Work experience: 48 hour virtual hackathon May 30-31

On May 30-31, NASA, along with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), is inviting coders, entrepreneurs, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, artists, and technologists to participate in a virtual hackathon.

During a period of 48 hours, participants from around the world will create virtual teams and use Earth observation data to develop solutions to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Challenges will range from studying the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and its spread to the impact the disease is having on the Earth system. The challenges will focus on the following thematic areas:

  • Learning about the virus and its spread using space-based data
  • Local response/change and solutions
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on the Earth system/Earth system response
  • Economic opportunity, impact, and recovery during and following COVID-19

More details here: https://covid19.spaceappschallenge.org/

Funding for summer projects

I have had quite a few recent questions around this recently so thought I’d highlight some key sources and thank my colleague Deborah Fowlis for her suggestions.

Some organisations offer small bursaries to enable undergraduates to work in research during summer vacation. Successfully applying for your own funding looks impressive on your CV. Your first step should be asking the School and your potential supervisor if they can access/apply for any other funding on your behalf.

The University’s Academic Affairs Scholarships Sharepoint site highlights the Research Council’s EPSRC undergraduate vacation scholarships but closing date is quite soon (20 March) according to the EPSRC.

As well as the EPSRC one, the Sharepoint site flags up the College Vacation Scholarships. Closing date 27 March. College Scholarships are good for summer research funding. Find a potential supervisor and write a proposal yourself (often with help from the supervisor).

The Wellcome Trust offers what they call biomedical vacation scholarships. Details here show that physics is one of the eligible degrees although success may be more likely for those applicants doing research with some biophysical/biological aspect or context. The Wellcome Trust also offer opportunities in science policy.

The Carnegie Trust Vacation Scholarships is one to look out for. Closing date is past for this year but one to know about for next year

The Student Experience Grants from UoE are one-off contributions of up to £5,000 to support innovative projects that will “enhance students’ social, academic, intellectual, entrepreneurial, sporting or cultural development”. Summer lab research is eligible for funding (though you need to demonstrate the benefit to others) and any current student can apply. Twice yearly deadline

Finally, my Work Experience Resource for Physics and Astronomy students on MyCareerHub has more suggestions.

The Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations and offers funded summer placements at its three sites including at Edinburgh

For some funders you need to be second year or beyond in your degree. The bursaries are administered in myriad ways – sometimes it is YOU who applies once you have found a willing academic, sometimes it’s the participating academic .Sometimes you will have to come up with your own research proposal, but the academic will usually be willing to help (if you ask nicely). 

There is advice on the process of writing research proposals on the Prospects website (UK centred, aimed at PhD candidates – just need to scale it down a bit for undergrad projects) and also the Northwestern University website (USA centred, but same structure, and aimed at undergrad projects).

Chocolate expertise

The science of what makes good chocolate has been revealed by researchers studying a 140-year-old mixing technique. The team in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy have uncovered the physics behind the process responsible for creating chocolate’s distinctive smooth texture.

Scientists have uncovered the physics behind the process – known as conching – which is responsible for creating chocolate’s distinctive smooth texture. The findings may hold the key to producing confectionary with lower fat content, and could help make chocolate manufacturing more energy efficient. A team led by the University of Edinburgh studied mixtures resembling liquid chocolate created using the conching process, which was developed by Swiss confectioner Rodolphe Lindt in 1879.

Their analysis, which involved measuring the density of mixtures and how they flow at various stages of the process, suggests conching may alter the physical properties of the microscopic sugar crystals and other granular ingredients of chocolate. Until now, the science behind the process was poorly understood. The new research reveals that conching – which involves mixing ingredients for several hours – produces smooth molten chocolate by breaking down lumps of ingredients into finer grains and reducing friction between particles.

Before the invention of conching, chocolate had a gritty texture. This is because the ingredients form rough, irregular clumps that do not flow smoothly when mixed with cocoa butter using other methods, the team says. Their insights could also help improve processes used in other sectors – such as ceramics manufacturing and cement production – that rely on the mixing of powders and liquids.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved a collaboration with researchers from New York University. The work in Edinburgh was funded by Mars Chocolate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

For more information about science at Mars UK, visit their website.

Professor Wilson Poon, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the study, said:

We hope our work can help reduce the amount of energy used in the conching process and lead to greener manufacturing of the world’s most popular confectionary product. By studying chocolate making, we have been able to gain new insights into the fundamental physics of how complex mixtures flow. This is a great example of how physics can build bridges between disciplines and sectors.”

Profile: Dr Katie Bouman

The recent black hole image, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) – a network of eight linked telescopes – was rendered by Dr Bouman’s algorithm. Good article by Katy Steinmetz in Time Magazine online:

Though her work developing algorithms was a crucial to the project, Bouman sees her real contribution as bringing a way of thinking to the table. “What I did was brought the culture of testing ourselves,” she says. The project combined experts from all sorts of scientific backgrounds, ranging from physicists to mathematicians, and she saw the work through the lens of computer science, stressing the importance of running tests on synthetic data and making sure that the methods they used to make the image kept human bias out of the equation.

Bouman says that most of the time she’s not focused on the fact that she’s in a field where women are the minority. “But I do sometimes think about it. How do we get more women involved?” she says. “One key is showing that when you go into fields like computer science and engineering, it’s not just sitting in a lab putting together a circuit or typing on your computer.”

She  plans to continue work with the Event Horizon Telescope team, which is adding satellite dishes in space to the network of telescopes here on Earth that were used to produce the image released on Wednesday. With the increased perspective and power, she says, they just might be able to make movies of black holes in addition to still images.

