PhD Students examine the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster

This year’s Winter School, entitled “Building your leadership potential”, took place on the 13-15 February 2017 at Cumberland Lodge.  The former royal residence set in the heart of Windsor Great Park was host to 21 postgraduate students who enjoyed being immersed in its fascinating history dating back to the 17th century.

The 3-day residential school focussed on the skills required for  effective leadership and team-working. Different leadership styles were explored and each student attendee was given the opportunity to have their preferred team-working style evaluated using the Belbin model.

The core activity involved Columbia’s fatal final mission. The multi-media case tracks the Columbia Space Shuttle mission from launch as NASA engineers and leaders sought to understand the nature and threat associated with an anomaly that occurred on launch. Participants were given an opportunity to analyse the case using materials supplied by NASA under the guidance of Dr Trevor Long, Consultant.

Dr Stephen Haywood, Leader of the ATLAS Collaboration, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Dave Harrison, Galileo KMF Project Manager, CGI Group,  gave their perspectives on leadership styles from an employer’s point of view.  Prof Pam Denicolo, University of Reading, Dr Julie Reeves, University of Southampton and Dr Laura Christie, Royal Holloway University of London presented the Belbin Model and sessions on developing personal leadership awareness and skills.

Students also enjoyed the recreational activities available in the games room in the cellar at Cumberland Lodge as well as the historical ghost tour which took place in Windsor town centre.

A 3rd year postgraduate delegate stated the reason why they chose to attend this year’s winter school was because: “SEPnet events are vibrant, engaging and fun. A great way to network with fellow physicists while learning useful employability skills and personal growth”


Delegates, trainers and SEPnet staff at Cumberland Lodge.

Photographs from the event can be accessed here: