Posted on 17 November 2014
The White Rose Industrial Physics Academy (WRIPA), a new collaboration between the Universities of York and Sheffield and technical industry partners, has been awarded £2m funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). It aims to improve the industry-relevant skills of physics graduates.
The Academy is setting up industry-led undergraduate projects, enhancing the industry focus of the taught curriculum and organising joint workshops and recruitment events.
Along with contributions from the two Yorkshire universities and their industrial partners, total investment in the project, including the new HEFCE Catalyst award, amounts to £5m. The launch event takes place on 19 November in the Ron Cooke Hub at the University of York.
As well as encouraging more graduates into technical careers, the Academy is building stronger relationships between industry and university physics departments, and contributing to the economic success of partner companies.
Professor Thomas Krauss, an Anniversary Professor with the University of York’s Department of Physics, who leads the Academy, said: “Our students are the future of Britain’s technical industries. They’re our greatest asset. By working with them, our industry partners will play a key role in inspiring a new generation of professionals and contribute to the UK’s economic growth.”
After a welcome from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, Professor Koen Lamberts, Professor Krauss is among the keynote speakers along with Dr David Sweeney, HEFCE’s Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange, and Professor Peter Main, Director of Education & Science at the Institute of Physics.
There will also be industry talks by Kromek and York students who are currently working on an industrial project with Dyson.
Professor Krauss added: “Physics students at the universities of Sheffield and York are some of the brightest in the world. They’re high achievers, very strong on maths and science subjects, with a natural aptitude for problem solving and they’re taught by some of the world’s leading experts in theoretical and applied science.
“We can arrange for teams of brilliant students to work with industry partners on research and development problems. We also want industry partners to tell us how you think universities can improve the way they teach physics students.
“For businesses, this is the opportunity to tap into an amazingly rich resource that will provide a serious boost to their R&D for a fraction of the usual cost, together with the chance to contribute to the education of our brightest and best.”
Physics-based businesses directly contribute £77bn to the UK economy, but often report finding it difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of suitably qualified graduates and postgraduates. At the same time, students are often not aware of the range of physics employment opportunities open to them, or lack the essential skills for entering these technical careers.
Dr David Sweeney, HEFCE Director for Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange, said: “The White Rose Industrial Physics Academy will enhance employability for students and graduates across the region, and increase technical knowledge and skills which will support employers and economic growth. We look forward to working with York and its partners as the project develops.”
The Academy will also be established across a number of associate partner universities, including Hull, Bradford and Leeds, and has ambitions to disseminate best practice across the wider Higher Education sector including outreach to secondary schools.
As well as the support of industry partners such as MM Microwave, Reckitt Benckiser, Kromek, Frazer Nash, Simpleware, CGG, Liquids Research, and National Instruments, the Academy also has the support of the Institute of Physics, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA).