Industry visit to IBM January 2020

On the 16th January, a group of students from the CDT went to visit IBM Hursely to learn about the company and career opportunities that are available to PhD students. Despite an early start from campus, it was a productive day for all of the students, learning about the history of IBM and some of the research that is carried out at the Hursely site, as well as what it would be like to work for IBM.

The day started with a series of talks from some of the researchers at IBM. While a lot of the research that is carried out at the Hursely site is computer science orientated, it showed that there was still a breadth in the research that is carried out. It was also emphasised how much the researchers had the opportunity to explore small projects almost like hobbies alongside the large, more professional research.

This was followed by a visit to their demonstration lab, where some students got to try out some interactive demos. These included a VR trip to the International Space Station (which started as a hobby project from one researcher and has since continued to grow) and a safety helmet that could rate the intensity of damage and predict the amount of danger that the wearer was in from serious head injuries. This was, of course, seriously tested with a small cricket bat while the helmet was placed on a testing dummy.

Second year PGR David Tatnell (right) discusses his research

The Exeter students were then able to present their own research to the researchers at IBM, where there were good conversations and interest from the researchers into the students’ research. During this time, there was also the opportunity to talk to the researchers about their work, and build networks for the future.

The day finished with a short careers talk, explaining the application process, before the long journey back to Exeter began. While it was a long day for everyone, it was useful to learn about a potential employer and get a feel for the working atmosphere at IBM.

Second year Katie Lewis says,

“The whole day was very good, and it was nice learning about IBM and careers in the company. It seemed like a supportive place to work, which is something I would look for. There was good interaction between IBM researchers and CDT students at the poster session as well, which was appreciated.”

Third year Peter Inzani says,

“I enjoyed visiting IBM, it has shown me a promising career opportunity where I will be able to use some of the skills that I am learning during my PhD and through research into an industry setting. The atmosphere of the company of a whole was very nice, and I was able to have a great chat with some researchers and start to make contacts for the future.”

Welcome SAG 2019/2020

SAG committee 2019/20, L to R: James Capers, Jess Brown, James Laurenson, Julia De Pineda Gutierrez, Katie Lewis, Emily Glover and Conor Price

As the New Year starts, there are some changes in the student advisory group for the CDT. Third years Emily Glover and Jess Brown are the new co-chairs, with Julia de Pineda Gutierrez stepping down as she approaches the end of her PhD.

About her new role, Jess says,

‘I’ve been a member of SAG since day one of my PhD, and I feel that my approachability, good communication skills and understanding of the role of SAG PGRs will allow me to co-chair SAG effectively in the coming year. Emily and I work well together and we’re looking forward to representing CDT PGRs, passing on feedback to the Management and Oversight Boards, and making sure the CDT runs smoothly!’.

Emily adds,

‘I’ve enjoyed being a part of SAG since I started my PhD, and I’m looking forward to work with Jess and co-chair this year. I hope we are able to run it as smoothly as in the past years.’

With the new cohort that started in 2019, two new members have joined SAG: James Capers and James Laurenson. James Capers says

“I joined SAG because I wanted to take an active role in making the CDT experience better for the students by constructively voicing student opinions. It’s also helpful to me personally, as it allows me to develop skills that will be valuable for my future career.”

James Laurenson adds,

“I look forward to understanding more about how the CDT is run through SAG, as well as improving my team work and management skills, which I have learnt are important in project management.”

Unfortunately we are also having to say goodbye to one member as well, as William Ferguson steps down from his SAG responsibilities to spend more time focussing on his work and ever-looming thesis deadline.

David Newman spends Research Visit at Diamond Light Source

Second year PGR David Newman reports on his latest visit to Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

Between the 9th and 17th of December, I was at the Diamond Light Source in Didcot, near Oxford. The first few days were devoted to a project meeting for the “Picosecond Dynamics of Magnetic Exchange Springs” project where I presented my work on the inverse spin Hall effect to our collaborators from the University of Southampton, University of Oxford and Diamond Light Source. This allowed us to take stock of our current position and plot the best course forward for the respective project partners.

After this I was working on a beamtime at the Diamond Light Source using the X-ray ferromagnetic resonance (XFMR) spectroscopy capabilities of the I10 station. Our aim being to investigate if a Mn spylayer could be used to study an exchange spring locally. This provided a great opportunity to gather vast amounts of data, consolidate understanding with collaborators and gain further experience in running XFMR experiments per my PhD title.

CDT’s Christmas Movie Night

To round off 2019, the CDT PGRs chose Home Alone for their Christmas movie night. Third year PGR Ned Taylor, one of the organisers, says of the event:

Some of the CDT gathered at the top of the Physics building to celebrate the festive period. The evening commenced with the watching of the animated short The Snowman, a charming old short film to get everyone into the festive mood. We then moved onto watching Home Alone and eating pizzas. Unlike Kevin McCallister, there were plenty of pizzas to go around and no one’s evening was ruined by someone else eating their pizza.