ACCIS/CoSEM CDT World Café event III
19 August 2020
ACCIS/CoSEM CDT students share experiences of doctoral research at World Café event.
PhD students from the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science (ACCIS CDT) and EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Composites Science Engineering and Manufacturing (CoSEM CDT) gathered on Zoom on Monday 17 August 2020 for the third biannual CDT World Café Knowledge Exchange event.
The Café provided an informal but structured setting for the entire CDT student cohort (first years through to final years and even some recent alumni) to come together to discuss key PhD challenges.
It also provided a platform for the more experienced students to share their knowledge and best practice advice with students in the earlier stages of their PhDs.
Commenting on the World Café process, one first year student said that it was: “Extremely useful to hear advice from students who have gone through the PhD journey.”
Discussions were framed around six key themes, which had been agreed in consultation with the students ahead of the event: networking, conferences and international placements; maintaining a public profile and publishing papers; research and self-management; skills development, outreach and teaching; using the labs; and writing up.
Each theme was assigned to a virtual table (known as a breakout room) and discussions at each table were facilitated by one or two final year students, writing up students, and recent alumni. Each facilitator volunteered for a topic based on their particular area of expertise. As more senior members of the CDT they were well placed to offer valuable insights into their chosen topics, but importantly were not necessarily expected to have all the answers. An equally important part of their role on the day was keeping the conversations going and making sure the multitude of ideas were captured.
One facilitator remarked that: “It was nice to chat with people again and reconnect with the research group”, and another said that they had: “Had some nice discussions and reminders of the PhD journey fun”!
The participant groups were mixed up half-way through the afternoon to ensure people got to speak with a range of other participants as well as the seven facilitators. Questions and answers were noted by the facilitators and then each topic facilitator shared their 3-5 top-tips in a feedback session with the wider group. The whole ‘room’ was given an opportunity to comment. The top-tips will be e-mailed to cohort members and saved for the benefit of future generations of students.
At the end of the day, discussions continued as the post-event online social kicked off with the strangest Zoom quiz of the year: ‘whose fridge/workstation is this?’. Much laughter ensued as participants tried to puzzle out the clues left by members of the Bristol Composites Institute academic and support staff.
The CoSEM CDT (established in 2019) has evolved from the highly successful and established ACCIS CDT (2014-2022) to address exciting doctoral training opportunities for multidisciplinary composite materials engineering and manufacture.