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)

21Jun/19

SEPnet PhD student participates in world’s first demonstration of a new method for contactless temperature measurements of solar panels!

The NPL work entitled ‘In situ contactless thermal characterisation and imaging of encapsulated photovoltaic devices using phosphor thermometry’, was recently published in one of the most prestigious solar energy peer-reviewed journals, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications.  James Kneller, a physics PhD student at Queen Mary University, secured a SEPnet placement with NPL last year and was one of its contributors.

Through collaboration between the Electronic and Magnetic Materials (EMM) Group and the Temperature and Humidity Group, NPL has demonstrated for the first time accurate, contactless temperature measurements of a photovoltaic (PV) device within its glass/polymer/glass encapsulation, with uncertainty of less than 1 ºC.  Authors included Yameng Cao, George Koutsourakis, Gavin Sutton, James Kneller, Sebastian Wood, James Blakesley and Fernando Castro. You can read more about the research here and find out more about James’s placement with NPL here.

 

20Jun/19

SEPnet Public Engagement Leader involved in Europe-wide photonics project getting thousands of girls in STEM

Thousands of young women and girls have had the chance to explore the world of science, engineering, and light technologies thanks to a European photonics research consortium that has created their girls in STEM ecosystem, a series of 33 workshops and 11 Photonics Challenger projects across 10 European countries in a bid to tackle the underrepresentation of women in science.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women.

However, a new outreach project has been tackling this underrepresentation by engaging young female minds with STEM, in the hope that they will pursue a career within the photonics, science or engineering industries.

Staged in ten countries across Europe, a total of 1221 girls have attended the ‘Phablabs 4.0’ initiatives since last year. The workshops have created novel and innovative problems for students to solve using lasers and photonics, the technology around the emission, manipulation and detection of light.

Combining a ‘Fab Lab’ – or a fabrication laboratory – with the world of photonics, the workshops and Challenger Projects offer a glimpse into careers in photonics, engineering, computer coding, and robotics.

Pearl John, SEPnet Public Engagement Leader at the University of Southampton, has led the UK element of the project. Partnering with the Green Lab agri-tech laboratory in Bermondsey Pearl and her team have delivered a series of hands on photonics workshops, reaching audiences who would not otherwise have the opportunity to access hands on physics experiences.

Pearl John and the team from Southampton University.

Hands-on Opportunities

Students have been exploring tasks as varied as creating an artwork made from lasers, modifying a cuddly toy with photonics, or building an infrared glove that acts as a remote control where touching two fingers creates a signal.

The more advanced Challenger Projects have tasked students with building an Invisibility Cloak or creating their own hologram. Some students, like Ester Muylaert, 18, from Halle, Belgium, are really excited to discover material they would not learn anywhere else.

“Phablabs is amazing and interesting. We’ve learned lots of new skills that we wouldn’t have picked up in school. To see the job in front of me and to meet the person who does that job has given me loads of ideas about what I can do in the future. It’s really made me want to work with photonics.”

The researchers have targeted three age categories with workshops aimed at high school girls (Young Minds), female university students (Students) and women who may have already started their careers (Young Professionals 18+).

Gender Balanced Resources

One of the results of the PhabLabs 4.0 project has been the publication of a new booklet, A Gender Balanced Approach. The booklet acts as a guide to future Fabrication Laboratories so that organisers in schools or universities can use it as a reference to gain the interest of girls and young women in science and technology.

By creating gender-sensitive material for the workshops and “Photonics Challenger Projects” the organisers have garnered the interest of girls and young women in science, to generate a lasting impact on their personal relation to STEM and Fab Labs.

Supported by the Gender Action Team, the developers have had the backing of the European Commission with funding from Horizon 2020, and support from a number of professionals such as Professor Averil MacDonald from WISE (Women in Science and Engineering).

“We are delighted to be able to open a door into a world of science that some girls and young women may feel is closed,” Professor MacDonald said. “Girls and young women are more likely to consider studying STEM subjects beyond age 16 if they see that the subject keeps their options open.”

“The STEM sectors can only benefit from the talents of these young women. More girls and young women deserve the chance to have successful and satisfying careers in science, technology, engineering, manufacturing, mathematics and construction,” said Professor MacDonald.

The resources are available as an open resource toolkit for educators to use with their students.

For more details contact phablabs4.0@gmail.com.

14Jun/19

Ninth NExT PhD Workshop, 8-11 July, Cosener’s House, Abingdon

The annual NeXT workshop is attended by 20-30 PhDs and early career researchers in particle physics. This year’s programme will be devoted to strategies for searching and decoding new physics from collider and non-collider experiments.

