Attracting in the order of 8,000 user visits every year, Diamond is well-known as a centre for research and discovery. But the facility is also a hub for wider learning, offering training and development opportunities for visitors, students, and staff alike. The breadth and variety of workshops, training courses, and other forms of education make Diamond an environment in which individuals at all levels and from an array of backgrounds can learn new skills and grow in their careers.
Reflecting the ethos that a career in STEM is a commitment to continual learning, Diamond offers development opportunities to everyone, from GCSE students to professors. And the training on offer reflects the diverse set of skills that STEM professionals need to thrive, from the use of specialist equipment through to public engagement.
Visiting users have the opportunity to receive training in a vast range of areas, from cutting-edge synchrotron techniques, advanced machinery like cryo-electron microscopes and a number of other fields including remote access, data analysis, and sample preparation techniques.
As well as providing direct learning opportunities, Diamond’s diverse range of workshops and conferences provide academics from around the world with the opportunity to discuss ideas and remain at the forefront of thinking in their fields.
Diamond’s regular MX BAG training event aims to provide the MX community with sufficient training to be able to operate macromolecular crystallography beamlines efficiently and to get the most benefit from beamtime. The training involves hands-on sessions on the suite of Diamond’s five operational MX beamlines as well as offline software support sessions.
For those interested in learning more about software, Diamond and CCP4’s Data Collection & Analysis workshops provide presentations and tutorials delivered by experts in the field alongside two days of practical data collection time on a beamline. Students work alongside experts on their own projects, tackling all aspects of structure solution, from data collection through to phasing, refinement, and validation.
More than 50% of Diamond’s 6,000 visitors every year are linked to education and practical training. We view workshops and meetings as a vital tool for introducing current and potential users to Diamond’s techniques and instrumentation.
As well as development opportunities for STEM professionals, Diamond works with young people at GCSE and A Level, providing an insight into the reality of a career in STEM. For schools, we take part in initiatives like A-Level open days and Science in Your Future, in which students practise hands-on activities, meet with mentors and explore the synchrotron up close.
The launch of a new work experience programme offers 13 projects for Key Stage 4 students to spend a week working in roles across the synchrotron, from science, to engineering, software, and communications. This programme provides a unique opportunity to experience the reality of a career in STEM, and feedback from last year’s first cohort was overwhelmingly positive. This is in addition to the over 10,000 schoolchildren who have visited Diamond since the facility opened in 2007, many of whom we hope will be part of the next generation of scientists.
At university level, Diamond offers extended placement opportunities to undergraduates in technical fields. This highly popular programme draws in hundreds of applicants, of whom around 20 are selected to work in paid positions as scientists, programmers, and technicians at Diamond for between 8 to 12 weeks.
Diamond is a partner in several Doctoral Training Centres across several Research Councils and is actively seeking to build capability in graduate training in synchrotron science. The primary current mechanisms are via shared Diamond studentships, training courses, and workshops, all of which augment the training that is provided when students participate in experiments at Diamond.
University students engaged in scientific studies who have little experience of synchrotron radiation can also access a broad-based introduction to many of the different types of experiments conducted using SR. The Synchrotron Radiation Summer School provides students with lectures and a symposium alongside hands-on practical experience of performing an experiment on several of the beamlines. Diamond also supports over 100 studentships and directly funds 65 of its own PhDs with the ultimate aim being to have at least two PhD students for every beamline.
There are myriad opportunities for learning and development at the synchrotron – reinforcing the facility’s status as a hub for innovation of all kinds. This skills agenda feeds back into one of our core aims as an institution: to maximise the scientific, economic and societal impact of the synchrotron. The projected impact of these endeavours is the provision of more highly-skilled and capable scientists and, ultimately, the advancement of science and society as a whole.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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