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.”

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