The aim of the employer panel session on 11 July is to raise awareness of career opportunities outside academia for physics doctorates. Representatives from NPL, AWE, UKAEA, Adaptix, Deloitte and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory will outline their roles and what their organisations look for in physics PhD graduates.

For more information visit: https://indico.cern.ch/event/738002/overview

16May/19

2nd annual SEPnet WRIPA workshop on embedding employability

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

17Apr/19

SEPnet Student Conference – 4-5 April in Southampton

SEPnet’s recent student-led conference at Southampton in April saw over 55 PhD students from particle physics and cosmology come together to give talks and present posters over two days.

Student-led conferences are a great way for students to share ideas, develop their organisation and presentation skills and meet each other.

Events included cosmologists playing human bingo during their networking session and prizes were awarded for the best posters. Winners of the poster prizes included Connor McIsaac (Portsmouth, Alex Mitchell (Southampton) and Meirin Evans (Sussex).

13Mar/19

Enfield Council International Women’s Day Conference

Friday 8th March was International Women’s Day, a day where we celebrate the achievements of women and highlight the barriers which still exist to achieving gender equality. Our Director of Outreach and Public Engagement, Dr Olivia Keenan, was invited to speak at the International Women’s Day Conference organised by Enfield council on the subject of Women in Physics. Olivia used the opportunity to highlight the problems we have in physics around gender equality and to highlight some programmes and schemes working to counter this.

Only around 20% of A-level physics students are currently female, in spite of the fact that all genders perform equally well at GCSE level (IOP ‘Why not Physics?’ report, 2018). Similarly, around 20% of Physics undergraduates and postdoctoral students are female. However, in academia it gets worse as women progress to more senior positions, with only 11% of Physics professors in the UK being women (IOP ‘Academic Staff in UK Physics Departments’, 2017). These figures get even worse when we look at the ethnicity of physics academic staff. Overall, for all genders, 94.2% of UK national academic staff in physics are white, 2.4% are Asian, 1.5% are Chinese and 0.1% are black (IOP ‘Academic Staff in UK Higher Education Institutions, 2012). All women face significant barriers in physics academia, with non-white women being currently barely represented at all.

The picture is similar when we look at industry. WISE’s 2018 Workforce Statistics show that currently only 22% of the core STEM workforce are women. For engineering, a career route particularly relevant for those with physics degrees, this proportion falls to 12%.

The good news is that multiple organisations are working on programmes to help turn the tide, and increase the gender diversity in physics. In 2013 the IOP published the report Closing Doors which explores gender and subject choices at school across six subjects. It found that nearly half of schools were making the gender imbalance worse, however in schools that were sending more girls to do A-level physics the gender imbalance was also smaller in other subjects. This was followed by the Opening Doors report in 2015. It highlighted the issues schools deal with when it comes to gender balance and makes recommendations on how schools can address gender balance. These recommendations include appointing gender champions on senior leadership teams, ensuring that sexist language is unacceptable and presenting all subjects equally to students in terms of relative difficulty.

University College London is leading the ASPIRES/ ASPIRES 2 project, which is a longitudinal study of young people’s science and career aspirations from ages 10-19. They have coined the term science capital, which is a measure of how likely someone is to see science as for them. Science capital can be influenced by multiple factors including whether there is a scientist in the family, if science is discussed in the home and whether someone has visited science spaces outside of formal education. They also find that girls pursuing the physical sciences post-16 are ‘exceptional’ in many ways, including having high science capital and tailoring their performances of femininity when in a science environment.

SEPnet piloted the Shattering Stereotypes project in the academic year 2016/17 with the aim of determining the best role physics Outreach Officers can play in tackling and improving the gender stereotyping problem in schools. Workshops were held with year 8 students around understanding and countering the stereotypical perceptions of gender, with year 12s involved in leadership roles. This was evaluated and is now running in schools during the 2018/19 academic year. Shattering stereotypes incorporates the People Like Me quiz developed by WISE which highlights scientific careers routes to girls based on the traits and skills which they identify with.

The strong message from all of the research and projects happening around gender and physics show that there are many issues compounding to mean fewer girls go on to take physics. Science capital is a key theme, with the need to work towards increasing science capital being paramount. Another common negative factor is the use of gender stereotyping and gendered language in our society. We need to work on ways to counter these problems to help lower the barriers to more girls and women identifying with, and participating in, the physical sciences.