Diamond is undoubtedly one of the most exciting places in the country to be a scientist or engineer, and it is a key part of our mission to share this excitement with young people; to showcase the incredible possibilities available in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We are proud to have worked in schools for almost a decade, inspiring tens of thousands of young people with visits, at festivals, and in the classroom.
Creating cyanotypes with school-aged scientists (left), and first-year students on a four-day CDT course (right top and bottom).
Our engagement work is also driven by recognition that the skills shortage in STEM has the potential to jeopardise our future success – the skilled scientists and engineers we need may not be available if current trends continue. We must therefore work hard to ensure we have enough trained engineering and technical staff to develop and run the facility, and to supply our research community with scientists to conduct the research on our beamlines.
Training and learning at Diamond extend from schools to post-doctoral education, and we are proud to bring over 4000 visitors to our site every year through school, undergraduate, and post-graduate visits, and through our ongoing programme of workshops and conferences. All play a key role in developing awareness of Diamond’s techniques and capabilities at every stage in a scientific career. We have co-hosted 144 PhD students past and present in many areas of science and technology, providing a key link between our user community and the facility and ensuring our techniques are developed and exploited to their maximum.
We have recently undertaken a review of our work, extending from secondary school all the way to post-graduate level, raising the standard of skills and engagement work across the board. Starting this year, a new student engagement scheme will improve the way partner universities host students with Diamond, and improve the learning and development of young scientists and engineers undertaking doctorates with us.
Highlights of the new schemes
PhD projects: We are changing the way we run our PhD funding programme, to make it easier for partner universities to collaborate with us, and to improve the experience for our PhD student cohort. We will be calling for interested collaborators in October 2016, to recruit students for 2017.
If you have an idea for a joint studentship you would like to pursue with Diamond, we are keen to hear ideas from the community, and we are keen to match potential supervisors here at the facility with members of the community. Further information will be released in late summer 2016, but informal advice is available through firstname.lastname@example.org
CDT collaborations: We will be improving the range of learning opportunities for PhD students based at Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across the country, with targeted courses aimed at students throughout their studentship.
Undergraduate engagement: We are working with partners across the site to create targeted visit programmes and resources for undergraduates, giving access to Diamond and other facilities. The first event, aimed at engineers, will take place in November 2016. We will be hosting a coding workshop for female undergraduates around the same time, as part of our commitment to diversity and equality.
Apprenticeships: We are changing our apprenticeship scheme to directly employ a larger number of apprentices, who will work intensively with a number of engineering departments at Diamond. These apprentices will graduate to become technicians and engineers at the facility, continuing and expanding the long established tradition of high quality apprenticeships at Harwell. The first Diamond Apprentice vacancies will be advertised in 2017.
Schools: Our schools programmes are extending nationally, with new teacher CPD programmes aimed at Scottish teachers, in collaboration with the Scottish Science Educational Resource Centre, and a virtual tour of Diamond co-produced with the Institute of Physics, which can be loaned by schools nationwide.