Yearly Archives: 2020

24Mar/20

SEPnet Summer Placements 2020 – updated information

Our SEPnet Summer Placement Scheme is still accepting applications from students despite the current situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus.

Applying for placements is a valuable experience for students and enables them to make contact with potential future employers. Employers are invited to interview shortlisted students via Skype or phone. Placements may take place late summer (if offices are open) or may be deferred or carried out remotely.  Employers who have submitted projects will be contacted to at the end of March to discuss their options.

The deadline date for applications is 31 March.

Email summerplacements@sepnet.ac.uk for further information.

06Mar/20

WISE launch new tool to inspire girls to consider a STEM career!

In recognition of Women’s International Day on 8 March, SEPnet are keen to highlight initiatives to encourage more girls to choose STEM careers. Women are still hugely under-represented at senior levels in these sectors.

WISE have launched a new outreach tool – My Skills My Life – to inspire girls to consider a career in STEM. It is an interactive, online tool that allows girls to find out their personality types and shows them role models with similar personality types working in STEM.

WISE have over 600 role model case studies on the platform, which include information about pathways and brings the role models to life for the girls. The online platform also includes information about companies and the opportunities they have to offer. To try the resource, browse role models or create your own role model profile, please visit www.myskillsmylife.org.uk.

Visit this page to read inspiring case studies about women in a variety of physics-related STEM careers and learn about their challenges, tips and what makes their jobs rewarding.

28Feb/20

Benefits of attending a GRADnet Winter School as an ECR!

An ECR  from the University of Portsmouth recently attended the GRADnet Winter School, 17-19 February 2020 at Cumberland Lodge and highlights the benefits of attending:

“I attended the GRADnet Winter School at Cumberland Lodge, which was focused on developing soft skills like communication, management, leadership and team dynamics/structure.  As a postdoc I found the school to be useful, particularly in helping me to reflect on my own behaviour and approach to research projects. I work in a field where project teams range from a handful of people to teams of hundreds, so being able to better assess my own performance and that of the teams I work in will be valuable to me.

We covered a wide range of skills and topics. Although as a postdoc I have had many opportunities to practice some of these, such as presentation skills, I found it beneficial to cover all of the subjects within a relaxed and supportive environment. As a result, I will feel more confident taking on leadership roles in the future. In addition, the school was a fantastic networking opportunity allowing me to mix with other ECRs and the session leaders from across the South East.”

If you are a SEPnet ECR and have considered attending either the GRADnet Winter or Summer School, you are very welcome to sign up.  Look out for our 2020-21 GRADnet Training Programme which will be published in September.

20Feb/20

Selfie Shoot and Spaghetti Challenge at GRADnet Winter School

The GRADnet winter school took place on 17-19 February 2020 at Cumberland Lodge, Great Park Windsor for SEPnet postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.

This 3-day residential course was designed by Mark Horner, Performance Pathways to develop essential skills for successful collaboration including motivation and management of both self and others.

Delegates built spaghetti and marshmallows structures to develop an understanding of team dynamics.  L-R:  Callum Grove, University of Surrey; Caitlin Walsh, RHUL; Dr Brianna Smart, University of Hertfordshire; Yannick Kluth, University of Sussex and Leon Schoonderwoerd, University of Kent.

The “Selfie Orienteering Project” involved 5 teams running around the Great Park Windsor, taking selfies at 20 key points armed with a map and description of the key points. Delegates had 20 minutes to plan their strategy and route.

Selfie at the “Twisted Tree” from the top:  Shing-Cheung Lee, Dr Giovanni Mirouh, Gabriele Parisi, University of Surrey; Benjamin Man, University of Sussex and Florence Roberts, RHUL.

Part of the programme included a real non-technical challenge from BlueOptima, who monitor software development productivity, quality and cost to understand global positioning.  Delegates had to convince, pitch and present their solution to the challenge.

Congratulations to the winners of the BlueOptima challenge. L-R: Mark Horner , Performance Pathways with Dr Andrew Williamson, University of Portsmouth; Duy Bui, BlueOptima; Giri Man, RHUL; Stephanie Biddlecombe and Matt Brunet, University of Surrey.

Attendees welcomed the opportunity to meet potential employers and pick up employability skills. Dr Joe Allen, RBA Acoustics and Jenika Karsan, 4most, gave insightful advice on transitioning from academia into industry.

Delegates enjoyed networking with people from other institutions and said the event was “fun, informative, helpful and enjoyable!”

The next Winter School will be15-17 February 2021 at Cumberland Lodge.

27Jan/20

Students learn how to commercialise their research at Turning Science into Business Workshop

In collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, SEPnet and Julia Shalet, Product Doctor,  a highly interactive and enjoyable two-day workshop was held in December 2019 for postgraduate researchers at Bushy House in Teddington.

The mission was to practise a commercial way of thinking and see how ideas arising from science can be turned into viable business propositions. Working with real case studies, delegates wrote hypotheses, identified their riskiest assumptions, wrote questions they needed answers to, thought through how to find customers to ask, set measures for their responses, practised conducting interviews and worked through how to analyse research output.

Delegates were then asked to map the whole business up using a tool called the Business Model Canvas (from Strategyser) to see how to create sustainable business models.

Linden Fradet, University Liaison Manager at NPL invited Mason Rowbottom, a PhD student living and breathing the experience of making a business out of his research ideas.  Mason gave delegates an insight into how he has co-founded several companies in 3D printing while doing his PhD at the University of Sheffield.

Participants said the event was: “very informative and practical”; “interactive with useful tools”; “very clear, concise delivery of all the business elements” and “a very useful introduction to business… great networking…”

Prof Sean Ryan, SEPnet Executive Director, said: “the event ran extremely well, with all participants scoring it higher than 8/10 and five participants giving it full marks at 10/10.  SEPnet has worked with Julia on several similar but shorter events before.  This was the first time we used a two-day format and that seemed to work very well as it gave more time for participants to apply what they were learning at each step to their case studies; time to learn from critique given to other groups and it meant that they had a chance to practise and improve on their own research interview skills.”

SEPnet looks forward to collaborating again with NPL and Product Doctor in the next academic year.

24Jan/20

SEPnet Summer Placements 2020! Do you have a project/work experience for a physics or maths undergraduate or PhD student?

SEPnet organises over 80 summer placements a year for physics, and now maths, students at the above universities and is seeking 8-week plus projects in industry or research in areas such as data analysis, mathematical modelling, product design and testing or science communication.

Who can apply?
The scheme is aimed at any organisations interested in recruiting physics or maths graduates, or who can offer valuable business experience, including large companies, SMEs, start-ups, research institutions, charities and NGOs.

Benefits to employers
• Early access to bright, numerate students with excellent problem-solving and IT skills
• Enables you to carry out projects you would not normally have time for
• Provides a fresh perspective on your business challenges
• All advertising, administration and placement support is handled by the SEPnet team
• Some funding available for SMEs
If you offer 2 placements, SEPnet can fund the 2nd undergraduate

What employers have said:
‘Very satisfied with the whole process, organised and straightforward, with good students.’
‘We took SEPnet students for the second year running and have been very impressed with the calibre, their capabilities and the general high standard. For your records we have just made a permanent job offer to one of the students…’.

For more information:
Visit http://www.sepnet.ac.uk/students-employers/information-for-employers/. Register your placement project, or projects, online here here by Friday 7 February. Early projects will be prioritised.

20Jan/20

GRADnet Machine Learning & AI Workshop: Great interactive sessions!

The GRADnet Machine Learning and AI workshop was attended by over 40 PGRs and postdocs on 15-16 January 2020 at QMUL in Mile End Road, London.

Delegates were interested in learning about AI and ML techniques and the potential ways they can be implemented in their own research.  The diversity of talks and tutorials was welcomed by everyone and the support available from all the speakers.

“Data wrangling was great because we got to learn how to use R, Python, SQL” ; “hands-on tutorials and exercises with support were the best aspects of the programme” and “speakers were engaging” were some of the comments from delegates.

SEPnet would like to thank all the speakers and QMUL staff who contributed in making this workshop a success and thank you QMUL for hosting the event.

Joe Davies, PGR at QMUL who kindly ran one of the sessions said: My first time running my own tutorial/talk using my own coding examples and it went so well! Managed to get people finding pulsars using Machine Learning and had such an interesting discussion afterwards #datascience #machinelearning #GRADnet” .  See here for further information.

GRADnet would like to offer this workshop again as part of their training programme in 2020-21 as many PGRs are interested in data science as a career.

Dr Adrian Bevan, Deputy Director of the Institute of Applied Data Science, QMUL introducing Dr Alkistis Pourtsidou, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Reader in Cosmology, QMUL,  before her talk on “Reinforcement Learning”.