduate opportunities. Industry advisory boards which include local employers can provide physics departments with input into courses as well as opportunities to address regional skills needs.

You can view the presentations from the workshop here: Dr Brooke Storer-Church, Officer for Students      Robyn Henriegel and Amy Pearce, IOP         Dr Alastair  Buckley, University of Sheffield         Professor Manus Hayne, Lancaster University       Amy Hearst, vivaMOS Ltd           Danny Atkins, University of Portsmouth       Trevor Farren, University of Nottingham Part 1          Trevor Farren, University of Nottingham Part 2

24Jul/19

Benefits of attending GRADnet Summer School 2019 as a Postdoc!

I didn’t really know what to expect from the GRADnet Summer School, especially approaching it as a postdoctoral researcher as opposed to a PhD Student. Since my postdoc contract expires at the end of the year, I saw it as a good opportunity to expand my horizons and gain some inspiration about what I could do next. It’s always been my ambition to find a vocation outside of academia, so the chance to interact with employers from a range of different backgrounds was worth a shot. Moreover, it could be a chance to develop my ideas about how my PhD in Physics and experience in research could be transferred to other fields.

I was a bit worried that the activities might not be pitched appropriately for a professional researcher, but that fear proved to be unfounded. The seminars – two each day – were well built with a wide array of experiences in mind. Seminars which stood out to me were the Intellectual Property workshop run by WP Thompson and a talk on public engagement from the Science & Technology Facilities Council.

Between seminars, I had the chance to attend two employer-led workshops each day, which comprised an hour talk about their work and a group activity. Typically, the group activities were well thought out to bring across a specific point, and as a consequence they were highly engaging. A highlight was a workshop from Ultra Electronics, where we were tasked to design the most useless microwave which still fitted within the design specifications – my team decided that the specified OLED display should be only 1 pixel and communicate through Morse code. But amongst the fun, there was a serious take away – our training as Physicists has given us skills which come in handy in plenty of different contexts. In this environment, our technical Physics knowledge doesn’t count for nearly as much as our agile thinking and teamwork.

On the final day, we split into teams and took part in a “consultancy challenge”, where we tried to solve, in a matter of hours, the kind of problems a consultancy might work on for weeks. My team’s assigned problem was to make a recommendation about where the successor to the Large Hadron Collider should be built – at CERN in Geneva, or in a new site in China? Not only did we have costs and scientific merits to consider, but my team chose to emphasize the possible ethical issues of working with the Chinese government. Time was tight – we had only a few hours to put together a poster presentation and a pitch to sell our solutions. This extremely limited timescale forced us to focus on the principle of being “just good enough” to solve the problem, but no more rigorous. My team even won a prize for our efforts! The whole exercise really emphasized to me the importance of the leadership and time management skills I’ve developed. I left the summer school with renewed self-confidence, fresh ideas for new careers, and quite a few new friends.

Thank you to Dr Steve Chick, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Surrey for giving his perspective on attending this year’s GRADnet Summer School 1-4 July 2019 at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Middlesex.

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory:  Team 3 – Stephen Haywood, RAL, Bradley Garland, Dan Kelsey, University of Sussex and Stephen Chick, University of Surrey.

12Jul/19

Physics-Industry Collaboration: Aligning Student Skills with Local Economic Needs, Thursday 25 July 2019, Institute of Physics, London N1

Chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham

The Office for Students (OfS) focuses on higher education participation, experience, outcomes and value of money. At the same time, the UK Industrial Strategy identifies ‘Places’ as a key “foundation of productivity” to address performance, regional differences and disparities in R&D funding.

To address the twin challenges of graduate outcomes and regional economic prosperity, university physics departments need to consider ‘place-based’ decision-making in student graduate career choices and how to engage with regional employers.

This workshop is for those interested in embedding work-based learning into curriculum design, forming partnerships with regional employers and embedding entrepreneurialism into student skill training. It will build a wider network of employability-focused academic and professional staff and include presentations and case studies from the OfS, IOP and physics departments.

The event is for heads of physics departments, academics responsible for employability, programme managers, heads of teaching and learning, industry representatives and anyone with responsibility for developing physics graduates employability skills.

To see the agenda, travel info and to register for this FREE workshop, click here: https://sepnet-wripa-workshop2.eventbrite.co.uk

05Jul/19

GRADnet Consultancy Challenge Winners!

Congratulations to our consultancy challenge winners at the GRADnet Summer School 1-4 July 2019 at the National Physical Laboratory, in Teddington, Middlesex.

The consultancy challenges are an opportunity to take on the role of a consultant and propose a solution to a “real world” challenge that is facing an employer.  In doing the challenge postgraduate researchers discover the skills one has developed during one’s doctorate are transferrable to genuine business solutions.

The challenges this year were provided by Gil Travish, Adaptix Ltd; David Gorton and Duy Le Bui, BlueOptima and Dr Stephen Haywood, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The winners are:

Adaptix Ltd:  Team 3 – Gil Travish, Adaptix Ltd, Michael Soughton, University of Sussex, Marta Venanzi, University of Southampton and Dominic Duffy, University of Surrey.

BlueOptima: Team 3 – David Gorton, BlueOptima, Adam Kennington, University of Surrey, Andrey Abramov, RHUL, Alexander Booth, University of Sussex, Carlos Vergara, and Michael Kritsotakis, University of Sussex.

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory:  Team 3 – Stephen Haywood, RAL, Bradley Garland, Dan Kelsey, University of Sussex and Stephen Chick, University of Surrey.

Peoples Choice Winners:  Adaptix Ltd Team 1:  Veronica Benson, Employer Liaison Director, SEPnet, Michael Spencer, University of Surrey, Giri Mani, RHUL, Jelena Gorbaciova, QMUL, and Maria Pintea, University of Kent.

Well done to all the participants.

05Jul/19

GRADnet Summer School PGRs get the measure of NPL!

The fifth GRADnet Summer School took place on 1-4 July 2019 at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Middlesex.  Thank you to NPL because this is the third time they have hosted this event and offered laboratory tours, water rockets and a BBQ with the wonderful backdrop of Bushy Park.

40 postgraduate researchers signed up to this year’s school which provided an opportunity to experience some wide-ranging opportunities outside academia and to interact with employers from a variety of organisations.

A Sussex student said it was a “fantastic school, very well organised” and that they found “pretty much everything very useful”. The most valuable thing they took away from the school is that “academia is not the only way to do science and a job in industry doesn’t have to be a “fall-back”.

Thank you to all our speakers and employers who provided talks, workshops and consultancy challenges: NPL, University of Sussex, WP Thompson, IOP Teaching, Santander, Ultra Electronics, GlaxoSmithKlein, RBA Acoustics, UKAEA, Adaptix Ltd, BlueOptima and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

 

 

 

01Jul/19

Meet a new generation of leaders in data science, Tuesday 23rd July, 18:00 at The Grand Brighton

You are invited to a networking event to meet DISCUS* and DISCnet** data intensive science students; senior academics, researchers and leaders from industry and public sector regarding opportunities to collaborate with the next generation of leaders in data science and the training programme they’re undertaking.

A closed session from 6pm – 7pm will focus on collaboration initiatives and how your organisation can benefit. These initiatives include PhD industry placements and the DISCnet-Knowledge Exchange network.

From 7pm to 9pm we are hosting a networking event where you will meet with 100 PhD students from across 8 UK Centres for Doctoral Training in Data Science. These students undertake 6 months of industry placements during their PhD studies.

This event will allow you to discover how we are solving big data questions for growing organisations and provide you with the opportunity to meet our talented students.

Sign-up at https://lnkd.in/gqw_9u2

*DISCUS: Data Intensive Science Centre, University of Sussex
**DISCnet: (Data Intensive Science Centre in SEPnet)