Celebrating our research

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What happened on June 25th 2019?

The Engineering Researchers Symposium, a celebration of research conducted by researchers of the Faculty of Engineering. This symposium was organized for the 6th time, by a group of motivated people within the Faculty, both from the academic and administrative sector, with interest for research and the researchers. The main goal of this convention is to highlight various research areas of each department of the Faculty, as well as create a great networking event which can be the start of fruitful collaborations. During this all-day lasting event, we get to see a selection of oral and poster presentations from each department of the Faculty. Both oral and poster presenters are competing for the title of “the best communicator” of their department, and after that, of the Faculty, with trophies and money prizes awarded.

Feedback included:

‘Key messages were distilled and made accessible for the broad range of engineering disciplines.’

‘I really liked the event and format overall!’

‘It was a great experience and it was nice to know about the research in the whole faculty.’ 

‘The clickers made it fun and easy to vote. A mixture of peer and external judging worked well.’

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We are also running a baking competition, where researchers can bake something –potentially inspired from their research project– and surprise us with their baking talents. This year, profits raised from the baking competition were donated to Sheffield Flourish, a local charity caring for mental health.

This year, we had two keynote speakers with a focus on science communication. Knowing how to communicate research is essential for a researcher. This is how we let people know of what we found, how it can be used and how we can better our lives. The main struggle with science communication, is understanding the audience and using appropriate language to get the message across. The selected keynote speakers were Alex Stockham, communications manager at IN-PART, a company which connects academia with industry through a match-making platform, and Teresa Ambrosio, a final year PhD researcher with a great online presence focusing on science communication and advocacy. They both focused on the importance of communication between all members of the academic community, and the –of equal importance– communication between academia and industry or the general public. Alex’s talk had a more professional structure, being employed for a few years now in this role, and Teresa gave a fresh vibe, on how researchers can put their research forward in an approachable way using social media platforms.  

From the organisers’ point of view, organizing and hosting a Faculty-wide event is not an easy ride. But it is definitely a ride you want to take if you are into gaining loads of new skills. Being a full-time PhD researcher at the final year of the course and juggling the organization of such events, allows time management skills to become second nature. In addition, it builds on the ability to communicate messages clearly across a team, delegate tasks, lead activities when necessary and work collectively towards a common goal. Team-working anyone? Try coordinate a bunch of super busy people to sit around a table and talk about budgets, programs, abstract submission, selection process and catering… Another benefit of participating in the organizing committee of the Engineering Researcher Symposium, is the great experience we gain on events management and hosting, from a “safe” point, as the team has many experienced members who can jump in when needed and prevent an uncomfortable situation. Being a member in this year’s committee was a blast for me (dare I say for us all?), as I was able to speak my mind, my ideas were heard, there was great collaboration and a light atmosphere during meetings, and we were able to pull the event together without any casualties. Are there things we could we have done better? Not many according to comments we received from participants, but there is always room for improvement. However, this is job for next year’s committee! Overall, I would definitely do it again, and I strongly advise people with an interest in such initiatives to get involved. You can only gain from that!

Eleni Routoula PhD researcher Chemical and Biological Engineering

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