Employability Advisors and academics from across the SEPnet consortium meet to discuss and identify barriers and enablers in accessing the SEPnet summer placement scheme for all students, irrespective of background and neurological personalities. This training was facilitated by AbiltyNet and will provide the basis for further employer, student and advisor training.
The National Centre for Universities and Business presented their State of Relationship Report 2022 on 1st December and delighted to announce they published our case study on the success of SEPnet’s SME-DTN collaborative PhD scheme funded by Research England Development Fund. See here for a copy of the report and our case study appears on page 41.
Having faced many challenges and issues launching this scheme during a pandemic, with the commitment and support of SEPnet HEIs, employer contacts and RED Fund, we now have 8 industry-relevant PhD projects underway!
89 students showcased their summer placement projects through an exciting and energised face to face Expo event to employers, academic tutors and peers at SEPnet’s 14th Expo on the 23rd November in London.
Students described a range of varied and exciting projects with large and small employers across different industries and research areas including data science, engineering, energy, IT, satellite communication, defence and scientific research.
The event was chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham and an inspiring keynote address “Why Fusion” was delivered by Dr Chantal Nobs. Chantal studied Physics as an undergraduate at the University of Surrey (MPhys) and went on to study a PhD in experimental nuclear physics at the University of Brighton. Chantal joined UKAEA (Atomic Energy Authority) in 2018 in the Nuclear Technology Group. Her work looks at R&D for novel radiation detectors that can be deployed to challenging environments, the measurement of radioactive materials and the activation of materials for research purposes.
A “Physicists like me” employer panel including representatives from Aquark Technologies, University of Surrey, Framestore, Thales and NPL shared tips and advice with students on career opportunities and skills needed within their fields. They were also brutally honest around tips they would have given to themselves as they embarked on their careers.
The IOP generously provided prizes for the 6 best posters. The winners included:
Ollie Kemp, University of Portsmouth and his project “Machine Learning Applications for Satellite Earth Observation” with eOsphere
Emma Piazze, University of Southampton and her project “Working our way to high-precision space situational awareness” with Lumi Space
Mitchell Broad Queen Mary University London and Project “Numerical simulation of multiplex holograms with rigorous coupled wave theory” with Trulife Optics
Roberta Vieliute University of Southampton and Dhairya Kataria University of Herts and their project “Assembling the Pristine Relics of our Universe’s Infancy” with the University of Surrey
Ethan Cooper, University of Herts and project “Cognitive Bias, the Psychology of Recruitment” with MeVitae
Mark Ludlow, University of Surrey and his project “Interpreting XRF data to read Herculaneum” with STFC RAL
Dr Ilana Wisby, Founding CEO and Director, Oxford Quantum Circuits, (OQC) a former SEPnet postgraduate researcher at RHUL was invited to talk at this year’s Alexander Stavrou Innovation Lecture on Wednesday, 9 November at the University of Surrey.
Over the last 4.5 years, Ilana has taken OQC from a patent, to Europe’s leading Quantum Computing as a Service company. Whilst deep technical roots and priority IP is certainly a core part of OQC’s USP – technology and inventions alone do not make successful companies. OQC’s Value-led Leadership and focus on people are equally, if not more, important.
Ilana shared the lessons she has learned as a deep tech entrepreneur, with a focus on crafting high performance, elite teams and employing considered Value-led Leadership.
Thanks Ilana for encouraging Surrey undergraduates and postgraduate researchers to undertake a SEPnet summer placement and for endorsing GRADnet’s training programme from your personal experience during your PhD at RHUL!
GRADnet’s online workshop: Developing knowledge and skills in Public Engagement was delivered on 9 November 2022 on Zoom by Dr Claudia Antolini, The Ogden Trust Senior Officer for Outreach and Public Engagement, Royal Holloway University of London. Over 25 PGRs attended the online event and were given the following tips on how to do public engagement:
Identify a target public group/community and think about what your target group might be interested in and link your research to this.
How can you reach your target group and what do you feel comfortable doing: teaching? Performing? Speaking in public? Running a workshop? Designing a resource/class/audio-visual asset?
Do you have any hobbies that you could incorporate into your PE activity?
Activities you’ve heard about – do you find any of them interesting? Would you like to try your hand at them?
Claudia outlined the current SEPnet Strategy: Core Programme 1: Schools’ Outreach Aim; Core Programme 2: Teacher Continuing Professional Development Aim and Core Programme 3: Public Engagement with Research Aim.
Delegates were made aware of the importance of “public engagement impact” for REF/KEF and how “the sector needs to recognise and challenge the processes that maintain and perpetuate the elitism of STEM. Widening participation in STEM requires changes in power relations and cannot be achieved by continuing with ‘business as usual’.”
Attendees found the workshop “really intriguing” and that there were “a lot of important topics to think about!”
Claudia and the Outreach team look forward to seeing SEPnet postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers at the next session to be delivered on Wednesday, 22 March 2023 at 12:00-15:30. This will be in the format of an interactive workshop at the IOP in Kings Cross, London for 25 SEPnet delegates and will allow space to discuss their own research and form ideas for engagement. SEPnet Outreach and Public Engagement officers will lead and facilitate this session, using their experience and working with attendees to create impactful engagement plans. There will also be guidance on how to evaluate and evidence engagement, which is particularly important in the context of REF. SEPnet PGRs can register here by 10 March 2023.
Over 100 new SEPnet PhD students attended the GRADnet Induction Day on Wednesday, 26 October 2022 at One Park Crescent in central London.
Attendees were introduced to the three strands of SEPnet: Employability, Outreach and GRADnet by Professor Jacob Dunningham, Executive Director, SEPnet.
Tariq Himli, Postgraduate Researcher, University of Surrey, talked about his SEPnet Summer Placement at Occuity. It was an 8-week placement setting up Monte-Carlo tolerance analysis tool. The work involved interfacing between his own code and software for analysis and bringing ideas into a multidisciplinary group. Tariq outlined why the placement was useful; he learned a lot about how software works; how to run them through code only; nice intro to industry work in general and it was a funded break from his PhD!
Laura Fryer, Postgraduate Researcher, University of Southampton also completed a summer placement this year at Openshaw & Co, Patent Attorneys. Laura researched state of the art technologies; analysed patent documents and assessed whether inventions were new and inventive; prepared detailed documents of new inventions and made logical arguments as well as drafted responses to letters from the UK patent office. Delegates heard how the hands-on experience was interesting and how Laura gained an understanding of what types of jobs and roles she might enjoy. The placement was an opportunity to experience working in industry without leaving academia; it broadened her skillset and showed adaptability.
Four parallel workshops were on offer:
DISCnet Taster Session: Introduction to Machine Learning using ATLAS Open Data delivered by Dr Kate Shaw, Lecturer, Dr Thomas Stevenson, Research Fellow and Zoë Earnshaw, Postgraduate Researcher, Physics and Astronomy, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Sussex;
Introduction to basic Python & Introduction to Scientific Python delivered by Dr Tim Kinnear, Lecturer in Computational Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Kent;
How to get your research published delivered by Tom Sharp and Rob Freeman, Institute of Physics;
Science Communication Skills delivered by Dr Claudia Antolini, SEPnet – The Ogden Trust Senior Officer for Outreach and Public Engagement, Royal Holloway University of London and Nuala O’Flynn, SEPnet/Ogden Physics Outreach and Public Engagement Officer at University of Hertfordshire.
Thank you to all our contributors for making this event a success this year.
After two years of online delivery due to the pandemic it was great to be back in person at One Park Crescent and having the opportunity to meet this year’s cohort of SEPnet PhD students face to face. Everyone enjoyed meeting their fellow PGRs and found the workshops really useful.
Hope to see some of you at a future GRADnet event. See here for our training programme for 2022-23.
Science Communication Skills; Python; IOP How to get your research published and DISCnet workshops:
The biennial Interact conference took place in City Hall, Cardiff on 14th September. Interact is an engagement conference for the physical sciences co-organised by SEPnet, the STFC, the IOP, the RAS and the Ogden Trust.
The symposium had five core themes:
Evaluation and impact
Reaching audiences underrepresented in the physical sciences
Funding routes for engagement
Sharing good practice
Almost 200 people attended on the day from a vast range of universities, charities, industry partners, outreach organisations and learned societies. The day was jam packed with over 20 talks and workshops happening across four parallel sessions and two plenaries. There was also a marketplace area with stands from professional bodies and hands on activities and demonstrations from practitioners. The Sun served as a backdrop to City Hall’s Assembly Room, in the form of a 6-metre sphere art installation, based on research from the University of Central Lancashire and led by researcher Professor Robert Walsh.
The conference was delayed by a year due to the pandemic, and attendees commented on the benefit of being able to gather in person again to network, share ideas and discover new engagement practices and methodologies. Over the entire Interact Conference series data has been collected on engagement practice and culture in the physical sciences to assess the embdedding of engagement culture and identify barriers to progress.
Mariana Bento, National Physical Laboratory Postgraduate Institute and UCL Postgraduate Researcher talks about her experience at the GRADnet Summer School 4-5 July 2022 at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex:
“The SEPnet Summer School surpassed any expectations I had for this 2-day event. Becoming a good professional or researcher, is not just about being an expert in the field. It requires a full set of complementary skills, which comprises good communication, networking, awareness of our surroundings, collaboration, problem solving.
SEPnet knows this and collaborated with NPL, Skillfluence and employers: Airbus; Capco; Deloitte; Dyad and WP Thompson, to provide an interesting and insightful number of workshops and sessions. Topics ranged from having a better understanding of how to break the communication wall; finding the common points when starting a conversation with a new person to the foresighting topic which equipped us with developing skills on how to pick up the hints of the current events to better analyse possible future outcomes and perform better decisions.
When one brings together a group of knowledgeable and interesting people as was the case with the summer school event, the result can only be the best.
I had an amazing time during these two days.”
Foresighting workshop breakout group:
Intellectual Property Rights; NPL and Airbus Workshops:
Careers panellists: Dr Adam Bozson, (Ex RHUL), Head of Data Science, Dyad; Dr Leon Schoonderwoerd, (Ex Kent), Deloitte, Assistant Manager; Jenika Karsan, Capco, Global Marketing Campaigns Project Manager; Dr Aoife Ivory, Senior Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, Ultrasound and Acoustics Group and Dr Hibaaq Mohamud, Higher Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, Nuclear Metrology Group.
The GRADnet Summer School took place on 4-5 July 2022 at the National Physical Laboratory for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was great to be networking and socialising once again with researchers and employers.
Thank you to all our contributors for providing an amazing programme over the 2-day event:
NPL Welcome: Richard Brown, Head of Metrology, National Physical Laboratory and Prof Jacob Dunningham, SEPnet Executive Director.
Networking Skills and Translating your Research/PhD skills to Industry sessions: Zach Sorrells, Chief Technology Officer, Skillfluence Ltd.
Foresighting Workshop: Dr James Claverly, NPL Head of Gov Relations and Dr Michael Chrubasik, Higher Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, Informatics Group.
Careers Panellists: Dr Adam Bozson, (Ex RHUL), Head of Data Science, Dyad; Dr Aoife Ivory, Senior Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, Ultrasound and Acoustics Group; Jenika Karsan, Capco, Global Marketing Campaigns Project Manager; Dr Hibaaq Mohamud, (Ex Surrey), Higher Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, Nuclear Metrology Group; Dr Leon Schoonderwoerd, (Ex Kent), Deloitte, Assistant Manager.
Water Rockets and Laboratory Tours: Andrew Hansen MBE, Outreach Manager and NPL PGI Students.
Airbus: Dr Jamie Wickham-Eade, (Ex Portsmouth), Study Manager and Systems Engineer; Ciaran Jenkins, Graduate Spacecraft Systems Engineer in the Earth Observation and Science Department and Michael Skreta, Systems Engineer in the Future Programmes.
NPL Metrology: Dr Emma Bendall, Research Scientist; Mariana Bento, Postgraduate Institute; Anu Bhaisare, Assistant Research Scientist; Nuclear Metrology Group; David Fairweather, Postgraduate Institute; Svetlana Kolmogorova, Nuclear Metrology Group and Dr Ben Russell, Principal Research Scientist and Science Area Leader for the Nuclear Metrology Group:
Intellectual Property Rights: Dr Julian Potter, Partner and Matt England,Trainee Patent Attorney, WP Thompson.
Delegates really enjoyed this year’s event:
“Thanks for organising a really enjoyable and productive couple of days”
“Great opportunity to improve ‘soft’ skills”
“NPL was the ideal location for the event, both because of its historical contributions to our field, but also NPL’s willingness to show us around their labs and describe their research.”
“My favourite aspect of the summer school were the people! Discussed not only our research, but also views on life and our past stories; the right ingredients for some new long-term friends! Again, thank you for doing this so we could crawl outside our labs and learn so much about new skills and new people.
Hope to see more postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers at next year’s summer school in 2023!
Water rocket launch pad and rocket construction!
Skillfluence session: Translating your PhD research skills to industry
New ways of teaching, assessing and embedding employabilty and equality
Thursday 30 June 2022, Institute of Physics, London.
Recent challenges, including the pandemic and changes within HE, have had a dramatic impact on undergraduate teaching, future skills needs and the world of work.
The IOP’s recent new research on the critical role of physics skills reveals that while they underpin productive industries in every part of the UK, there is still significant unmet demand for these skills which is impacting employers’ ability to grow and innovate.
In this context SEPnet and WRIPA are hosting a one-day workshop to explore how physics teaching and assessment can change to equip students from all backgrounds with skills and knowledge for future labour markets.
We will hear how the IOP will support academics to make changes to their teaching and assessment to encourage innovation and meet new accreditation requirements, We will also share best practice examples, in physics and other disciplines, on how to effectively ebbed curricular employabilty skills and implement equality, diversity and inclusion to ensure under-represented student realise their career potential.
Beth Medley, Employability and Placement Officer, White Rose Industrial Physics Academy (WRIPA), Department of Physics, University of York firstname.lastname@example.org
PROGRAMME Chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham The new IOP accreditation process – more flexibility in curriculum design How do we get the balance right between employability, skills and academic rigor and encourage innovation while also ensuring compliance with accreditation? Are they two different things? Robyn Henriegel, Accreditation and Professional Standards Manager, Institute of Physics
Effective blended and hybrid learning in HE How do we support staff in adopting inclusive and engaging teaching practices that promote success for all students? Dr Catherine (Kay) Hack, Principal Adviser (Learning and Teaching) Advance-HE Learning from Engineering Can we equip physics students with problem-solving, resilience and teamworking skills through real-world group projects? How do we avoid siloed learning? Is programme-level teaching or portfolio assessment the answer? Professor Danielle George, Associate VP and Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering, University of Manchester How we deliver effective online learning Can technology be used to replace experimental work in the first two years of a physics degree? How does online learning design in modular physics teaching enhance the student experience, employability outcomes and close disability gaps? What impact does tuition and assessment strategy have on outcomes in level 1 / 2 physics modules? Dr Helen Jane Fraser, Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Astronomy, School of Physical Sciences, The Open University How do we assess now? How have departments modified assessments following the loss of invigilated tests and examinations? What interventions and new ideas will transform assessment? Dr Nicolas Labrosse, Senior Lecturer (Physics and Astronomy), University of Glasgow How to implement a physics-related micro placement module into a physics degree Focusing on the benefits for both students and employers Dr Samantha Pugh, Associate Professor in STEM Education, University of Leeds How can we diversify our physics intake? • Can data become a barrier to progress? • Tackling the gender and attainment gap. Professor Brad Gibson, Head of Department of Physics and Mathematics, University of Hull Working with businesses to improve the employability of under-represented students in STEM • How are universities supporting disabled students to find jobs? • How do we prepare under-represented students for the labour market? • Engaging students and breaking down barriers Emily Huns, Head of Careers and Entrepreneurship, University of Sussex
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