“It’s exciting,” she says. And that’s also her message for the next generation who might consider careers like hers. “As long as you’re excited and you’re motivated to work on it, then you should never feel like you can’t do it.”

More here

 

 

Focus on: Lockheed Martin

LM_logo_grey

Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

Lockheed Martin UK has its HQ in London and 16 key sites across the UK from Cornwall to Glasgow. Working across Aeronautics, Missiles & Fire Control, Rotary and Mission Systems and Space (including partnerships in global communications, weather forecasting, space exploration and national security).

I met some of their staff recently at the recent UKSEDS Student Space Conference, including a recent astrophysics graduate. Their space division builds the satellites and spacecraft that do amazing things in space for government and commercial customers e.g. Lockheed Martin-built satellites give earlier warning of severe weather, connect troops on the battlefield, and deliver GPS directions to a billion people worldwide.

They recruit physics and astronomy students and graduates for summer internships and graduate positions. LM UK has a graduate programme and their are opportunities globally too

To find out more visit Lockheed Martin

KTPs – Graduate jobs straddling academia and industry

Thanks to my colleague Deborah Fowlis for this great introduction to KTPs

If you’d like to work for a local company and manage your own projects while earning a competitive graduate salary, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) may be for you.

What are Knowledge Transfer Partnerships?
The KTP scheme is one of the UKs largest graduate employment programmes and one of the longest running. It helps business to innovate and grow by providing three-way collaboration between universities, organisations and graduates.

Businesses link up with an academic or research institution, which then help to recruit a suitably qualified graduate, known as a KTP Associate. Employed by the university, the associate then works for the company on strategic projects, helping to improve business performance and increase productivity. As a KTP associate, the type of work you carry out depends on your qualifications and the company that you work for, but as an example, KTP projects could include:

  • reorganising production facilities
  • introducing new technologies to an organisation
  • designing new or improved products, processes or services
  • developing new business strategies and breaking into new markets.

With over 300 job opportunities available every year, the scheme can take from 12 months to three years to complete. Upon completion, around 70% of employers offer associates a full-time job, usually in a management role.

What sectors can I work in?
KTPs are primarily aimed at small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) but companies of all sizes, including not-for-profit organisations in a variety of industries can take part in the programme. You could work a wide range of industries, those particularly of interest to physicists and astronomers are:

  • engineering and manufacturing
  • science and pharmaceuticals
  • environment and agriculture
  • energy and utilities
  • business, consulting and management

What are the benefits of a KTP?

  • experience of managing a challenging, real-life project of vital importance to a business
  • opportunities to gain professional qualifications – often business related
  • a competitive graduate salary, usually in region of £25,000 to £35,000.
  • the possibility of full-time employment at the end of the project
  • access to a budget of £2,000 per year for training, £2,250 for travel and a further £1,500 for necessary equipment.

Am I eligible?
To be eligible for the KTP scheme graduates need a 2:1 Bachelors degree in a relevant subject or a Masters or PhD. You’ll also need the right to work in the UK.

To find vacancies online head to Innovate UK. Here you’ll be able to register your interest in the programme, create a profile so recruiters can find you and search current vacancies.

 

Career Development Summer Scholarships programme

The School of Physics & Astronomy is running its Career Development Summer Scholarships programme again. Details here

There are a numbers of funded industry and academic projects available to students in years 3 and 4.

Closing date is March 4th. There is some great feedback from students who did projects last year including:

Chris

After the 6 week placement, I was kept on as an employee. During my time at Bright Ascension, I learned a lot about programming, intellectual property, starting a business and different business models, methods of workplace motivation, workplace responsibilities, the space industry, professional report writing, giving presentations, communicating with investors, and much more.”

Katrina

“I found the experience (at the Institute for Astronomy) really rewarding as it allowed me to work with new people and improve my programming skills. It was good to do something completely different from what we do at university and to work on unsolved problems.”

Careers in Technology Fair – Wed 27th Feb

Here is a chance to challenge your thinking on what a career in tech looks like. It is an easy way to get to a range of organisations offering work experience and graduate roles related to tech. There will be Over 50 employers with internships and graduate opportunities and some interesting talks including:

How is tech changing roles across industries?Speakers will share fantastic examples of how tech is changing industries you might not traditionally think of as tech – agriculture, energy and medicine.

Open to students from all year groups – around half of the 50 + organisations attending will be recruiting students from any discipline, so don’t rule yourself out.  They want physics & astronomy students!

It doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your course or in planning your career, you can come along to this fair and find out about options for your future. Find out more here

Renewables – jobs and funded PhDs

  • Great post by my colleague Alison Parkinson on career paths in renewables. More here.
  • Interested in funded PhDs in offshore renewable energy? Open to STEM students, including physics, IDCORE is an industry-related doctorate.

IDCORE is a four year programme where students follow a fully integrated programme of intensive, doctoral level, taught courses in electrical, mechanical and offshore engineering, business, economics, marine biology, renewable energy resources, and societal impacts, and a, three year, industry based research project. The courses have a strong focus on problem based learning and are designed to develop practical, team working and transferable skills alongside technical expertise. Each research project is sponsored, and led by an offshore renewable energy company.

Project sponsors range from large multinational companies to very small enterprises. They represent energy companies, supply chain companies, certification agencies, consultants, test centres and original equipment manufacturers.

There are 10 places per year funded by EPSRC and NERC.  The programme leads to a jointly awarded EngD from the Universities of Edinburgh, Exeter and Strathclyde and has a fantastic record of graduates moving into employment.

Full details at IDCORE